11/09/2008

Some thoughts in the Biology department

When I was in high school, our teacher informed us that we would be dissecting frogs, worms and possibly a mouse that year. I was completely horrified, and told my teacher I refused to take part in an activity in which the animals were killed just so some kids could cut them up. I believed if anyone wanted to make biology as their career, they would have plenty of time to dissect, and everyone else who didn't choose that path in life wouldn't have to partake, especially when 99% of them had no respect for the animal. I thought the school would save so much money by cutting out (no pun intended) dissection and investing in some latex models.

So while I did protest dissection in biology class and was able to dissect a computer model, I never believed that the most valuable experience I would receive would come years later. When I found Waverli close to the fourth of July in 2007, I had no idea the journey that lay ahead. Sure it was tiring for many weeks with 3-4 nightly and early morning bottle feedings, her terrible constipation issues, ringworm and the constant worry but it was all worth it. Of course, I was doubting that when it came time to switch her onto raw, which she promptly did at 4.5 weeks old and refused to even look at the KMR anymore. To be honest, the whole prey thing upset me. I've had mice and rats as pets (and currently do) and I wondered how was I going to deal with her eating quails and guinea pigs and rabbits? I knew this was the best thing for her and that's the only thing that got me thru the first pinkie mouse purchase (they were humanely euth'd with CO2, I don't buy whole prey any other way). As time went on it got easier and I was able to move her up the scale onto adult mice. The quail were right at meal size for her but the guinea pigs were another story. I bought them because they were on a good sale at Rodent Pro but I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into! The first GP I just handed to her and after the entire house reeked of crap (literally) I thought there must be another way. It was then I realized I would have to take the intestines OUT. The thought was sickening but in order to keep the kitchen smelling (and looking) decent, it had to be done.

I remember the first few times were awful. I did it as quick as possible and the carcass was still partially frozen. As time went on I became quite curious about the insides and explored a bit more each time I prepared her GP breakfasts. I became very familiar with the look and feel of the stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, reproductive organs, heart, lungs and so on. It was such an interesting thing to explore the different aspects of life and not have it wasted. Since then I have had the honor of processing rabbits, squirrels and ducks and learning so much about anatomy, more than biology class could've EVER taught me.

Now, down to my thoughts after I have rambled on into a novel! I've been thinking how neat it would be to offer these services to local schools. Every child would not get their own whole animal but perhaps one for every 6-7 students. Raw feeders could loan them (and of course be in the room so you can be sure they are being respectful of what will feed your pet later) rats, guinea pigs, rabbits or whatever else and the children would be able to actually see the position of the organs, as well as note their color, size, shape, texture, instead of trying to guess what all of those details were before it was soaked for months in formaldehyde. Even if just 20 animals per year were spared at one school from having to be killed "in the name of science" it would still make such a huge difference in the long run. The idea might even catch on. Of course I would not visit my local high school or junior high and propose the idea, rather perhaps a parent of a student or several parents could casually bring up the idea to the teacher in private. All things considered, it could blossom into a wonderful program, and the children would also be indirectly familiarized with an aspect of raw feeding. What a great way to get involved in your community and local schools.

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