Man’s best friend

It’s a beautiful day today, and I’m very fortunate in that where I live we have a lovely big garden, which has lots of little hiding spots. It’s a great time of the year to stretch the legs and have a wander around, checking out all the new flowers that have made an appearance.

Plants are incredible characters, because you can see how different species come to flower at different times. There’s probably a good biological reason how this happens, but what really inspires me is the thought that they want a bit of attention from those who can perceive their beauty. It almost seems sometimes as if they want to reach out and say, “look at me!” Can you imagine their disappointment after a year in preparation, when we walk past nonchalantly and don’t even notice them 😦 But their persistence is a testament to their character, returning year-on-year and not asking even one favour from us in return!

I’ve had the chance this year, being on sabbatical from my career in science, to observe nature a bit more closely. If you’ve read any of these posts, you’ll see that I find it inconceivable that “competition to survive is the only driving force to survive.” When I see the crow jumping into action and chasing off the peaceful heron, I do get anxious. For all I know, this could be a friendly bit of play, as I’m told is the case with dogs in the park…looks can be deceiving. However, when I see the little brown and orange tom cat, crouching low and clearly looking for the cute little baby ducks, that’s where I draw the line. I love that cat and I get that it needs to survive, but whilst I’m standing there, he’s not getting past.


So you’re wondering, how is this related to science? I met a staunch ‘survivalist’ last week, and I know for sure that he’d be grimacing at my ‘being emotional’ about something which is ‘just dinner’. In fact, most of us don’t think twice in Tesco, picking up a steak or chicken breast, and frying it up.

However, when we found out that there was horse meat sneaking into our homes without our knowledge, there was outrage! But stand back for a minute and ask, “why were we so outraged? Isn’t an animal ‘just dinner?'” 10 years back I lived in France for a year, and horse meat was openly sold on the shelves of the big supermarket, Carrefour.

It would seem that is just our passive conditioning in society that causes us to agree that Ruggles the pup is our cute Alsatian and certainly part of the family, but the backside of another organism is just dinner.

Depending on the level of attachment one has to eating meat, versus cuddling in with your loyal best friend Ruggles, your reaction will be as follows:

  1. Very attached meat eater – stop reading this post out of disgust and claim that the fittest survive and animals are there to be eaten…please note, I used to be very much involved in the ‘bolognese beats pasta club‘, so I get it guys, I really do
  2. Moderate meat eater – realises the hypocrisy behind what they’re doing, but too hooked on the taste to quit…fair enough
  3. Vegetarian – you’ve gone through the above at a previous time

We’re not usually convinced so much by ethical or logical arguments, because these addictions are pretty strong…but this post is not just for us humans…I’m sending out a warning to all the pooches out there; watch out, because although right now you’re getting your 1-3 square meals a day (plus ‘park snacks’ eg. Kebab left-overs), it is only a matter of time before the meat industry starts pointing in your direction, exclaiming, “we need YOU!” And with all those years of tireless loyalty, I wouldn’t bet your bone on reciprocation from your owner!

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx