Is Mary’s little lamb listening?’

I’ll confess at the start that I’m not a big fan of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).  To be clear, I believe we should be nice to animals and I like people.  But people and animals are different – PETA doesn’t understand that simple fact.

This came to mind last week when I read that PETA had conducted some undercover surveillance in Australia and had uncovered – horror of horrors – a sheep farmer using naughty language in front of his sheep.  From what I read it wasn’t clear whether the farmer was swearing at the sheep, at his sheep dog or because he stepped on a rock.  Maybe he was trying to convince a kangaroo to go away and stop bothering his sheep.  (Hmmm….I wonder how sheep and kangaroos get along – they have lots of both in Australia.)

Anyway…PETA was concerned that the sheep might be offended by the bad language, which made me wonder how you could tell.  Does an offended sheep complain?  Does its wool fall out or get tangled?  Do sheep cry?

Is it the actual language that might possibly upset sheep – or the tone of voice?  I can see where I might scare a sheep if I yelled at the top of my voice:  “Get out of here you dirty, no-good, ugly sheep.”  But what if I yelled with equal assertiveness:  “I love you and you are the greatest sheep I ever met.”

Sheep make great material for clothes and Sunday dinner (sorry, PETA, but lamb chops are permissible in my world).  But I doubt they have the ability to discern the difference between profanity and praise.

But koalas – that’s another story.

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