Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Animals and a Sense of Self

Do animals have a sense of Self?
Many people, usually highly educated people, say they don't. {{could these people feel that their intelligence is being threatened?}} These educated people believe that only a few animals -Great Apes, Dolphins/Whales, Elephants, Birds such as Crows, Ravens, Magpies and the like - are capable of recognizing their self and have any sense of empathy.

I disagree with that hypothesis. Having been owned by several Cats and observing animals of various species, I believe that most animals have a sense of who they are, understand the consequences of their actions and feel empathy for another animal, even if that animal isn't of their species

Case in point - Gomez enjoys having his hair brushed every morning. He will sit on the edge of the bathroom sink, with his back to the mirror, in the mornings to get his hair brushed. After I brush it, he will turn around to look at himself in the mirror. No doubt to admire his ravishing good looks.
It is said that most Cats will not respond to their reflection in a mirror. This is believed to be a trait of an animal who has no sense of self or any sense of empathy. I don't respond to my reflection. I was never a child to stand in front of a mirror and play or make faces or do any of those things that most kids do. Does that make me as 'dumb' as an animal? 
{{I've known many people who would fall into that category!}}

A few months back, Hubby & I watched a program on PBS about a biologist who immersed himself into a Mule Deer herd in Wyoming. Now most people will think that a Deer is a rather 'dumb' animal because they are a herd animal. Herd animals are usually thought to only act as a collective - that there is no individualism or individual thinking. But I feel that train of thought is wrong. Especially after watching this PBS show. 
Click here! It's a MUST-SEE!
Last Autumn I had an experience that haunted me for days - even now as I write this post, my heart aches. I was driving up into the mountains to make a trip to the gift shop that handles some of my artistic creations. In the Autumn, Deer are seen everywhere - in people's yards, on the highway, sometimes even in the city. I wasn't very far up into the mountains when I came around a bend and saw three young bucks standing by the side of the road. As I got closer, I saw a buck laying on the shoulder of the road with a broken neck. He had evidently been hit by a car. The three bucks were milling around their dead companion, nuzzling him and prodding him. They didn't want to leave their friend. Now, if those deer really were as 'stupid' as most people think, wouldn't they have run off and left their dead companion?

Let's not underestimate our furry friends. They understand more than we know. Let us treat them with dignity and respect, but then we Humans seem to have a problem even with treating each other with dignity and respect. So, let us be the change we wish to see in the world.

To read a good article on animals and kids who fail a mirror test, Click Here!
To read a blog about Cats and their behavior, Click Here!


evilsloth4 said...

I saw something years ago where people chased a cougar off from mothering a fawn. Twice. It was not a happy ending. Sometimes other species adopt what's usually eaten.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I agree. It's very self-serving for humans to characterize animals as having no souls (or "sense of self"). It makes it easier for us to exploit them, often very brutally, without feeling guilt.

the dogs' mother said...

I'm going to read this to Abby!!