My little Chow Chow, KC does the cutest thing when she asks for a snack. I always keep an assortment of snacks for the dogs. When KC asks for a snack she seems to have a specific snack in mind. If I don’t offer her the one she is looking for she turns her ahead away and waits for me to offer another kind. She does this until I offer the one she had in mind. I can never predict which one she will go for. It seems so funny to me that she could be hanging out on the patio watching over her backyard and then she thinks to herself, “you know, I could really go for a doggie cookie right about now”.
It isn’t that she just wants a treat, she wants a specific treat. So cute.
Lately I have been reading Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights by Bob Torres. The writer really brings into focus just how pervasive the state of animals as property has become.
“We generally talk of this relationship in magnanimous terms, describing our “care” of animals, as “husbandry,” or as us being guardians of their “welfare,” yet, underneath these comfortable and bucolic notions of animal-human relations, there is a system of exploration that yields value for the producer while denying the animal her right to live fully (page 66).
No one who knows me would ever consider my dogs anything but loved and pampered. I would never sell or give away my dogs. The idea is as abhorrent to me as the thought of giving away a family member. However, as much as I try to respect my dogs and care for them the reality is that they are my property and I benefit from owning them. This wasn’t a choice they made.
KC’s routine of asking for snacks highlights this for me. Why is it that this seems so “cute” to me? Because in trying to make her own choice, my dog is doing something that I think is the inherent right of humans, and a little funny that a dog is acting like it has a choice? My dogs eat healthy food but it is the same food every breakfast and dinner and it is what I think they should have. Why? Because they are dogs and they don’t really care what they eat…or so I tell myself. How do I know? I leave them alone at home every day when I go to work, but believe it is ok because they are dogs and they have each other. How do I know what it is like for dogs to be alone all day? Why do I assume dogs are less lonely or less bored than anyone else with nothing to do for hours on end? They get baths when I say they should and they go to bed when I decide it is time. The only real choice KC gets to make is her choice of snack (of course within the limits of the snack selections I buy for her).
Before KC thinks to herself “I could really go for a doggie cookies right about now”, is she on the patio looking over her backyard dreaming of being able to run as far and fast as she wants? My dogs have been denied a right to live a full life because they have been made into property, my property. I get to have them live in my home and by my rules merely because it is what I want. I don’t like the idea that they are my “property” but it is a fact.
I’m not an idealist. I know that domesticated animals need to be cared for and I know that it isn’t possible to let them live free. Actually, it would be far, far more cruel to turn domesticated animals lose to live “free”. But that doesn’t mean I can claim that no part of me sees them as property or at least a little less than humans. I don’t want to. I try to deny it. But society is so filled with speciesism that I’m not sure how I completely eliminate it from my interaction with those who are not human.
But at least I’m aware and I’m trying.
Maybe I’ll go offer KC some snacking options.