The Rat

I’m running out of things to talk about so I’ll see if I can make this work.

I remember a time when I was about 14 years old and staying a few days at my grandma’s house. She lives in the middle of the country and has a pretty huge yard. She has a shed in her backyard that apparently had 5 or 6 rats living in it. Cool, I never really liked rodents, so if I could kill one I would. It’s funny how wrong I was.

In class we talked about Blackfish and the article Why Look at Animals. After discussing those two things in class all I could really think about was that dumb rat. There was some discussion about animals looking back at you. I don’t remember the conversation too vividly, but it was something along the lines of how before humans started caging up animals, putting them up for display, and slaughtering them en mass that these animals used to look back at us. In some sense we were a part of their world just as much they were a part of ours. I don’t know who that relates to my story but it’s what made me think about this situation with the rat.

So my grandma put out rat poisoning to kill the rats, which had apparently done the trick. The next day I went out there to find any dead rats and I see one laying right outside of the door. It had been poisoned, but hadn’t died yet. I ran up to the house and grabbed my bb gun to kill it, I was going to put it out of its misery. I go back with it ready to get the job done and as I’m standing there pointing the gun at this rat I’m just not able to shoot it. It may sound stupid, it’s a rat, it’s gross, it’s used to experiment on in labs, but I can’t kill it. I’m looking at it, while its tiny little chest struggles to move up and down, even if it was just my imagination and I swear its black little beady eyes were looking right back at me. I’m positive that rat knew what was going on and knew I was going to kill it. In all honesty it would have been for the better if I did, if he did feel pain and understood what was going on, I’m sure he would have wanted it. But I was never expecting to have to look it in the eyes as I killed it and I didn’t. It wasn’t really that big of a deal to me at the time, but thinking about it now it’s kind of sad.

I fond this quote from Why Look at Animals, “A peasant becomes fond of his pig and enjoys salting away pork.” When I read this, I thought that many of us today are missing out on a key interaction that most humans before our time all had if they would eat meat. They had to actually kill the animal themselves. Now, besides a couple fish, I’ve never had to kill the animal that I was about to eat. The quote initially reminded me of a sacrifice, just not in a religious sense. The sacrifice of the life of an animal to continue our own. Something that most of us who have the privilege to eat ungodly amounts of meat don’t have to do.


1 Comment

  1. I can directly relate to your rat experinence in to ways. First, when I was a kid, my grandpa would tell me, “don’t kill something unless your going to eat it”. As a 9 year old kid, I really didn’t take this to heart until I shot a bird with my pelet-gun and and it fell to the ground. To end its suffering, a buddy of mine put him out of his misery. After seeing that, I didn’t kill anything intentionally again. Second way I’m able to relate to this was an event that happened about a year ago. I was cutting my dads grass, which was rather high that day, and out of nowhere, I hear the mower hit something. When I looked to see what it was, I realized that I had hit a baby rabbit; the rabbit was no more than a 4 inches long. The mower blade had cut the rabbit severley, to the point that I knew he wouldn’t survive; he was twitching and shaking severely. I decided that I had to put him out of his misery; thus, I took out my gerber pocket knife, and stuck it diretly through its neck..killing it instantly. As horrifying as this was, I would have felt much worse if I had let him suffer (there was no hope of survival). Sorry for the rant, these experiences also had a powerful effect on me.

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