Zoo Pride Week 2024 (Part 2)

Hey there! Tarro here! Happy Zoo Pride 2024! With the first of our pride articles, we focused a lot on the community, and the humans that are a part of it. But with this article I wanted to really deep dive into the other half of the zoo community. The part that is much less active on Twitter, Telegram, Discord, and all the other places where we tend to congregate. I'm talking about the animals. The amazing, wonderful creatures that we happen to love. I asked my partner like 7 or 8 times if he wanted to write an article, but he declined opting for a snack and some fetch instead, but that's part of what I love about him. He's not my slave, who just does my bidding. He's my partner. He's a person, with his own wants, needs and desires. There's a lot of places in our human focused world where he needs my help to get by (I'm working on a dog focused laptop right now in the hopes that that'll be the thing to get him to finally write an article himself), but that doesn't change the fact that he's way more capable than me in plenty of other ways. 
When I first joined the zoo community, I expected there would be a lot of backlash. And a lot of it I was able to sorta guess at before I ever personally experienced it. I knew the whole consent thing was going to come up. I knew that people were going to wax poetic about the "dangers" of relationships. The biggest surprise to me however was how many people seem absolutely okay with the mistreatment of pets. I really thought that while we might disagree on the nuances, I'd be standing on the same side as the average person when it came to the treatment of animals. Sure, I've seen a lot of bad examples of how to treat an animal in my life, but I assumed that was the exception, not the norm. And yet, as I live a life much more focused around the ways that animals, and pets in particular, are treated, there are so many things that stand out to me as extremely infuriating. I could go on and on about all the ways that people treat pets badly, and if you've read some of my other articles you've probably already seen it, but one thing that really shocked me possibly more than anything else was the way that so many people see animals as monolithic amongst their species. That is to say, every Golden Retriever is the same, every tabby cat is the same, every.. Horse species.. Uh.. Listen we really need more horse focused articles mostly just so I can learn enough about horses that I don't feel like I'm embarrassing myself every time that I mention them in an article. 
At first, I was pretty dumbfounded by this idea, but I saw it everywhere. So I decided to give it more thought. And I think I now get why people have this idea. Say you're someone that doesn't really care about dogs. You might have grown up with one, you might have had a friend that had one, but you've never really been interested in having one in your life. Or, to be generous, maybe you live at home with a family dog, and you think that dog is awesome, but you've never really cared about dogs outside that capacity. To most people, they've probably only had a connection with one dog in their life. Maybe they've had a connection with two, but chances are again those dogs are different breeds from one another. Maybe drastically so. And so, if you don't really care about dogs past the point of what's immediately in front of you, why would you care enough to assume that any dog is different from "the" dog. They all have four legs, a tail, and fur. Of course they're all the same. 
I'll be honest, I think this actually has a lot to do with the objectification of animals. If you honestly believe, even if just subconsciously, that dogs are essentially clones of one another, it makes absolute sense that each individual life is going to be worth less than a human, who you more than likely do view as individuals. Really, the more that you dive into this idea, the more that a lot of the way we view animals makes sense. I'd also hazard a guess that the more likely someone is to have multiple dogs in their life, the more likely someone is to reject this idea, and also treat dogs more compassionately, or at the very least with more autonomy. 
Anyway, to bring this back around to pride, this year I decided I really wanted to showcase that animals are individuals. That said, I only have one partner, and as we've already discussed he's decided to be entirely unhelpful in this endeavor. As such, I reached out to you, the community, to ask about what made your partner unique! We got a lot of answers, and I wasn't able to fit everyone's into the article, but I did want to quickly say, I really appreciate everyone writing in. It was a joy to read so many amazing personal stories. I'm really happy so many people were willing to share a bit about their partners and their lives.
So, to round out Zoo Pride Week 2024, I hope you enjoy reading these quotes as much as I did. 
"My partner is a hunting dog. He's got so many great quirks and features I don't even know what to start with, so I'll list just a couple I don't share that often! First, he obviously loves almost all physical activities; Swimming, running, chasing some smaller animals around; But at the same time he has never bitten or killed an animal in his life. He loves chasing them; But he's so kind hearted he never wants to harm them. Second, he's the most affectionate dog I know. Hugs and kisses are always on the table, in all forms and shapes; There's of course the long and loving morning kisses when he lays on top of me trying to get his mate to finally wake up fully, but there's also the thing on our walks where he comes up to me, making sure I'm okay hanging out in the back - and when I come at face level with him he gives me just a split-second short kiss you could just right compare to the human's "I love you, bye!" And with that came a third and last one from me today, he's also a super jealous guy - In the best meaning of that word though! He used to get annoyed or even upset at me for petting some dogs behind the fences along the road we walked by! He didn't even want to look at me for a minute to take back for said hurt feelings, but then when the grumpiness faded out I had to sit down with him for another couple minutes of constant hugs, kisses and pets to reassure him he's still the most important dog - most important person in my life. That's just a couple of so many awesome characteristics my dog partner has, but I hope I've made you, whoever reads this, experience at least a bit of how it is to meet my mate."
"It is incredibly difficult summing up an individual into a short description of their personality. The way she's motivated to play with certain toys, she likes to fetch and will give it back, but what she really likes it to just push against it so a lot of times we will just slap/push lightly against the ball so it pushes it into her face the way she likes. The way she plays and is always eager to explore, to learn, to play an when the day is done, to snuggle in and sleep."
"Everything. The way she carries herself, the way she always pushes into me when I'm feeling down or just wants to be around me, the way she looks at me with such love in her eyes. Her coat, her paws, her eyes, her ears, every little thing that makes her up. She's always been more than "just a dog". She's my partner, my lover, my best friend, my closest confidant, and the love of my life in every way, every form of love. There are no words in any lexicon known to humanity that could describe the depth of my love for her. If the word "love" was inscribed on every nanoangstrom of my hundreds of thousands of cells, it would not equal one one-billionth of the love I feel for her. "If a thing loves, it is infinite."
"Wuffwife is very unique in her personality, she is dainty yet bossy. Vocal like a husky with a deep shepherd voice. Very appreciative of scratches and pets, and a big kisser. Due to turbo depression I rarely take care of myself and all my energy goes into taking care of her, but she often helps with her mouth-cleaning kisses. It is a deeply symbiotic relationship, over seven years later with hopefully many more to come. "
"When I moved in with my partners I met the cat that they live with. She was touch adverse and I would hear my partners scold her for swiping at them. I started observing because I felt bad for her. I noticed that she would only swipe when she wanted them to stop petting or if they invaded her personal space. I taught my partners that she is a person, and I asked them if there are any spaces she is not allowed to be in the apartment. "Yeah our computer desks." I told them that if they have places they can tell her to go away from, she must have places where she can tell them to go away. "But its MY apartment!" "She lives here too, its her apartment too." It took some time but I managed to convince my partners to treat her like a roommate who does not speak the same language as them. Over time I also taught them how to interpret her body language so that they can understand when she is declining their affection, and when she has need from them. Over the years our cat friend has become much much more outgoing. She rarely swipes because now she knows the humans in her life will be able to understand more subtle cues. She actively seeks out affection now, and recently she's even become quite talkative. It has been wonderful seeing her become so much more comfortable and open. Her favorite way to tell someone she doesn't want something is to gently place her paw on the human offering and gently pushing. I adore her."
"It's all those subtle mannerisms. The way he'd only use his voice towards me. The way he'd tap his front paws when he was excited. His tail would go wild when I'd look at him if I'd been laying down. When getting his food he'd always near where his bowl would be and look at the top of the doorway to the room where his food was stored. He'd always come running over when I was in the kitchen because he knew I'd pet him and sometimes give him food. He'd lean just his head against me I'd pet him. If we were laying down together and I scratched the very top of his head he'd close his eyes and very slowly lower his head until he was fully down. When I'd stop he'd get mad and shoot me this look before slapping me with his paw, sort of petting me. I may have given more examples than needed but whatever I love him. "
"My boy greets me at the door every day, so happy to see me, and at night he insists on sleeping as my little spoon. He's really pulled me out of some dark places before. He is my heart."
Finally, I wanted to take a second to talk about my guy, and what I find special about him. I've had the pleasure of knowing a lot of different animals in my life. I've gotten to know a number of dogs, and even a couple cats as well. But I've never met anyone like my partner. He's extremely curious, and he's very smart. He's got a sense of adventure that makes me want to explore the world at his side. He's got a very strong personality. When he wants something, he tells me. If I'm being lazy, he'll let me know. By the virtue of knowing him, I'm a better person. I see the world through his eyes, and it seems like a much better place. I love him so much.
I hope you've all have had an amazing zoo pride, and here's to the rest of the year! 
Article written by Tarro (July 2024)
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