DEAR NOREEN: I am a two year-old Canine living with a family of Humans. One of my dearest companions is a six year-old who lives in a house down the street.
One day, when we were playing, he confided to me that he was a “rescue.” I confessed that I didn’t know what a “rescue” was and he explained that he had been physically and emotionally abused by another group of Humans and had been removed from their home. He said he spent almost a year in some short of shelter until his present family adopted him. He says he is very happy now.
I, on the other hand, am now quite troubled. I never spent much time thinking about Humans, but I guess I thought they were nice. Now, I’m not so sure. Why would they do such a thing to my friend? Is this regular Human behaviour? Would others do the same thing? Am I in danger? I have so many questions and I don’t know who to ask. Please help me.—SCARED AND FEELING ALONE
DEAR SCARED AND FEELING ALONE: Ah, the horrors of losing one’s innocence. I feel your pain and confusion. Perhaps I can help you understand a bit more, by tackling your questions one by one. But be warned: you will never be able to understand fully because the truth is that it’s not fully understandable.
Anyone who reads this newspaper regularly, of course, knows my opinion of Humans: they’re lovely to look at…but I wouldn’t want to live with them.
Yet, many Canines do live with them and enjoy it immensely. And others suffer from it as your friend did.
We can only come to terms with what happened to your friend by understanding this first: although they exhibit a pack mentality, Humans are individuals and, as such, they act on their own much of the time. Some of these rogue Humans do despicable things but, be assured of this: these acts are not acceptable to the majority of the Human pack. Evolution has worked wonders on Humans in that way, at least.
You ask, “Is this regular Human behaviour?” And the answer is no, it’s not. Although it’s not uncommon, it’s not statistically normal for Humans to abuse Animals who live with them.
Why would they do such a thing, though? Human motivation is puzzling even to those who have been studying it for years. But, I would suggest that often the problem is rooted in their own insecurity about their place in the world, compounded by jealousy of the abilities of other species. At the individual level, many Humans simply pick on those they see as less powerful or more vulnerable because it makes them feel more powerful and less vulnerable.
Are you in danger? No one knows that for sure, but from what you say about your own home situation, it doesn’t seem as though you are. It’s always best to keep your eyes open, though, because Human behaviour can change in an instant. If you notice your Humans becoming more irritable or blaming you for things, or if they become more violent in any way, I would suggest you call the Assaulted Animals Helpline (1-899-27728583) immediately.
I regret that, in this space, I can only offer the beginning of an explanation of this very serious situation. I would, however, like to share with you this ironic twist that gives us all hope: in the vast majority of cases, Animals who have been abused by Humans are saved by other Humans.
Humans taketh away and Humans giveth.
Dear Noreen is a regular feature of The Mammalian Daily and The Mammalian Daily online. If you have a question for Noreen, please send it via Twitter at @talkswithnoreen.
For more insight into Humans, buy Noreen’s book, Lovely To Look At: What Animals Should Know About Humans