42 & 43 Animals | Our Furry, Feathered, and Finned Friends

And all the others that might be left out by those 3 Fs!

I’m going to go ahead and combine the next two Arts for reasons of time and, well, modernity.

42 Stockbreeding

Raising and training rams, cocks, fighting partridges, and organizing battles, as for an army.

43 Teaching parrots and mynah birds to talk

As most sorts of organized animal fighting are illegal–not to mention morally questionable–in this country, I’m not going down the road of building an animal army. But there is something to be said (a lot of somethings, perhaps) on the subject of caring for our animal companions and even the concept of humane treatment of those animals which are grown for food.

And sometimes the line gets blurred.

My ex-husband’s family lived out in the country with a fair amount of land. Each year they would purchase a cow to raise and then have it slaughtered locally to fill their freezer. One year my ex’s little brother got attached to that year’s cow, named it and everything, and you can imagine the tough times that caused at dinner for a while.

Unfortunately, their idea of steak was plate-sized and paper thin (okay, something like 1/2 inch or just under) and the only way they cooked it was well-done. Now that, my friends, is one cow that died in vain.

With homesteading and other self-sufficiency ideals returning, rabbits and chickens are more commonly kept for meat and eggs, respectively, as they take up much less space than, say, cows or hogs might, and require less grazing room than even a goat or two, so better suited to urban or suburban set-ups. And if aquaculture is more your thing, I remember seeing in an episode of Doomsday Preppers where one family had turned their in-ground pool into a greenhouse and small lake and bred tilapia–they apparently multiply quicker than rabbits!

On the other side of the coin, of course, are pets.

Our home is currently sans members of the 4-legged variety, though I know Todd would really like to have a dog again if (when!) his schedule permits. I’m all for it, too–I may have had to re-home my rat terrier, Abigail, several years ago when my health and travel schedule did not permit me to spend as much time with her as she deserved, but I think a home with more people than pets is a good ratio for success when I’m one of the people involved. Being able to tag-team pet parenting is vital for me.

A few months ago I even reviewed a cookbook for dogs, if you’ve ever thought of decreasing or even eliminating the kibble and processed dog foods from your canine’s diet.

Lots of our friends are cat people and, as much as I appreciate their self-sufficiency in many ways, the slight allergy I developed to them after not having one around (grew up with cats when I lived at home with Mom) prevents me from considering them as an option (even if I was willing to have a litter box in the house, which I’m really not keen on).

Fish never did much for me–maybe it was all those carnival-won goldfish that didn’t live very long that soured me on them–but I know many people take great pride in their aquariums and find them very comforting. And while the same could be said for rodents and snakes, I think I’ll pass on those, too.

Making a friend in Roatan
Making a friend in Roatan while on a cruise excursion (2009)–sure, he was more interested in eating my headband than smiling for the picture, but what can you do?!

Now, birds on the other hand, they are really amazing. Sure, they can be messy pets–throwing seeds about and all that–but I can see where the attraction lies. Coincidental to the art at hand, I’ve had a few encounters with the talking varieties and they really are something else.

My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Walper, had a parrot named Bogey. (He was an African Grey, I think, I can’t be absolutely certain but the pictures I’ve found look like what I remember.) Anyway, Bogey was quite the prankster as my teacher also had an elderly Schnauzer named Sheba and Bogey would call Sheba’s name and confuse that poor dog like you would believe! He also liked to sing ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ as I recall. Bogey had a large cage with lots of rungs to play on in Mrs. W’s office and also had a perch in the Florida room where we’d get to visit with him during some of our Sunday study sessions leading up to state competition. (If you hadn’t yet figured out I was more than a bit of a nerd in school, that should tip you off!) Bogey also got sent to “jail” when he was especially naughty (jail being the guest room shower stall–it was not a tough life he led).

Later on I learned that parrots, in general, often out-live their first owners and a reputable breeder can and often does insist upon knowing who will care for the feathered one after it’s companion’s demise! This is smart since they can live 70 to 100+ years when properly cared for. It’s tough enough, sometimes, for cats and dogs to find good homes when their human has passed away, I would imagine the care of a parrot would be a lot to take on for many!

Still, it’s an important consideration–not just for parrots. Being responsible for any creature–human or otherwise–is a big commitment! And unlike children who (for the most part) grow up and can eventually take care of themselves, our pets will always depend on us for their well-being. In fact, when I see pan-handlers on the street with dogs tethered to them, I usually feel more sorry for the animals than the people–they had even less choice in their situation than their humans, that’s for sure!

What are your feelings on pets? Are they a part of your livelihood, companions, or not part of it at all?

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