Friday, March 30, 2012

A year with a house bunny...

Hard to believe, but Nessie Rae has been living here since February of 2011. On the other hand it sort of seems like she has been here always. For those of you that live with rabbits, you know how it is...if you don't live with rabbits...it really isn't describable. She is her own being with her unique set of needs, wants, fears, joys, perceptions and abilities. We are still learning about her and will continue to do so.

Nessie sleeping hard.

The previous photo was taken two months or so after she arrived, her trust level had reached a security rating that allowed her to sprawl out in the living room and visit dreamland with all her might.

Bobby Ray and Nessie practice their sleeping skills.

Above she is engaging in a sleep 'duet' with Bobby Ray. She has been partial to him since arriving but he remains rather cautious around her. Some of his caution, I think, occurs because of her habit of moving toward him very quickly. Fast movement bothers him and cat body language and rabbit body language are different enough that he generally is rather tentative around her.

This final photo below was taken during the only snow we had this year, it fell in February and was not very heavy. Nessie moseyed out, made a small circle to investigate and decided that was enough for her and came back in the house. Being an arctic bunny is not to her taste.

She came, she saw snow, she went back inside.

I don't have any grand insights from living with her this past year. The most significant thing I have noticed is that a rabbit is, compared to a cat or a dog, a quiet being. If a rabbit makes a loud noise they are either terrified or they are furious. Nessie doesn't cry out if she is hungry...she might nudge you with her nose or sit and stare at you but being quiet is her usual way of being. Not that a bunny doesn't make different sounds, it is just that they are subtle compared to the sounds of a cat or dog. You have to pay attention to hear the happy honking she does when she plays chase. You have to listen carefully to hear the humm/grunt she does when she is interested in something...but...you don't have to worry about hearing her growling if she is hacked off...nope...no worry about missing that.

This general quietness means that a human has to focus and concentrate and attend to her in a persistent and consistent manner to enter into much of her world....at least that is how Nessie operates. Different rabbits, like different dogs or different cats or different humans, have different styles. Some are boisterous and wild, some are quiet and calm. Nessie tends toward the calm and quiet...but....she has a major temper and doesn't flinch at letting you know when she is displeased. Having a bunny give you the squinty stink-eye is sort of intimidating, having a bunny rip out with a full loud growl when lunging toward you is startling and scary. Nope, she is not a shrinking violet...just a fairly quiet one. And we are honored (pretty much) that this quiet one graces us with her presence. :-)

Rabbits have, partially due to their quietness, come to occupy a curious position in the hodgepodge repository that passes for our collective minds. Many, if not most, people think they know something about rabbits and about caring for rabbits and about rabbit personalities. They might know they hop, they might know they have long ears and they might know they are pleasing to the eye and that they eat plants...but that's about it for most of us. I'm including myself in this collective indictment here. We're, most of us, guilty of that dangerous practice of having a tiny bit of knowledge (e.g. bunnies hop) and confusing that with "knowing about". Few things have been more damaging to rabbits and their position as "pets" than this superficial knowledge being confused for adequate understanding.

This is not the place for a "Rabbits for Dummies" screed, if you want to begin your own education about these beings you might start here. An extended attempt to interpret the lagomorph language can be seen at RabbitSpeak.

You will be way ahead of most of us if you'll simply be aware of the truth that just as soon as you think you "know" about rabbits...then you've exposed your ignorance. Rabbits, like all other sentient beings, are beautiful, smart, complex and worthy of respect and knowing. And knowing one bunny only means you know that bunny...each bunny being...like each human being...is an individual and is unique. But knowing takes time, interest, effort and the slow discovery that the quest for comprehension and understanding is probably unending.

Additional writings along with photos of Nessie can be found here, here, here and here.

Do remember, honoring all living beings (including rabbits) means living as an ethical vegan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I believe....

I ran across this statement (credo) attributed to a fellow named John Aspinall recently and found it to be... well...thought provoking. I'm reproducing it here:
I believe a wildlifer must not expect to be rewarded with recognition or wordly approval. His work will be his recompense. Only in his own peace of mind and self-esteem will he find solace.
 I believe in Jus animalium, The Rights of Beasts, and Jus herbarum, The Rights of Plants. The right to exist as they have always existed, to live and let live. I believe in the Buddhist concept of Ahimsa -- justice for all animate things. I believe in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of species of fauna and flora that the Earth can sustain without resultant deterioration of habitat and depletion of natural resources.
 I believe in the sanctity of the life systems, not in the sanctity of human life alone. The concept of sanctity of human life is the most damaging sophism that philosophy has ever propagated -- it has rooted well. Its corollary -- a belief in the insanctity of species other than man -- is the cause of that damage. The destruction of this idea is a prerequisite for survival.
 I believe that wilderness is Earth's greatest treasure. Wilderness is the bank on which all cheques are drawn. I believe our debt to nature is total, our willingness to pay anything back on account barely discernible. I believe that unless we recognise this debt and renegotiate it we write our own epitaph.
 I believe that there is an outside chance to save the Earth and most of its tenants. This outside chance must be grasped with gambler's hands.
-- John Aspinall
Reading about this person on Wikipedia  and other sources suggests that he was a rather unusual individual. Regardless of anything else he did or said, the above statement is intriguing.

No intrigue is involved in living thoughtfully and kindly, such simply requires following the path of ethical veganism.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Remembering Hildy...

is the title of a video put together by the Farm Sanctuary in honor of one of their residents who died in January of this year. We are told that Hildy was 9 years old at the time of her death and that she was a good and steadfast friend to Rhonda, Feather and Kima. The video was made last fall and gives us a good look at Hildy. Hildy belonged to that group of folks we call turkeys...turkeys don't call themselves turkeys...that's a human thing...not a turkey thing.



She was quite a being, her sweetness and gentleness just shines through.

The human animal narrating is Susie Coston. It is interesting to watch her and hear her talk about the mutilation and damaging of a baby by human animals. Her being there by the victim, caring for her and interacting with her completes the other extreme of the range of behavior exhibited by us human animals.

We casually and mostly without thought or care oppress, harm, mutilate, enslave and snuff out the lives of billions and billions and billions of living beings. Living beings like Hildy...who have feelings, who are unique, who may be shy or sweet or friendly or angry or frightened or all of these things...we mutilate and kill and eat them with almost no thought or consideration at all. We steal them from their mothers, from their families...we mangle their bodies when they are babies, we imprison them and cram them into unnatural conditions and after a bit we kill them. For "profit".

That's the horrid extreme of our behavior....regretfully that callousness and carelessness and ruthlessness and murderousness exemplifies the vast majority of the human animals.

Ms. Coston (and the Farm Sanctuary), on the other hand, exemplify the other extreme of human behavior. A human animal that is kind, accepting, caring and who is able to see and value the uniqueness and sweetness and valuableness that is someone like Hildy. Ms. Coston rejects the mutilation of babies, the crowded imprisoning of innocent beings, the prevention of the development and flourishing of each individual into the uniqueness that is gifted to each of us. She recognizes that Hildy's life actually belonged to Hildy and that much was stolen from this excellent bird being but once Hildy was given a chance...she flourished and shone.

Right now, human cultures reward the baby mutilators, the prison owners, the murderers...right now we make organizations like Farm Sanctuary and the other organizations that rescue and save all kinds of wounded and damaged and at-risk beings...we make those dispensing shelter and care and kindness go begging.

We subsidize "farms" with tax dollars, we pay mutilators and murderers with public funds and we force the kind ones, the compassionate ones to operate on the edge of despair...we make them hold bake sales and fund drives...we make them scrimp and scramble while multi-billion dollar fortunes are based on misery, suffering, mutilation and death.

We hurt and then kill and then gnaw on the bodies of millions of Hildys each year...just because we can and just because we want to....not because it is necessary...not because we "need" to...we do it only because we want to and we make the infliction of suffering "profitable".

We make the provision of care and compassion impoverishing. (what in hell is wrong with us?)

I tend to think that our capacity for caring and compassion and acceptance toward others is just as potent and strong as is our capacity for inflicting suffering and harm on others. The measure of one is the measure of the potential of the other. And just think...if we move toward mosty behaving as benevolently and life enhancingly as we currently do harmfully and destructively...well...

That movement will not be possible unless you begin to live as an ethical vegan.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is the "wrong" inherent in the behavior or...

is "wrongness" determined by the recipient or outcome of the behavior? For example, is slavery ("institution based on a relationship of dominance and submission, whereby one person owns another and can exact from that person labor or other services.") wrong in and of itself or is slavery wrong depending on who the slave is or the consequence(s) of the slavery?

Is the unprovoked or deliberate killing (not in self-defense) of another living being wrong in and of itself or is such killing only deemed wrong depending on who is the victim or the consequence(s) of the killing?

Is the infliction of physical pain and/or injury (not in self-defense) on a living being wrong in and of itself or is such behavior only deemed wrong depending on who is the victim or the consequence(s) of the pain and/or injury?

These questions have to do with deontological vs consequentialist notions of morality.

Deontological theories of morality are frequently contrasted to consequentialist theories such as utilitarianism. While deontological moral theories typically hold that certain actions are either forbidden or wrong per se, consequentialist theories usually maintain that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the consequences of the act and hence on the circumstances in which it is performed.
As described by John Rawls, the distinction is between the right and the good: under deontology, what actions are right and what things are good are at least partially independent, whereas under consequentialism, an act is right if and only if it maximises the good....(source)
I don't know about you but I tend to go into a sort of mental/emotional 'vaporlock' if I dwell on these sorts of things too much. I have to be content with what I expressed previously in my post on fairness. Ethical veganism is much fairer (enacts greater justice) than any other way of living that I'm aware of.