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Posts Tagged ‘critters’

…doing the impossible before breakfast: Mule gives birth (NPR).

They don’t know yet whether the foal is a mule, with 63 chromosomes, or a donkey, with 62. Or a chimera.

Maybe the little guy is the savior to the overworked beasts of burden, a virgin birth to a lowly pack mule. Born to lead to freedom all hooved mammals who labor without surcease and find their rewards to be, not retirement in green pastures, but a trip to the knackers. Orwell’s prefigurement made flesh, and Boxer the patron saint. “I will work harder.”

Goddess grant it, in our lifetimes, eh?

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Usually having a cat curl up next to you is a good thing. Not if you’re at this particular hospice, though, and it’s this particular cat.

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Some friends were praising it highly online, the new Disney/Pixar movie ‘Ratatouille’. I saw an excerpt on TiVo, and discovered that I am turning into a Grown-Up. Clearly I need to go off and do Irresponsible Things.

All I could think was: RAT. There’s a RAT in the KITCHEN. It’s in the PANS! It’s RUNNING OVER THE FOOD!!! OMG.

I actually got a gag reflex thinking about it. Maybe if they’d made the main character less of an obvious RAT, cuted it up a bit instead of the big naked tail and hairless paws and general “Gak! A RAT!” ness of it.

I find mice cute, but I know what rats can do and they squick me. Pet rats I can sort of cope with, even though I’m not into them. Anyway.

I was really surprised by my reaction. And no way would I see the movie!

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…including practices that will be thought of as sheerest quackery 50 years from now, as were some of today’s practices 50 years ago. I’m not interested in outlawing science, not even remotely. I AM interested in calling attention to the fact that a lot of *really bad science* seems to insist on being afforded the same respect as good science.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2465/is_4_30/ai_63699790

“…
Animals differ amongst themselves and – most importantly – from humans in their reactions to chemicals. Penicillin for instance, therapeutic for humans, will kill a guinea-pig or a hamster; while strychnine, favourite weapon of the murderer, is harmless to the same guinea-pig, a chicken or a monkey.

How, Croce asks, if animals differ so much from humans in their reactions, can one test drugs on them intended for humans? Worse still, how can you test the efficacy of a drug intended for a particular human illness on an animal that does not suffer from the same disease?

The vivisectionist responds by artificially inducing the disease in the animal. In the case of osteoarthritis, for example, the researcher attempts to mimic the human deformity using dogs, sheep and cats by beating joints with hammers or injecting them with irritants. As Croce says, it is incomprehensible that such a procedure, which produces no more than fracture and inflammation in the joint, can be used as an acceptable model of human ostenarthritis.
…”

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Most people grow up so far out of touch with animals that they probably shouldn’t even be doing animal research. Researchers ‘surprised’ by dogs’ abilities? Did any of them grow up with a family dog?

Growing up with one or more dogs, two or more cats, and various numbers of goats, chickens, and occasionally pigs, a steer, and a horse, one not only sees a wide range of animal behavior, one sees how the animals adapt to other animals and to other people. This is a level of experience that ought to be mandatory for folks doing animal research.

One can say that it introduces a bias toward thinking of animals as more people-like or more sentient than they may be. What about the bias of someone who assumes by default that they are not? Already researchers are questioning the dog studies mentioned in the previous article, and saying they may be clever imitation based on hidden cues, a “Clever Hans” effect. Grr.

We already have dozens of examples of animals using language and tools, ranging from the larger primates, which doesn’t seem to shock anybody, to parrots, dogs, cetaceans, various birds, etc. There are the elephant society studies that have recently become news. The whale dialects. The prairie-dog vocabulary, including the ability to invent, transmit, and re-use multi-word constructs (shades of High German). The list just goes on and on and on.

It’s not a specific brain size, kids. Consciousness and self-awareness is a property of life. Do what you need to for survival. Choose what you need for your comfort. Give up what you can in compassion. Start remaking society with your economic choices as well as your personal ones.

I found the pasture-raised eggs people at the MV Farmer’s Market on Sunday. No more ‘cage-free’ or ‘free-range’ eggs from huge, open, ammonia-laden henhouses with a scheduled 4-hour timeslot into a bare dirt pen. 😦 Now I need to find a source of local pasture-raised milk. Or stop drinking the damn stuff. Buying fancy cheese just got both really tough and really easy– a lot of the expensive stuff I usually avoid is from pasture or mountain ranged sheep and goats, even cows.

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posted this great Washington Post article about cognitive reasoning and inference in dogs, who behaved similarly to 14-month-old children in an inference test. And I just have to RANT, seeing the ‘wow, who knew?’ tone of this article (not at him, at the world in general).

I grew up with animals. They really ARE there— there is someone home, they are not meat puppets or objects for our convenience. We are committing slavery and genocide on a vast scale, all over this earth, often for no better reasons than convenience or sheer ignorance.

I don’t deny the legitimacy of (some) scientific research; I deny the legitimacy of LD-50 and Draize tests, of needless vivisection for ‘training’ purposes.

I don’t deny the freedom to choose to eat meat; I deny the system that makes the ‘choice’ a stroll through a bright supermarket, picking up clean, odorless, protein packages adorned with brightly smiling cartoons, while at the same time condemning the animals that become the package contents to a hellish and painful existence in ammonia-soaked feedlots and coops, drugged and mutilated to prevent their natural outrage from expressing itself.

I don’t deny the need of people to spread out and to use land for farming, housing, lumber, recreation; I deny the smokescreen of hype that deludes people into believing that their lawns are safe and sustainable, that their agriculture isn’t creating poisons, that their housing ‘in the country’ isn’t causing the very problems they are fleeing.

I don’t deny the ‘right’ to ‘use’ our public park systems and wild lands; I deny the attitude that “we’re not hurting anything” when we hike, play music, ride atvs and snowmobiles and water jets, etc in wilderness. Ever lived next to a home having outdoor contracting done? They’re not hurting you, are they? They’re just making noise when you may not want it, startling you occasionally, making you think twice about using your bbq outside because you don’t want paint/sawdust/whatever on your food, etc. Every day. Every damn day. Still feeling good about it? But they’re not DOING anything to you. Right.

I deny the mindset that uses terms like ‘vacant’ land for ecosystems, that declares a field ‘fallow’ if it houses a meadow where no farm animals graze. I deny the mindset that judges nature and the earth solely according to its utility and beauty in the eye of human beholders, ignoring any dignity and worth it may have in its own right.

Let’s not even get into the parallels between electrocution as capital punishment and the standard manner in which farmed fur such as fox and mink are dispatched for ‘processing’, namely being taunted into biting a metal muzzle grip and having a cattle prod shoved up their ass to electrocute them. Fluffs the fur nicely, you see. Now all you little goth wenches go out and give your giggly little fox tail the decent burial it deserves. I’ve got one scheduled for mine. 😦

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Wish I’d had my camera in reach last night– if either Mike or I had gotten up to get it, the picture would have moved.

Snark was curled up next to me on the couch in one of her typical pretzel poses. Looking down at her from my seated vantage, I suddenly realized that she was doing the classic celtic knotwork cat pose, and obviously enjoying it very much. When I would rub her tummy, she would stretch her limbs further into the pose!

Her back and head made most of a circle (250ish degrees of arc). Bottom front and back legs stretched out to make an obtuse angle, a wide V that hung partly over the edge of the couch. Top front and back legs were the opposite, going towards her middle. Back leg and foot came out partway across the inner circle arc, with foot stretched out so it was parallel to the bottom-layer front foot that splayed outward. Top-layer front arm and foot stretched way out parallel to the bottom-layer back leg, and grabbing top-layer back leg firmly above the hock. Tail, between legs, came into the middle in a rounded concave arc, which became convex, with the last couple of inches of tail recurving like a bow-tip.

Sounds *really complicated*, gotta start leaving the camera on the coffee table when I sit on the couch at night. She does this all the time, and I never quite recognized it before. Had been reading the Geographic article on Jamestown and the Penobscot farming practices earlier in the day, and looking at the paint patterns of the Penobscot man depicted in the article, which led to thinking about celtic bodywork patterns, and then the “oh!” lightbulb, looking down at the Snarkster. Cool!

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