June 7, 2015

Eating Cows but Loving Dogs.

Christopher Johnson on Flickr

“And here are the ashes from all our former dogs,” our hostess said, pointing to a glassed in case of shelving in the hallway filled with miniature urns.

I wondered to myself what in the world should someone say in such a situation?

“I’m so sorry,” or, “How sad,” or, what I almost said, “Are you kidding ?” Somehow I knew enough to tread lightly and was able to mumble a soft but brief commiserating sound of some sort.

Out on the patio introductions were made all round, to include the comment that we were the neighbors from across the street who were animal lovers, just like them.

“Animal lovers?”

“Just like them?”


It’s not that I’m an animal hater. But I would be the last person anyone, if they knew me, would call an “animal lover.”

If being an animal lover means loving the smell, the drooling, the poop in the back yard, the dander in the hallway, the hair on the furniture, the dead birds on the porch or the dead rats in the garage, then I am definitely not an animal lover. I have loved one particular animal who I lived with and who I had a relationship with, but in general, I haven’t given animals much thought per se.

While I don’t eat animals, I would never claim it is because I am an animal lover. I have other reasons for not eating them.

My neighbor however, was the opposite of me.

She loved animals. All animals. She just loved them. She said so. She couldn’t stand to see them suffer and would even stop her car on the freeway to save a poor animal from being lost or confused or otherwise smashed to smithereens by oncoming traffic. She “rescued” animals—any kind of animal that needed it and she didn’t use cosmetics that used animals for testing. Animals were her passion.

Yes. My neighbor was an animal lover.

Her husband, not so much.

At least that was my take on it. He was the one with the barbecue full of steak.

“Bill,” the hostess said, “here are our neighbors from across the street. They’re the ones who walk the Border Collie all the time”—at which point she asked, by the way where was Sasha?

Oh god, how I did not want to mention the fact that we had to put our Border Collie down. It made my husband sad to talk about her, he’d had her for over 10 years and they were definitely pals. Besides, we didn’t have an urn of ashes with Sasha’s remains anywhere to be found in our house, so I left it up to my husband to break the news, just as Bill called out to me from the BBQ.

“What are you drinking?”

“Tequila,” I said, handing him the bottle I had brought as he threw a couple more big pieces of raw animal flesh on the grill.

I looked at the steaks—huge t-bones—and had the random impulse to ask Bill if he kept all the ashes from all the dead animals he ate too?

But I didn’t.

I just don’t get it.

How can there be a world of animal lovers out there who don’t want domesticated animals or even laboratory animals maltreated, but who don’t mind eating animals themselves, every day, in every way shape and form.

Cuddling a puppy and calling yourself an animal lover but eating a cow for dinner seems weird to me, like there is some kind of disconnect.

If cows were domesticated animals, would it be the same thing? Would we love them and protect them and take them to the cow psychologist or the cow dermatologist or put their pictures on Facebook right up there next to the pictures of our own real live human children and then have barbecued dog for dinner?

Why not?

What makes one animal eat-worthy and one not. 

I mean, aren’t they all animals. If a person “loved animals” why would they eat one and not the other?

I had a friend once who was a psychologist. He had the lingo down.

“Because they’re asleep,” I could hear him saying. “But then, honey,” he would add plenty of times, “You’re asleep about a lot of things too,” and proceed to give me an example, which I didn’t like very much.

Probably if I pointed out to my hostess the dichotomy between calling herself an animal lover and eating animals who are slaughtered, so that her husband can put them on the grill for a Saturday afternoon BBQ, she wouldn’t like it very much either.

Nobody likes to be awakened.

I know I don’t.

It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me want to dive back under the covers.

It makes me want to go right back to sleep.


Relephant read:

Estee Lauder, Avon & Mary Kay have Resumed Animal Testing (after 20 year Hiatus).


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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Natasha Sep 6, 2015 3:33pm

This is indeed a tough topic and one not pleasant to try to think of, but in my opinion the reason we eat some animals and love others is the same reason other wild animals do the same. Dogs and horses have allowed society to flourish with their loyalty and aid to humans providing us with a symbiotic relationship of mutualism. We both benefit. We both get love and companionship. Pets are fed by us and depending on the circumstance the animals provide us aid in verying things from sports to police work. It’s the same way a relationship between a wolf and raven works. They help each other find food and have been known to bond with one another. A wolves’ relationship with their prey is predation as opposed the the mutualism they have with the raven. It’s wrong for us to treat livestock so poorly during their lives but they are our prey animals, they have never engaged in a more mutualistic relationship with us so they end up as prey animals. Pets on the other hand have related to us much better and that’s what makes them pets and not livestock. Livestock are not lesser and need to be raised more humanely but thy haven’t connected with us in the same way horses or dogs have.

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Carmelene Siani

Carmelene is a 77-year-old freelance writer who has been published at Elephant Journal, Better after 50, Huffington Post, The Reader, and Broad Magazine among others. Her stories are personal narratives on grief, family, food, and late-life love. Her aim is to help others see the ways that life is constantly opening to reveal its own lessons. She lives by the dictum of Muriel Rukeyser that “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

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