Good News for Some Race Horses

May 20, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Brain and mind, Fairness, Good People, Humans and other animals | Leave a comment
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When horses lie down to sleep, others in the herd remain standing, awake or in a light doze, keeping watch. Horses on Bianditz mountain, in Navarre, Spain. Behind them Aiako mountains can be seen. Photo by Mikel Ortega from Errenteria, Basque Country, Spain, retouched by Richard Bartz. 8 October 2006.

The usual life-trajectory of a race horse is good treatment followed by horror.

From babyhood until it is no longer considered a contender, the horse is treated as
valued, almost as a pet.

The horse is coddled, and receives affection and care. Horses are sensitive and
emotional, so they are fully aware of the affection and care.

Then, all of a sudden, and for no reason that the horse can discern, affection is replaced
by harshness, and the horse is sent to slaughter, like a person being sent to a
concentration camp.

This practice is a betrayal – a betrayal of the trust of a very emotional, sensitive animal.

Recently, for a few lucky race horses, the horrific ending has been edited out. This good
news is told in an article “When the Race is Over”, by Annie Marie Musselman, with
photos by Jay Hovdey, in the May 2020 issue of Smithsonian magazine.

The title of this post says ‘some’ race horses, because not all middle-aged race horses
are lucky enough to go to the refuge described in the article. Many of the other race
horses are slaughtered.

An analogous betrayal happens to
– a cow who has stopped having calves and giving milk;
– a bull who is sent into a bull-fighting ring.

It is likely that an analogous betrayal occurs for many sled dogs during Iditerod, where
many of the dogs who become too exhausted to keep up the pace are killed en route.

By the way, what happened to all of the puppies, kittens, rabbits and other animals in pet stores, and at breeders, while the new corona virus kept pet stores closed for over a month?

Those last four topics will be discussed further in future posts.

But on a more cheerful note, there are good people who recognize the feelings of animals.

Here is a ring-tailed lemur in Africa who likes having people scratch its back, and who instinctively knows how to tell them to keep scratching.

Here is a young deer who accidentally discovered that it loves belly rubs, and is quite unwilling to let people stop giving them.  (You probably have not previously heard a deer’s voice.)

Here is a lost newborn fawn who is rescued by a little girl.

(If you like animals, Reshareworthy will be a favorite web site.)

Vandalism By Squirrels With Aroused Teeth

June 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Humans and other animals | Leave a comment
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Baby American red squirrel, photographed 20 June 2010 by Dan Leveille.

Baby American red squirrel, photographed 20 June 2010 by Dan Leveille.

Every one feels aroused and lustful at times.

Sometimes one part of your body feels aroused, and sometimes another.

But have your teeth ever felt aroused?


Well, that proves that you are not a tree squirrel.

Previous posts on this blog have wondered what drives tree squirrels into a frenzy of arboreal vandalism several times each year.  The most recent of those posts was here.

At last, we have an answer.

A local citizen’s association sponsored a walk through a local park, with a park ranger to show us how to identify the type of each tree, and to explain its ecological role and prospects.

The ranger provided the long-sought explanation of what drove the tree squirrels to their periodic frenzies of vandalism.

The squirrels are not teething, but are driven by something close to teething.

A squirrel’s teeth would become over-long unless the squirrel gnawed on something hard.

Wikipedia confirms and expands upon this explanation: tree squirrel’s’ “characteristic gnawing trait also aids in maintaining sharp teeth, and because their teeth grow continuously, prevents [the] over-growth [of their teeth].”

In short, tree squirrels have aroused teeth!

Vandalism by tree squirrels isn’t confined to trees. Tree squirrels occasionally chew on electrical wiring, sometimes in the attic of a house, or strung between poles outside.

Their non-arboreal vandalism probably has the same explanation as their vandalism of trees.

The topic of this blog posting obliges me to end it on a more personal note.

As is clear from my picture, I am a prairie dog.

Prairie Dog, the poliblog, 2012-06-23 .

Prairie Dog, the poliblog, 2012-06-23 .

While researching squirrel teeth for this post, a relevant Wikipedia article contained this bombshell: “Prairie dogs … are a type of ground squirrel …”

Imagine my astonishment! This post has been about my own distant cousins!

Of course, prairie dogs differ from tree squirrels in important ways. That is why I have been careful throughout to call them tree squirrels.

Now, about those differences.

Prairie dogs hate black-footed ferrets. Not only are those sharp toothed nasty- dispositioned fiends of the right size to creep into our burrows, they do not read advice columnists, and therefore have no sense of boundaries.

Roy, a ferret, photgraphed by Alfredo Gutiérrez .

Roy, a ferret, photgraphed by Alfredo Gutiérrez .

A picture of a ferret's teeth, photographed by Erlendaakre, 26 September 2008.

A picture of a ferret’s teeth, photographed by Erlendaakre, 26 September 2008.

A ferret in the middle of a war dance jump. Photographed in 2005 by Inkrat773.

A ferret in the middle of a war dance jump. Photographed in 2005 by Inkrat773.

Tree squirrels do not have nightmares about black-footed ferrets.

On the other hand, prairie dogs are much bigger than tree squirrels, because our weight is not limited by the strength of the branches of the most numerous trees. So our paws are much bigger, too, and that is what enabled me to write this blog. With a small stubby strap-on on each front paw, two-pawed typing is possible on a keyboard. It is very similar to two-fingered typing by a person. With a strap-on, I can even swipe a touch screen. (A bare paw doesn’t work on a touch screen. A bare paw produces too complicated an imprint for a computer that is looking for the simple dot-like pattern of a finger tip.)

The paw of a tree squirrel is too narrow to serve as the stable mount for a strap-on.

Those are some of the differences.

But still, they are cousins.

So I have three wishes for them:
– teeth that are sharp and not over-long,
– the discernment to distinguish an insulated electrical wire from a twig,
– and the understanding that although random changes of direction do help when escaping from a pursuing animal, they do not help when evading a car.

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