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Commentary by Lucas Boyd: All Things Animal

Animals are in the news quite often. And well they should be because we humans have had a long and close relationship with animals. We hunt them, train them, race them, wear them, ride them, breed them, love them, eat them, use them to pull things, and, occasionally, abuse them. Good animal stories are not hard to come by. Here are a few I’ve run across.

Just within the last year, animals have risen to new heights. Last December the Grand Marshal of Chattanooga’s Main Street Parade was a goat named Oreo. The account didn’t say but I’d bet from the name he is black and white. It seems that the suburb of East Ridge had evicted Oreo from his human family because farm animals were not allowed as pets. A lengthy appeal had fallen on deaf ears. The naming of the goat as their parade’s grand marshal was Chattanooga’s way of showing support for Oreo’s cause. His human family said they were moving to an undisclosed location so they could keep him.

Along this same line, this year’s Mule Day Parade just to our south in Columbia had a dog as its Grand Marshal. I think he was a service or rescue dog who had performed some heroic act. A well-deserved honor. You’d think we would honor more animals in this way. They are a lot more honest, open and sincere than most humans.

Back in May in Bedford, Mass., The American Gerbil Society held its annual pageant. There was no mention of swimsuit competition. Instead the small, furry creatures are judged on the basis of agility, where they run an obstacle course, and body type. Competitors came from around the country to vie for the title “Top Gerbil.” It’s hard to believe that most of the country is unaware of this annual event.

A few years ago Cracker Barrel introduced a new cuddly (according to the ad) stuffed animal to its collection – a possum. Now possums are many things but if you’ve ever been close to one, “cuddly” is not a word that would come to mind. I was at one of our local Cracker Barrels recently and did not see a possum in the collection. Apparently, it did not have lasting appeal among stuffed animal lovers. And while I’m on this subject, Walden’s Puddle, an area wild animal rescue and rehab facility, reports that they had a brain-damaged possum that they would not be able to release back into the wild because of this condition. Question: “How do you know a possum is brain-damaged? What kind of test do they use?”

Tupelo is a nice little city, about 60,000, in northeast Mississippi. Back in the spring, Ringling Brothers Circus came to town for a couple of days. Between shows they had the elephants tethered out in an open area which could be seen from a nearby road. Some time in the wee hours of the morning a pick-up truck filled with local rednecks drove by. Now I’m just assuming they were in a truck and also that there was more than one because when Southern people do something this stupid, they like to have an audience. Anyway, one of them shot the elephant with a deer rifle. Fortunately, the animal was not killed but the wound was severe. Now, you just don’t take your wounded elephant down to the local vet and sit in the waiting room with all the dogs and cats. They had to order a special transport and take him up North to a specialist. The last word was that he would live but the recovery time would be about eight months. The shooter has yet to be caught.

Why would anybody do something like that? Answer: For bragging rights, of course. These are the type people who go around shooting all the animals they can find and practicing on road signs in between hunts. This one is going to be able to say that he’s shot something that nobody else has shot – and bigger, too. I will not put in print what I think his punishment should be.

Some years ago a friend of mine worked for a local paper in one of our mid-state counties. They were good about running pictures and stories on all new businesses. The pictures usually showed a group of well-dressed folk cutting a ribbon. One day they got a call from a fellow wanting them to send a team out to cover the ribbon cutting of his new business – a pig farm. He would not take “no” for an answer saying they should not just cover “city” businesses. The picture showed him (alone) in his pig herding clothes cutting a ribbon across the gate with a few pigs rooting around in the background. You wouldn’t see that just anywhere.

By the stories and picture captions during the recent deer and turkey seasons, I noticed that again few of the animals were killed. Most were harvested. You all keep up the good work.

 Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at


Posted on: 7/12/2013


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