The Lawyer's Daily is now Law360 Canada. Click here to learn more.

New app reveals key to contentment: Dolittle as possible | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, February 19, 2021 @ 2:38 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
Is everybody happy? Ask the cows, pigs and chickens.

A professor Françoise Wemelsfelder at a university in Scotland has developed an app to enable British farmers to monitor and enhance the moods of farm animals. She claims the animals are sentient and the farmers should be able to note whether their cows are lacklustre, insecure or “expressing delight, radiating positive energy.“ The livestock should in fact have happiness, shooting for a more meaningful life, rather than just the bare necessities. 

While I agree with the prof’s sentiments, I’d say these days the animals probably experience more joy than the lawyers.  

Firstly they don’t have to worry about the somewhat dubious image the public often has of lawyers. We are at times referred to as an uncomplimentary animal, to wit, a shark. The reputation of the farm animals is not so tainted. Shakespeare never said, “First let’s kill all the ducks.”

As well unlike lawyers, livestock need not worry about competition. I have yet to see a chicken post an ad on a bus shelter reading, “Our eggs are the greatest. Drop by. First omelette free.”

Nor do they have to worry about career advancement. I doubt most pigs work late so that they can make partner.

And given COVID-19, the lawyers and animals are even further apart on the happiness spectrum. There is total confusion now as to which courts are functioning and to what extent, juries or no juries, and what the protocols are for entry. The animals have it better. I’m sure all the barns are up and running full tilt. I don’t see farmer Brown screening admission by firstly taking the temperature of his bulls. Nor do I see him getting el toro to complete one of those questionnaires: “Have you been in contact with any bull who has tested positive? Snort snort.”

And let him just try to force the bull to put on a mask.  

Perhaps the closest we have in common with the animals for the most part is that we both work from home.  

Then again, the animals’ work is more relaxed than the lawyers. I have yet to hear two turkeys chatting:

TURKEY 1: Your feathers look a bit ruffled Henry.

TURKEY 2: Yeah Wilbur. I just got my ass kicked in a Zoom motion.   

Most significant, unlike us, the animals need not socially distance. I doubt the farmer cautions his livestock, “Hey Ferdinand, keep two metres away from Elsie.”

I now have the answer to the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Obvious. To do something we lawyers can only dream about. To get together with his friends for a beer.

And as for happiness, just how are the farmers supposed to ensure it? Most humans don’t have the answer. We all know an attitude of positivity and optimism helps. Maybe that app instructs the farmers how to achieve this goal with the animals. Fill up the water trough for the horse halfway. See if the horse nods in approval or shakes his head side to side. Infallible test.

Or perhaps upbeat music is the answer. The farmer brings his mobile device into the barn near the cows and it belches out a few verses of “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”

Quite feasible. I can visualize the cows joining in no problem. Now just sit back and watch the milk production soar.

I am all for giving the animals a meaningful life, consisting of more than just the bare necessities. Then again, these days isn’t that all we humans, including the lawyers and judges, are getting, or as they call them, “essential services?”

Most important in these COVID times, the livestock need not worry about vaccines. Unlike we humans, they likely have herd immunity.

Will they come up with a happiness app for the lawyers?

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to The Lawyer’s Daily, contact Analysis Editor Peter Carter at or call 647-776-6740.