People are animals too... (response to Dangle's blog)

Once our needs for food, shelter, and overall health and safety have been met, we as animals are free to separate ourselves from the ways of Nature.  We, like all animals, put our most basic needs first, and then move onto other things that are not essential for our survival.  

Very rarely do we just stop moving up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid after we've accomplished it's base.   Once we have access to food, shelter, health and safety, we go on to buy boats, luxury cars, take on hobbies, and some even share their excess to those less fortunate.   It happens, but it's rare to see a homeless person with a sign saying "Need money for cell phone bill".  

Some people will argue that animals are not people, as people are not animals.   I have to disagree to an extent.  No, animals will never care about brand name goods, or the kind of car they drive. But they share the same basic needs as us, and they will, in their own way, "move up in the world", once those basic needs are met.  

I'll use one of my cats as an example.  We rescued him as a stray.  Initially he was very food aggressive, and he would eat as if it were his last meal. He ate so fast, I was afraid he was going to choke. If I, or any of the other cats went near him while he was eating, he would growl and lash out at us.  He was used to not knowing where his next meal was coming from.   Now he knows that I feed him and the other cats at certain times each day.   No longer does he eat fast, or feel threatened by those around his food.  Now a days he would much rather play with toys and wrestle with his older brother.   His favourite things are car rides and playing fetch - like a happy, well nurtured, dog.   Right now, as I write, one of my other cats is bugging me.  She's not hungry, I just fed them.  She just wants to be pet - it's her favourite thing.  Affection... and if you look on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, affection is the next pier above Physiological, and Safety needs.  

 I would even go as far as saying that many of my cats have touched upon the next pier - Esteem.   No I don't think they care what they look like, but I do believe they look for confidence and achievement.  Most, non-crazy-cat people wouldn't notice these things, but when I watch my cat try for 20 minutes to get a toy out of a box, and succeed, only to drop that toy at my feet, I know it's his way of saying "Look what I did". He had a goal, achieved it, and is proud of that.   He didn't do it for any reward besides success.  

People will often try and separate our species from others due to the notion that animals act on instinct alone.  They do only what they need to do to survive, and are incapable of any thought processes more advanced than that.  For some animals, like insects, and simple organisms, yes, that's true.  But I believe that it's important to us to know that we're not the only animals who are able to want, love, and play.  We are by far not the only ones who do things just because we want to.   

I believe that if we can give an animal comfort in knowing that it is, and will continue to be safe, and nourished, that you will see that animal do things that it normally wouldn't do.  I also believe that if you take food and shelter away from a human, that human will revert to "animal like" behavior. 

Whether it's the surrogate mother dog taking care of tiger cubs, or the goat who befriends a blind horse and helps him navigate around.   Animals are not people, but people ARE animals.  

In my next blog I'll get into why animals are actually better than us. 

Uploaded 09/28/2012
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