Perhaps because of my books about animal welfare and work to help humans understand animals, I was recently asked to take a look at a special new book. Feeling honored to be part of the process, I eagerly opened the digital version and a smile broke out on my face as I reviewed the pages.
The smile was a result of seeing such a simple, colorful and entertaining book make such an immediate impact...not only on me, but my dog Evie. Why Evie? Well, because the pages are full of rhymes and poems written by a few unique dogs for all other dogs. As I read to Evie the first poem called "Happy Walk," it was difficult not to relate. Evie, after all, has quite the nose and our walks consist of stopping every second so that she can smell. As I read the words "pee pee" she looked over at me, wondering if she needed to go outside. The same happened when I read her "The Squirrel" as Evie has a strong love/hate relationship with the word "squirrel."
This happened many times as I read aloud the different sweet poems; Evie's eyes getting wide and her ears perking up as I laughed and giggled at some of the words that reminded me so much of our life together. And, what makes the book special is that behind the seemingly simple theme is a more complex and important message. One being that author Lony Ruhmann wanted to communicate the needs of dogs who have been abused or neglected and to encourage adoption, and what better way to do so than help humans understand what they are really saying!
Evie and I wholeheartedly agree that any way that we as humans can help needy animals of all kinds live a better life is worth the time and energy. We also know that reading aloud to your dog not only brings you together, but it can now also help us be better people for our furry friends.
More Information can be found at: http://www.bitethisbook.com
Even after many years in the non-profit world, I am constantly amazed, and sometimes shocked, as I open donations.
More often than not, they are sent back with money and I know that they are doing so because they care about the cause. There are people who send monthly, and there are some who have been donating for years. Many are senior citizens who note that they are 80 plus years old and apologize that they cannot give more. Each one, the type of people that every non-profit hopes to reach, and are thankful for.
But, it is the others than continually amaze me. Some are sent back with clippings from other organizations or religious pamphlets, some are sent back with nothing but the paperwork we sent them, others are sent back with a very nasty note such as Fu$% Yo#. And, yes, there are even some who send back the card with 5 cents included….and a nasty note.
It takes more time to do these things than to just throw out the appeal, but there is a definite point to what they do. I continually ask myself what IS that point? Is it because they need to make a point? Is it because they feel they have the right to express themselves because we are a charity? Is it because they do not trust anyone anymore?
This process is, at times, a study in human psychology. And honestly, there are times that I worry that one day one of the donations will contain something harmful to me. That alone makes me wonder about the world and the lengths that people will go to to express their opinions.
In the meantime, I will devote my time to concentrating on the people who care and hope that every non-profit and charity out there does the same. We are nothing without them.
I was a jeweler/metal smith before I found my way to the veterinary and welfare worlds back in 1997. But, I was born to create so my hands decide once in a while to tell me it is time to do something new.
Recently they decided I should really do something with all the shells, rocks and beach finds cluttering up the window sills around the place I live. So, I listened...
What I figured is that I would make some "touristy" pieces on local wood shingles and wood pieces from the houses being built and sell them to make money for the local shelters and rescues. Thus, the pieces would be genuinely local. I had never painted on wood, and I am not a painter per se', but fun was main goal anyway.
After a crazy stint of making a few a day, I finally had enough to show. Although I have done many trade shows and events, I am definitely not a salesperson in nature, so I was nervous about the next step. But, I was offered a table at the Renaissance Festival the other day and so I said yes, why not.
It was an interesting experience and I met a lot of very nice people, and I sold a few pieces as well, so all it all it was a good day. Next step...getting them into a few stores. Wish me luck:)
Update 4/2014 - I now have pieces in a local store and the owner is a huge animal lover, so it is wonderful. Thank you to Twigs and Tides!
Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to feel like they have a life worth living. And everyone wants to have a reason to smile. </strong>
<strong>For some, those want's and feelings come easily as they find family, career and the many things those have to offer complete them. For others, such as myself, it is much more difficult.
As I sit here tonight I could be out meeting friends and enjoying meaningless conversation and silly fun. Instead, I am here writing this after a long day working on this new website. And even though I could be out doing what most people probably think I should be doing on a Friday night, I am content because I have accomplished a lot today in regards to what I care about. And that makes me happy.
It reminded me of the feeling I get every time I have spent a day covering a welfare event, or the countless hours I have spent rescuing and working with strays in one way or another. Or, the smile that I always have on my face, and in my heart, after doing something animal-related that I know was important. A smile that I usually can't control, and a feeling of happiness.
Probably the only time I ever really feel completely happy and that my life is definitely worth living...
The "no-kill" debate has been rolling around the welfare world and the world in general for many years now, and there is still nothing but talk and opinions to show for it.
In my humble opinion, there is no black and white answer to this dilemma as the world stands today. There is no real regulation or oversight of the welfare/rescue world as a whole and too many emotions rule everything!
If people continue to not spay/neuter and dump their animals on the streets and in shelters, there will never be enough space or adequate and proper facilities to keep them forever. What good is keeping all of them alive if they are confined to cages for their entire "no-kill" life? I have seen what happens and it is not humane. Humane can only be determined and solved if enormous changes are made on many levels, and that will never happen for so many reasons, which is incredibly, incredibly sad.
In my humble opinion, there ARE things we can start to do, but they would need those regulations and oversight, and simple laws in general. And with the government and politicians much more interested in what humans think of them than remembering what being human really should be about...none of these things could ever happen...no matter how simple they are.
As with much in our society, there are many people with opinions, many people with good hearts and many people who just don't care about anything. That is what makes our world our world...and, yes, that is also very, very sad for us all because it leaves all of us going round in circles with nothing ever really happening. It is like a perpetual hampster wheel of movement with nothing to show for it.
In 100 years when we are all gone, it will be the same. How depressing is that for us all.</strong>
I wrote a chapter about this topic in my book years ago because I felt it important for people to know if they were thinking of dedicating themselves to the animal rescue world, or any cause. But, it has struck me recently how bad some good intentions really can go...
When most people envision a non-profit charity organization, or group, they probably think of people living very simply in order for the money donated to go to the cause. They probably think of people with good hearts who decide to sacrifice many things in order to make sure their cause receives all of the good things.
And those people are out there. I have met them and have been honored to learn from them and work beside them. I have also documented many of them in that same book for others to see.
But, what happens when people who start out with all of those good intentions lose their way? When years later they can only concentrate on how many Likes their organization gets on Facebook, or how many times they are mentioned in an article, or how famous their pet becomes? Did they ever really care, or did they enter the charity world for their own ego, even perhaps without ever truly realizing it because ego is all that they have ever known? Is it okay for them to be living in a huge home with a housekeeper, a handyman and someone to come and pick up their dog poop weekly? Is it okay for them to get all of their personal expenses reimbursed in the name of the charity and to take full advantage of that? Is it okay that they have no regards for anyone but themselves and care only for what others can do for them, and never have to be accountable?
When DOES good go bad?
And does it really matter if they are still helping in some way?
Perhaps there is no black and white answer, but in my humble experienced opinion, the answer is bad comes when doing good no longer is the first and sole purpose...
It has been researched and documented, supposedly, that dogs do not remember things. That they live only in the moment.
And some days I tend to believe this when Evie gives me that "I am so bored and sad" look an hour after I take her for a special drive to the beach, or somewhere else that was just for her. A place where we had a grand time playing and she was so happy. A few moments when I was a proud mom watching her have fun and knowing her life is good.
Then there are the times that I know this supposedly proven theory just cannot be true. Times when she remembers people she met just once many months, or even years, before. Or when she cowers going to a place that she was scared of at some other point in her life for reasons known only to her. Or when she absolutely knows where we are going in the car based just on the curves I take, or the type of road we drive.
I do not mind so much that she does remember things because that is natural, but it makes me rather sad to think that the happy memories we make only stay with me. Perhaps this is all part of what we do as pet parents of animals who needed saving, or in general. Maybe it really is all about us in the long run. Maybe that momentary joy is what we need to reassure us that we have made a difference so that when they give us that sad pathetic look we do not feel so badly.
Wonder what they would say...
For those of us who work or volunteer in the animal welfare world, especially dealing with abused or severely neglected animals, it is just understood that the animals can be very shy and act differently than other animals that have no real trauma in their background.
And many of these animals show their fear, nervousness, anxiety, etc. by similar actions which we become accustomed to and understand the signs. As I have always rescued from the streets, or ended up with animals with this kind of sad background, I have always had to explain to people why my dog (or cat) was not "friendly." But, it has only been lately that I have heard myself say "It's not personal, I swear!" quite a lot.
This is thanks to Evie who, even though she has come so far in the seven years I have had her, is still fearful of strangers. Throw in new surroundings, lots of noises and any other factor and she is right under me or a desk, etc.... whatever she can hide under or by.
I find myself telling the new people in my life and the people on the street who are dying to pet her and try each and every day only to find her running from them, that this is normal behavior. I try to tell them that it takes time and suggest to them what to do to...leave her alone and don't approach her and talk to her because that makes her nervous. She still runs from me occasionally if she thinks I am up to something, ha! Eventually, if you spend enough time with her and ignore her she will come up I tell them, although it may take a little while.
I tell them that if they do insist on petting her to come up and do so....don't sit feet away and talk to her as that makes her very nervous, and yes, that is not what is normally taught, but it is what works for her. Just do it...come up and pet her and she is okay. I tell them to take her on a leash and for a quick walk if I know them well, or to sit on the floor and give her a treat...all things that work..even if slowly...
But, every day someone wants to pet her and love her and I have to tell them that is is not personal as they walk away distraught and muttering "She doesn't like me I am so upset."
Turns out that people want to be loved by an animal because it makes them feel good...and special. At least that is how it makes me feel when one allows me to love it...if only for a moment. Perhaps I can convince Evie that the love she gives is the love she will get...someday:)
I am not shocked at anything that humans are capable of, and have little faith in the human race in general thanks to all that I have seen. So I am asking myself why I am so outraged at the note below which I just read. After all, this has happened all over the US for years. Humans do horrific things to animals every day, never mind the things we do to each other. Perhaps it is because the blatant stupidity is so deep that I am unable to fathom that we as a human race can ever come back from the overwhelming sense of entitlement and callousness. It makes me sick, it makes me sad that society as a whole feel they have the right to think whatever they want and do whatever they want, no matter if it is right or wrong. The downfall of being a free society....action without education...
It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you that the BSL ban in Montreal has passed with a 37-23 vote win.
This means that any animal identified as a pit bull - defined as an American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or any mix of these or any dog that has morphological characteristics of these breeds such as "large heads" - (based solely on appearance unless a formal DNA test says otherwise) not currently owned (such as strays or in shelters) will be euthanized. Additionally, the council voted to leave it open to boroughs to add in additional dog breeds as they see fit, without a vote needed. Veterinarians can opt out of euthanizing a healthy, social animal but must provide an honest effort in aiding in the search to find a veterinarian who will euthanize.
Any pit bull currently owned must have a $150 registration fee on file, and must be muzzled and on a leash no longer than 1.25 meters (~4 feet) any time they leave the premises of their home. They are also required to be sterilized, fully vaccinated, and microchipped with up to date & accurate registrations. If these regulations are not followed, then that animal is subject to be seized and euthanized as well.
Folks, this ban was passed based on fear - not science. Many professionals spoke at the council meeting on behalf of the Bully breed with scientific facts & statistics, but the ban passed regardless because of the fear of potential attacks & bites. BSL can happen anywhere... and it can happen *fast.* LWHPBR is a Texas based nonprofit that always strives to provide positive pit bull publicity and adopts out social, healthy pit bulls - all ambassadors of their breed. We are saddened to hear of this ban and our hearts are with the Bully Breed and their owners in Montreal today.
Unlike most of us humans, animals seem to age gracefully and with a certain charm that makes them even more endearing.
The white hair that we spend so much time trying to cover up, and carries its own stigma, only adds to the charm of a sweet old soul as it grows upon its muzzle. The glaze that slowly takes over their eyes makes us want to protect them even more as they look to us for help. The purrs and meows that can be heard two rooms away make us smile because we know that they are still trying to communicate even though they cannot hear themselves do so. The slower walks, the longer naps, the lumps and bumps and finickier stomachs.
They say that with age comes wisdom, so I can only imagine what the animals of our world must know when it is their time to leave..