Monday, September 23, 2013

Grand Standin

A year or so ago, Jay and I watched an HBO movie about a woman with autism who became a major influence in the area of animal behavior, Temple Grandin.  We found her true story fascinating, not only because we’re animal lovers, but also because of her autism.  Autism runs in my family, so we are always trying to gain further understanding of the disorder. 

Fast forward to last week when a prospective Maine Coon kitten buyer mentioned that her friend Temple Grandin could provide a reference to me on her behalf.  Temple Grandin?  THE Temple Grandin?  Turns out the kitten buyer works for the publisher who published one of Ms. Grandin’s books, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals.  They’ve become good friends over the years. 
So last night I was preparing supper while Jay was at the kitchen counter catching up on his email when the phone rang.  I looked at the caller ID, “Grandin Temple” it read.  Holy crap!  Hmmm…should I answer?
Just kidding.  Of course I answered the phone.  I don’t think I said anything intelligent, but I did gush a few times about what an honor it was to speak to her.  What do you say to a genius who has made such an impact on the rights of people with autism and animals?   Yes, I already approved her friend Laurie for a kitten, I told her.  I’m sure she’ll send you pictures after she gets the kitten, which hasn’t been born yet.  We talked a bit about the flooding in Colorado, her resident state, and how the surrounding area was devastated. 
After we said good-bye, I stood there smiling.  Temple Grandin…what a cool name.  And now I have her home phone number.  Who do I tell who may actually know who Temple Grandin is?  How many times can I use the word “who” in one sentence? 
I texted my friend Jo-Ann, probably my best-read friend and Manager of Information and Outreach Services at Upper Hudson LibrarySystem in Albany, New York. 

Me:  Do you know Temple Grandin?
Jo-Ann:  Yes, the autistic woman with a PhD.  Studied animals and could identify with their feelings.  She did research on animals going to slaughter and how to design a pen to make it easier for the animals.  Spoke recently at the Am Lib Assn Conference but I didn’t go.  Wanted to hear her.
Jo-Ann (again):  I suppose a simple “yes” would have sufficed.

Me:  She just called me.
Jo-Ann:  What!!???

Me:  I’m too good to talk to you anymore.

All kidding aside, it was a thrill to put a real voice to Dr. Grandin.  I will close with two of my favorite Grandin quotes:
“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”
Temple Grandin
“If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.”
Temple Grandin