The man and the Angel.
A man dies and is on his way to Heaven. He is met at the pearly gates by a group of Angels.
One steps down towards the man and starts looking into his face. He looks at his arms and his legs. He examines his hands.
The man said to this Angel “What are you looking at or what are you looking for?”
“ Wounds” replied the Angel. “I am looking for your wounds”.
“I have none” replied the man with confusion in his eyes.
The Angel looked into the man’s eyes and replied. “You lived life and fought for nothing? You lived a life and found nothing worth fighting for?”
When I was told this short story, it touched something inside me and I spent the evening considering the subjects which are most important to me on a personal level and considered how many wounds of note that Angel would find on me. I know my main fight and my life’s work (no surprise to anyone who regularly reads my articles or who knows me personally) is one for improved animal welfare and education. The subject of animal sentience.
Educating people is everything. Helping pet owners to better understand behaviour and the influences which trigger unwanted behaviour, leading them to make management and training alterations for success. So what does success mean? It means that if you can change the animal on the emotional level then it finds peace, calmness, feels safe and as such its behaviour and quality of life will improve beyond measure. https://www.instinctivehorsetraining.co.uk/services/handling-issues/
All one can ever do is one small thing at a time. Help one person to help one pet at a time – be it horse or dog etc. The ripple effect is noted here because if fear is the trigger to violent behaviour in a horse, for example, towards a vet or a farrier, then they themselves become safer in its presence, as does the handler. Fears are created by past experiences so we need to understand how we can change the immediate outcome for the animal by breaking training down into micro-steps and building in a highly valuable reinforcement history. Its called behaviour shaping and the pet is rewarded with high-value food as well as relief that everything is starting to feel different in a very good way. Life gets better for them on a daily basis.
Social media helps me get the training possibilities out into a greater audience view which in turn may persuade some people to change what they are doing and research learning theory, behavioural science, clicker training, positive reward training or seek out help from a proper behaviour trainer/consultant etc. There is a brilliant new book just launched, written by Hannah Western of Connection Training. This encyclopedia is an absolute must for horse owners who want clear information about how to start using positive reinforcement techniques with their horses to change future behaviour and build relationship and communication.
It is well worth buying. I am impressed with how well written it is and how they focus on the emotional wellbeing of the horse at all times.
This said, how can we move to influence change in a larger way to meet a far greater audience and to have a greater impact on the lives of our most vulnerable charges? Significant change needs to come from the top – our elected Government and MP’s. We so badly need them to grant animals sentiency, in law and ban live exports from the UK. Is the life of a pet more valuable than quality of life for a farmed species? Does one deserve a better life in our care than the other?
ANIMAL SENTIENCE IS REAL.
Could we have a new start for animals in this new year, with a new Government at the helm and Brexit just around the corner?
WHAT IS ANIMAL SENTIENCE?
All animals are aware of their environment, their feelings and have emotions. These could be negative feelings such as pain, frustration and fear. It is logical to suppose that animals also enjoy feelings of comfort, enjoyment, contentment, and perhaps even great delight and joy. They are capable of making strong social bonds. They all know the joy of play if it is allowed.
We all see the joy in a dog with a squeaky toy or a ball. We see lambs out in fields play with each other and use objects in their environment to jump on and off- just for fun. We see so many examples of exactly the same joyful behaviours in all species of farmed animals if they are given the chance to be able to perform natural behaviours. We see strong maternal bonding in every species of animal worldwide and we witness very observable grief behaviours through separation for their babies, from each other within a herd or group. Death within a group causes observable grief behaviours and mourning in so very many domesticated as well as wild species.
We know they can all make very strong social bonds, show nurture and care. If only our Government would agree to these vastly scientifically proven facts, then the law would force some significant changes in care, housing, management and transport. How is it ever right for the huge trade in 10-day old calves to be shipped from Scotland to the EU for veal production? Just one example where change is so desperately needed. The suffering inflicted to these babies is immense.
I’ve copied these words from online resource – I hope they make us all sit back and think.
Science shows us some interesting abilities in farm animals:
- Sheep can recognise up to 50 other sheep’s faces and remember them for two years
- Cows show excitement when they discover how to open a gate leading to a food reward
- Mother hens teach their chicks which foods are good to eat
- Lame meat chickens choose to eat food which contains a painkiller
Scientists believe that sentience is necessary because it helps animals to survive by:
- learning more effectively from experience in order to cope with the world
- distinguishing and choosing between different objects, animals and situations such as working out who is helpful or who might cause them harm
- understanding social relationships and the behaviour of other individuals.
The growing scientific interest in animal sentience is showing what many people have long thought to be the case which is that a wide range of animals are absolutely thinking, feeling beings. What happens to them as a whole then matters to the quality of life to each individual. 🙂
Our Government needs to follow Brussels, Austria, Slovakia and others who have granted sentience to animals and given them more value in law. The USA still categorise animals as objects and as such, have no rights to feelings, which is appalling in this day and age.
Bring on the wounds to my body for those Angels to see. They are insignificant compared to the emotional wounding we cause day in day out to millions of animals in our “care”.