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Africa

To Be Animal…

Posted by Jennifer McCarthy on January 24, 2011 in Africa, Career, Nature / Colorado, Speak! Archive, Travel, Yellowstone National Park Wolf Expedition

To be animal, to understand what makes a human detached from its own comrades of mammals, you have to live it, you have to breathe it and essentially, “Be wild”…

Years ago, I had asked the most fundamental question that every human being seeks on the planet: Why am I here and what am I supposed to be doing.
I had worked in almost every aspect of the dog business, grew up riding horses, scuba dove and lived on boats all over the Caribbean but my most extreme hurdle was not in understanding the animals. It was the human psychology behind the issues & problems that I was faced with on a daily basis.
I couldn’t wrap my head around one thing: How and why do humans think they are no different from a dog, cat, wolf or horse? Sure, we have more developed brains but is that a good thing? As far as I knew, the human race was facing many issues including over population, global warming and war to name a few. I saw wolves develop similar family systems in the wild and survive the ice age. We are still a new species to some animals and I had a feeling that some of them knew that. It seems that wolves had us from the beginning, they used us to get food and here we have the domestic dog. This basic and simplistic way of living for some species worked-they had survived when others had died off and in some terms, it made them wiser.
Most humans don’t go around thinking every day in simplistic terms. We get to work, pay the bills and purchase what we need to eat, wear, live under and travel in. Rarely does a person hunt on foot, study a herd, live outside and wear what he kills & will eat.
I decided to head out to Colorado to work with wolves and detach from society as much as possible to study the interactions between my dogs & horses, cattle and wildlife high up in the mountains above Boulder. This extreme way of living taught me more in my career and in life than I had ever anticipated. I wanted to know what it was like to live life on the food chain without a gun and be to some extent, an animal in the wild.
Once removed from the ongoings of society, you let go of a lot of facades. What was once important became non-essential. I began to process a raw, more substantial outlook on life that didn’t revolve around material things or complex social interactions.
I saw how much we are all sold products of someone else’s life-things that other humans make as an impression of their ideas but not based upon who we are as people. Certain human issues became less important and I became focussed on studying and learning from my comrades in the forest.
Animals live life in the same way people do at fundamental levels. They experience joy, heart ache, depression, sadness, loneliness, happiness and excitement to name a few. Some are social creatures that like to have fun and play games but all struggle to survive. They eat, rest, sleep, travel, work, play and have families. I found more “humanness” in the woods than I found animal or maybe I was finding more animal in all of us as humans.
As my journey continued, I saw acts of tolerance between different species, I saw kindness and forgiving and I saw what makes life worth living to all of us on planet earth. This experience as animal, has me convinced that I learned more about being a human from other mammals. We can learn more from other species because they are our comrades. We should not deny the fact that we are one of them.
My journey continues to this day and as I seek to find answers in helping humans and animals co-exist, I only find myself going farther in search of my true purpose.
From the eastern shores of Africa to the reefs off the coast of Australia to the most remote corners of Yellowstone, I continue to gain more knowledge, grow more as a person and become increasingly skilled with what I do to share with anyone who needs help or is interested in listening.
To relate this all back to your pet has great significance because I believe in not speaking from a human perspective but a perspective of your pet. What other species teach me breaks way to a new understanding of working with one as an equal, not as a greater species which harbors great compassion and understanding for domestic pets and their human owners.
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