Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brazilian Dog Walks Two Miles to Feed Her Friends

Every once in a while you hear a story about the selflessness of a non-human animal that just takes your breath away. This is one of those stories. This video, narrated in Portuguese, tells the story of a dog named Lillica who lives in a junkyard in São Carlos, Brazil, and who walks two miles every night to meet with a kindly woman who rescues animals. The woman, Lucia Helena de Souza, makes a bag of food, and gives it to Lillica, who eats some of it. When she's done, Lucia ties up the bag, and Lillica carries it all the way back to the junkyard where she then gives it to the other animals--a dog, a cat, chickens, and a mule--who live with her at the junkyard.  The selflessness and honor she shows is truly a lesson for us all. As Lucia says to Lillica, who has been navigating a dangerous road every night for three years to feed her friends, Vá com Deus (go with God).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bacon as "Unanimous Food"

A new Oscar Mayer commercial depicts an unhip father trying to fit in with his son and his friends (one of whom is a boy of color) to finagle a piece of "bacon."  The first thing that strikes me as potentially problematic is Oscar Mayer utilizing a white male to make light of nonwhite culture.  Equally problematic, however, is the assumption that flesh consumption is "unanimous":  "When it comes to common language  we all speak bacon."  This slogan not only hints at a racial divide, but also works to normalize Nonhuman Animal consumption.  "Bacon" is not a unanimous food; it is a food of the privileged and a product of immense suffering and injustice.  It may not be accidental that all of the actors are male (as women are more likely to be vegan or vegetarian).  This could be normalizing male consumption patterns as universal to everyone, thus devaluing "feminine" concerns with Nonhuman Animal exploitation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Horses Help Computer Addicts in Korea

Animal-assisted therapy--in which specially trained animals provide assistance and comfort to people with disabilities or traumas--has been around for years, and a relatively new form of AAT is called equine-assisted therapy, in which caring for and riding horses is used to help those with emotional and psychological problems, as well as to help those with physical disabilities.

In South Korea, one of the world's most wired societies, hundreds of thousands of people are addicted to life on the Internet. While most of these are teenagers, many are adults as well, including some whose addiction to online role-playing games has resulted in suicide or death, as in the case of a couple who neglected their three month old daughter to the point where she died of malnutrition.

One new response to the problem is the rise of horse therapy centers specifically aimed at treating internet addicted children and teens; it is thought that by encouraging young people to form bonds with horses, they will lose their need to go online and seek emotional solace in online fantasy worlds. According to proponents, the program is so successful, and the need is so great, that the Korean Riding Association plans to open an additional 30 centers in the next ten years.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dolphins Help Seal Find His/Her Way Home

Lately there have been a number of stories in the media about dolphins; there was the injured dolphin who found his way into the Gowanus Canal and later died amidst the filth there; there was the dolphin with fishing line wrapped around his fin who appealed to some divers for help; and there was the disabled dolphin who was adopted by a pod of sperm whales.

These stories appeal to us because humans love dolphins--they are among the most charismatic of all the animals; intelligent, friendly, and compassionate.

In today's story, a family of bottlenose dolphins help a young seal pup who has been stranded, and has become too exhausted to swim. With the help of the dolphins, the seal regains his strength and begins to swim again, and while we don't know what his fate is, he looks to be strong enough to be on his own again.

Dolphins are known to engage in this kind of altruistic behavior--not just to their own kind, but to members of other species, including humans. That is certainly one reason why we love them so much.