Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Animal Lover

I love animals, especially on the grill. Lately, I prefer domestic animals all cleaned, cut up and wrapped at the supermarket meat counter. Some guys like wild animals better, but for me they’re too much bother now that I’m an aging baby boomer. I’m a decent shot with a rifle or shotgun but it’s a lot of work to hunt them down, shoot them, disembowel them, drag them to the truck, butcher them, wrap them up and freeze them. I’m getting too old for all that.

There are other kinds of animal lovers who consider them equal to humans, but I’m not in that category. Growing up, I did get friendly with some dogs though. We had a German shepherd named Trixie which, if an older boy tried to push me around, would show her teeth and growl menacingly. I had to like that dog. She got old and died and my parents got a mongrel named Tootsie. He had a brave heart too, but lacked the strength to back it up. Consequently, he got thrashed in clashes with other dogs. Still, he never backed off and I had to admire that. As they say, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Two years ago we buried a wonderful mongrel named Molly after seventeen years. She was gentle and smart and knew her place. She got expensive near the end of her life, but she was worth it. Her replacement is a large, unintelligent Yellow Lab/Irish Setter cross. Neither breed is known for smarts and Hannah is no exception. She’s huge and high-maintenance - a black hole of need, constantly seeking to be patted and stroked. And, she eats a lot. I may get a hernia carrying in huge bags of dogfood from the car. It doesn’t take long for Hannah to gobble it all down and what comes out the other end is of commensurate size. When she drinks water from her bowl in the kitchen, she slobbers about a quart all over the floor. You know how it feels to step in water right after putting on fresh pair of socks? Not a pleasant sensation. In winter, her hairs are all over the fleeces I wear and the back of my wife’s car is covered with them. When I ride in the passenger seat, Hannah is right by my left ear breathing and drooling. She’s not allowed in my car or in the cab of my truck either. She barks whenever a stranger approaches so she does serve as a kind of organic security system, but if I had my ’druthers I’d replace her with an electronic one. I tolerate Hannah only because my wife likes her.

Other kinds of animal lovers consider them superior to humans and I’m certainly not in that category. These are your rabid animal lovers. They would rather humans were extinct so we could turn the planet over completely to animals. When alligators ate three women in Florida last month, rabid animal lovers blamed humans for encroaching on the alligators’ habitat. It was the women’s own fault the alligators ate them.

Speaking of predators, a big black bear has been hanging around my neighborhood lately. I went out my door at 6:45 one morning and he was sniffing around my grandson’s swing set. He looked at me and sauntered down the hill into the woods like he owned the place. My wife has a counseling practice here and she told me some clients noticed the bear again outside her office. One said the bear was “brazen,” not afraid of people at all. Then I read about a black bear attacking a young family after climbing over a fence in Tennessee. The bear killed a six-year-old girl, mauled her mother and critically wounded her two-year-old brother after picking him up by the head and holding him aloft. Rabid animal lovers claim such attacks result from increased human encroaching on bear habitat, but Forest Service biologist Laura Lewis said in USA Today: “People don't want to think it is a natural behavior on the part of the bear [to eat people], but I really think it is.” I’m with you Laura. It’s natural for alligators to eat people too.

Why is this so hard for animal lovers to accept? Do they think all animals are vegetarians like they are? It should be obvious that bears love humans too - as tasty morsels. My six-year-old grandson plays on that swing set and the next time the bear comes around may be his last. He’s encroaching on my habitat now. Rock musician and hunter Ted Nugent wrote a book recently called “Kill It And Grill It,” with a recipe for “Bar-B-Que Black Bear.” I’m going to Amazon now and order it. Maybe I could learn to love bears. I’ve never tasted one on the grill before.


Anonymous said...

Wow, i can't believer no one has responded to this yet. and I can't believe I'm wasting my precious time responding to it myself. That's too is how I felt when I read your column in the Conway Daily Sun on Thursday; like I had just wasted time. What exactly is your point? It's just rambling nonsence and ignorace.
Example? Ok you say that you have a Lab/Setter Cross "neither breed know for it's smarts." Well first of all as a "teacher" you should know not to make statements that are not based on fact. The labrador retriever was first used to detect mines in war and is currently used for police dogs and for guide dogs. Hmmmm.... saving humans lives? Geez definatly not a smart breed. The Lab. and the Setter are also both known bird dogs. Again, it does take some smarts to do that as well.
I guess anyone can write a column. Especially in the Conway Daily Sun. I recently moved here from Concord NH and there is such littel "news" in that paper it astounds me. The fact that we have so many vacationers up here and they will pick up that paper and they too will waist their time reading a pointless ignorant column is sad.
I wonder, what is it exactly that you teach. Do you teach your students ignorance? Talking about black bears wanting to eat humans? Come on now.... again, with any type of education on the subject, you would know that black bears as with all wild animals really don't want to be bothered and certainly don't seek out human flesh for supper.
you wife is a counselor you say. well tell her to fit you in to her schedule because you obviously need some of your own. Maybe your dog is just like her owner, " a black hole of need," as you put it. Next time if the Daily Sun prints another one of your columns (and don't worry they'll be hearing from me too. Hey maybe they'll publish a column with me talking about changing my childs diapers everyday. Hey you mentioned your dogs big bm's.. ya never know,) please make it worth a reader time and with facts not ignorance.

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Anonymous said...

I am a kennety high shcool student and i just read what you wrote in the conway daily sun june 1st and it astounded me. did you do any reasearch at all before you wrote this? there are people who make it their lifetime job to study animals and anyone of them could tell you that black bears do not crave human flesh, they have simply become too used to humans in their enviroment. If a human were to go into the habitat towards a hungry bear chances are he would get attcked/malled/eaten slighly, but bears do not normally go after humans without some sort of health issue. your wife does need to schedaul you in for a session you have some extreme problems. I will be writing to the conway daily sun, they have gone extremely downhill to what they print, i mean seriously are they that desperate that they need to print something written by a man that should re-check his priorites in life, oh and he should go to a natural science class in the school that he teaches in and take the cource so that if he must write he can base some of his complete nonsense on fact.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm.... bear. I've had bear before Mr. McLaughlin, and it is fantastic. I will have to look in to that Bar-B-Que book.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. why cant you just be nice and leave the animals alone! so glad i dont have you anymore

--Jenny D.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Zach,

How did you cook that bear you liked so much?

You won't be going hungry with all the bears around lately. They're everywhere. Nearly everyone I run into lately has a story about a bear in their yard.

Hope you enjoy the recipe.

Anonymous said...

We boiled it in a fonduu pot(excuse the spelling). My grandmother was up at the time so she tasted it as well. We had the raw bear meet mixed with steak on a platter at the time. This is only significant because the two looked very similar to each other, except that the bear meat is a tad darker. My grandmother commented on how good a particular peice of meet was and held what was distinctly a peice of half eaten bear meat. We told her what it was and she denied ever eating it.

Anonymous said...

Zack you are a fool lol.

can i do that? Leave "lol" on Mr.McLaughlin's blog? :-0