10 October 2010

Animals Don't Have Feelings

I once volunteered at a county animal shelter that had a fabulously well-organized volunteer crew. It was in a wealthy area with lots of ladies who did not have day jobs, so they could spend hours a week at the shelter, looking after dogs and cats.

They did great work. In addition to the day-to-day dog walking, cage cleaning and customer helping, they would cough up thousands of dollars for crazy things, like hip replacements for young Golden Retrievers. Or for private vet care when the county vet was...oh, God knows what he was. He once cut open a male cat to spay him before he spotted the testicles. Enough said.

All of the ladies had also adopted multiple animals, many of them the hardest-luck cases. Cats with one eye and epilepsy. Dogs who needed shots 3x a day. Things like that.

So of course, because the volunteer crew was organized and functioning like an expensive Swiss watch, the county had to mess with us. They found one of the shelter directors who wanted to retire, but who wasn't quite of age, so instead they gave him a well-paid position as the "Volunteer Coordinator."

He decided to further organize us by having expensive volunteer binders printed and t-shirts (for which we had to pay) made. We all had to show up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday for our "training."

He then had to enlighten us with his theory of animal care.

"Remember, animals don't have feelings," he proclaimed. "It may seem like they do, but we are just projecting human emotions onto them."

All of the air left the room. Everyone glared at him. Every one of us was a stone-crazy animal lover.

Even if he had evidence to back up his proclamation, why would you say that to a room full of 40 women who chose to spend their spare hours covered in fur, dog spit and kitten vomit?

While we were on a break in the bathroom talking about the moron volunteer coordinator, someone stated the truth: "At least this will be the only time we ever see that jackass."

And they were right. Having done his training duty, Mr. Jackass slunk off to collect his county checks and wait for retirement. The volunteers went on running things just like always.

But I think of him often, especially when this happens: I put food in Goldie's bowl. She is hungry, but she does not like the food I have offered. So she walks into the kitchen, licks the edge of the bowl, and gazes at me mournfully.

The message is obvious. "I am hungry. However, I do not choose to eat this crap you have provided me. Please rectify this situation."

She not only HAS feelings. She tries to manipulate my feelings. Or maybe I'm just imagining this.
Note on the header: It is a photo of a day during my unemployment when I decided not to get out of bed. It was about 10 am and Goldie was seriously distressed at my horizontalness. In the photo, she is not resting comfortably. She is menacing me by thumping her head down on my side about every minute or so. Again, she has no feelings and no way to express them.


jonniker said...

We put Sunny to bed the other night (yes, she likes to be carried and kissed good night) and walked through the bathroom so she saw herself in the mirror. I swear, Sue, I SWEAR, she started when she saw her own face reflected back, as does Adam, that she thought, "Wait wait wait -- I'm a ... DOG? I'm not a PERSON?" I really think she thinks she's a baby, like Sam. I mean, why wouldn't she?

Then again, if she doesn't have feelings, then that is taken a little too far, right?

Lynnea said...

They do have feelings. I saw it in her eyes when she was scared to leave me. I saw it in her eyes when they took her to a room not fit for a rat, let alone a poor little dog. I saw her legs shaking and I KNOW they have feelings.

Jackass is far too soft a word for someone like that and why in the name of anything good did that guy work around animals?

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

How could anyone think animals don't have feeling? Anyone who has spent five minutes with a dog should know better.

My cats manipulate me on a fairly constant basis. I think they often feel smug.

Ericka said...

he fancied himself a scientist, didn't he? amazing how many of them completely miss what's going on around them in their attempts to be scientific.

angel apologist said...

...were not you the lady who implied I was addle-pated for thinking my dog gets jealous?

SUEB0B said...

@angel apologist You are addle pated for thinking your dog knows who you are talking to on the phone and gets jealous.

Kizz said...

That guy knew nothing about animals, all the way up to human animals. I keep wanting to say something else good but I'm actually angry at him, even though I know this happened a while ago and didn't impact any animals. What a jackass!

flurrious said...

I don't understand how people can be indifferent to animals, but I really don't understand how people who are indifferent get jobs that require them to care about animal welfare. I'm currently trying to get the city-run shelter to rescue a neighbor's dog who's being badly neglected, and they seriously could not be more bored when I call them about it.

On a less irate note, my cat has lots of feelings, most of them affectionate, but occasionally vengeful. Once she wanted to sit on my lap, but it was being occupied by my laptop. I said something like, "go to bed," to her and she threw a temper tantrum, which only abated when I apologized profusely and scratched her neck for, like, an hour. A couple of days later, I noticed that my laptop was on the other side of the desk and the case was cracked. I can't prove anything, but she knows I know she did it, and she doesn't even care!

angel apologist said...

....not to be arguementitive, but I never said she KNEW whom I was talking to!!!!!! Get way over yourself, SB!!!!!!!!!

.....but I am pretty sure the cat next door is sending me psychic messages.

Glennis said...

Just think what that poor man is missing in life.

scargosun said...

I don't understand that at all. The whole thing is insane. First, animals do have feelings, they have pretty much proved they and by they I mean animal behaviorists. Secondly, WHY is it that people that could give a rats ass about animals get jobs when it IS in fact their job TO give a rats ass...or hopefully more when it comes to animals.

lizgwiz said...

My dog Pudge has nothing BUT feelings. He's just a giant mass of emotions.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

ohmyfrrakinggod you are hilarious! and right. i am a *new* pet owner and even i know that my sweet louie has feelings and expresses them. he cries and my kids swear that he smiles at them. love your writing, love your site!

Anonymous said...

Humans are animals, so someone who says animals don't have emotions don't have emotions themselves

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