Click images for desktop size: "Meow" by SingExpat
Recently I read an article; they now claim that dogs can understand up to 255 words. When I was a kid they thought dogs could understand only 25 words, when I was an adolescent they upped it to 50 words.
Either dogs are getting smarter or we are.
Then there was the "shocking" discovery that dolphins have names and that they use these names to refer to each other. And a few days later they discovered that wolves also have names and that they use those names to refer to each other.
Then the latest discovery is that dolphins can remember things that they learned 20 years ago. No reinforcement during the years, they simply remembered some non essential trivia they were taught 20 years ago.
Humanity has always been an insecure race with low self esteem. We're the center of the universe, we're made in god's image ergo we are small gods! That sort of stuff. Why else could we possibly believe that inferior beings just like us were fit to rule us.
Thomas Aquinas had to be deified because he proved that animals have no souls and were placed on this planet for us to dominate. He made doctrine that animals had no feelings, that everything they did was the merest instinct. He justified our cruelty and deceit so that we might live peacefully within our own heads.
Throughout history there are countless stories of dolphins rescuing drawing swimmers, people being attacked by sharks, guiding lost ships to a safe harbor. Somehow we always accept those swamp gas official explanations; that the dolphin was just following instinct, looking for food, trawling the garbage blah blah blah.
It's crazy to me. If a 9 year old kid suffers the tragedy of uncomprehendingly watching his little sister drown in the swimming pool we assign no guilt. The kid had no way of knowing that his sister was even in trouble. But when an animal, a dolphin looks at an alien being, a person, drowning in the ocean and the dolphin logics out that the person is in trouble and then devises a solution to end that person's trouble we don't show a similar amount of empathy and readjust our thinking and consider the
Click images for desktop size: "Dragoneye" by JW McGinnis
intelligence required to make that complicated decision and solution.
I mean if we saw a dolphin splashing around in a puddle we'd most likely walk on by. Because we are people we know that we're far more important than any animal in trouble and an animal isn't going to pay us for saving it, is it?
I hate that ancient superstitious nonsense that hobbles us and makes it so hard to see the wonder around us. It prevents us from approaching and appreciating the others we share the planet and our lives with.
When I got my first job, cutting negatives at Universal, I started every day with a dawn patrol at Manhattan Beach Pier. I liked the Pier more than Laguna because the pilot seals in Laguna were too playful and in the way. The Pier was usually empty at the dawn except for a time when this dolphin showed up every morning.
First time I met the dolphin he pulled a trick on me. It scared me to death by pretending to be a shark. When there's a gray fin cutting through the ocean at 6:00 AM it's not very applicable to run through the differences between a shark and a dolphin fin.
After the dolphin scared me to death he surfaced and laughed at me. Then, four the next hour he surfed with me. It was a pin in the neck mainly as the sol;phkn had enough speed to catch all the waves and was a total wave hog knocking me off the board more than a few times.
That started my winter of the dolphin. He was there every morning. We'd bicker and we'd surf.
One night the santanas never let up and there was a 5 foot swell with occasional 6 footers. My solitary dawn patrol was crowded. The dolphin was there too.
There were about a dozen of us, fortunately the swell was perfect the waves were perfect peelers and looking out to sea all you could see were rushing humps. Good thing as the dolphin was a total wave hog. With his tail and body he could pull of late take offs we could only dream of. Guys were shouting at him, "off my wave dolphin dude!" Off my wave!"
Click images for desktop size: "Melted" by Unknown
Didn't work. The dolphin hung all all session and started to chatter back at us. Maybe they were the equivalent of dolphin whoops. He just hung out in the line up with the rest of us bobbing around. It was a great day. I was late for work.
I never dug zoos, except sometimes the one in Santa Barbara, and only because Santa Barbara had this lemur who could open cages so you'd see this lemur and maybe his companion wandering around. They'd not be terrorizing anybody.
Santa Barbara Zoo also let you get too close to the elephants who were beyond infinitely cool. But aside from that I don't like zoos. A few dozen field trips to the Griffith Park Zoo couldn't change this. I don't like that Wild Animal safari junk either. I'd liked Africa and the animal preserves, but they've gotten too popular so it's not the
Anyway, I'd never been to Sea World, which I always thought was just like some sort of floating zoo. I was wrong, it was like a floating circus. I had to go for work for some reason. It was terrible. I watched the dolphin show. I was impressed. I made a mistake. I used my studio pass to hang around and look at the dolphins.
I saw the saddest thing I had seen since I was 6 years old. That was when my mother took me "backstage" at the Barnum and Bailey Circus. I saw the elephants begging to walk but chained and I saw the clowns the clowns drinking out of pint bottles and smoking unfiltered cigarettes. I don't remember if the clowns said anything. All I heard was the clinking of the elephants chains.
The dolphins were lying there in their lagoon. Lying on their sides and staring at me. They were almost motionless, just a tiny few inches of lolly gagging twisting to vent their blowholes. They stared up at me with one eye apiece. The eyes moved to watch me even though they did not move. They were eyes without hope or passion. Concentration camp eyes like I'd seen in that archival footage and in those old black and white photos. Eyes that had seen nothing but despair for so long that they'd given up and were only waiting until they would be allowed to die.