Wednesday, October 8, 2014

UST AB Photography: Pets Mellow Our Character

In Observance of World Animal Day, October 4, feast day of  St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.
Lessons for Oct 9 2014. 

  • Lecture on conventional and modern Photography 
  • Viewing Applied Photography
  • Workshop Exercise 
  • Quiz 
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

You are alone at your lowest ebb.”

No one is spared from these moments in life. The more daring we are the deeper is the wound if we fail, and the longer it takes to heal. It takes more intellectual acuity and intestinal fortitude to be aggressive, which has various forms: like being enterprising, being more risk tolerant, adventurous, pioneering, courageous. These traits take us into the horizons ordinary people dare not tread. It is said that in our moments of glory we strive for more of it. But in our instances of defeat, we find ourselves deep in shadow. “Victory has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan.” A pet can help resurrect us from defeat to a victory,

 Bugsy,  pug dog, at home

1. Pets bring back happy memories. You have an advantage over the city slicker if you grew up in the province, then came to live in the city later in life. Loving pets is like filling a gap, manifested by the void of one owning animals you knew and loved before. A dog brings sweet memories of when you were a farm hand. An aquarium reminds you of the fish you used to catch in the rice paddies during the monsoon rains. Goats on the range, chicken perched on a branch, a kingfisher patiently waiting for its prey, Labang, the bullock chewing its cud while at rest – these are scenes that one can revisit in his mind through the magic of pets.

2. Take a vacation back to the province. While on vacation take the country road. Go to a farm and leave behind the traces of urban life. Try to remember riding a carabao when you were a kid. Savor the moment and let time stand still. If you do you become observant and wind up discovering many things. For instance you will notice the vaulting grasshoppers, a turtle lazily basking under the sun, or the parade of clouds in ever-changing figures and shapes. Remember when you were older and would ride a horse into the woods and over the hills. Let the musky smell of the earth, and the fresh scent of grass and leaves penetrate your nostrils as you watch a farmer plow the field. Notice ripened leaf that eventually falls off the branch. Notice these and many more to soothe your mind and soul. Somewhere a pandangera or fantail bird sings in praise and joy, while a dalag stirs in a calm pond sending ripples that make the red Nymphaea and lanky cattails sway and dance, disturbing a dragonfly in its slumber.

3. Pets in the Wild. Not all pets rest on your lap, respond to a call, or depend entirely on your care. Several large trees around out house create a four-layered mini-forest that adjoins the watershed of La Mesa reservoir a block away. Birds visit regularly. Their songs wake you in a way that makes you smile, without the piercing siren of an alarm clock. On a still day their calls make a cheerful orchestra of warbling tunes, distinct for each species. There are birds that drink of the nectar of Lobsterclaw (Heliconia), while there are those which pick the ripe petals of Ilang-ilang, releasing its fragrance into the air. .

When the great painter, Lanseer, made his masterpiece, “Monarch of the Glen,” a moose in the wild stood still apparently posing for him. Humbled, the painter put down his rifle and took out a pencil and a piece of paper and sketched the magnificent creature. From then on, he renounced hunting the rest of his life.

4. Dolls and toys to pets. When dolls and toys are no longer scattered on the floors and stairways of our homes, but are now instead kept in cabinets and glass cases, then we know the dawn of our children’s adolescence is at hand. It is transition time from childhood to adulthood, from fantasy to reality, sweet nothings to serious matters. This is where Alice in Wonderland or Treasure Island are replaced by Legally Blood and Westlife. Pets provide the bridge onto this new life for millions of adolescents. That is why pet shops abound. According to a survey conducted by my students in Field Zoology at UST Graduate School, there is at least one pet shop in every mall, or you will find two or more around a public market or “busy center” in Metro Manila. Many more are strategically located around schools and churches, not to mention ambulant pet peddlers you meet on Sundays and on busy sidewalks. These pet shops sell aquarium fish ranging from guppies to the giant aruwana, common birds like maya (rust brown and gray with pink beaks known as mayang costa), lovebirds and parakeets, and even illegally procured parrots sold clandestinely. Four-legged pets include guinea pigs, hamsters, iguanas, green turtles, and rabbits. Whenever I go to a mall with my daughter we always pass by a pet shop. The different breeds of dogs fascinate us. “My Jamby (a Japanese Spitz),” she says “is worth P2,000.” She would compare her pet with the other breeds that are really expensive. “Jamby is bigger and more beautiful,” I would reply, “She is priceless.” You can imagine how relieved my daughter is.

5. Pets are priceless. No one sells a pet he or she owns, much more if the family or community owns it. Sometimes this pops as a problem. At home we fatten hito or catfish in our garden pond. After a few months they are ready for harvesting. “They are our pets,” my children would cry, and that would spoil any plans for a weekend with a new barbecue stand bought for the purpose.

Albino Catfish in an aquarium 

Yes, it is a paradox in the case of the dog. Man’s best friend goes beyond companionship. To some, a dog is just a gustatory delight. This phenomenon is not confined only to indigenous people. It is prevalent throughout the archipelago as part of tradition and culture. In our times there are those, driven by economic necessity, routinely eat dogs. At one time, Congress received hundreds of letters endorsing the passage of a bill prohibiting the killing of dogs, “dognapping” or the rearing of dogs for food. As most of these letters came from the US and Europe, we can only appreciate the place dogs have in the hearts of people who have a deep regard for pets. The bill was never passed.  

Friendly bato bato

6. Pets influence our character. With a pet around you need not sing in the dark to mask a fear, whistle on a lonely path, or latch the door. If you have no one to talk to, pets are willing listeners. Because they don’t argue, you feel right validated. When we think of the variance between our and ourselves. In our loneliness, this empathy is shared, becoming mutual compassion; master and pet feeling for each other.

On the other hand, a pet may rise into a knight ready to defend his master. Pets remind us of our ambition for power (or simply our hidden fierce character) honed it in our imagination as a boa constrictor swallowing a prey whole, or a falcon coming back for the kill. “Name your pet and I will tell you who you are,” is a patterned adage about friendship. Here is a range of pets, each suggesting a kind of personality the owner may have. Flea, rat, pigeon, aruwana, turtle, salamander, bat, preying mantis, monitor lizard, guinea pig, and what have you.

 Parakeet and young master on the move

7. Beware of certain pets. Be aware of allergy. There are people who are sensitive to hair and dust. Bites may also cause allergy and worse, they carry diseases such as rabies. Pets are also hosts or carriers of vermin, from lice to pathogens such as the deadly bubonic plague bacteria. There are pets, which, by their nature as animals, suddenly act on biological instinct to become dangerous attackers of their human masters. Remember that these proclivities, which enabled their ancestors to survive in the wild, are still with them. When threatened, these impulses take the ancient stance of defense or aggression, which is the name of the game of survival and evolution.

A veterinary clinic provides immunization against rabies and other animal-carried diseases. Safeguard children from large pets, such as large breeds of dogs, and potentially dangerous ones such as monkey, boa and tiger cubs.

8. Two faces of animals in media. Media is full of inconsistencies. At one time my family saw “Fly Away Home,” a moving story of a girl who with the help of her family guided a flock of geese back to their natural home. How different are the movies, King Kong, ET, JurassicPark, and lately Artificial Intelligence. These movies sow the elements of fear and terror in an animal world that exists only in imagination. But to a child’s mind, such fantasy can be taken seriously and the consequence is not a healthy one to grow up with. There is no kindness anymore, as one would find in “Free Willy,” a moving story on how a whale was saved through the cooperation of a whole community and a boy and his family. The story deepens the wholesome relationship between man and the animal world, a lesson that reminds us of the Aesop’s fables. 

With the computer media has made a third dimension of what animals look like and behave. The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Cats and Dogs, Babe, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and a host of animated cartoon characters, while full of action are devoid of realities of life. These are make-believe stories using the state-of-the-art in audiovisual technologies. The gross effect is alienation from Nature instead of bringing back our children to the fold of Nature. Canned nature is a recipe for city living, albeit a source for money-making. The views in these movies are no different from those from around a skyscraper where many kids today visit or live their lives. They are more akin to the planet Mars than to Earth where we live.

According to Time Magazine, there are hospitals in the United States today which train dogs and other pets to help patients recuperate faster. The patients coddle these pets, in the process, develop faster recovery. One report is about a patient who could barely move his hand as a result of a stroke. But with a pet around he began to regain the use of his hand. Dogs are trained to guide the blind, while there are dogs trained to play games with patients during their recuperation.

Pets help patients conquer depression, a condition that may lead to nervous breakdown, neurosis and even suicide. There are millions of people around the world, especially those living in industrialized nations, who fall victim to this modern day disease. Many become unwilling victims of drugs. Many lives are ruined if not treated early or on time. 

 Faithful St Gertrude bullock and  gypsy family on the move

Pets compensate for the lack of feeling and concern in modern day living. They heal the wounds of broken relationships and help fill out the vacuum of absence. They buoy the sagging spirit, accept us when we are rejected, and give the “human touch” to the high tech world of specialized medicine. Everybody seems busy doing his thing. After a hard day’s work, a dog wagging its tail meets us at the gate, begging to be touched, revealing unashamedly how much it had missed us. A pat and some leftovers of fast food may be all we can give, but our pet soon settles down, fully contentment in its world. That is because it has found our company again. ~

The Dog That Found A Home

Jemille and Ten-ten-ten
It was a quiet afternoon and guess who was knocking at the gate?
A starving dog, a mongrel, and what is there in him to gain?  
Could you spare me a morsel? His eyes moist and sad, begging,
And food we gave, closed the gate, everything was quiet again.  

The sun was setting down, we saw a shadow seeping through the gate,
He is still there, I told the children, and he was knocking again, 
Could you spare me a place for the night? His moaning told us so,
Who are you, who is your master? Silence. I felt a little pain.   

We took him in.  It was a special date on the calendar that comes
But once, and never again, not in a lifetime or generation.
Tenth day, of the tenth month, of the first decade of the millennium,   
And we named this lost dog Ten-ten-ten. What a celebration!  

Home he found and a happy company with us and the neighborhood,
Call his name, you wish luck and fortune, how easy to remember! 
And children tired from school come knocking to play with their friend,
Can we play with Ten-ten(-ten)? Heaven sent a dog to love and share.  ~

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