Love is shared by all living things
—Richard “Bugman” Fagerlund
I have often written about issues of animal cruelty and will continue to do so in future columns. However, in this column I want to share some true stories with you that demonstrate why animals are indeed sentient beings and should not be misused or abused for any reason.
A bird-watcher was walking through the woods in New Jersey when he came across what appeared to be a sick white-throated sparrow sitting on a log. As he approached the sparrow, he could see it was very weak. He sat down and was watching it when a hermit thrush landed on the log next to the sparrow. The thrush put some leaves in front of the sparrow, but the little bird didn't eat. Finally the thrush regurgitated some seeds it had eaten. The little sparrow started eating the seeds off the log and then started eating right out of the thrush's mouth. A short while later, the sparrow was rejuvenated and flew away. Thrushes and sparrows are not at all related except that they are both birds. It is wonderful that a bird of one species would go out of its way to help a bird of another species.
An article in National Geographic provided another insight into reality. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it gently, three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother's wings.
The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.
Finally, I want to share a letter from a reader of my column who lives in Belen:
"I have a comment about cockfighting. I won't even get into the issues of culture, tradition, and all that malarkey. The truth is the poor roosters that are raised to fight are wonderful, intelligent, creatures. We rescued one several years ago. He was 'thrown away' or escaped in an alley near our house. We found him struggling to get into a trash can for food. When we picked him up and brought him home, we saw that he had his wing ripped off, one of his eyes was missing, as were a few of his toes, his combs where cut off, and he had the walk of one who wears blades. A good ol’ boy told us he was probably fed gunpowder too, because once in a while he would 'go nuts.’
“But good ol’ Brooster was a survivor. With a little TLC he became the "king" of the backyard. He fell in love with a little white cat and would follow her everywhere, and actually lie down and sleep beside her. The dogs respected him. He would come when you called him because he knew that his own personal 'produce section' was going to have fresh veggies dumped into it. He begged at the outside table with the dogs, and hung around the barbeque grill when someone was cooking. He was the sweetest, most loving and beautiful rooster I've ever known.
“His retirement lasted for four years before we lost him to a bacterial infection. I still miss him, and am still disgusted at the cruelty that poor thing endured at the hands of the demons that fight roosters."
All of these true stories say the same thing: love is not a human emotion; love is a spiritual blessing shared by all living things and the only true emotion in existence.
Cardinal Newman was correct when he said, "Now what is it that moves our very heart and sickens us so much as cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this: first, that they have done us no harm; next, that they have no power whatever to resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings so especially touching. There is something so very dreadful, so Satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power."
Viki Elkey, Johnna Strange, and I are working on a book about cockfighting, dogfighting, factory farming, and other forms of animal cruelty. We would be interested in opinions regarding these activities from folks in the United States and other countries. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.askthebugman.com.
New kennel club forming in Sandoval County
Coronado Kennel Club
For people in the Sandoval County area who are interested in showing dogs in all aspects of the sport, there is a new all-breed obedience kennel club forming. We are the Coronado Kennel Club of New Mexico. Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the Bernalillo Town Hall meeting room. Our goals are to promote American Kennel Club-sanctioned activities, educate the public in responsible dog ownership, work for the welfare of dogs, and help the public find responsible breeders of purebred dogs. The next meeting will be November 12. Please join us. For additional information, call 867-4510.
A grizzly attack that was bound to happen
One of the most egotistical notions humans have is that we can "commune" with unpredictable wild animals. News headlines over the last couple of weeks have revealed the depth of our folly.
During Siegfried and Roy’s Las Vegas nightclub act, a tiger turned on trainer Roy Horn. Doctors still don’t know if he will survive. And in a New York City apartment house, a pet tiger, raised from a cub, mauled its owner.
Those stories support the adage "You can take the animal out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the animal." But probably the most tragic story comes out of Alaska’s Katmai National Park where an Alaskan brown bear—also known as a grizzly—killed Timothy Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, both of Malibu, Calif.
A self-proclaimed bear expert, Treadwell carved himself a career out of living close to (some called it harassing) Alaskan grizzlies. Treadwell has said that he discovered Alaska by accident a decade ago when he was "at my wits end" and "a troubled person." Allegedly he traveled to Alaska to end his life. When the bears didn’t immediately eat him, he believed it was because they had accepted him as a spiritual equal. He decided he had something worth living for: protecting the bears from poaching.
I once saw him on television. At the time I was researching bear pepper spray and getting an earful from wildlife biologists about the dangers of getting too close to any wild animals. In his video, Treadwell sat on the shore of a stream where the bears fished, sang to them, and told them how much he loved them, as if they were two-year-olds.
The most disturbing part of the show was that I knew that people all over the country—many of them not knowledgeable about wildlife—were watching.
When a child sees a man on television romancing a five-hundred-pound bear, what’s to stop that child from thinking it can pick up and pet the next raccoon it sees, or hug a neighborhood deer? More people are harmed by deer, moose, and even cattle every year than by bears or mountain lions.
The tragedy didn’t end with the death of Treadwell and his companion. Park rangers killed two grizzlies in the vicinity of Treadwell’s camp the next day. It’s ironic that a man whose stated goal was to protect the bears ended up being the cause of their demise.
Mark Matthews is a contributor to Writers on the Range (hcn.org), a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. He writes in Missoula, Montana.