Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Grumpy Glacier

I once had a Social Anthropology professor tell my class of about 100 first year students that:
"animals do not have emotions."
Being that it was my first semester at university, I was still looking at things through a rose coloured glass; assuming that since these beings teaching us all had university degrees, that they could not be wrong. Upon hearing that statement I was outraged. I had only had Jetta for three or so months by then, but I strongly disagreed with him. I had also grown up with many dogs and my experience would suggest otherwise.
It was then and there that the glass broke and I started questioning everything I was taught. Some professors loved it, others were aggressive in their answers; probably hoping I'd stop bringing into question what they were teaching us. I thank that professor for what he said because I think he actually changed the university experience for me in a positive way.
At the time, I was too shy and timid to say anything, but a few years later I approached him and explained why I disagreed. I launched into a huge lecture about how  that statement is incorrect and asked him if he had ever spent 24/7 attached to and relying on an animal. I concluded by saying,
"perhaps we have given human emotional names to the animals' emotions, but you will never convince me that they do not have emotions." I then handed him a  bibliography of sources I had found that contradicted what he had stated years before.
Surprisingly, he took it well and said he'd take my opinion into consideration when instructing future classes. I was a bit stunned, but thanked him and left. It took me a while to realise what I had actually accomplished and that I had done it only in my third year of a four year degree. What could I do if I moved up the academic ladder?
That said, my little anecdote is to demonstrate my next point: Glacier is grumpy today.
I'm not sure why. He seems very lethargic. Usually when I get on the floor with him he licks me to death. No kisses today. Even when harnessing him up to go "park" he just puts his head through with no enthusiasm. Usually he thrusts his head into the harness. I don't think he's sick. There are no signs of illness. What I really think is going on is that he's having an off day.
We as people have them and let me tell you, so do dogs; especially guide dogs. They will still work for you because that is what they are trained to do, but their zest for the work isn't quite there.
Thankfully, I don't have to be anywhere today. So,  Glacier can spend the day curled up with Roscoe and just take it easy. Usually Glacier is our enthusiastic, goofy,  bouncy, happy go lucky guy, but for whatever reason he's quite somber today. Mr. K and I even got him up in bed between the two of us this morning just to give him a little TLC. It was only for about five minutes, but the snuggle time did help with Glacier's mood a bit. If he needs a day just to be cranky, then that is fine. As I said, I don't have to be anywhere and I know that even if I did, he'd guide me there safely.
I've spent nine years handling guide dogs and although I am not an animal expert in the sense that I have loads and loads of educational knowledge of them, I can definitely tell you that animals have emotions. Perhaps we as humans have labeled them incorrectly, but Glacier is most certainly a grumpy Glacier today.


Anonymous said...

Aww, I hope Glacier has a better day tomorrow. After having many dogs, raised two guide dog puppies and one therapy dog I can personally say with assurance that dogs have emotions!

Jen said...

I think anyone who says that dogs don't have immotions is very very wrong. OJ has lots of off days, and sometimes so does his owner! :)
Interesting post.

L^2 said...

Poor Glacier. Cheer up, buddy! I absolutely agree that animals have emotions. Like you said, we has humans may not identify them correctly - wanting to personify them to suit ourselves - but they're not robots that completely lack emotion of any sort.

GirlWithTheCane said...

After dealing with my cat, Mindee, after my other cat recently got outside and was gone for five, I'd say that animals experience emotions. Mindee was terribly anxious that her friend was gone...stopped eating, constantly looked out the window...just seemed to not know what to do with herself in general.

And our family dog never seemed the same after my mom died. Just...a little more subdued.

It seems very arrogant to me to say, "Animals don't have emotions."

I hope that Glacier is feeling better.