Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All It Takes Is Animal Instinct

So apparently there is hope for Spring afterall. I was seriously beginning to think Persephone had forgotten the Northeast after wintering in Hades (it's so easy to mistake Florida for The Underworld), and we would be stuck in the freezer until I left for San Diego. I was picturing loading a truck in a snowfall in late May at this rate. However, I opened the French door this morning and stood on the step for a few minutes taking in a less-chilly sun while I sipped my tea, and as I looked across the few brave patches of backyard grass the dog hasn't peed into non-existence, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Duck standing on the deck of the neighbor's pool preening their feathers. Yay!

The Ducks are a pair of rogue mallards that wander our neighborhood every Spring for about three months. They never have babies (here, anyway) and they don't fly with a group like normal ducks, but they show up every year like an old retired couple that have wings instead of an RV. The humans on our cul-de-sac enjoy their company because The Ducks are very comfortable with people and will sit with you on the lawn while you admire the day (as long as you don't make a move to pet them, which the kids are want to do). No one is looking to domesticate them, but we do give them bits of whole grain bread once in awhile (not enough to make them dependent), and Mrs. Duck will occasionally jump onto my front porch and look in our glass door like "Hello? Is anyone home?" She's never actually knocked with her beak, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did. If I take a bowl of water out and sit on the step, she'll bathe, then preen her feathers while I talk to her. Sometimes she'll make a few soft quacking noises at me, contributing to the conversation. (I'm not kidding. These ducks are smart.)

Mr. Duck disappears for days at a time. The first couple years he was gone so long I thought surely he was hit by a car, but he always shows up again in the end. One time I thought I saw him down at the pond with a bunch of other mallards and thought, "You dog! Sneaking off to the Pond without your wife!" Maybe they have an open relationship, or maybe it was just another duck that looked like him. Mallards are pretty hard to tell apart.

Sometime in late May/early June when the days are longest, they disappear to their summer home, wherever that may be, but they've shown up again in Spring every year for the five years we've lived here. Since they go by Mother Nature's clock even more so than me, they're my true marker for when Spring starts. The Ducks are one of the things about the NE that I'll miss terribly next year when I'm in San Diego. :(

Wild animals that accept humans are the best pets because you only have to give them your love and admiration; otherwise they take care of themselves just like we do. They are a beautiful example of harmony in nature, and proof that people and animals COULD all coexist on this planet peacefully if we would give it a chance and control our huge egos.

I think people-animal relationships should be by mutual consent, just like people-people relationships are.* This includes the realm of hunting. Lots of people think I'm vegetarian because I advocate organic eating (not the same), and I often get along better with animals than people, but I don't oppose hunting if it's done right for food purposes (definitely NOT just sport).** Unfortunately, I think 99% of hunters have lost sight of the spiritual aspect of it, and therefore it has become an event without compassion which serves no one well. But I digress...

Mutual consent relationships with our pets are definitely more joyous and therefore more beneficial overall. If our pets could speak English, I'm sure many of them would tell us how unhappy they are being cooped up in the human idea of housing. As it is, they do tell us in their actions, but most people are not aware enough to hear what the animal is saying. These people like The Horse/Dog Whisperer or so-called "pet psychics" are so full of shit. They're just super observant manipulative humans and I think it's a shame they've used their talents only to make money instead of educating the population on how you, too, can easily communicate with your pets. Anyone can do it. You just open your eyes and your mind.

There was a comic I saw once that did a great bit on the issue - I wish I could remember who it was, but I can't even find it on Google. He went through this whole thing about how his girlfriend claims her cat loves her back - he did the voices of both people... something like:

As girlfriend: "Awww, mommy's wittle putty tat wuvs her, doesn't he? He would never weave mommy aw awone!" ::nuzzling noises::

As himself: "Yeah? You think your cat loves you? You're sure?"

As girlfriend: "Yes, I'm sure wittle wuvkins wouldn't weave..." More baby talk and nuzzling.

As himself: "If you're so sure, open the door motherfucker."

That really says it all because we all know it's true of most pets. If given the chance, they'd be gone. And they'd be okay too because animals weren't meant to stay indoors most of their lives (including us).

I live with six exotic animals (four chinchillas and two lizards) that I "rescued" from less involved owners, and they are all in cages. You may say this is hypocritical, but having these animals in my life (and many that have come before them that also tried to teach me) is how I've woken up to these realizations. I observe my animals closely and I see that no matter how many "toys" or varied treats I provide, they are basically bored and in jail. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, much less someone or something I love! If I could find a way to release my pets safely back into the wild in their native territory I'd do it, but unfortunately that's not something I have the resources for right now (chinchillas and iguanas come from South America, the leopard gecko is native to Pakistan). Since I can't do anything to put them back where they belong, I've promised to make them as comfortable as I can while they are here, and I won't take any more in as the ones I have leave me. I accept that I can only do so much as one person, and I'm of the mind that leading by example and educating others is the key to restoring some balance.

I do believe there are some cats and dogs that prefer to be with people, as evidenced by the fact that they don't escape the house or the leash as if they're making a prison break, but we are too impatient to wait for them to find us, or when they do we're either not paying attention or we force our will upon them instead of inviting them to stay and leaving the option to go open. Our dog is one of these truly domesticated beasts - you can let her outside and she doesn't go past the yard. We have no fence, no electric collar, and we've never trained her that way - she just prefers to be here, which makes me happy. My boyfriend got her from the pound before I met him, so technically she's his dog, and she will stay with him when I move (very sad!), but the point is she does choose to stay with us. But for the most part I think pets put up with our anthropomorphism because they have no choice.

Well all that is totally NOT what I planned to blog about today, but there it is. Must be a reason for it. I'll post my thoughts on Jason Mraz's concerts in PA and NYC tomorrow I guess.

*Note to self: blog soon about how we make agreements with other souls before manifesting in the physical.

**That's a whole 'nother blog too, but refer to ancient Native American beliefs about respect for the animal to get an inkling of what I'm talking about.


CSD Faux Finishing said...

OK so how cute was that duck! I can not believe how close it got to you! Was Jazz in the door watching? No barking though huh?

I had a cat a long time ago and once while living with a couple friends we had overnight guests who let her out not knowing she did not go outside. My roomie freaked and although he was going to run to find her he discovered she didn't actually go anywhere at all but the end of the patio. She looked at him & came right back inside. We loved being together too just like with your pup :)

It fascinates me that we can care so much without speaking when it comes to the animals in our lives but with other humans sometimes there are just no actual words to describe how we really feel.

No matter what your original plans were this was a terrific & inspiring blog :~) YEA SPRING!!

draagonfly said...

Jazz is pretty good about not freaking out on other animals unless it's another dog. The chinchillas have gotten loose a couple times in the past and run right past her and the most she did was perk her ears up.

I think the thing that makes the difference between love with animals and love with people is the unconditionalness of it. Most people bring conditions with them, even if they're unintentional.

Jazz's only condition is that we keep feeding her. :D