MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Animals Have Feelings Says Author Temple Grandin

I recently took a solo driving trip to the Midwest to visit family. As I was driving back to Colorado a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't help notice (with my visual and olfactory senses), the several feedlots I passed with the cattle packed in. The stench of ammonia filled the air. It always bothers me to see them in such degrading conditions. My gut tightened as I realized they will soon be off to slaughter, and I was reminded of an article written about Temple Grandin in the Rocky Mountain News earlier this year, before it closed it's doors as a newspaper in Denver. Temple Grandin is known as the person who designed more humane handling facilities for livestock now used widely throughout the United States. I wondered, after being in the inhumane conditions of the feedlots, would these cattle be transported off to one of these "more humane" slaughter facilities?

Temple Grandin is the author of the best-selling books, Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human. She is also well-known because she is one of the most accomplished and well-known autistic adults in the world, and is an associate professor at Colorado State University. She has advocated for animals all of her life, and in her latest book she explores animal's core emotions and how we can make their lives better.

Her goal in writing Animals in Translation was to document that animals have emotions. According to the Rocky Mountain News interview, Grandin says "the emotional circuits in animals were first researched years ago, but most of the findings were buried in the research sections of libraries." She feels her autism has given her special insights into how animals think. She says she thinks in pictures and most people think in language. Animals, too, think in pictures, smells, and touch sensations--not in language.

Temple Grandin also believes that we are over-regulating our dogs, and that some behavior problems we are seeing in dogs is a result of that over-regulation and because they no longer run free. Having had 2 of my own dogs hit by a car as a child, I don't believe we should let dogs run free--it's too dangerous. But I do believe they and all animals need to be seen as the emotional, intelligent beings they are, and respected as such. They need exercise, fun, and stimulation.

I encourage you to read Temple's books, as she covers more, like how we are overloading the biological systems of animals with feed additives, growth hormones, and certain breeding practices that over select for certain traits.

In MAGGIE the dog who changed my life I came to some of the same conclusions through my experiences with Maggie that Temple came to in her research: that dogs/animals indeed have emotions, and that they think in pictures and pick up our thought images. Why has it been buried that animals have emotions? Personally, I think that it makes it easier to justify atrocious treatment of animals, such as the horrendous slaughter house practices that Temple Grandin worked so hard to change, experimenting with dogs and other animals in laboratories, and the deplorable treatment dogs receive in puppy mills. This just names a few.

How would it be different if puppy mill owners, cattle folks, and those who experiment on animals in laboratories let it in that animals emote as we do? That they think? At the very least, having love and compassion for the animals would be a start. At the very best, the practices themselves would change.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life


Ingrid King said...

Temple Grandin is one of the most inspirational authors and scientists I've come across. Both of her books are fascinating and thought provoking.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if cattle ranchers, puppy mill owners and others in similar fields would indeed consider the fact that animals have emotions, as well as souls?

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

Thanks, Ingrid. It would indeed be a more wonderful world if everyone recognized that animals have emotions and souls!