Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Post: Our Town, The Rooster Police & How To Condition The Slasher Cock

By Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Like many of you, I grew up in a small town (population 600).

I like reading hometown news and sharing it with you, and that includes the most recent squall from Elkhart, Indiana. At first it seemed like another quaint "How
naïve can you get?" article. But then it merges into a considerably more jolting issue that is behind police raids in states as disparate as California, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee, among others, and those just in the last month alone.

The reason? Drugs? Illegal weapons? Money laundering? Exposing children to criminal activities?

No and yes.

Elkhart, Indiana -- A complaint led Elkhart police to a surprising discovery -- over 40 chickens inside city limits. Now investigators and animal control officers are trying to determine if this is just the tip of the iceberg to a much bigger issue.

Employees at Boulderman Landscaping have been working on Elkhart's north side for weeks, and they've been hearing more than just the typical sounds of the city.

"About 7:30, 8 in the morning, you would hear a rooster out here cock-a-doddle-doing, and I always wondered where it would be coming from right here on Cassopolis Street in the middle of the city," said Sean Mutchler.

Apparently they weren't the only ones to hear it. Someone complained to police, so animal control went out to investigate.

"As he's turning on Country Club Lane he says he can actually hear the roosters crowing all the way from Cassopolis Street," Lt. Ed Windbigler said of the animal control officer who responded to the complaint. "He pulls up and sure enough, there are several dozen chickens, roosters on this property."

City ordinances do not allow such animals within the city limits. Officers seized the animals, which were being kept in the back yard of a residence. Some of them were injured. . . . Police say the majority of chickens found at the scene were roosters.

The owner faces fines for having the chickens within city limits.

"All these roosters were very aggressive," said Rachel Dennis of the Humane Society. "They are something that you can't catch quickly and put in a cage."
As is obvious by now, someone was keeping these poor creatures as fighting roosters. tournaments.

Although the article doesn't say so, staged animal fights are against the law in Elkhart and there may be additional charges against the owner. Hopefully there will be shelter for the now retired fighters, who were harassed and poked with barbed sticks, restrained against their will to make them more aggressive, and turned literally insane with fury when thrown into a cockfighting ring. All for profit.

* * * * *
I used to awaken every morning of my young life to a rooster crowing. It was a sound that enabled me to witness the golden dawn so many times as I grew up in the northwoods. The roosters were never mistreated; they were considered harbingers among other the duties they performed in the hen house.

Another reason that I was slow to understand that newspaper article is because only hens were called chickens in our hamlet, while roosters were only Roosters with a capital R and were never called chickens.

But one thing is obvious. When it comes to cockfighting, men are not men. They are barely human.

* * * * *
Roosters usually don't like being around other roosters unless a pecking order has been established. They are predisposed to peace if they are in their own bailiwick, but disposed to defending territory otherwise.

In the excerpts from the following letter, written in 1971 by a native Hawaiian, he refers to men who train roosters to fight as "cockers." Cockers come from all over, including Appalachia, the African south of the U.S., the Philippines and other parts of Asia, and Central and South America.

This training involves amputating roosters' combs and wattles (see photo above) to give them advantages in the cockfighting ring, and razor-sharp steel blades or gaffs resembling curved ice picks are fitted to their legs.

Cockfighting is animal abuse, according to the American Humane Society and the Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, because the birds are not allowed to escape from a fight regardless of how exhausted or injured they become.

I don't know if it's just me, but beyond the egregious instructions that the letter contains, a Freudian would have a field day with its language alone.
Since many cockers have written me numerous letters inquiring about my personal conditioning methods, I will now take the liberty of answering these letters . . . Please let it be understood that I myself condition all of my cocks the way I want them and prefer them to fight.

My conditioning programs cover a lot of different types and forms of daily exercise. These various forms of exercise are mainly to develop speed, stamina and endurance. Let me first emphasize speed.

In my opinion, speed is the most important factor in conditioning slasher cocks for the pit. Speed really plays major role in routine daily exercises. How to apply speed? Well, the only way I know of is through selective swinging methods. By swinging methods, I mean place an individual cock on a swing built four feet of the ground and make the swing three feet wide. . . .

In this manner of control swinging method, a cock will tend to become very nervous and begin flapping his wings and bending both of his legs with tremendous force.

This is good because now he not only knows how to balance on the swing, but at the same time he is learning to properly flap both of his wings evenly. Thus giving him a sense of balance, timing and wind power. . . . Since slasher fighting rarely goes to the drag and most fights are won in about 30 to 40 seconds, I'm a firm believer in the essence of speed . . .

Many of you young and old time cockers alike will say that this guy is whacky and is ready for the nut house. Stamina requires a lot of work, putting my best slasher cocks into their proper conditions. . . . I put each of my pit cocks through a fast, and torrid pace while sparring them each with four to five short pittings. If at any time they sulk, or appear to do so, I pick them up and bill them close together . . .

Endurance, like stamina, has to be taught to each individual cock through vigorous daily
exercises. Both of these phases can not and will not be bred into a slasher cock. Any cocker with good wholesome common sense knows this, but I just thought I'd say it anyway. The quick side stepping and dodging techniques I use are in the following manner. I place each cock through an obstacle course which varies in height and width.

At the other end of this particular obstacle course my oldest son "A" holds another cock that is visible enough to be seen through the course. By "A" holding the cock in his hands, and as if tempting the one that is inside of the course this begins the dodging and side stepping exercise method, which I might add, is my own invention.

A lot of you will say Gee what an odd ball [I am]. . . . So if my methods of conditioning seem of a humorous nature to most of you, just be patient, because I am just a little ole pineapple who has got a lot to learn. . . .

We cockers are pretty hard headed at times, which makes us cock fighters, but we are not too stupid nor are we ignorant to learn from some bright cockers who offer each and everyone of us their kindest advice, and general overall know how.
It's far more than just hard headed. Something about a calcified heart despite the odd empathy toward other cockers who suffer not at all, and have no sympathy nor care for the animals who do.
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés is Jungian psychoanalyst who has practiced for nearly 40 years. She also is a post-trauma specialist, author, poet, commentator and dear friend. Dr. Estés' books have been published in 32 languages, while her Women Who Run With the Wolves was on The New York Times Best Seller list for 145 weeks.

Previous collaborations with and guest posts by Dr. Estés
include The Anatomy of PTSD, A Warrior Loves Peace More Than Anything, and Why Were Psychologists Behind The Curve On The Bush Torture Regime?, and Mythos & Alberto Gonzales' Red Shoes.

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