Soooo I have launched a podcast. Chances are, that if you are reading this, you already know. It’s the DOVE Podcast – the Diary Of Volunteers on Earth. You can go listen to it on Spotify and on YouTube. But there are indeed people out there who don’t like listening to long-form talks, they prefer reading it. So I’ve been asked why I don’t just upload the transcript somewhere. So here you go. As of now I’ll be posting the transcripts on bearnecessities for your leisure and pleasure!
If you do prefer to listen, and landed here accidentally, be my guest!
Noahs Ark and its animal rescue unit
I had the pleasure to visit one of the largest animal shelters of the Animal protection association in Austria. The shelter called the Arche Noah, which literally means Noahs Ark. They house mostly dogs, cats and even horses and are constantly looking for new owners for those lovely animals. In the adoption section, they mostly have full-time staff, which is why I instead talked to Margot and Rene. Two volunteers of a different but nevertheless super important section: The animal rescue team.
In total there are roughly 40 volunteers helping with the animal rescue team and there’s also dozens of voluntary dog-walkers who help the team out. Talking to Margot and Rene was fascinating, and yet again I was privileged to learn a lot from them.
Contradictions and slippery slopes? Yes, please!
One of the aspects that was most interesting to me was the relationship we as humans have with animals. And even just stating that circumstance in such a way shows an approach to life that I personally sometimes have difficulty understanding. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m aware how tricky this whole subject is. how many slippery slopes await anyone who is trying to go there and how full of contradictions discussions about it are, if you like it or not. But if you know me, you know that these sorts of tricky topics are my favorite ones to discuss. So here I go.
We have collectively tricked ourselves into believing, as humans, we aren’t animals and therefore are somehow detached from nature. I mean just biologically speaking there are some factors that make our species unique. Opposable thumbs, complex language processing and using tools probably comes to mind. But certain animal species do some of those things as well. And most people who aren’t completely brainwashed by religious ideology agree that we are descendants from apes.
The dolphin did what with the electric eel?
Yet we sometimes behave like gods. Because we have a consciousness, or at least we think so. And because we can even contemplate about a concept like god, or the afterlife or metaphysics. And because we can attach meaning to things that – at least on the surface – are not vital to our evolutionary success and the survival of our species. Like art or music or money or sex for pleasure. Although on a sidenote, apparently several species are known to pleasure themselves. There supposedly even is a documented case where a dolphin used an electric eel to masturbate. I shit you not…
So what I am trying to say: This is the human condition, right? And yet we still seem to be rooted in nature. As perfectly shown by natural disasters. I guess we have somehow learned to mitigate damage and protect us from them, but we are not safe from them entirely. We still have to abide natural laws. Unless you happen to be tripping on shrooms or acid or something. And we still are affected by naturally occurring illnesses, like the last three years have shown in an incredible fashion.
Two sides to the same coin
We talked about this human-animal-relationship because paradoxically it seems to be a relationship that is both driven by love and cruelty. Margot and Rene said that they see the best in humans during their time volunteering, but they also see the worst in humans. I can only imagine how mind baffling it can be when you are a pet owner who loves their pet to bits and all of a sudden you have to rescue malnourished and wounded dogs that are close to death and sleep in their own shit from their owners because they “treat them like a dog”. Another example of this contradiction I guess could be that in some cultures certain animals are sacred and other animals are considered to be so dirty you don’t even want them, let alone keep them as a pet.
I guess it’s these sorts of contradictions and paradoxes that life as we know it has developed on and is build upon. And even though we all struggle to handle and digest that sometimes, I believe we have to radically accept the fact that there is no coin without two sides. Most of the time, there isn’t a black and white type of solution. Rene figured that somehow we got stuck in this sort of black and white thinking where everything needs to be more extreme, faster, larger, higher and so on. And that this is not just a thing concerning the relationship between animals and humans. For him, this whole notion of how bad we actually treat animals was a reason why he joined the animal rescue in the first place.
Action as an antidote to negativity
For Margot, it was slightly different, but her reasoning was also fascinating, and I guess she’s the first guest on DOVE who described it in the following way. She felt, the news and all the negativity that is being transported in our media landscape simply became unbearable. And having worked for a well established newspaper for 2 years, I can safely say that she is not the only one out there with this kind of sentiment. I could imagine that this very much resonates with some of you out there listening right now.
So at some point she just thought to herself: Enough is enough, you are only getting negative input, and it just hurts. It’s just painful. And Margot acknowledges that for a lot of people, this sort of pain can be paralyzing. I’ve certainly had phases where I thought the pain became too much, and I didn’t feel like leaving my bed. I’m not sure if this is what psychiatrists call a depressive episode, but it sounds like exactly that. Now, instead of letting this feeling paralyze her, Margot did a 180 turn and went exactly the opposite way. She decided she needed to do something, She needed to contribute so that the negativity becomes less. And because “children and animals are the ones that can’t help themselves” it made sense for her to pick an activity in one of those fields. So she started to volunteer as a dog-walker and eventually switched over to animal rescue.
The mission of DOVE
To me this story of hers was very inspirational because I guess in a sense this is at leas in part exactly what I am sort of trying to accomplish with DOVE and everything that is to come. To create some sort of positive feeling within people that listen to this podcast or watch and listen to my stories on Social Media. And again, please don’t get me wrong. This is not to bypass any sort of negative emotion or feeling. I am a huge proponent of the idea of incorporating and sometimes maybe even embracing our negative emotions. Some of the best art is created because of pain and sadness. Anger can lead to incredibly important and in some cases long-overdue cultural and social changes. I could go on and on. But I totally understand anyone who is moving away from established media as well as social media because they feel like it’s becoming hard to bear.
But unfortunately, this is how our attention works. It seems to be wired in our brains, that negative things catch more attention. And since the media logic follows the attention logic, it’s obvious that more negative and controversial stories are being pushed by most “mainstream media”. Because they simply perform the best. So Margot found a way for herself to sort of ship around this problem. And she assertively told me it was the best thing she could have done.
Injured kitties and „hungry“ dogs
One more thing that I don’t want to keep from your English-speaking listeners out there are the most awkward, weird or emotional stories that they have to tell from volunteering with animal rescue. And it is safe to say that they are not for the faint-hearted, so consider yourselves warned. Rene right away admitted that the memory that got stuck most with him was very emotional. On like his second day volunteering, they were called to save the life of a little injured kitty. As they were driving to take the cat to a vet its condition became worse and worse and in the end there was barely any sign of life. As you can imagine he cried for hours and hours, so I guess that this volunteering job, as any ambulance or rescue organization, does have very, very emotional moments.
Margots story was definitely on the more morbid side of things. They were called by the police because the owner of a dog had passed away. As they got there the Police warned them already, but they were like: Ah common we’re in the medical field, we are used to seeing things. Well… turns out that the cute dog had started eating off the man’s face as well as his private parts, and it was actually gruesome enough for them to want to leave the scene again. I immediately had to think of one scene in one of my favorite shows, „Malcolm in the Middle“ where the family has to attend the funeral of their aunt Helen. And when Francis, the oldest son, calls to ask about her passing, Dewey the youngest son just simply tells him “Cats ate her face”. According to Margot the dog was super cute, and he hats actually enough food and water, but apparently it is not uncommon for dogs to do this, if their owners pass away. Beats me as to why that is, but I guess dogs doing dog things. Just like humans doing human things.
And with that, I guess it’s time to wrap up this week’s DEEP DOVE on the animal rescue. A special thank you to Margot and Rene for being a part of DOVE and for providing such valuable insights into their volunteering experiences as animal rescuers. For me, it was a reminder of the importance of treating all living beings with the kindness and respect that we would like to be treated with. At least by humans, I guess. Because if I get a carnivore pet, I now am pretty sure it will just end up eating my face. After all, we are very much part of nature, even despite our perceived detachment from it. We all came from mother earth and we all return to it.
Much peace and Love, smooches on the belly!