I bet that any of us who work with
or have animals in our home lives have asked ourselves this question from time to time. How do we know if we are giving them enough. When they are not feeling well, or even if they are, are we spending enough time with them? Are we doing what they need for their survival. Are we giving them the quality of life they deserve? So often I have seen other's judgements or fears make people feel less as though they are failing with the animals. Then I have to step back and see that we have made so many mistakes as a human race. If we look at things in perspective, we will see, that we can only ever do our best.
Take the domestic dog. It has been bred, at first perhaps for functional purposes, but oftentimes for people's amusement and ego's, to do and look like all kinds of weird. Making them look like show dogs and this resulting in arthritic pain for the animal. Having their ears cocked and tails docked, so that they look acceptable. We are told that they need to submit to be happy. That they need to listen to be acceptable. That they need to sit when they are told. Never sleep on the bed, and really not jump up when they are excited. Certainly, there are some practicalities here, but we need to be flexible with our judgement.
Take the domestic horse. It is bred for amusement. If one's horses are left to be horses, there are many who would say they are neglected. If they are trained, they are very often abused into submission with all sorts of equipment to keep them 'good'. And if the horse bolts or bucks, it is generally called a problem animal. Takes a big person to ask why the horse behaved in this way. It is not rare when visiting horse shows to see some serious abuse of some seriously stressed animals as they are forced into boxes by far too many people. The biggest disease affecting horses is colic. This is according to vets, a result of stress.
Then there is captivity. Loads and loads is written about this. Much of it by dog and horse owners. There are some horrid captive scenarios that require serious improvement. There are some well-meaning people who have very little and manage greatness. There are some species of animals who would be extinct if it was not for captivity.
I guess what I am trying to say is - we need to be humble before we judge.
We need to look clearly before we form an opinion
There is always something to learn when we look at the animals for which we care
There is always something subjective going on when we look at anything we care about
Be a person who experiences an animal from it's own perspective
And to those who care about specific animals - strive to do your best - gain knowledge without being defensive. Seek help when you need it
and most of all - forgive yourself for not being all knowing, all powerful, perfect and invincible.
You can only do your best