By Maria Popova
We love animals. Still, it’s been said before that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. So today, we take an admiring look at some particularly equal ones out there.
If you know, or are, a dedicated pet owner — you know, the types who refer to themselves and their pet in the first person plural and address said pet in babyspeak — then you understand the near-worship situation we’re talking about here.
ObeyThePureBreed is meant for just that type of pet owner. The pet-elitist site is a tongue-in-cheek hub of “propaganda for dog & cat world rule,” underwritten by one Chairman Meow, chock-full of hilarious pet-centric political rallying, and complete with its very own “In Dog We Trust” constitutional slogan.
The whole movement is, of course, just a clever front for a good ol’ merch e-store for pet-inclined hipsters who can buy poster art, t-shirts and gifts in the likeness of their favorite breed. And, curiously, Obama shirts as well, complete with a matching “Bark for Obama ’08” doggie shirts.
Big brother is raising an eyebrow.
Here, we’ll say it: some people love their dog more than their mother. Which they must find quite unsettling given the huge national greeting card and flowers bonanza that is Mother’s Day without even a remote dog equivalent.
Ha — fools! For 9 years now, June 20 has been Take Your Dog To Work Day. The organization, backed by Pet Sitters International, is on a mission to get businesses everywhere to open their doors to canines this Friday and thus help “promote pet adoptions in a positive and proactive way.”
You can get involved by vowing to participate, entering the photo contest, or just spreading the word. (While you’re at it, you may actually win some cool schwag.) And if you’re a Type A overachiever, you can go the extra mile with 10 pro-doggie, proactive initiatives.
And while we’re in the spirit of spreading the pro-animal message, why not turn our attention to our closest non-human kindred? The Gorilla Foundation has dedicated a special site to a special gorilla: Koko. Not only does she know the signs for an impressive vocabulary of words, but she also possesses a more uncommon talent: artistic expression.
At KokoMart, you’ll find Koko’s original artwork. And before you go ahead and dismiss it as paint thoughtlessly splattered on canvas, you may wanna consider all her paintings are based on Koko’s cognitive interpretation of certain words and signs. Like the unattributable-to-mere-chance pink, heart-shaped drawing of “love.”
Then there’s Koko’s (arguably even more talented) co-creator, Michael. Sadly, Michael transitioned from the contemporary to the classic section of the art world, after suffering unexpected heart failure in 2000.
The art prints may be on the pricey side, but it’s all for a good cause: all proceeds go towards conservation efforts fighting Africa’s “bushmeat” trade, which kills thousands of gorillas every year. And we, after seeing the rich cognitive and emotional world of Koko’s kind, have a hard time considering this that much different from human homicide.
Having been hit in the face by a pigeon, we can tell you these are some dumb birds. In fact, after the incident, we proceeded to deduce birds in general were pretty dimwitted beings. Boy, were we wrong — a TED talk, always the mind-opener, set us straight thanks to speaker Joshua Klein’s mind-blowing revelation of crows’ intelligence.
Klein, a hacker and writer, reveals a real-life experiment resulting in crow-operated vending machines. We kid you not — the birds use nothing but their (grape-sized) brains to figure out how to insert a coin into a peanut-dispensing machine in the middle of a cornfield. Without training.
And if that doesn’t blow your own (grapefruit-sized) mind, wait until you see a crow teach itself to bend a wire and proceed to use it to take a padlock out of a glass beaker. We know humans who can’t do that. Then there’s the one that navigates traffic lights better than most pedestrians we know.
Watch it, you’ll be amazed. And maybe get a craving for peanuts.
Published June 18, 2008