Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Sadness of Selling Animals

One of the television commercials set to air during this year's Super Bowl features the relationship between a Clydesdale and the rancher who raises him.

After watching a montage during which we see the rancher not just raise the horse but sleep with and grow incredibly close to him, we see him sell him to Budweiser where he will become one of their famous pack horses, riding in parades and other public events to promote the Budweiser brand.

When the horses come to Chicago, the rancher drives to the city to see the horses, where the horse he raised recognizes him, and, after the parade, breaks free from the others and runs to greet his long lost friend. The commercial ends with man and horse in an embrace, and an awful lot of viewers in tears.

I too was moved by the commercial. Clearly, the man and the horse shared a bond. But that bond wasn't broken by a death or other tragedy. It was broken because the rancher sold the horse to Budweiser. After all, he's a horse breeder. That's what he does: he raises and sells animals for profit.

It's a complicated business, selling animals for profit. Even people who raise and sell animals for slaughter often become attached to the animals they raise. But part of the job is hardening oneself against those emotions, and putting the business of making money first.

Budweiser wants the viewer to get emotionally invested in the love story between the man and the horse, and it's easy to do that. It's less easy to celebrate the reason for their separation.

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