Lucille and the Domestication of Animals

Lucille the Dog is a bit of a free spirit.

I’ve always been resistant to the kind of training done by many dog people.

My thought has always been she (Irish Setter and Poodle mix) has a given character that I need to respect.

She loves people, she loves to run, she loves to chase in the woods or the yard.

Around people she is enthusiastic, yet understanding. If you are comfortable with her, she is comfortable with you. If you are hesitant, she is respectful.

Part of her is wild, part of her is a domestic homemaker.

 

Mitch Seavey’s Dogs Won the Iditarod

What Mitch Seavey had to say about winning the Iditarod…

” ‘They love speed,’ Seavey said of his sled dogs. ‘I think it frustrated them to go too slow, so I just let ’em roll. It was scary because I’ve never gone that far that fast ever, but that’s what they wanted to do and maybe it’s a new chapter.’

“Seavey’s team recorded 10 and 11 mph runs and the separation he built over other racers gave him the flexibility to bank generous rest for his dogs, and himself, as they moved up the Norton Sound coast in the race’s final days.

” ‘They only know one thing and that’s 9.5 to 10 mph and they hit their feet, and they hit their speed and that’s what they do. And they trusted me to stop them when they needed to be stopped, and feed them, and I did that, and they gave me all they could. But I guarantee they’re tired now,’ said the new champion.”

The Rights of Animals

I’ve been reviewing a draft of some new Rhode Island animal treatment regulations.

….also been listening to some talks/lectures on human rights and civil law.

…also, through a series of events ‘beyond my control’, I’ve experienced some grotesque abuse of civil law (in my opinion).

My conclusion is that animals have been in trouble for some time, and animal ‘regulations’ are not going to help much.

In certain specific examples, animal regulations certainly might halt an abuser, but the broader problem is  – in the animal husbandry industry – the generally accepted approaches for the care of animals is driven by a human need to profit more than the common sense of animal care.

What animals need are not ‘rights’… but proper care. Proper care will only result from religiously sound beliefs about animals.

More Thoughts on the Human Manipulation of Biological Characteristics – Transgenics

Transgenics refers to those specific genetic engineering processes that remove genetic material from one species of plant or animal and add it to a different species.

The field of transgenics allows scientists to develop organisms that express a novel trait not normally found in a species; for example, potatoes that are protein rich, or rice that has elevated levels of vitamin A (known as “golden rice”). Transgenics may be also used to save endangered species such as the American Chestnut tree, which is currently being repopulated by Chinese-American chestnut hybrids specifically engineered with a genetic resistance to the chestnut blight—the deadly fungus that nearly decimated native populations in the early 1900s.

Ethical Issues

Transgenic biotechnology presents an exciting range of possibilities, from feeding the hungry to preventing and treating diseases; however, these promises are not without potential peril. Some of the issues that need to be considered are the following:

Social Concerns

  • If the blending of animal and human DNA results, intentionally or not, in chimeric entities possessing degrees of intelligence or sentience never before seen in nonhuman animals, should these entities be given rights and special protections?
  • What, if any, social and legal controls or reviews should be placed on such research?
  • What unintended personal, social, and cultural consequences could result?
  • Who will have access to these technologies and how will scarce resources—such as medical advances and novel treatments—be allocated?

Extrinsic Concerns

  • What, if any, health risks are associated with transgenics and genetically modified foods?
  • Are there long-term effects on the environment when transgenic or genetically modified organisms are released in the field?
  • Should research be limited and, if so, how should the limits be decided? How should the limits be enforced nationally and internationally?

Intrinsic Concerns

  • Are there fundamental issues with creating new species?
  • Are species boundaries “hard” or should they be viewed as a continuum? What, if any, consequences are there of blurring species boundaries?
  • Are chimeras and transgenics more likely to suffer than “traditional” organisms?
  • Will transgenic interventions in humans create physical or behavioral traits that may or may not be readily distinguished from what is usually perceived to be “human”?
  • What, if any, research in genetic engineering should be considered morally impermissible and banned (e.g., research undertaken for purely offensive military purposes)?
  • Will these interventions redefine what it means to be “normal”?

The Issue of Species Boundaries

Some individuals argue that crossing species boundaries is unnatural, immoral, and in violation of God’s laws, which presumes that species boundaries are fixed and readily delineated.15 However, several books and journal articles demonstrate that the concept of fixed species boundaries continues to be a hotly debated topic. Some bioethicists point out that a variety of species concepts exist: biological, morphological, ecological, typological, evolutionary, and phylogenetic, to name a few. All of these definitions of what a species is reflect both changing theories and the varying purposes for which individuals conceptualize and utilize different species.20 If species boundaries are simply a matter of a naming convention, and there are no truly fixed boundaries to cross, then many philosophical objections to transgenics are rendered less problematic.

In addition to the issue of species boundaries, there are other issues that need to be considered and discussed prior to large-scale acceptance and usage of transgenics and other genetic engineering research, including:

  • the risks and benefits of the experimental use of animals;
  • the risk of creating new diseases—for which there is no treatment—by combining animal DNA or human DNA with plant DNA;
  • the potential long-term risks to the environment;
  • the potential for increased suffering of transgenic organisms. Various bioethicists, environmentalists, and animal rights activists have argued that it is wrong to create animals that would suffer as a result of genetic alteration (for example, a pig with no legs) and that such experimentation should be banned.

Source: Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering and Transgenics, Linda MacDonald Glenn

Note: I would add many of these ethical issues are from the perspective there could be some  control/management/regulating of biological manipulations. I believe numerous additional ethical questions arise when you introduce uncertainty over ‘who uses and how’.

Sexual/Gender Identity and Agriculture

Through some research and reading I’ve been doing on moral, ethical, and religious thought related to agriculture I have come across a number of discussions on sexual/gender identity…and a language system that is evolving to discuss sex in politics.

From a sexual human rights website:

Sexual orientation

An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.

Gender identity

One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression

External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Transgender

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Gender dysphoria

Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – “is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.”

Citations of the term dysphoria in Google books database.

Dysphoria is a state of unease or general dissatisfaction with life.

I also find that there is an increasing amount of academic writing redefining the meaning of gender. Traditionally, gender has been described as the state of being male or female…in essence a direct link to human sexual biology. Currently, you can find discussions of the definition of gender that are extensive and take the position that gender is a social construct.

I grew up spending a great deal of time in horse country Kentucky. Long before dysphoria came into use folks have been ‘genetically modifying’ horses (and many other animals) to suit their human needs/desires/social constructs.

Agriculture has also genetically modified seeds to an enormous extent to suit their human needs/desires/social constructs.

How do we, as a society and a community, evolve ethically, morally, and religiously given our current willingness to profoundly alter the biological characteristics of plants, animals, and ourselves?

How can we know with any certainty what we are creating?

How do we evaluate the risks we are taking?

Do we know with certainty that we are not creating catastrophic biological conditions for Earth?

Lucille and Livestock

Due to ‘circumstances beyond my control’ I am, beginning about a month ago, the sole caregiver for a wonderful dog.

Lucille is a mix of Irish Setter and Poodle. She is 10 years old (and we’ve been together since she was a puppy).

She is beautiful…with a lovely personality….a great companion.

I’ve been bringing her to the office …which she seems to enjoy…as she continues to make new friends.

She has been a wonderful gift…and a privilege to care for her.

When you search Google for livestock a definition pops up:

farm animals regarded as an asset

I grew up on the edge of farm country in Kentucky. I was a city kid (mostly) but spent time with dogs and farm animals as a child.

…never as a child did I see a farm animal as a commodity. Food, yes. Financially valuable, yes.

But not a commodity.

Did not matter if it was the goofy chicken or the super smart herding dog, they were our companions.

My great grandfather on mother’s side and my grandfather had a large truck farm – with pigs and chickens. They slaughtered animals with names and personalities…and prayed the Bible at dinner to mourn the dead and give gratitude for the food.

It was simple,  small,  dignified, and lovely.

Just like Lucille.

Mystery, Original Sin, Agriculture

I’ve been reading a new work by an old friend, Wendell Berry, titled A Small Porch.

Also…have been reading from the writings of Russell Moore, ethicist for the Southern Baptist congregations.

Both writers are concerned about our societal loss of soul.

Industrial animal agriculture and the treatment of soil by industrial grain farming are unfortunate and enormous examples of a loss of soul.

Mr. Berry points out the inherent mystery in our universe…how, whatever new knowledge we gain, there ALWAYS remains great mystery. From that realization he infers the need to act humbly.

Mr. Moore points out that, as humans, we are profoundly flawed…thus the religious concept of original sin. He also infers from that original sin a need to act humbly.

I too am concerned about our souls.

Both writers believe careful scale, humility, and reasonable compassion are central to good work.