Second Chance: I Think Therefore So Must You

Second Chance: I Think Therefore So Must You

Steven Kotler, author of A Small Furry Prayer, fell in love with a woman who was in the “cult” of animal rescue and soon found his life upended from that of a single professional living in L.A. to taking his writing career to a goat shed in rural New Mexico and sharing his girlfriend (and eventually wife) and bed with 15+ special-needs rescue dogs. Kotler’s experience completely transformed his relationship to non-human beings, as indicated by the subtitle of his book: “Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life…”

Shay, who survived a puppy mill, is looking for a loving home.

Shay, who survived a puppy mill, is looking for a loving home.

In one chapter, Kotler offers a historical perspective of the human-animal connection and how that has led to animals’ lives being valued as less consequential, meaningful, and equivocal as that of humans.  Kotler is able to direct some of the blame for this unfortunate paradigm to the famous French philosopher Rene Descartes.

It was Descartes who lay down the legendary cogito “I think therefore I am” and, as Kotler states, “a bunch of downstream correlates upon which most of modern science was built. The anchor in Descartes’ Cogito was language.  He knew he thought because he could describe his thoughts in language. What he didn’t know was if animals thought.  Descartes had one common language; he had no way to prove animals could think. He concluded they couldn’t. Animals, in his opinion, were machines with intricate parts. They were not a ‘special case’ like humans; they had no thoughts and no feeling, and were guilty of that ultimate Funkadelic crime: having no soul.”

And some of those “downstream correlates” resulted in puppy mills. The puppy mill turned animals into machines to produce other animals to service the yearning of the populace for a particular “purebred” dog of their liking, while giving no concern to their physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental well-being.

But here is the thing: Descartes (who went on to perform some pretty sick experiments on animals to “prove his point”) lived in 1637.  This is 2017, so how is it that puppy mills still exist?  We now know that animals can think, feel, and have a language. So why are animals not equal to humans? Don’t tell me it is all about an opposable thumb.

My name is Shay. I am about eight years old and I am a puppy mill survivor. I will spare you the details of what I survived because I am ready to leave all that dark stuff behind.  I just want to make two point to Pet Column readers: 1) puppy mills do still exist and greater awareness has to be generated about this issue so the severely inhumane practice can be obliterated once and for all;  2) I am ready for a loving family to show me what “humanity” truly is. I am starting to learn what it means to be treated with kindness and respect, but this new world is a scary place so I need a gentle and patient new family to work with me.

Please come visit me at the Second Chance Shelter today – where I am currently getting my second chance at life. Also, consider joining me in recognizing that Descartes, as Kotler so poetically frames it, “was a jackass” and that as an animal, I love therefore I am.

Ben is soft for soft , cuddly people and things.

Ben is soft for soft , cuddly people and things.

And if you are seeking the feline kind of love please consider Ben, a three-year-young lover of people and all things soft.

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

1 Comment
  • Gail Marie Goodin
    Posted at 08:05h, 17 January

    My emotional heart burst open with gratitude, appreciation, grief, sadness, honor, respect, joy, peace, hope, anger, pain, ….

    What an awesome author/content/dedicated commitment is demonstrated herein.

    My heart responds way over my head response! Great messengers!! Powerful message!!