"every time I get high I remember just how much I love animals and realize how often I have to hide that fact — never let them make you forget who you are!!"
-Aster, inventor of the Official Zoophile Pride Flag
There have been a lot of times in my life when the socially polite thing to do was to pretend that I don't feel as strongly about loving animals as I do.
Someone at a family dinner telling a story about going hunting, I'm not really going to contribute to the pleasant atmosphere if I tell him that I think what he was doing was morally wrong and he shouldn't be proud of going out into the woods to assault to death creatures who can't fight back.
Watching a comedy movie with friends and in the movie they do pyrotechnics nearby real horses that scare the shit out of the horses, I'm not going to keep everyone in a laughing mood by mentioning that any joke that just happened was really ruined for me by seeing the horses treated like that, and that I'm honestly going to be hesitant to enjoy any scene with horses for the rest of the movie, knowing that that's how they were willing to treat them on set.
Having guests over and one of the dogs is nervous about the fact that all of the humans have suddenly started ignoring her to move figurines around a table, it would be kind of rude of me to ignore the humans to give love and rubs to the dog for minutes on end, and kick everyone out if I couldn't resolve the situation with occasional attention.
These days I am pretty shameless about my love for animals. Maybe I won't interrupt the hunting story to say that I think hunting is bad in that conversation, but if the conversation comes around to me and someone asks about it, I'll speak honestly about how I feel about that, I won't just go along with the flow and say that the story was cool. Maybe I won't try to be a downer about the horses being put nearby the pyrotechnics, but I will try to find some joking way to express my concerns: "Hey uh Joe d'you think this bomb is going to scare the SHIT out of those horses?" "We've got horses for DAAAAYS Bob, our horses budget is so huge, don't worrrry about it!" Maybe I won't kick everyone out because the dog got nervous, but I will tell everyone that I'd like to try to find a way to make the dog feel like she can be included at the table, or say that I am going to step away every now and then to make sure she has something else to do while the humans are playing our human games.
But like, it is weird, right? I personally think it's very weird, that those are all compromises, and that the smoother way to go about those things would be to just casually ignore that animals have thoughts and feelings.
So often, I wonder whether other humans like, know that they're doing that. Do the other humans I'm watching movies with actually even notice to begin with, how on-screen animals are getting treated? Do they notice but not care? Do they care but not say anything? I don't think there's an across-the-board answer, I think all of those are probably true to varying degrees to different people. But it's so weird, that I so often seem to be the only one in the room who cares that animals have feelings.
This isn't just a thing for not mentioning negatives either. There are also times when the polite thing to do is not be overly positive about anything to do with animals, and that's like, equally as weird, sometimes.
I've had strangers comment, out loud, about me being disgusting for letting a dog eat off my fork when we were out eating in a park.
It's a common opinion in pet ownership that dogs shouldn't be allowed on furniture or on your bed.
It's a common opinion in pet ownership that dogs should never communicate back to you, they should just be quiet, obediently do what you say, and stay in line.
How is it that I can walk into a restaurant or a store and find many kinds of salads, but often times not be able to find a vegetarian salad?
How is it that dog toys sometimes come with tags attached by little pieces of plastic that take really careful attention to remove properly so I'm not worried my dog is going to choke on them?
It's really too bad that we live in a world that so often ignores the wellbeing of animals, either aggressively-so in the case of meat and dairy propaganda and fast food advertising, or incidentally-so in the case of just not noticing or caring that some human action is causing an animal to communicate that they are distressed.
In my opinion, it's something to take a lot of pride in if you are the one who communicates concerns that animals are trying to communicate. It's something to take a lot of pride in if your celebration and love of animals is so heartfelt that it makes other people uncomfortable.
Be shameless. Not to say you have to be tactless, but when push does come to shove, don't feel bad for being the one on an animal's side. Being shameless is a life skill that not everyone has, but it's so worthwhile.
Love animals. Love animals openly. Be the best example of an animal lover in the room.
Article written by Alissa Dogchurch (February 2024)
Questions, comments or concerns? Check out our Discord server! discord.gg/EfVTPh45RE