I’m glad I read your post, and I also agree that you pose some excellent questions. I didn’t consider the similarities of humans and rats as clearly until I read your thoughts, and it’s certainly true. I think I spent too much time making broad generalizations to realize that rats do wreck havoc on their environment in the same way humans do. However, rats follow humans and don’t tend to initiate the destruction, at least in my understanding, that has to be points for team rats, right?
I definitely find your associations with rats interesting. I agree that rats have a certain picture in my mind, but isn’t it interesting that many of us have this image without ever having seen a real rat?? I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen, as you mention, a rat running into a sewer, other than in movies. These ideas are so greatly intertwined into our culture that we’re not even sure what their origins are anymore. And as you stated, in reality, rats have contributed so much to scientific research. And even in that context, they’re often portrayed in movies as becoming mutants or getting violently ill when treated with a harmful toxin. And the image doesn’t horrify us because they’re only dirty, useless rats, right? I think wrong, as I believe you do, too.
I agree that your post isn’t one-sided. I was really interested to read this story. In my opinion, the most devastating part of the story is that all those rabbits had to be brutally killed simply for existing in a place they didn’t belong. I don’t mean to sound like a hippie here, because it’s certainly true that the risk to human health by diseases carried in rabbits is certainly an issue, but I think if animal welfare could be considered a little more in decisions like the one this hunter made to bring the rabbits with him, it could have saved a lot of trouble. I think this story demonstrates the problem with our culture, which is that animal welfare is hardly considered until human welfare is first taken care of. Maybe the mutual benefit that has been missing in domestication for a long time could be introduced to our actions towards wild animals as well.
My favorite part of the reading was also definitely the connection to culture. I think that the things you mentioned, such as using pets as status symbols and recent trends of desiring exotic pets, are all things that were done with human wants as the driver, and no concern for what humans actually need, and more importantly what is best for the animals. I think it’s a shame that one of the biggest aspects missing from so called human culture is a lack of consideration for the environment and for the ecosystem, including the animals that are vital to ecosystems.
Though I’m interested in the discussion that compares your comments to racism among humans, I’m more intrigued by your connection to pastoral societies and nomadic societies and the dictation on their religion. I think you’ve picked up on something here, especially in that pastoral societies have developed a religion that mirrors their relationship with God as their shepherd. Furthermore, God granted Adam dominion over animals, which I think has had a lasting impression on the relationship with animals in a Christian society, in which humans are viewed as the most important beings and all other creatures are at our mercy. This is different from the society of the reindeer people in which all living things have souls and a consciousness just like humans do. This could have a very lasting impression on how each of those societies treat their domesticated animals.
First, I’m very interested that you experienced real reindeer burgers. That’s so strange to me! I think it strikes me as odd because I picture reindeer as horses in our culture, and it would be very weird for us to eat horse burgers. Also, I’m really glad that you brought up the commodification of the reindeer. I was interested in this topic from Goat Song, and it was definitely on my mind all throughout this week’s reading. I like the comparison you made between communism and capitalism. In my opinion, Soviet communism doesn’t look at all like the communism laid out by Marx and Engels that was brought up in Goat Song. Based on this, I think the commodification of domesticated animals has been very similar in Soviet communism, American capitalism, and many other political structures in the world. I think Reindeer People does a good job of explaining the way our relationship with animals has shifted as humans have entered the modern era. I’m probably biased along with you on my desire to dive much further into the topic of political structures and their influence on domestication!
I totally feel the same way about having a new appreciation for goats. I had no idea they were so intelligent. The research you brought up is really interesting. In my opinion, I would also agree that it seems t be the domestication that has formed their behavior. Given that humans give them their milk from birth, I could see how they become so deeply bonded with people. The bond you mentioned that formed as they nursed their goat back to health is still interesting, though, given that the goat seemed to form a bond with a different human than the one that fed her from birth (if I remember the story correctly). Perhaps they don’t differentiate between humans, or perhaps the goat was aware she as being cared for, making for a truly remarkable behavior. Regardless, I’m also really glad I was able to learn and gain appreciation for this amazing animal.
I do agree that the portion on breeding was hard to get through, however to make the point that you gathered from his story, I think it was necessary. After reading this section, in a state a disgust the whole time, I realized that’s exactly what he wanted us to feel. We’ve become so disconnected with animals that we don’t even want to think about the most basic of animal processes. It was between the breeding and comments such as the one about removing blood clots from the milk (which made me gag a little) that I realized how much the “out of sight out of mind” concept we discussed earlier this semester is so applicable here. Although I didn’t fully appreciate the images initially, I’m glad Kessler opened my eyes to the reality of how our food is produced.
I had some similar thoughts during the reading. I think it takes us back to the discussion we had a few weeks ago about coevolution being a part of the domestication of animals. Like you said, it appears that our relationship with cows altered our genetics, and likewise it definitely changed the evolution of cows. It seems to me to be a prime example in the argument that in domesticating animals, humans have actually just been acting within nature. I know we’ve talked about whether or not what humans have done has been “natural,” and it seems to me that the coevolution of humans and cows demonstrates that actions humans have taken are just as natural as the coevolution between any other two species. It’s all part of nature in my view.
I really like your thought about the real issue being monoculture. I see the problem the exact same way. The issue with modern agriculture looks to me to be our insistence in growing one crop (say, corn), time after time, destroying the land and soil in an attempt to meet the demand of people. When I traveled Nicaragua last year, we visited a permaculture farm, where the thought is to model agricultural methods on natural growth tendencies. They had a large variety of species that were naturally prone to the area, and as a result had a very successful growing operation. This requires humans to change their preferences and essentially take whatever happens to be growing at the time instead of trying to force nature to change to our desires. Definitely something to consider.