And I, a materialist who does not believe in the starry heaven promised to a human being, for this dog and for every dog I believe in heaven, yes, I believe in a heaven that I will never enter, but he waits for me wagging his big fan of a tail so I, soon to arrive, will feel welcomed.
Pablo Neruda (1904 - 1973)
Source: Winter Garden (A Kagean Book) (Spanish Edition), Pages: 61
Whatever the cause, the effect is an unusual amount of confusion on the subject of animals. For at the same time many of us seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to other species, in our factory farms we’re inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any time in history. One by one science is dismantling our claims to uniqueness as a species, discovering that such things as culture, tool making, language, and even possibly self consciousness are not, as we used to think, the exclusive properties of Homo sapiens. And yet most of the animals we eat lead lives organized very much in the spirit of Descartes, who famously claimed that animals were mere machines, incapable of thought or feeling. There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals today in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of a pig – an animal easily as intelligent as a dog – that becomes the Christmas ham.
We tolerate this schizophrenia because the life of a pig has moved out of view; when’s the last time you saw a pig in person? Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. (When was the last time you saw a butcher at work?) The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which the Peter Singers and the Frank Perdues of the world fair equally well.
Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 306
The best feeling I have ever had about dogs came in a primitive Akah village in the mountains of northern Thailand. The Akah keep dogs like we keep chickens and pigs. They treat their cattle as useful working companions, give them names and would never, ever think of eating one. But they eat dogs. They are not pets - dogs are simply food. There are other ways to look at dogs. I am embarrassed by how people talk to dogs. I wonder what dogs must think. You know what I mean. You have heard it. Even dogs think it is weird. Watch a dog when a human does this. The dog can not believe what his is hearing, either. "Does Poochie wantum drinky? No. Poochie wantum go outside."
It is easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America's favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people that it is often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.
Cruelty has cursed the human family for countless ages. It is almost impossible for one to be cruel to animals and kind to humans. If children are permitted to be cruel to their pets and other animals, they easily learn to get the same pleasure from the misery of fellow-humans. Such tendencies can easily lead to crime.