First let me apologize for the delay in publishing this post. I thought I could upload the audio and the podcast would be available, and I would get my thoughts together on the blog part and publish later. Welp, I now believe I have learned I have to publish the blog for the podcast to work, at least that is what I am hoping as I write this.

This broadcast and subsequent blog were to take a look at what went on the previous week or so in the NFL (Ray Rice allegedly cold-cocking his fiance’ and Adrian Peterson being charged with child abuse), the public outcry both produced, and then turning to what I’ve observed in the animal world as a comparison and an example to how humans resolve conflict and deal with discipline. What goes on in the animal world between males and females and what goes on between parents and offspring in the animal world, and how do animals respond to attempts at physical discipline from owners and trainers?

I don’t think I can ever come up with a reason for a man to hit a woman. Period. I remember doing a skit in fifth grade where I was playing a boxing referee and we pitted a guy against a girl. Anytime he would draw back to take a punch, I would flail him with the little pretend microphone and shout, ” Don’t you know you never hit a lady!” This went on a few minutes until I believe she or I one knocked him out and she was declared the winner. Yes, DORKY! It was fifth grade, in the seventies, but the point is we learned that THEN! And it is still as applicable today as ever! Is there any situation in the animal kingdom in which the male brutalizes the female? Not normally. Now, there are stallions( male horse) which will attempt to brutalize a mare (female horse) in the act of breeding. Rarely is it vicious, and if for some reason it continues to occur or is deemed vicious, that horse may be gelded (castrated), and/or culled as a breeding horse – VERY UNDESIRABLE ATTRIBUTE! Ironically, and maybe rightly, the mare can inflict more damage on the stallion with her hind feet (kicking), and this is in fact one method used to “mature” young colts. That young rascal can be turned out in a pasture of pregnant mares, unreceptive to his advances due to their pregnancies, and that boy learns some manners REAL REAL quick! Point – momma has as much responsibility in teaching a boy to be a man as daddy does. And what do you think about the result for those that don’t learn their lesson? Does it have a place in our society? By the way, I have known of cases where the mare kicked the advancing stallion, fracturing his sternum and puncturing his heart, leading to an almost immediate death. Pretty severe consequence for attempting to do what seems natural, and a great argument for us as animal caretakers to teach our breeding animals some manners for the breeding shed.

Let me take you back to the seventies again. What we tried to get away with was LARGELY determined by who was in the principal’s office swinging the paddle! For the most part, it didn’t take getting “licks” more than once to act as a very large deterrent during the contemplation of future behaviors which might be regarded as less than appropriate. Are there examples in the animal world of parents using physical disciplinary techniques with their young? You bet! Mares will pin their ears and advance towards not only their foals, but foals of other mares when they get out of line. If that doesn’t work, a little nip or brush with a leg is used to get the message across. My big dogs do a fantastic job looking after my lambs, and when a young dog or stranger wonders up and threatens the flock, they are all over that dude, first with a pretty convincing warning tackle and nip, and the aggression goes from there if the undesired behavior continues. Momma dogs will nip their pups to keep them in line, and I’ve seen my ewes butt lambs to deter them from misbehaving. Now, if a parenting animal repeatedly injures or even kills its offspring, or another in the herd, it is removed. An injurious animal is more often than not an unproductive animal, and to carry that liability is something most owners cannot tolerate, and they are culled.

I often think about the development of society and cultures and can’t help but think that early man derived some of his behaviors and philosophies from observations of the animals that surrounded him. It’s common in nature for males to engage in physical conflict, common for there to be physical correction of youngsters by their parents or other elders. Can you tell me any instances of males brutalizing females in the animal world? In fact, most male engagement in nature is in protection or acquisition of females. There is no room in our society for a man to be physically violent towards a woman, and it would seem those that perpetrate such acts are beneath the status of our animal friends, and how productive they can be to “our herd” should really be taken into consideration when such acts occur. But it would seem the animal world may have it right in dealing with the kids. A little physical deterrent can be a valuable teacher of right and wrong; however, the repeat offender or the one inflicting injury or death is in fact abusing not only the child, but the privilege of being a pack leader and a part of “our herd”, and I for one believe “our herd” would be better off with out them. What do you think? Where do you draw the line between disciplinary actions and abuse? Thanks for stopping by!