Scout sat, perfectly still in contemplation. Looking east, facing the rising sun of morning. The early rays may have been warming her, maybe they where a talking to her. She seemed to be mesmerised. Through the kitchen window, I watched her for a few minutes. I’d not known her long, but it seemed out of place for her to be this contemplative, this still. Maybe she missed her mate. Maybe the morning for her to leave and continue on her wild adventure had finally come. She’d had her time with us, but that lure to rejoin her wild mate was far stronger than the offer of a good feed and a comfortable bed. The children had enjoyed having her around, Kate in particular had grown attached to her, sucked in by the cuteness of folded ears, wiry hair and a timid nature. I was a marginally less attached to Scout. It’s a pre-defence mechanism of mine. I’m over feeling hurt, so I find it best not to fall in love with something wild enough to leave me on a whim. Plus she shitted in the hall way a lot. That was enough to keep me falling for that old chestnut, the lost puppy phenomenon. By that afternoon Scout had made her dash. She never came for her meal, she never returned for her warm bed. Instead she heeded the call of the wild, returning once again to a life on the run. A life of never knowing where her next meal would come from, where she’d rest up the for the night. A life of hardship, but a life of adventure. I can see the allure. We all felt some emotion with her leaving, but we don’t possess the right to hold her as she came from nowhere, to which she returned, so we just have to suck it up and get on with life.
Henry and I drove the truck as far north as Shepparton, we had the job of picking up a few ‘free to a good home’ pigs. It was a long day on the highway, however it offered a perfect opportunity to listen to Waylon, Willie and the boys without the mumbles of displeasure from the passenger to my left (who is normally Kate). This road trip, it was just the boys, Henry and I. Being a dog, Henry didn’t seem to do much complaining about my choice of outlaw country music from the 1970′s. Instead of grumbling about the selection of music, he’d simply fill the cabin with his foul gaseous expungement every so often, sometimes when he gathered enough energy he’d pop his head up, presumably looking for any sign of rabbits, he’d then get bored, proceed to do something gross like lick his empty scrotum, eventually he’s groan with a full body stretch and reenter dog snooze town. He entertains me, keeps me company and fills the role of the perfect friend. A friend that loves the outdoors, to adventure, to hunt. A friend that never argues with me, instead offers unconditional love in return for meals and a warm place to sleep of a night. It’s a pretty fine deal.
We (as humans) have amazing relationships with our pets and our farm animals. We love our animals, be they, chooks, rabbits, goats, pigs etc. Generally speaking if we have animals around us we tend to love them. We love our animals so much that we buy them silly treats, like knitted jumpers and fake diamond studded collars, the latter of which Henry does not wear (only on weekends when he’s going out). Our animals have an effect on us, they generate emotions of love and tenderness. Our innate need to nurture activates and we start talking like idiots, “who’s a cuttie doggy woggy?” or “you love your daddy don’t you? Who loves their daddy?”. None of these of which I am guilty of.
Most people don’t get to meet their meat. I reckon thats a big factor in the general apathy towards giving a shit about how the animals are treated. When a person meets an animal, (unless they’re a cold hearted psychopath) said person seems to develop an attachment to that animal, even as hard arse as they try to be (me for instance, in regards to Scout). This happened with these pigs. There has been some discussion about keeping them, and thats ok, they’re beautiful animals. Friendly, snorty and funny. But their purpose is meat. It’s important that they have a good, comfortable life, and we care about this because we have contact with them. For most people the most contact with the animals they consume is the initial mastication of cooked meat. The animal is raised in a meat factory, pigs and chickens seem to be the worst culprits. Where we have the oppurtunity as consumers to meet our meat we tend to care a little more about how theyre raised. The conditions in which they reside, the freedoms they have to act like real animals and of course the ultimate killing process.
Now I’m not saying that I’m super awesome because I have contact with farm animals, and that I’m ethically better than someone living in a city. I’m just suggesting the idea of having more contact with the animals we eat would result in us being more picky with the meat we buy. I reckon we’d tend to choose meat from suppliers that care as much about the way the animals are rasied as we do. I’m thinking of some pig lovers here, The Farmers Larder, Bundarra Berkshires, Greenvale Pork and Tammi Jonas.
The pigs seem at ease in their new home. In just a few days they’ve turned up the soil with their snouts. They sleep in the shelter on a bed of dry straw, tucked away from the wind and rain of winter. We’ll feed them for a few weeks until the mobile butcher arrives to perform his age old craft. We’ll make Jamon, chorizo, salamanca, pancetta and bacon. The meat will feed two families for many months. These pigs have come from a diary farm where they were bought as piglets, as pets. They’ve lived their lives outdoors happily snorting around, digging and rolling in mud. They’ve lived like pigs, they’ve eaten like pigs are supposed to. Wouldn’t it be great if all the pork we ate had a life like theirs? If all the meat we ate had this live? Is it possible? In other countries it’s a reality. Here in Australia, we seem to have an entrenched ‘meat factory system’ that is locked into industry standards, not compassionate standards. Will we change? Thats up to us as consumers. I see the only way to make significant change is to support the people that do give a shit. Support the people that just get it. They seem to be all over the place. I met them in America, I’ve met many of them in Australia. You’ll have them operating near you. Make yourself known ethical farmers. Let us support you.
This post is dedicated to the wild, free and reckless spirit of all lost dogs across the world. In particular, Scout. My widdle smoooppy wooopy.