Well, these are certainly hard questions; barely any of them (or none at all) could possibly come with an easy/adequate answer. And as any hard question about an important issue will always do, these hard questions will surely be met with some contraversy since one person will suppose that one answer is the best answer, while another person will suppose that another answer is the best answer. Kinda like the abortion debate. Wonder if people will ever be able to agree about that kind of a hot-button topic.
Best I can do for ya: submit some food for thought about the questions and respect your right to do with that food whatever seems best in your mind. Consider the food a gift. Once I've "given" it to you, its yours, and you have the rights to decide what to do with it. Just so we understand there's not much use in starting some big argument about any of it, because the argument would surely last forever (bleah).
"I'm not sure why humans did this [stopped treating our 'non-human friends' truly as 'friends'], but every reason I've ever heard to 'justify' this is 'trivial' in my opinion."
And I willingly concede that you've every right to hold that opinion. I even (think I) now understand a little better *why*
you hold that opinion, which was my goal when I asked for clarification on why the word "trivial," so yay I got to attain my own goal at least. Hope you feel somehow benefitted from the discussion too.
So, here's what I'm "getting." Olden-day relationships between human and wolf constituted genuine friendship because the wolves had total independence and could come and go as they pleased ... whereas today, we have a situation where dogs are essentially wolves-no-longer who've been bred (and conditioned) into the state of rather young, helpless, dependent children. (I don't mind polite correction if I've misinterpreted what you were getting at.)
If I'm "reading you right," then the problem with this "thing" that we feel is a friendship is that we can't/don't respect a dog in the same way that we'd respect a wolf. You can't be a friend to someone you can't/don't respect, right?
Hmmm. Well that is a puzzler. Okay here's the thing. "Exploiting" my dog Sophie for a moment for use as an example, I both recognize her "helplessness" in comparison to a wolf -- but, in my heart I still feel like I have respect for her. How/why? because, she does pretty cool things for the state and condition that she's in. I guess you could say that I'm impressed by how she makes the best of her lot in life. She's cheerful, she loves people -- even me, who "my hinge lady" will quickly characterize as a "cat person." And speaking of cats, she graces our cat Rainee (who's smaller than Sophie) with good friendly (and respectful) relations ... even some play time where Rainee-the-silent-one and Sophie (employing some relatively petite barking) take turns baiting each other and chasing each other around the apartment.
Sophie and I have something of a strained/"Odd Couple" relationship. LOL. She, uh, gets on my nerves ... LOL. "Pet" peeves: her damned high-pitched ear-splitting feverish manic barking (especially when I'm trying to sleep -- Jesus!), and her occasional "thing" about carrying her toy frisbees into my room (*my*
room, dammit!), and leaving them there, right on the floor, right in the way of the door or the spot by the window where Rainee would want to sit, thus (maybe?) passively-aggressively trying to "force" me to "play frisbee" with her. Dammit! I'm not some circus clown. You can't just *force*
me to play with you Sophie, you have to indulge me with enough patience to wait til I'm in the mood. Just sayin' ...
Sophie's crowding/hovering at the dinner table (waiting for anyone to accidentally drop the least crumb of food), crawling under the table (and touching my legs without permission!) used to bug me, but I've pretty much "adapted" to that venial habit by now. And it used to bug me when she'd jump on my bed (*my*
bed, dammit!) and start rubbing all over it (oh thanks Sophie, my ass was already filthy and now your filthy ass has been rubbed all over my bed), but yay and will miracles never cease, once I told her "No!" a couple of times and shooed her off the bed when she was doing that, she broke herself of the habit.
Truth is, Sophie and I have more of a respect-based relationship than we do an affection-based relationship. Oh she'd love it if I'd let her lick out my ears forever and ever; I've kind of stopped letting her do that. So she's got more affection for me than I do for her. But I do kind of grudgingly like her in my own way. It's just that my "stronger tie" to her consists of "respecting" her "position" in the family and being willing to help her out as a fellow Earthly creature on those infrequent occasions when she needs my help. Example: About 99% of the time, it's my V companions who take her out to go potty, but if she reeeally needs to go when it's just me at home, then I will (grudgingly) pull out the leash, doggie bags, my shoes and keys, and take her on a moderate walk around the apartment building so she can do what she's gotta do.
And whenever Rainee gets a treat from the kitchen, I make a point to give Sophie a dog biscuit too (which I probably shouldn't due to the bladder stones she might be prone to develop), just to be fair and because I know Sophie loves the hell out of food. (Damn dog actually chokes on occasion while she's inhaling her dinner since she hardly bothers to breathe during the process.) Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound like I respect her at all, does it? but like I said, fairness, fairness, it is important to me to at least treat her fairly (and decently). Sheesh, I let her bask in the Sun in the window in my room (*my*
room, we've all gave that principle due props by now amirite). And *most*
of the time she makes a point of peacefully minding her manners and letting me go about my business. So she (oh God do I have to admit it) definitely respects me and demonstrates as much.
So I "do respect" her, and I "don't respect" her (if don't-respect must be what we call it when I know she's not a wolf), both at the same time. As I said, given her crazy kind of breeding/evolution/domestication, she earns her due rights for my respect by acting her level best and by living responsibly within the confines of the choices she has. (Example: I know I can totally trust her to never ever bug me to take her out unless she *really*
needs to go. She seems to realize that the job ain't my cup of tea, and, well, she respects that fact.)
So there you have it. The unsolvable mystery of whether respect is possible for a human towards a dog who's been bred/conditioned into the state of a rather young, helpless, dependent child. She may be a "kid" in that sense, but she could be a "rotten kid" if she wanted and yet, most of the time she "independently" takes the higher road, behavior-wise. How could I not respect that?
Re: cows ... oh holy shit now there's a kettle of fish. "Primitive" humans had better excuse than "modern" humans for eating meat. Largely we need a society-wide change/expansion in the menu our economic system offers (Burger King sez we can haz veggie burgers but McDonald's sez we can't? I don't get that) ... but, technically, any average Western person today could easily enough become a vegetarian. (Course bugs still die when crops are grown/harvested but let's not confuse ourselves with that inconvenient detail right now.)
And now the problem. If we all turned veggie tomorrow, we'd still have to continue to keep/confine/care for our cows because we've already domesticated the poor bastards. Maybe not completely true, they might be able to "re-adapt" to life in the wild. (On the other hand there's the contraversy about whether we can arrogantly justify ourselves in using their milk. I dunno. Could I survive if I gave up cheese? Ouch. Pizza?? Ahem ... also true is that while veggie pizza is excellent, sometimes humans get a rather insane craving for a good old pepperoni pizza ... oh God I'm getting off-topic again.)
And now some irony for your disgust and entertainment: Back in the good old days when we killed and ate our meat straightaway, we definitely weren't "friends" with the about-to-die "meat" that we were going to so promptly eat. But now that we keep/confine/care for our destined-to-become-steaks cows, some of us (e.g. my dad) come to feel quite attached to our future dinners. So one could argue that today we are more friends with/toward our to-be-eaten victims than we were before our ancestors did those victims the disservice of domesticating them!
Side note: What's really disgusting about the above irony is that as a whole, we don't lend pigs nearly the same level of emotional investment that we do our cows. Don't even feed them as well. Slop instead of straw? Our rotten leftovers? How is it the pigs' fault that they're such a piggy mess? We put them in those muddy pens and feed them crappy food and that's all they get! So sad. They say that pigs are probably actually "smarter" than cats and dogs. Eat a cat or dog? Ewww, awful, the inhumanity sez we (except in a few Far-Eastern dives). Eat a pig? Mmmm, everything's better with bacon.
Eoh; by the way. Regarding entertainment. Sometimes we just enjoy our pets' company, but sometimes we "shamelessly" get a kick out of their antics as well. Welllll ... that *is*
rather trivial of us, even I'll admit that. In the same way that going to a circus is a trivial way to spend our time. But trivial may or may not mean harmful ... After all, if the non-human person's having fun too, then it's a win-win sitch. (Not exactly my most important point here but, worth mentioning.)