Studies into how the human brain translates sensory data into action are many, ongoing and not without controversy. All agree, however, that an individual’s experience plays a role in how that individual makes decisions based upon factual data.
Obi-Wan’s distance comparison last night brought that to mind. The Injured Puppy story is still bothering me and as I’m wont to do, I’m turning it over and around and inside out looking for sense. In Obi-Wan’s part of the world, 5-15 miles is a long way. In my current world 50-75 miles is a long way.
I spent the first half of my life in the inter-mountain West, much of it in remote high altitude valleys where being socked in for weeks at a time wasn’t uncommon and miles weren’t used to judge distance. Travel times were the basis. The sixteen miles over the pass can take ten hours to traverse in bad weather, forty minutes in good weather. Every vehicle included a rifle in case a deer or elk had to be put down after a collision, emergency survival gear and chains, and a CB radio to hopefully reach the nearest person in the event of catastrophe.
One particular Valley has been ranched by the same families for generations. Cattle, sheep and alfalfa were the economic base of the Valley (that has changed in the past decade or so much to my dismay.) No one is more attuned to and caring of animals than a rancher. Contrary to what you may have heard those people know their animals well, particularly the non-livestock animals.
Since first reading about Injured Puppy I’ve thought about what the ranchers would’ve done in that specific situation. Each rancher I knew had excellent veterinary skills and a couple were veterinary school graduates. They had to be experienced in veterinary care since the licensed vet may or may not be able to get to the Valley within a few days and taking an animal to the vet was often impossible (ever try getting a downed heifer in the high grazing lease into a trailer?) Each had a good supply of antibiotics and antiseptics, lidocaine and suture string, etc. Back then they usually had good veterinary pain control medications which are no longer allowed to be purchased, much less used, without a veterinary license.
What would they have done if they’d found Injured Puppy? They wouldn’t have even thought of taking and posting a photo to Facebook. They’d assess the injury with practiced eyes and decide whether Injured Puppy’s chances of survival were better than 50/50. If not, they’d put the puppy down. I’ve met no one more intolerant of actual animal suffering than those people.
If they decide the pup’s chances were good, the weather is decent and they know where to find the vet (mountain veterinarians go to their clients) they or someone on the ranch would take Injured Puppy to be cared for by the licensed vet.
If taking the pup to the vet isn’t an option due to weather, inability to locate the vet or whatever, they’d decide whether they or someone they know have the skills to attempt the repair themselves. If so, they’d do it. If not, they’d put the puppy down.
The animal’s suffering is the unspoken premise in this decision tree. Allowing an animal to suffer excruciating pain is not an option. If suffering cannot be alleviated for whatever reason the humane action is to put the animal down, whether it’s the crippled doe splayed on the road or a cattle dog mauled by coyotes (it happens more often than you think.)
I can’t imagine those people taking Injured Puppy into their care and watching it suffer for two days when veterinary care is an easy half hour drive on a freaking interstate. Any Valley resident who did such a thing would be a pariah—not good in February when you need something and the pass is closed.
If you’re wondering by what standard I’m judging GARD’s self-proclaimed actions regarding Sarge and Injured Puppy, there you have it. Not a single soul I knew growing up would tolerate Joy Bohannon’s presence. She wouldn’t make it to spring before fleeing to more comfortable and prosperous environs.