What’s Wrong with Animal Rights Hearne, Vicki Harper’s Magazine; Sep 1991; 283, 1696; ProQuest Central pg. 59
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ANIMAL RIGHTS Of hounds, horses, and Jeffersonian happiness By Vicki Hearne
of all happy animals are alike. A Doberman going over a hurdle after a small wooden dumbbell is sleek, all arcs of harmonious power. A basset hound cheerfully performing the same exercise exhibits harmonies of a more lugubrious nature. There are chimpanzees who love precision the way musicians or fanatical house-keepers or accomplished hypochondriacs do; others for whom happiness is a matter of invention and variation—chimp vaudevillians. There is a rhinoceros whose happiness, as near as I can make out, is in needing to be trained every morning, all over again, or else he “forgets” his circus rou-tine, and in this you find a clue to the slow, deep, quiet chuckle of his happiness and to the glory of the beast. Happiness for Secretariat is in his ebullient bound, that joyful length of stride. For the draft horse or the weight-pull dog, happiness is of a different shape, more awesome and less obviously intelligent. When the pulling horse is at its most intense, the animal goes into himself, allocating all of the educated power that orga-nizes his desire to dwell in fierce and delicate intimacy with that power, leans into the harness, and MAKES THAT SUCKER MOVE. If we are speaking of human beings and use the phrase “animal happi-ness,” we tend to mean something like “creature comforts.” The emblems of this are the golden retriever rolling in the grass, the horse with his nose deep in the oats, the kitty by the fire. Creature comforts are impor-tant to animals—”Grub first, then ethics” is a motto that would describe many a wise Labrador retriever, and I have a pit bull named Annie whose continual quest for the perfect pillow inspires her to awesome feats. But there is something more to animals, a capacity for satisfactions that come from work in the fullest sense—what is known in philosophy and in this country’s Declaration of Independence as “happiness.” This is a sense of Vicki Hearne is a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, an animal trainer, and the author of Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog, which will be published in November by HarperCollins. Her last piece for Harper’s Magazine, “Beware of the Dog!” appeared in the February 1986 issue.
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