Saturday, October 6, 2012

Trailer Tales: Balancing Evil with Big-Hearted Behavior

As you may imagine, my reading is frequently filled with the unconscionable things people do to animals. Here are a few I’ve come across since Wednesday:

1. To desensitize the horse who doesn’t like having his/her ears touched, some folks twist and pull the horse’s ears, sometimes to the point of breaking the cartilage. It’s an Old West version of “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” A blogger believed this had been done to the horse she’d recently adopted and is now rehabilitating.

2. To counter the horse who fights having a bit in her/his mouth, some folks turn the horse’s head to the side and tie the tight rein to a stirrup (the one connected to the saddle on the horse’s back). They may leave the horse immobilized in that position for hours. One blogger suggests: “Before you think of doing this to your horse, tie the top of your head to your knee with a shortened length of rope and see what you learn!”

3. To retire a breeder dog who’s no longer a top producer, one option is to dump her along a road. One such dog was discovered near San Francisco this week—thrown from a car, bloody, emaciated, still swollen from her recent (and final) litter. Thankfully, a Good Samaritan found her and took her to BadRap Barn.

My ability to sift and steel through these stories fluctuates. I don’t share many of them on Lull because I want to spare you the disgust and hopelessness and rage and sick, sick feelings these atrocities bring out in me. And yet, I believe we have to be aware of some (though not all) of these situations if we want to change the world. We need to know the details in order to prevent them from happening in the future. We need to know our enemies and how they operate.

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”
—from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Are you still reading? I hope so, because we’re finally getting to the good stuff—the other side of the balance sheet. The two positive stories I heard or read this week each involve a horse trailer…

Anna Blake, a horse trainer, wrote about a client of hers who was moving to a new state. The first piece of good news is that, unlike so many people who get rid of their animals before moving (or even before going on vacation), the client was taking her critters along. What’s more, the client insisted on riding in the trailer with them: three draft horses, two donkeys, and a parrot—each a rescue, each with some kind of challenge. The woman packed a cooler, a sleeping bag, and a chaise longue into the trailer and settled in for the 26-hour ride. She would spend that time calming her companions and watching for signs of discomfort or illness.

I love her deep concern and care for her charges. This warm-and-fuzzy story alone was enough to buoy my emotions over the evils roiling within my reading reach. But last night I heard about a more impressive animal advocate.

A woman (a friend of a friend) attended an auction in Pennsylvania (I don’t know which one; my friend was lean on details) with trailer in tow because she fully expected to purchase a horse. She stayed for the whole auction, but by its end, she didn’t hold the winning bid for anyone. She would be going home to her 700+-acre farm with an empty trailer.

She returned to her vehicle only to find FOUR creatures packed into her trailer! Someone apparently hadn’t sold them and, not wanting to keep the horses any longer, dumped them in the least guilt-inducing way that came to mind: Leave the animals in someone else’s trailer—make the animals someone else’s problem.

Fortunately for the ponies, the friend of my friend is not the abandoning kind. She shifted her mindset from going home empty-trailered to planning how to introduce her herd at home to these four new horses—horses who might otherwise have ended up taking that long, painful journey to the abattoirs South of the Border.

Some folks simply don’t know how to be good; they need role models to emulate. Other folks? Well, they bewilder me. But I’ll keep searching for a way in to their deeply hidden reserve of emotional intelligence.

Meanwhile, let’s circulate these trailer tales. They’re spirit-lifting, plus they might prompt others to tap into their own goodness the next time an opportunity arises.

[Paintings by George Stubbs.]

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