Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

A vet visit, a wonderful story, and carnism

Last week I had to take Tempest to the vet. She has a cough and it’s not going away easily or fast, but I have hope that it’s finally starting to show some improvement. But last Thursday I was at the vet to get her looked at. Worried, as we can’t help but to be, even when we think it’s probably a cold, and trying not to think of worst case scenarios.

I had a few minutes wait in the waiting room, and two dogs immediately came right up to me. Total sweethearts. “That’s Charlie and Max,” said the man holding their leash, and his love for them was practically visible in the air, it was that strong.

I sat there and just loved on them, and I would swear that they sensed my high emotions and were offering me their comfort. Their human seemed a little embarrassed at their behavior, but I didn’t see why he would be. They were very polite, and I certainly didn’t mind Charlie resting his head on my knees as I pet him! After a few minutes, their dad started talking to me. That typical joking “oh, you can tell they are horribly abused and neglected” that we seem to never tire of when faced with dogs who want nothing more than to meet and greet everyone. He had a third dog with him, who was sitting solidly between his feet. I asked about her, and he said that she actually had been abused, and so she was slow to warm up to people. I said that she didn’t seem scared, just wary, and who could really blame her? She was the smart one, really.

I asked how she came into his life, and he sort of lit up. He’d been at the dog park with Max(ine) and a woman who worked at a nearby shelter came in the park with this skin-and-bones dog who was shaking in fear. She’d been abused, found starving and wandering, and had gone to two homes where it just hadn’t worked out. And so this man, moved by her story and her need, took her in. He was apparently the right person for her, and I could hear what he wasn’t saying, that for him it was love at first sight. You could tell that Sarah took a lot of strength and comfort from the security he offered.

I felt so hopeful about people in this world after talking to Charlie, Max and Sarah’s human. It’s so nice to meet people who have that bond with the animals they care for, who love them so deeply and so clearly, and who help a starving and abused dog find stability and comfort for the rest of her life. But, I admit, there’s always that part of me that wants to know: why do people love their dogs and cats this deeply but still eat/kill/exploit other animals?

Melanie Joy would say that this is carnism. She has a book coming out soon, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism.

In her groundbreaking new book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, Melanie Joy explores the invisible system that shapes our perception of the meat we eat, so that we love some animals and eat others without knowing why. She calls this system carnism. Carnism is the belief system, or ideology, that allows us to selectively choose which animals become our meat, and it is sustained by complex psychological and social mechanisms.

Looks to be an interesting book. I have a lot of interesting books in my queue!


8 responses to “A vet visit, a wonderful story, and carnism

  1. Sorrow December 16, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Thats a loaded question, like asking people why one religion over another? and why they think that “their ” religion is the only ” right one.”
    Like the man who wanted to shot the beautiful white deer, I can not fathom his perspective, nor understand the need to make trophies out of things of beauty.
    It’s hard to roll with other peoples choices, but as I would hate to wear a burka, I would hate to have to kill animals.
    So glad tempest is doing better.

  2. Kelly G. December 16, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    hugs and kisses to Tempest – I hope she feels better soon!

  3. The voracious Vegan December 17, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Wow, what an amazing post! I LOVE LOVE LOVE when I meet other animal lovers, especially doggy guardians that are just as goofy as me when it comes to these amazing animals we share our lives with.

    My husband and I are lucky enough to live with 4 of the most phenomenal dogs you could ever imagine, all of them rescue, 3 of them abused. It is amazing to watch their journey as they slowly come out of their shell and realize that we are never going to hit them or yell at them, they will always have food and love and walks, and they are FINALLY in a place where they can be themselves and be safe.

    In one instance, with our beagle Lobi, this has really gone to her head and I love it. When we first got her 3 years ago she was a starving and a whimpering shy timid girl who would scream and yelp if you stepped your foot down too close to her.

    Now, she is the pushiest of them all! She crawls all over our pit mix chewing on his ears, scampers like a mad woman every day when we take her for their walk, sleeps on top of the coffee table (!) and greets every new person she meets with a flurry of beagle bays and kisses. πŸ™‚

    It is amazing the transformation that can come over an animal that used to be abused, I think they heal and forgive much faster than a human ever could. They are inspirational, aren’t they?

  4. Deb December 17, 2009 at 6:36 am

    @sorrow – I have major issues with the expression of most religions as well, especially when I think about all of the wars fought in religion’s name. It’s wrong to kill, unless it benefits you, seems to be the moral (haha) of the story. And it’s that same disjointed set of ethics that bothers me so much about the animal lovers who kill animals. It’s wrong to kill animals, but only this animal and that animal, is what they’re saying. Why is it okay to kill and harm the rest? It’s only a loaded question in the sense that there’s a lot of answers that people will give that don’t make much sense. Every single one of these animals is a thinking, feeling being, and every single one of them just wants to live their lives. Somehow people ignore that and even pass laws that say dogs and cats are more important than other animals. Hell, the farmers managed to get laws passed that say chickens aren’t animals. Then again, Kansas passed a law that says Greyhounds aren’t dogs, so that animal cruelty laws protecting dogs wouldn’t impact their profits at the racetrack.

    Just doesn’t make sense to me. The unethical businessmen, sure, their motives are clear and consistent, but the dog lover?

    @kelly – thanks! I am hopeful she’s starting to feel a little better now, but I’m impatient! πŸ™‚

    @tvv – they definitely are inspirational! Awesome to hear about your four rescues, and how far they’ve come. I see it with the animals at the sanctuary too, and it always amazes me. And I think you’re right, that they heal much faster than humans would or could!

  5. Kristen December 17, 2009 at 9:04 am

    My co-worker comments all the time about how people should be put in jail for abusing dogs…yet she thinks I’m weird and “not normal”…I get it all the time…dogs are ok…cows, pigs, chickens, etc they are “just food”…

    and I agree with you about the religion thing…I used to be Christian, but now I guess you can say I am “spiritual” because the God I worship doesn’t believe in the murder of any being, human or animal, how could he…it boggles my mind that Christians forget that according to the bible we are technically supposed to be and were created to be vegan and when we die in heaven we will be vegan…yet they always give me the “well Jesus ate fish” line…I love how people pick and choose which versus they want to follow and which they don’t…

    I hope you little one is feeling better πŸ™‚

  6. Deb December 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    @Kristen – it’s frustrating, especially because I know these people are caring compassionate people. I can see it, in the way they care about their cats and dogs and other people. It’s baffling sometimes to try to figure out why there’s this impenetrable wall that doesn’t allow their compassion to flow to all beings, rather than just the ones they’ve decided to show compassion to…but I don’t think it’s even that they’ve “decided” so much as they don’t question the accepted “normal” way…

    I think you’d enjoy Melanie Joy’s book too, based on yoru experiences with your coworker!

    Thanks for the well wishes for Tempest! I think she is feeling a bit better. She coughed much less last night than she had been previously, so we’ll see if that positive trend continues! πŸ™‚

  7. greentangle December 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Such a pretty cat! I visited a farm animal sanctuary recently where a cat climbed me and curled up on my shoulders, something neither of the ones who lived with me ever did. It was cool.

    I read and reviewed an advance copy of that book and later met the author at the Boston Veggie Fest. I enjoyed the book and was happy to see the ideas explored.

  8. Deb December 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    @greentangle – Thanks! Tempest quite agrees that she’s gorgeous! (She loves posing for the camera!)

    Great to hear that you enjoyed reading Melanie Joy’s book! I’d be jealous that you got an advance copy, except that I know I’d end up so behind on reading it that it wouldn’t matter in the end. I do look forward to reading it when it comes out…which I think is soon!

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