Am I just a dumb animal?

WISE FOX: The safest place to be was behind the hunt.

WHEN I see the brilliant work that veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick carries out, as depicted on the Channel 4 programme Super Vet, I am filled with admiration for this wonderful man.
Not only because he performs near miracles at times on his non-human patients, but also because of his obvious love and deep respect for each and every animal that is brought to him, and the camaraderie he displays with their owners.
I simply do not understand those who cruelly abuse animals or seem to have no affinity with these, our fellow creatures. And particularly whenever I hear some idiot declaring, “It was just a cat,” or something equally dismissive when one is lost, or is mown down on the road by some careless driver. Equally of course for dogs or any other living creature if it comes to that, because all are individual miracles of creation in their own right.
Just take the trouble to study them at close quarters. Even the humble sparrow is a masterpiece of creative engineering and no matter how clever we believe the human race to be, it cannot come within a billion miles of creating anything so complex or extraordinary. The closest we can come to this is to clone. In other words, copy something already crafted, using a living template.
Then we are led to believe that most animals operate purely on an instinctive level and not by what we class as intelligence. But I’m not so sure about that.
Take the wild bird that has been flashed across the internet recently, gradually manoeuvring some floating bread that has attracted feeding fish, ever nearer to itself in order to spear its own dinner.
I once personally witnessed a fox in full daylight, trailing a couple of hundred yards behind the Thurlow hunt. The hounds and riders were some way ahead, but Reynard had figured that the safest place to be was behind the whole lot of them. I stopped my van to watch him; he paused and cocked his head at me as if to say, “Who’s the dumb animal, me or that lot?” before trotting on.
We can learn a lot from animals and they enrich our lives. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that bar some notable exceptions, this would indeed be paradise Earth without the presence of man.


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