Thursday, December 20, 2012

The World Dimming

I take a lot of pictures of Mina because she is perfect. #pitbull #dog #vegandog
Does this make my eye look fat?
When I leave work, two dogs in tow, I am greeted mostly by moonlit paths or complete darkness. Sometimes the stars don't shine, obscured by ugly-beautiful clouds.Walking forward, no light to guide us, Celeste is sure, confident. Mina runs into me. Constantly. She seems perplexed by the sudden discovery that my leg is continually in her face.

It is interesting, really, that I am inspired to write about Mina's diminished vision. Around this time last year, I first realized Mina's poor eyesight when she plowed into a Toyota Prius in the supermarket parking lot.

Mina's vision is getting worse. It is hard not to notice her enlarged pupils, a white glaze slowly seeping across once vibrant eyes. The veterinarian says it is normal. I cannot deny this, that growing old and losing vital senses is "normal" but it is still hard for me.

A couple weeks ago, Mina ran into a chair that had been moved a few feet to the right at my office. For weeks, maybe months prior, Mina had traversed the darkened room with ease. It was all sense memory, her brain telling her muscles to move in a certain direction, a prescribed set of steps to get to the door. She could do it in the dark because she had unfailingly walked the same distance in the light. She trusts her brain implicitly.

Then, the chair! She walked right into it. And in the shadowed room I could see her shock. Her sudden intake of breath, a sharp jerk of her body backwards. A body in motion should stay in motion! For a few seconds she tried to re-adjust, adapt to this novel situation. I could feel her thinking, it traveled up her leash into my arm. And to be honest, my heart just broke. Shattered into a million little pieces, only to re-glue themselves together. Mina has that affect on me.

Begging #pitbull is begging
I see what you are eating and want it in my belly.
Before I downloaded my flashlight app, I would let the dogs guide me to the car. Celeste would get us to the car without too much fanfare (or running into fences). Mina was that way too. Now? Now Mina cannot see in the dark effectively. She bounces off my leg, she bounces off Celeste, and like a little bat she finds her way from those vibrations. Without us, she would plow into fences, trip over bushes, never find her way home.

I inadvertently found out how little she can see in the dark when I stupidly and callously let Celeste and Mina off leash on our way to the car, after work with only a sliver of moonlight to guide us. Celeste did her thing - run off to sniff and pee, sniff and pee, until my calls became vocalizations of annoyance. I trust her to show up. She always does. After a couple minutes, Celeste arrived panting and joyous, leaping gleefully and gracelessly into the car.

But where was Mina? I called and I called, hoping my voice would be a beacon. I could hear her jingling collar, so I waited. And waited. Finally, using the dim glare of my phone's screen, I ventured forth. I found Mina huddled and confused on the wrong side of the yard and parking lot. She was pointed in the wrong direction, turning in circles, trying so hard to find me. Her tail stuck between her legs, her back hunched, all of her senses guiding her wrong.

When she scented me, her eyes eventually followed suit and saw me. She relaxed, tail wagged, back straight and normal. What would have taken a lesser dog time to recover, Mina handled with all the grace possible. She marched past me and led the way back to the car, taking a few moments to sniff under the glow of a phone's light.

Mina is not blind. She sees fine in the day-time and with a source of light guiding her. Dusk, though, is no longer easy-peasy for her. Night-time, minus brilliant full moons, is simply shadows upon shadows muddying up her vision. I downloaded a flashlight app so I wouldn't trip over her and run into a fence. Our evening stroll to the car is much more enjoyable. I can let Mina guide us, tail flipped up in the air, ears pinned forward, nose working hard.

Mina's dream comes true
I am Mina and I am loved.
And if I forget my phone, I place Mina between Celeste and I. Slowly, we move down the path. This is hard for Celeste, but she makes do. I am careful to let my left leg brush against Mina, letting her know my location. Each and every time - not like during the day - I can feel the gentle pressure of her leaning into me. I am not certain, but I believe she does the same when she bumps into Celeste, that she leans in and off, that contact with a familiar friend so important.

Mina will one day go blind or virtually so. She will handle with stoicism and accept it swiftly and without much consideration. She will adapt, far quicker than I ever would. There will be no raging against the dying light for her. She does not need light to rage! And I will be there and hope I will not fail her by being too sad or upset or coddling.

The world may be dimming for her eyes, but her soul is one enormous brightly lit candle. (She would call that metaphor really tacky and cliche).


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reflected Back, Her Eyes, My Fractured Soul

Betsy and friendSome small moments grow with time, expanding in ways you never thought possible. They are unforgettable because they are leeches on your heart and mind.

Looking into her eyes was one such moment. It was 2005. It was the very first large-scale rescue I participated in, and I will never, ever forget her eyes.

I was part of an effort to save the lives of 2,000 hens from a 160,000 hen egg-farm. The hens were nearly two years old, their fragile, slender forms deprived of calcium and protein from laying five times more eggs than normal. Still, despite it all, they had more living to do, they had more breaths to take. They wanted life as much as I do. As you.

Even though their life was not much of a life at all. They lived in cages, crammed and jammed 6-10 per metal box. I saw hens who had died trying to reach the one nipple of water hanging at the top, their six-inch long nails welding them to their spot. I saw decomposed bodies trampled by the living. Death is what I smelled, that and ammonia. It was a fraction of what the hens endured.

We could not save them all. We could barely save a small portion of them.

I remember one moment, one bright, painful moment. Darkness was at our end of the barn. We had flashlights and head lamps and peered through grim shadows to pull birds gently from cages. We shuffled them into large dog crates, their limp, tiny frames melting in our hands. I gazed down at the other end of the barn. It was hard to see, but the doors at that end were wide open, sunlight dipping in...the first and last time the hens at that end of the barn would see.

At that end of the barn were the catchers. Workers paid by how many hens they could catch in a day. Backlit, workers grabbed hens by the legs, the wings, the heads, and yanked them from the cages. I'm sorry to disturb you with this, with this small grotesque moment, but I will never forget. A hen's wing was stuck. She was yanked. And what made her separate from us, that downy soft apparatus of flight was torn from her. I swear I heard her scream above the screams of thousands more. Her detached wing flopped to the ground, dejected, removed from what made it perfect and whole.

I felt nothing. I wanted nothing more than to stop and run and breathe again. I wanted to be back outside in a world that ignores all this suffering, that is stupid and callous and shallow. I wanted to be there. Anywhere but here.

At the end of our final visit, when it was impossible to take anymore birds, I looked into the eyes of one hen.

I can tell you where her cage is. If you took me to the farm, I would march you up the rickety wooden steps, past the platform where a woman would place eggs in pallets for shipments to grocery stores, and into the shed. I would take you down the first aisle, careful to avoid the cracks that lead dozens of feet down into the manure pit. A third of the way I would turn you towards a cage. It will look like every other cage in the barn. It will be the cage on the top row.

And I would tell you about this hen. Like her sisters, she was all white. Her pale, fleshy comb perched on her head flopped over. To my right, her left. It was not so pendulous as the others. She had an orange eye, probably two but I only saw the one. She had stuck her head through the bars and gazed at the activity beneath her. She looked at me, looked me straight in the eyes.

I cannot tell you why I did not demand to take that hen. Because I would not have stopped with her, perhaps. I would have grabbed all ten hens and then stared at the ones below, the ones to her right, the ones screeching in pain at the end of the shed. Maybe I would have shoved the catchers off the platform, stolen the transport truck, drove them all to sanctuary.

I can only tell you that the hen I left behind wanted to live. She wanted light. She was complete and whole and so freaking perfect. I'd like to go back in time and take her.

We saved 2,000 souls during that week of rescue. I worked my butt off to find homes for most of them. The ones we took in at the sanctuary have all died. I have only my shadowed memories of those days. And it is virtually impossible to talk with other rescuers about it, because to talk is to feel and remember and realize how little anything has changed.

I don't eat eggs. I did not in 2005, either. If I could take you to that graveyard, to that barn of brutality and suffering, I would like to think you would not eat eggs either. That you would see the hollow, empty sheds and ache for the lost souls whose suffering went unseen, unheard. I do.

It has been seven years since that rescue. I still think of her gaze.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Police Shootings of Dogs 1/1/12-11/30/12

Mandatory reading for police agencies interested in addressing this issue - The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters

Police Shootings Of Non-Aggressive or Non-Injuries Dogs

Commerce city police officer shoots a mixed breed dog four times, killing her. As she was restrained on a catch pole. After he had tasered her twice. Despite the fact she was just sitting inside her own garage. Remember, she was shot to death while on a catch pole. That means she was totally restrained and helpless. Link (the video is somewhat graphic, you've been warned).

An animal control officer in Virginia shot an 18-mos-old Labrador Retriever three times in the head, killing the dog. The dog was running loose but had not actually bit anyone. Link

Memphis, Tennessee police fighting the war on drugs tried to shoot a dog but instead critically wounded a fellow officer. No word on the dog. Link

Omaha police shot and killed a Labrador Retriever mix for "lunging". Link

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This is how we watch football

Mina loves "grandpa" #dog #pitbull #vegandog
 Mina tries her hardest to convince my dad that she is far more important than some dumb football game.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BREAKING NEWS

It's only breaking news because the dog in question is a Pit Bull.

A guy who wanted to get drunk and avoid babysitting duties, left his 10-mos-old son alone in a bedroom and went drinking.

By happenstance, his dog was also in the home.

Some reports claim the dog was sitting outside the baby's door. Others say the dog was laying down.

We'll never know the exact body position of the dog, but thank goodness we are now aware of how dangerous it is to leave a Pit Bull alone with a baby. You don't know if the dog will sit up or lie down.

If the dog was a Bichon Terrier, this would not be news.

Because this is not a story about an alcoholic father abandoning his defenseless 10-mos-old child in a home with no care. Oh no, that would be too mundane. The story is about a Pit Bull. Who may or may not have been sitting down outside the child's room.

That, dear readers, will always remain a mystery.


Friday, December 7, 2012

She Struggled in Fear, Restrained, They Still Shot Her Dead

Commerce City police are defending shooting Chloe five times while restrained on a catch pole.

They would.

I rarely read of a police agency that admits wrongdoing when killing someone, human or nonhuman. It may be simple legal obligation, but I believe it's more than that. I believe, in many of these cases, police officers feel they are doing the right thing.

And this frightens me.

It scares me greatly that anyone would defend what happened to Chloe.

She was being cared for by a cousin while her guardian went on vacation. Left in the garage, she tripped a sensor that opened the door. The neighbor across the street saw the dog running loose and was concerned for the dog's safety - he called  police.

Animal control and police arrive. Chloe, faced with strange, aggressive men and women, retreats to the only safe place she knows - the garage. She sits down. She is tasered twice, temporarily stunned, further confused and frightened.

I will tell you something. I have no doubt in my mind that the officer who shot Chloe five times while restrained intended to shoot Chloe five times while restrained. He did not intend to allow the animal control officer to do her job, to use a catch pole and transfer a frightened animal to her truck. He intended to murder, I mean DEFEND THE NATION from Chloe the moment that noose slipped around her neck and tightened.

I see a dog scared. I see a dog who is not a threat to anyone. I see a dog who when that catch pole finally sealed her death sentence, tried to run away. This is important to me. Chloe did not try to fling herself dramatically onto the throat of the animal control officer. She tried to run away. At no point did she try to bite anyone. She did not lunge or charge at officers.

She was simply a scared dog sitting safely in a garage.

And for that, for that violation, she was shot five times and killed.

There is no defense. What happened to Chloe is offensive and horrifying. She was not a threat to public safety. Point of fact, the officer shooting off five bullets in the middle of a residential neighborhood - shooting at a dog while she thrashes at the end of a catchpole - is FAR more dangerous than Chloe was or ever would have been had she lived.

Shame on that officer. Shame on us. Shame on a culture that permits "officers of the law" to violate said law and get away with the brutal, senseless killing of a scared, restrained dog.

Everybody's a Critic

Recently I finished reading Jim Gorant's book about Wallace, who you should follow on Facebook as he fulfills his bucket list.

I have been struggling with my problems with this book.

And then it hit me. I don't like nonfictions written like fiction. Gorant takes on the omniscient third-person observer. The one who you believe knows everything there is to know about the characters. When third-person observer in fiction states, Haddie felt a deep yearning for freedom and tennis, you instinctively know that that Haddie really does have a deep yearning for the grass court. Or, clay.

In nonfiction, though, I expect the creative stating of facts and opinions. First person style. So when an author write a nonfiction as a third-person observer in fiction, it comes across weird.

That is how Gorant writes this book - as if he knows exactly how the characters (who are real, not fictional) feel and think and react. But he cannot truly know that.

I feel like I got a better understanding of Wallace, a dog who I assumed was actually quite tolerant of other dogs such that he could be off leash in the middle of a disc tournament.

Yes, do read the book. It's great there are more books putting a positive spin on Pit Bulls and, more importantly, showing that Pit Bull guardians are just normal people struggling with normal problems.

But I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Believe They Are Perfect

When you were in your mother's belly, I could feel your head. I could feel your hooves, soft but fully formed. I could feel your swift kicks and winced for your mom, Ellen. She is more stoic.

It is strange to think you would have never seen this world, that your playful leaps of joy would have been absent from this landscape. It is hard to believe that you would have died inside your mom, as she died in the outside world.

Your mom is from a goat dairy. She grew old and thin and perhaps the farm did not want to invest any more money or time in who they thought would give them no more milk. She was shipped to an auctionyard. It's an awful place, full of crying, dying, struggling to survive animals, smelling of piss and fear and the stench of frying flesh at the restaurant onsite. I'm so glad you will never know of that place. I'm so sorry your mother does.

She was bought and brought to an infamous (to me anyway) place. It's a dirt lot filled with hundreds of animals, who are only fed bread until a buyer comes along. Then each animal is shot in the head, their throats are slit, and their flesh sold.

Your mom was saved by an animal control officer who convinced the slaughterhouse operator to sign her over - she could not walk on her front legs at the time, so her value was not even in her flesh. The slaughterhouse operator was going to shoot and dump her body.

Instead your mom (and you!) came to Animal Place and here you will remain.

You are perfect. You are valuable simply because you exist. You are spring and life and laughter. You fill the holes in your mother's soul, left there by cruel human hands. You are the rightful heir to her milk, even if she tells you to stop being so pushy. You have a right to be alive and to grow old and to die with dignity and compassion.

You are Noah. And you are Cornelius (said with a flourish). And you are home.

Rescued Goat Gives Birth Rescued Goat Gives Birth

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And through the door, there was only sorrow

Let me first state that I do not know Roy Marcum. It has been nearly eight years since I last saw him, on my last day of volunteering at the Sacramento County shelter. I did not stay in touch with many of the staff or volunteers there, because my soul was too seared from all the sadness and tragedy of beautiful lives lost. I had seen too many dogs and cats I knew were healthy and adoptable killed.

Which is not to say that I did not love some of the people at this shelter. I did. So many were stuck in a bad system, doing the best they thought they could. I know they could have done better, but I was helpless to change anything.

Roy was one of the animal control officers at the shelter who was never afraid of Pit Bulls. He had a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier who followed him everywhere, always toting 2-3 tennis balls in her mouth. I'm embarrassed I don't remember her name, but I remember she loved him and he loved her.

Roy introduced me to Sage, a white Staffordshire Bull Terrier who needed fostering. Sage was my very first foster dog...and she was one of the best. She loved mice. She loved guinea pigs. She loved walks. And she simply loved life. Roy knew that and didn't want to see her killed for no other reason than "she looks like a Pit Bull". Sage is the first dog I found a home for, but she would be the first of many Pit Bull type dogs I would embrace.

I only saw moments of Roy. I saw him throw a ball for his dog. I remember him tearfully telling me how his Staffy Bull, the brindle girl, had died - she had choked on one of her infamous tennis balls. I remember him around the shelter, walking tall.

Yesterday, Roy was murdered. He was trying to help the dogs at a supposedly abandoned, foreclosed home. And he was shot to death by a deranged, disturbed man.

I feel great sadness for Roy's family. They are in my thoughts. There is a void, great and expansive, sweeping through their hearts and minds and bodies. There is confusion and anger and deep-deep sorrow. I am so sorry for this.

Roy tried to help dogs, in a way he felt was best. I honor that. And although I have never talked with him in the eight years since I stopped volunteering, I am forever grateful that he encouraged me to love dogs for their individual personalities not because of their breed. I am thankful that he lived through example, that he did not "do as I say, not as I do" and that he did his best to help companion dogs and cats. That is no small feat.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bone Exposed

A few nights ago, I nearly hit a deer. I saw him in my peripheral vision, reflected eyes and a brown form, small antlers perched atop his head. Slowing down, I paused feet from him. I flashed my brights at him which I regretted the instant he blinked in confusion and tried to take a step forward, then stumbled. Dimming my lights, I rolled down my window and yelled. He moved on his way, away from asphalt and death.

The driver behind me honked, annoyed.

I almost refused to move forward. The person behind me was so caught up in their petty impatience that a mere 30 second delay seemed to herald impending doom. To me, the deer was worth a 30 second pause. I can only presume the deer agreed.

Before I drove on, my mind wandered...as it is wont to do. A flash of white bone exposed, the scream of a dying animal.

A few months ago, I witnessed the violent death of a yearling doe.

The most potent memories I carry with me are painful reminders of helplessness. They involve the needless deaths of nonhumans, deaths I witnessed firsthand and either did not or could not prevent.

The doe is one of them.

She was struck at night by a white sedan, the same color of her front leg bones jutting from pink flesh. I can remember my sharp intake of breath, then forgetting to breathe as I hoped against hope that she had evaded impact.

The driver stopped, exited his vehicle, looked at the deer, then his car. He shook his head, got back in his vehicle and drove away. I will never forget that moment. Never. His fading tail lights disappeared, the car in front of me swerved around the deer, and I was left alone with her.

I got out of my car and approached her. I could see the whites of her eyes, which scanned the dark fields. When they met mine, I could only see unending layers of pain. She began to panic, which is when I noticed her front legs. Not because I saw them, but because I heard them. Splintered bones scraping against asphalt and road. It is a wrong sound. It is a wrong sight, bone outside of skin.

Backing away quickly, I frantically started calling people. I called a colleague. I called several wildlife rehab centers, all of whom told me to call the police. No one wanted to help her. I felt so alone, so unable to do anything but watch. I called the police.

That night, I was the only one who stopped traffic for a dying animal. I was the only one who stood between her and another driver who wanted to drag her by her broken legs off the road. I was the only one with my heart fluttering, my lungs breathless, my whole body wanting to fix, repair, heal the broken being in front of me.

For what seemed like hours, I watched the doe. She was so quiet, her side heaving in pain, quick breath in, quicker breath out. Her pupils became large black holes in what should have been soft, gentle eyes. Some moments she would try to stand, not comprehending why her normally supportive, lithe legs kept failing.

And then she would cry. This is how I knew she was still a baby. Or I assume so. Maybe we all call for our mothers in these moments. That was the cry she made - a baby sending forth an SOS in the night. A scream followed by a heart-wrenching whimper. I wanted her mother to come out of the dark, to groom and soothe and give her comfort.

When the police arrived, I finally pulled off the road. The officer got out of his car. He did not approach the deer but instead peered at the front of my vehicle, presuming I had hit her.

Doesn't look like your car is damaged.

I must have had a confused expression, for I had not processed the statement. Oh. He thought I hit her.

Not knowing what happened next, I sat in my vehicle as the officer approached the doe. He nudged her with his boot, trying to get her to move off the road (goodness forbid the human world slow down for one dying deer). I heard a small wail and realized it was my own whimper of shock and sadness. Couldn't he see how broken she was, how utterly impossible it was for her to get up and walk off the road. Of course he could. Of course he has dealt with many deer and of course he has become indifferent to their suffering.

Finally, he roughly grabbed her by the head and dragged her off the road.

I wanted to drive away. I wanted to lunge from my vehicle and shove the officer away. I wanted to cradle the deer, or at least cover her head in a towel so she couldn't see the creatures causing her so much pain. I wanted to scream. Oh god, I thought, is he just going to leave her dying on the side of the road?

The officer looked at me. He said I could leave. I asked what was going to happen to her. Another officer approached, we'll have to put it down. It. It. It. She is a she. She is alive and dying and suffering and trying in desperation to fucking live. SHE.

I did not drive away. I did not look away. I watched as they stopped traffic. I watched as they brought out a rifle. And I watched in fascinated horror as they shot her in the head. They left her body on the side of the road for a disposal crew to pick up the next day.

I could barely see through my tears as I drove the three minutes home. I felt like such a failure, despite not doing anything wrong. I knew she was suffering and I knew euthanasia was the kindest option for her. She died instantly, but she had to endure the indignity of rough handling and being alone on that country road. I wonder if her mom came to her body. I hope so. It wouldn't make a difference to anyone but me, I think.

I'd like to say this is a cautionary tale. I'd like to say that if you drive a little hastily on back-roads knowing full well wildlife may dart in front of your vehicle that maybe you'll slow down. But the truth is, I know you won't. I know this like I know bone exposed is white and ugly and wrong. I know this because dozens of deer have been killed on this same stretch of road since the evening a white sedan slammed into the fragile body of a doe. I know this because too many of us are caught up in getting somewhere fast when getting somewhere less fast could prevent death and suffering and broken bodies. I know this because we can all be ugly and needlessly callous.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Unjust Separation

Theo Calf

This is Theodore.

He is a Holstein, the most common breed used in the dairy industry. His mother has been artificially selected (and injected with growth hormones) to produce more milk than nature ever intended. In an attempt to adapt to too much milk, Holsteins give birth to unnaturally large calves - they have high rates of birthing problems...common not only because of the large milk output but also because Holsteins are bred before their bodies have physically matured.

Most people do not know that in order to produce milk, a cow must give birth. And in order to steal and consume her milk, her calf must be stripped from her - often right after birth.

Male calves like Theodore have little value to the dairy farm. They don't get pregnant, after all. Some are sold for veal and others are raised on feedlots for slaughter. Some are sold for backyard slaughter.

Theo was sold to a family in urban Sacramento. They did not know how to care for him. He broke through the fence into the neighbor's yard where animal control was called. He is now safe at a sanctuary.

Watching Theo is a lesson in sadness. He is constantly searching for a mother. A bottle is no valid replacement. He wears a coat, because he does not have a mother to provide warmth and comfort. He eats hair and nurses clothes, trying in vain to find a nipple, a source of nutrition and maternal love. We can do nothing but treat him kindly - an injustice was perpetrated against him the moment he was born and we cannot repair that.

He will rejoice when he is old enough to integrate with the other cows. It will be amazing. He will be an ambassador for other dairy animals, both male and female. I wish he didn't have to.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shootings of Dogs by Police 10/1/12-10/31/12

Mandatory reading for police agencies interested in addressing this issue - The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters

Animal related shootings in New York City up 20% with 36 incidents.

In the greater Atlanta Metro area, 100 dogs have been shot in the past two years and in every single case, the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing. Only one county requires training of police officers.

Fort Worth police now undergoing training around dogs after the shooting death of a family pet last year.

An officer in Storm Lake, Iowa used a stun gun on an aggressive dog running loose. And it worked. Fancy that. Dog is fine. Another officer in Storm Lake decided to use a lethal weapon on a loose dog the next day, shooting and killing a loose dog who had been harassed and chased by police for a lengthy period of time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Every Move You Make, Every Breath You Take

Mina the farm dog
Whatevs, I'm fearless
It turns out dogs are actually creepy stalkers.

Actually, it turns out dogs are social referencers. That is, they will rely on the social cues exhibited by others and adjust their reaction to a novel situation. The cool thing is dogs use US as social references.

This may not actually be cool, because sometimes we are acting like fools and our dogs don't need to be too.

The research comes to us from the University of Milan. Dogs and their guardians enter a room with an oscillating fan that has streamers attached to it. This is a strange device that often inspires hesitation from dogs. In fact, all the dogs stopped at the threshold before entering and 83% of them looked back and forth from their guardian's face to the strange streamer-laden fan.

The guardians would then make a negative statement or a positive one.

When guardians made a negative statement (undoubtedly accompanied with "negative" feelings), the dogs generally stopped moving and did not explore.

When guardians made a positive exclamation PLUS a positive body movement, the dogs acted the same way they did when no fan was present - they explored the room more freely. A positive statement alone did not inspire the dogs to investigate more. And if guardians moved comfortably toward the object, the dogs were less wearisome as well.

This is how I taught Mina to gain confidence. It was not merely a matter of teaching her to investigate strange objects freely, it was a matter of showing her *I* had no concern about said objects. I taught her a "what's that" request which was always accompanied by me crouching in front of the object and happily talking and touching it. Mina still knows this request and loves to show off for me when I ask...she especially loves it when it involves objects she used to be afraid of but is no longer, like paper bags!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rick Berman, Dr. Evil

Every time any animal advocate uses Rick Berman as a reference, a puppy cries.
Center for Consumer Freedom.
HumaneWatch

If you use these website as valid resources, I'm calling you out. You're hanging with Dr. Evil, folks. He's not a nice person and he does not care about puppies or kittens NOT being gassed or killed. Heck, if Smithfield Foods wanted to slaughter puppies too, Berman would be ready and able to smear all the no kill advocates who keep using Berman as a resource. He'd throw you under the bus quicker than something really fast (sorry, just not that creative, folks).

--------
"Bloomberg obtained the IRS complaint from the Humane Society and independently reviewed tax documents, legal filings and other public information about Berman’s groups. Five independent outside experts contacted by Bloomberg said the allegations warrant an IRS review."

FIVE, people! This isn't HSUS, this is Bloomberg asking FIVE experts and guess what? They all think Berman and Company need to be investigated.

http://sfgate.bloomberg.com/SFChronicle/Story?docId=1376-MBQV0R1A74E901-1B6FHNKPQNAE5892OANKQII2OP

Remember this, people - Rick Berman does not care about animal welfare. I boldly claim he cares little for animals and barely a little for his fellow humans.

He does not care that you want to stop over-breeding of animals. He does not care that you want to improve adoption rates. He does not care about you or your cause.

He cares that you blindly spread his message. He wants people to stop unionizing and animal welfare groups to stop investigating puppy mills and slaughterhouses. He wants your children to have access to 500-oz sodas because, hey, it's the American way.

Find other resources, if you have valid concerns about an animal welfare group. They should be out there. They should come from sources that are reputable and reliable. You can find well-thought out, well-cited rebuttals to any argument, yo!

Don't be the platform for Dr. Evil!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Liveblogging Halloween 2012

We're back in 2012 for an epic adventure of Mina trying to convince children to take her home with them. This has been her dream for eleven years, so maybe tonight is the night!

6:00 pm - FIRST TRICK OR TREATERS.

6:10 pm: Butterfly shows up and politely asks to pet Mina. Mina says yes. Mother rushes over, "I must take a picture, you don't see a butterfly and ladybug together often enough!" Truth! Evidentiary material now exists on someone's phone that butterflies and ladybugs can coexist. Brother Tiger not so impressed as Butterfly and refuses to take pictures with Mina. Boo. You Fail as a Human
 This is basically Mina between trick-or-treaters. I can't tell you how much Mina loves children, it's kinda gross.

6:20 pm - Mina once again tries to leave with a princess. Princess more interested in candy but does politely pet Mina.

6:26 pm - Fierce lioness exclaims, "She's dressed like a ladybug!!!!" Yes, I reply. "Mom!!! This dog is dressed up as a LADYBUG!!!" Mom not impressed. "MOOOOMMM! A Ladybug! Did you hear me?" Yes, cute, get your candy. Grumpy moms for the win!

6:31 pm - Football Player reacts in horror upon seeing Mina. HORROR. Flees three feet backwards and I have to wander outdoors waving candy at him so he would realize the risk of Mina eating him don't outweigh the benefit of getting candy.

6:33 pm - Ninja tells brother Batman to say thank you. Batman gazes up at me with big, blue eyes. And walks off. "You tried." I tell Ninja. Ninja is silent. In a ninja way.

6:40 pm - Mina barked at Harry Potter. WTH, Mina?

6:46 pm - "It's the dog again!!!" - An admirer from last year. Mina gazes forlornly after her, wishing for a princess of her very own. Geez, thanks Mina!

6:48 pm - "You dressed your dog up!" Yes. "Why?" It's her favorite holiday. *blank stare* Her friend, a female Thor sees the look on my face and politely quips, "Nice house!" Big smile. Girl Thor is the best.

6:51 pm - Giraffe waves goodbye to Mina.

As always, I feel a small sense of evil glee that Mina - the ebil Pit Bull - is beautifully well-behaved, loves children, and my neighbor has to make sure her Labrador Retriever doesn't eat anyone (the dog got out one year and nearly attacked several children). It's not right, I know.

6:57 pm - A giant rubber ducky scares Mina. She politely trots back inside, so as not to offend. She comes back out when she hears a toddler princess. But then the princess pokes her in the eye, so she politely trots back inside again. Mina should probably raise children for a living.

7:07 pm - A lot of "male" children dressed up as "female" characters - this is more than I've ever seen, which makes me happy. And a bit sad that children only get this day during the year that "male" children get to dress up in "feminine" clothing without fear of judgment. I hope this changes.

7:08 pm - Glenda the good witch blesses Mina with her wand. Mina is all I AM A LADYBUG, LADY, but accepts the blessing nevertheless.

7:20 pm - Little kid tries to leap out and surprise me, and then leaps two feet back when he sees Mina. "DOG!" Mina stares at him. And wags her tail. She thinks he is the bees knees. Or the ladybug's, if they have knees. He is not so sure, but he comes forward for some lollipops.

7:25 pm - Mina sees a Boston Terrier - YOU ARE NOT DRESSED UP, BASTARD. Boston Terrier is all WUT? I AM A TUXEDO and then he laughs maniacally. Bwahaha. Children still pet Mina, despite her ill behavior towards the Tuxedo. One girl does tell Mina "Get back, dog!" and MIna does.

7:32 pm: Serious conversations.
Red witch: You like dogs don't you?
Me: Um, yeah?
Red witch: Because you have paintings of them on the wall.
Me: Oh! Yes, those are my dogs.
RW: Where's your other dog?
Me: She's afraid and hiding.
RW: And what is this dog's name?
Me: Mina
RW: And how old is she?
Me: 14
RW: And how many dogs do you have?
Me: 2
RW: Only?
Me: Um. Yes.
Dad: Red Witch! Come along. *to me* Sorry, she'll move into your house if you open the door wider.
Fact.

7:40 pm: Mina sees another Pit Bull dressed up as a hot dog and is all, Wut? The other dog is all Wut?

I'm all, it's like my bed-time, why are your children out so late?!?

7:45 pm: Unknown-outfit child - "It's the ladybug dog!!" as if she's seen Mina as a ladybug before! Everyone pets Mina, and then get candy, and say thank you. One girl looks me straight in the eye, "I like your dog," she says softly. Mina is all over that like white on rice and implores the child to take her home because she is being abused with costumes. Alas, the child wanders off.

7:47 pm: Mina has given up on a child taking her home, she is now solacing herself with a big bowl of V-dog, of which she is a fan.
Moar children if you want to read about Mina's halloween as it happens go to www.for-the-pits.blogspot.com

 Are we done yet?

8:01 pm: Mina is no longer interested in getting up from the couch. Evidence:
Children monsters are a lot of work and make Mina sleepy

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book - Huntress, Malinda Lo

I don't usually cry reading a book, but I ended up doing so while reading Huntress by Malinda Lo.

First, I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to read books where nonhumans are referred to properly as "he"and "she". In one scene, a deer is being hunted, and the buck is referred to as a "he', and his death -ugly and certainly painful - is not glossed over...the main character is disturbed and haunted by it.

I had just finished Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races where the treatment and death of nonhumans is treated so flippantly and callously, where even supposedly "beloved" animals are still referred to as property and inanimate objects. I find this common language disheartening. Then to pick up Lo's book and read wolves, pigs, deer, horses, etc referred to by their biological sex (when known). Refreshing, yo.

Second, LOVE to any author who creates and allows for the growth of strong female characters. Lo writes female characters beautifully and she crafts societies and cultures that are just and fair...and where being a woman is just, you know, being a woman...ain't no thang.

I had read Lo's other book Ash and really enjoyed it as well, but I loved Huntress more.

We are still in a society and world that treats non-hetero relationships as "other" and "less than". In Lo's world, love is love. I can get behind that.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Letting Go

KADE ON THE SOFABig old Dude has moved on to his new home.

He is now living with a shy little cat and a lovely woman in Nevada.

More importantly, he is with someone who will allow him to adjust and grieve again (in a smaller way than he did with me) without deeming it burdensome.

A few weeks ago, another person applied to adopt Dude. It was not a bad home. In fact, by most standards, it was a darn fine home. Some fencing had to be fixed, but other than that, it was on an acre of land, with a person who would be home most of the time.

Still, after seeing the home and meeting more with the applicant, I never felt the same kind of joy and lightness I felt with other adopters interested in a dog I am fostering.

The rescue felt my feelings were sufficient reason to deny the adoption. I think another dog would be fine in this person's set-up, but my intuition guided me away from this home for Dude.

I grappled with my feelings. One person told me it was because I wanted to find a way to keep Dude. Untrue. There is absolutely no way I can have a third permanent dog with Celeste and Mina. 100% impossible. I think some have the impression that when I have a foster dog, all three dogs are lounging in the living room, playing in the yard, and coexisting beautifully.

In reality, baby gates separate the house. Crates keep foster dogs and house dogs safe. Only Mina can happily interact with interested foster dogs (and only Mina will put up with obnoxious puppies). Celeste is afraid and intolerant of other dogs. Mina cannot handle certain pack dynamics. And some of my foster dogs haven't even liked Mina (Kassie). It's not hugs and snuggles, folks.

So the denial wasn't because I wanted to keep Dude...I just wanted the absolute best for him. I wanted a home that would understand he was a sweet, soft-tempered dog who grieves fiercely and share loyalty and friendship with ease. That he howls and pants and sometimes paces. That he sometimes wants to be outside, snoozing on the porch rather than inside with people. That he is dog-selective and probably chases deer.

More importantly, I wanted a home where I would have NO doubt that he would - extreme circumstances excluded - live out the rest of his life. He lived seven years in one home. He saw and smelled and heard his pack-mate taken away, never to return. He took two weeks to finally want to be a part of my pack, his grief was so strong.

I think he has found that in his new home. I did not cry, although my heart hurt. It felt right.

So here's to Dude, the best old-man foster dog ever. Happy sleeping!

Friday, October 12, 2012

In My Hands, You Are Stopped

Francis
I went out and took photos yesterday. I had not done so in a long time. Francis chewed cud for me. And now, you.

 There is a camera I want, but I am afraid I want it only because it is more expensive and better than my current ones. They are good cameras, but it's amazing how quickly the digital age puts a 2, 3, 4 year old camera to shame. And well, a good camera, a good lens, does not make you a great photographer. I could become a great photographer if I spent my life committed to this small, burning passion of mine. But I won't right now, so I'm a happily decent snapper of one-eyed cows chewing cud.

 When I was younger, I lugged around my dad's Minolta. In high school, I would stand transfixed in the film section of my local pharmacy store, trying to pick out the best film for the shots I wanted.

I could carefully remove a used reel from my dad's camera, beneath a black cloth, and transfer it to a canister tank for development. Those were precarious seconds, when cherished moments in time could be deleted from this earth forever.  They may not have been my best photos, but those black and white pictures I developed with my own hands are some of my most precious.

 I love the digital age, to be honest. I love snapping a bazillion photos and not worrying that I will become penniless from spent cash on wasted film. I love gazing instantly at these snapshots. LOVE, people. It's a childish wonderment - that what I see can (imperfectly) be transferred to something permanent and shared with everyone else. That sometimes I catch real, honest to goodness emotions in the faces of nonhumans....so powerful that others can see it too.

And that sometimes, in a rare brilliant light, my photo tells a story. Those are my favorite.

 My dad's Minolta is still alive. It works perfectly well and is probably older than I am.  Dakota Looking Handsome

Did you know Dakota, the turkey, can alter his bloodflow to those bumpy caruncles on his neck and snood (long dangly thing)? That his coloration indicates his mood, his feelings? He is in a dapper, good mood in this photo.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let's Make This Celebrate Mina Day

Christopher Columbus was an asshole.

There, I wrote it.

He did not discover North America, for one. There were already people living there, so obviously it was already "discovered".

What did he do?

He enslaved the native population. He raped their young girls. He kidnapped people and shipped them to Europe (and during that ugly ship trip, most died). He allowed his men to randomly behead people, beat them, cut of their hands, implement "tributes", test their blades on people's body parts, rape, pillage, etc. ad naseum.

The guy was a jerk. I don't know if he was a jerk by 16th century standards, probably not. He was human, and he explored a lot, but he introduced so much trauma, devastation, and cruelty to so many of the native peoples in the Americas.

Nothing to celebrate.

So I'm going to celebrate Mina. Because this is how she would have done it:

Upon landing, she would have presented this visage to the native people:

Smiling Mina #pitbull
HEY EVERYONE!

If that failed, she'd obviously have to get serious:

Mina is sad, per usual
And put a freaking squirrel on her head. WHO CAN RESIST?

But let's say they DID resist (wtf is wrong with them, you might ask), well, then:


Yo.
You are a failed people if that doesn't move you to tears of sadness and joy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mina Makes Me Melodramatic

Mina threw up brown bile this morning, after a few days of digestive woes and strenuous urination sessions.

I immediately took to the internet, which inspired nothing but a panicked call to the vet to make sure Mina was not bleeding into her stomach and dying right on the spot.

It was confirmed Mina was not going to expire at my feet, but I still made an appointment at my favorite vet office.

Who then siphoned a lot of money from me to declare that they didn't know what was wrong with her - that it was either IBD or cancer, but not likely cancer. Maybe a UTI, but urinalysis won't come back for a few days. At least I know her heart, eyes, ears, kidneys, and liver are all fine and dandy. Thank goodness for CareCredit.

She received a cerenia injection, which is apparently a miracle drug that cures all woes. JUST KIDDING. But it does make Mina feel less painful in her gut and helps stop vomiting. She also received a B12 injection. Low B12 is common, according to the vet, in older dogs with GI issues.

I was sent home with metro and sucralafate, both of which will help her gut. She is also supposed to be on a bland low-fat diet.

I've decided to see if Mina wants to be vegan like me. V-Dog is a great vegan dog food that is soy, corn, and wheat free. It's also GMO-free. Mina is allergic to strange things, like barley, but also regular things like soy and corn, both of which are very common in many dog foods. She is also allergic to cow flesh  (and baby sheep flesh) because she is part-cow and not a cannibal. V-Dog is also low-fat, and since she has some minor pancreatitis, this is a good thing.

She also lost 3 lbs since last year, bringing her down to 34 lbs. I need her to gain weight, like woah. I want her to weigh 40 lbs, because when she is REALLY ancient, she'll have that extra padding. Fact.

Mina's all twitchy-sleeping next to me as I type this. In a month, she officially turns 14. I cannot express to all of you how grateful I am that she continues to age with fierce grace. She does not have arthritis. Her heart is healthy. Her eyes are aging normally, and her ears and teeth are in fine condition. She has spunk and is a punk, when she feels appropriate. Each day, she looks forward to her afternoon cookie session with my boss and her two itty-bitty dogs.

While I still get frustrated with her irksome stubborn nature, I am cherishing each and every freaking second I have with her - even the annoying ones! For the past eleven years, she has been my constant companion. And I hope to share another five or more with her - showing her with kindness, cookies, food, exercise, snuggle-time, doggy play time...that I love and appreciate her.

MELODRAMA, stop.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shooting of Dogs By Police - 9/19/2012-9/30/2012

Mandatory reading for police agencies interested in addressing this issue - The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters

Police Shooting of Non-Aggressive or Non-Injurious Dogs

9/27/2012 - A traumatized, potentially sick German Shepherd was chased and eventually shot and killed by police. The dog's legal guardians were in the process of taking the oddly-acting canine to the veterinarian when, in the parking lot, the dog tried to bite his guardians and escaped. Police chased the dog, eventually cornering him in the woods where he was killed. Link

9/27/2012 - Police "legally" entered a backyard - without the owner's permission - looking for a suspect. A dog was in the yard and barked at officers. So they shot and killed the dog. Link

9/25/2012 - Omaha police investigating a burglary shot and killed two of three roaming dogs, who were not biting anyone but acting "menacing". Link

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sleeping is Serious Business

I watch her sleeping. She is very serious about it. Paws twitch, lip curls, ears pitch forward. Attempts to awaken her are met with third eyelid glares. You may not think this is possible, but it is. When it becomes obvious the human intends to keep her awake, she shifts, contorts, impossibly awkward...maybe the human will shut up.

Or take photos and post them on Instagram, rude.
Hella uncomfortable neck position #pitbull

When this position, neck twisted, fails to achieve the desired reaction (leave me alone, human), another is tried:

Obviously more comfortable. #pitbull

I laugh too loudly. She sneaks a peripheral glare, another grand achievement made by the grandliest of Pit Bulls.

I find her irresistible. She finds me painfully annoying. Literally.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On Neglect and Goats

Fluffy Cashmere goats shed their hair
Goats are great companion animals. They are good gardeners, unless you like your greenery to remain green and growing.

I am really saddened by the continued interest in using goats and sheep for weed abatement, an activity that sounds benign but hinges on starvation.

The goats in this picture lived on a 10-acre property with five others. Actually, it used to be nine, but the land owners never bothered locking the animals up at night, so four were killed by a mountain lion.

A few weeks ago, the house on the property caught on fire. The woman died trying to save her caged parrots. Her husband was severely burned trying to save her and their dogs (who survived).

I could not bring myself to take a picture of the gutted home - I felt the echoes of her life all around me, strewn on the singed lawn, burned and smoking in a shell of a home.

This mother and her two babies were less than fifty feet from the house in a small enclosure, with no avenue of escape. She shielded her babies and thankfully only suffered minor singeing on her fur.

In the pasture behind the house, a neighbor watched as one of the male goats guided his family (four intact males and one intact female) to the corner of the property. When he did, he turned back to the fire and faced it head-on. She told me this story with a sense of amazement, never before had she considered other nonhumans capable of altruism. I was not surprised. I've seen farmed animals exhibit emotional bonds, friendships, jealousies, and a range of emotions we think unique to humans.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dude's Surgery and the Sofa

Dude survived the surgical removal of two lipomas, and now he is high on opioids.

Courtesy of my parents, Celeste is spending the next two weeks on vacation in Napa. I think she has a pretty sweet deal. My parents, the best. Celeste thinks so too.

This means Dude comes to work with Mina, which he finds pretty incredible. He loves people and people love him.

Downside is getting him to load up in the car, which he refused to do this morning. Shoving a 70+ lb dog up into an SUV is on my Don't Do That Again list.

To provide my high-on-pain-meds-foster-dog some comfort, Mina and I slept on the sofa last night. We may do it again tonight.

Sleeping on the sofa is never comfortable. It does not matter if you have a million dollar sofa. Sofas are for sitting and Sunday afternoon football games. They are not for achieving REM sleep. Unless you are Mina, of course, in which sharp rocks serve as fake-feather soft comforters.

Everybody loves Dude. How can you not? Here's a 7-yr-old dog whose sole pleasure in life is to place his head on your lap and sigh heavy and deep with pleasure. I am a fan.

Now I just need to find his biggest fan, the one who will give Dude the retirement he deserves.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Police Dog Shootings 8/10/2012-9/18/2012

9/18/2012 - A Georgian man is very upset after his 6-yr-old family pet Labrador Retriever was shot and killed by police. In a rush to see his grandchild born, the man tripped the alarm in his home. He forgot his password so he told the alarm company, he'd wait for police. Police entered his home WITHOUT permission from the back (the man was waiting at the front). The dog, justifiably, became upset and barked at officers. So they shot him. And he died. I hope the man uninstalls his alarm system.
LINK

9/17/2012 - Once again, witnesses and police see two different things. Witnesses see a police officer shoot a dog from a long distance, killing him. Police claim the dog was a crazed monster trying to bite everyone in sight.
LINK

9/11/2012 - A 8-yr-old Golden Retriever hit by a police cruiser was shot at 7 times (some hitting) in a residential neighborhood. He died. The officer and a witness have two very different stories of what occurred - the officer claims the dog - who, mind you, he had just hit with a car - was charging him (the dog was safe in his own yard at this point, so the officer could have knocked on the door) "in circles". So obviously he killed the dog. The witness claims the dog was not acting as aggressively as the officer claims. Doesn't matter, the chief of police totes defends his officer.
LINK


Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet the Best New Foster Dog Ever - Dude

KadeDear Readers (if you don't want to read this, at least watch the video of Dude/Kade and Mina being cool),

There comes a time in one's fostering career in which you find a dog who is amazingly awesome. Not just regular awesome, but amazingly so.

Now is that time.

And Kade is his name. Actually, I call him Dude. It's catchier. You can elongate it, Duuude. You can call him Senor Dude. Duders. Dude-meister. Sir Dude. Mr. Dude. Many permutations. Also, I feel that Kade deserves a new name for a new start.

He is 7, but now that he has the Rimadyl he feels 5, at most.

Kade was a guardian surrender, meaning his legal guardians dropped him and his 11-yr-old pack-mate/sister off at the shelter.

Now readers, I try to be a compassionate person. So, the story I have created for Kade and his sister is that his real guardian died and the family remaining (one child, no other relations) has a dog-aggressive monster-beast at home. It is hard for me to fathom any other reason for relinquishing 7-yr-old and 11-yr-old dogs.

Kadde's sister was euthanized. She suffered from an extreme load of heartworm that could not be treated.

So you can imagine that his first week with me wasn't easy, for anyone. Kade paced. He could have won a sad medal for extreme panting. He suffered from arthritis in his rear-end. He hated his crate and would cry at night and tear asunder his blankets and beds. He wanted to be outside more than inside.

I saw a grieving, confused animal trying to make sense of what must have been the most shocking of transitions.

And readers, Kade handled it as gracefully as one could ask of a middle-aged dog thrown into a crazy-new situation.

Now, two weeks later, Dude is a different dog. He feels stronger, because of the walks. His arthritis seems less bothersome. His idea of a walk is to meander in front of me and then whine when I stop to wait for him to cease the pulling. Toys are still a baffling concept to him, but he knows how to play with people and Mina-dogs.

EVIDENTIARY MATERIAL

Mainly, he just wants to lay down near me or Mina. He wants to be in my circle but not in a pushy, needy sort of way.

Our morning routine is as such - I sneak out of my room (Dude is loose at night and when I'm gone, cuz he's THAT damn awesome) to the glares of Mina and Celeste. Dude gets up, tail wagging, eyes soft, and howls. And then we walk to the glass sliding door, and he goes outside and turns to me, tail slowly arcing back and forth, and he howls again. Then he pees. This is an excellent tradition that I hope does not annoy too many neighbors.

Dude is a supreme being. He needs a home where he can relax, chill, take short strolls, howl at you and maybe fire engines, play with a girl-dog friend, and be able to snooze indoors or outdoors, wherever he sees fit.

I feel anyone who is willing to adopt a 7-yr-old dog is also willing to give Dude his Rimadyl and Cosequin daily, because you will obviously feed him twice a day and can just throw those bad boys into his food dish. Dude has a soft mouth and is gentle with treats. He knows sit and that's it. Sit is all he needs to know, people. He does not need to know fancy twirls or shakes or downs. I am teaching him stay, because that's kinda important. He knows come because he knows his name (which means come in his head).

Dude is an easy dog. HE WILL EASILY CRAM HIMSELF INTO YOUR HEART. That's a fact.

Adoption information

Monday, August 27, 2012

New York Police Brutally Shoot Dog Defending Seizing Guardian

A word of warning - this video is graphic and shows a dog being shot, including her agonizing suffering as she writhes in pain on the pavement.


The video starts seconds before the dog - a healthy looking Pit Bull named Star is shot. You see an alert dog barking while her guardian lays unconscious on the ground. A bystander attempts to help the man and guess what? The agitated dog chases her off.

This is important, chases her off. Star does not chase the woman down and rip open her stomach. She attempts to do the same with the aggressive police officers, but before she can get five feet, they both shoot her.

In front of a crowded bus and a large crowd of people.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's the Ears

Ears #dogs

Everyone loves Celeste's eyes, but my favorite feature of her is the ears. Celeste suffered from multiple ear infections throughout her puppy years, so she is really sensitive about people touching them. Which is sad, because they are velvet soft.

They've been the same size since puppyhood:

Celeste and Mina

Monday, August 13, 2012

Police Dog Shootings: 8/4/2012-8/10/2012

8/10/2012 - A Labrador Retriever was shot by a neighbor after the dog broke through a chainlink fence and attacked the man's Beagle. The dog was not attacking anyone when he was shot. In lieu of delivering the injured dog to a vet, police arrived and decided to shoot the dog in the head, killing him. Apparently this is yet another town that has no veterinary hospitals to take a dog to!
LINK

8/10/2012 - A mixed breed dog is shot and killed by Kentucky police because maybe something awful would happen if they hadn't! Police defend the shooting, because that is what they do.
LINK

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy Travels, Kassie Adopted

If the photo shows up skewed, blame some computer program.

After 22 days of fostering, Miss Kassie has found her perfect home. She has settled into her new home lovely, I've already received glowing reports on how she is doing.

Kassie has been, by far, one of the easiest dogs I have fostered.

I strongly encourage anyone interested to consider fostering. Your local rescue can partner you with the best candidate for your living situations. It is a relatively easy way to help an animal. It can literally be a lifesaver for dogs who cannot thrive in a kennel environment.

Thanks, Kassie, for being such a gentle soul, I wish you the best!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kassie Has a Date

True fact, people. Kassie is meeting prospective adopters this Friday at 5:30 pm. If these people can make it through the county fair traffic that destroys my idea of order and control, I feel they should be great guardians.

In other news, I rescued this dog from a livestock auction. He is available for adoption too. Little B Wants You...to Adopt Him!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why Haven't You Adopted this Dog?

It's been 21 days since I started fostering Kassie.

 Kassie Foster Dog
That is ridiculous, people.
 Kassie Foster Dog
She should already have been adopted five times over. Kassie Foster Dog
She IS kinda perfect.

Adopt her, now!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Asparagus

I love asparagus. My favorite way to cook asparagus is to pan-fry it in some oil, lemon juice, mint, fennel seeds, coriander, and a dose of mango salsa at the event to spice things up.

It is really easy to pan-fry asparagus. Trim off the tough ends, and pan-fry in  a small amount of oil for 5-8 minutes until the asparagus gets bright green. I add the mint a minute before the end. The fennel I add a couple minutes into cooking as well as the coriander. Both the lemon or lime juirce and the mango salsa I add a minute before the end too.

Yum.
Asparagus with mint, lime, fennel seeds, doused with some mango salsa #vegan

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Police Dog Shootings 7/29/2012-8/3/2012

8/3/2012 - Apparently Highland County, Ohio has a dearth of veterinarians who could evaluate and determine whether elderly Ginger, the dog, really was suffering and if euthanasia really was the kindest option. Instead, a deputy took matters into his own hands, decided the old dog was "suffering" and shot her. After ten minutes passed, he noticed the dog was still breathing and obviously shot her a second time, killing her. Her guardians are a bit upset.
LINK

8/3/2012 - A dog described as a German Shepherd, and with a history of aggression, escaped from his yard after biting his owner. Officers arrived. The dog bit two of them before the decision was made to shoot the dog. He is alive but the family wants him dead. In a great move, police took a non-aggressive Pit Bull because the family didn't have a license to have her/him, and that dog will be murdered by authorities. I mean, "euthanized"!
LINK

8/1/2012 - Illinois police fatally shot a dog, described as a Pit Bull, after the dog was let out in his own backyard where officers had positioned themselves in an attempt to arrest a fleeing suspect.
LINK

7/31/2012 - Even though unarmed animal control officers were later able to safely round up these dogs without them eating anyone, a San Diego police officer found it completely unfathomable to try any other tactic than aiming his gun and shooting at two loose dogs. He missed. Thankfully no one was accidentally nailed by the now roaming bullets!
LINK

7/31/2012 - A New Jersey police officer was bitten but did not immediately draw his weapon to shoot and kill 10-yr-old and also obese Storm, a Pit Bull. The dog had bitten the officer under a misguided assumption that she needed to protect her guardian from being arrested. The owner of the dog plans on getting Storm out of the shelter.
LINK

7/30/2012 - Lorain police shot and injured a loose dog, described as a Pit Bull who "lunged" at bystanders so scarily that the dog didn't actually hurt anyone.
LINK

7/30/2012- New Jersey police shot and killed a dog, described as a Pit Bull. Three dogs were running loose when a woman called police. Obviously the most logical thing to do is to stand outside amongst the three loose dogs and discuss them. One of the dogs nipped the woman, and so the police officer shot the dog multiple times. The woman and her child were so traumatized by the shooting that they had to go to the hospital.
LINK

Updates:
Back in May, a Monroe Animal Control officer picking up three dogs at an animal shelter managed to screw up the entire affair by somehow letting all three dogs loose, then shooting and killing two of them after they "became aggressive". Police have deemed his dog killing actions totes cool. Just don't ever call this dude to pick up loose dogs!
LINK

Other animal shootings:
7/31/2012 - An Elmsford, NY police officer shot and killed a rabid cat who chased and attacked him.
LINK

All Your Pit Bulls Belong To Us, and We Will Destroy Them

Here is a fun fact. The crime of owning a Pit Bull in Independence, Missouri is about on par with the crime of assaulting someone. Truth!

If I get caught a second time with a dog who resembles a Pit Bull, I can be fined $500 and spend 90 days in jail. If I physically assault someone, I can be fined $500 and spend up to 6 months in jail. I will receive the same penalties of nearly beating someone to death if I am found with an illegal Pit Bull a third time.

Beat someone with a lead pipe? $500 fine, 6-mos in jail. Walk your dog for the third time? It's JUST LIKE BEATING SOMEONE WITH A LEAD PIPE. Logic!

Awesome.

When the law went into effect in 2006, authorities made it virtually impossible for existing Pit Bulls to remain in the city with the following restrictions:

Dogs have to wear two leashes and two collars.
Dogs have to wear a basket or leather muzzle.
Dog must be confined in a crate while traveling in a vehicle.
Dog can only be walked by someone 18 and older.
Dog must be castrated and vaccinated against rabies.
Premises where dog resides must have signage indicating a "dog on premise"
External fencing must be 6' tall and buried 2' underground with only once entrance into the outdoor area, which really means the dog must be confined in an outdoor kennel.
Entrances to any structure must be padlocked.
Guardians must have $300,000 liability insurance.
Guardians must pay an annual $100 licensing fee.

If I did not know better, I would have thought these were licensing requirements for owning a liger which, by the way, no matter how you cut it, is way more dangerous than your average dog of any breed.

This type of law leads to this kind of story.

This family has a dangerous dog. By dangerous, I mean the dog bites people and poses a valid public safety risk. The guardians of this dog know he poses a risk, which is probably why he spends most of his time outdoors. Their other two dogs do not pose a safety risk, which is probably why they are inside the home.

The dangerous dog - a German Shepherd - attacks his owner. Police arrive, upon which the dog is so interested in biting people that he digs his way out of the yard and proceeds to bite two officers before one of them shoots the dog. The family wants the dog killed because they failed to either rectify his aggressive tendencies or find someone who could (or humanely killed the dog).

But what gets me is that police discovered that one of the other two dogs on the property looked like a Pit Bull. A non-aggressive family pet confiscated. Because the dog is not licensed, the dog will be murdered. I mean, "destroyed". Whatevs.


I tried my hardest to find out how awesome Independence, Missouri's breed specific legislation has been at eliminating Pit Bull bites. I cannot find anything. One would think that something as important as improving public safety would garner an annual or bi-annual report touting the praises of this program of dog killing.

So Independence? Where's the statistics? Where's the rock-solid evidence that killing dogs who look like Pit Bulls and excluding their guardians from your town has improved public safety?

Cue crickets.

Maybe the female Pit Bull used a mind meld on the German Shepherd. Phew, order of the universe restored - it really WAS the Pit Bull!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Can You Imagine if this was a Puppy Mill?

The ASPCA recently granted $150,000 to a poultry farm so that they could raise more chickens for slaughter.

Specifically, a barn will be built to house thousands of chickens throughout the year. The barn will then be converted to a hatchery that will hatch 600,000 chicken and 10,000 turkey eggs per season so that the "larger poultry" industry can obtain "heritage" breeds of chickens and turkeys for slaughter.

Chickens and turkeys are exempted from both federal farmed animal welfare laws - one that requires animals be watered/fed every 28 hours of transport and the other that requires animals be stunned unconscious before their throats are slit.

On smaller farms, most chickens and turkeys are also not stunned insensible to pain. Most have their throats cut while they hang upside down in inverted cones.

Does that strike you as preventing cruelty?

To contrast, imagine if the ASPCA was instead giving $150,000 to Puppy Forward, Incorporated, a "humane" breeding facility that breeds and produces inexpensive puppies. The hope of Puppy Forward is that eventually shelters will no longer be necessary as all puppies will be produced and safely homed by Puppy Forward.

To do that, they need a new building to house their innovative, forward-thinking kennel systems. These kennels give breeder dogs enough room to turn around, and no one is housed on painful metal mesh. Exercise areas will be provided, particularly during the few weeks the females are not pregnant!

Puppy Forward, Inc. is dedicated to providing a good and humane end of life experience for the adult female and male breeding dogs. They will be sacrificed in the pursuit of medical knowledge, information that will benefit companion dogs everywhere - only approved research facilities will utilize these dogs, and they will be provided superb care before they are humanely killed.

No one would support the ASPCA in this endeavor, except perhaps supporters of Puppy Forward!

Yet, as a community, we have arbitrarily labeled chickens as food, dogs as "pets" so it becomes strangely acceptable for an organization with "prevention of cruelty to animals" in their name to fund animal-slaughter endeavors.

Strange.


A Bouquet of Edible Flowers

Bachelor buttons are an edible flower that is easy to grow. Also, pretty.

They don't have a real strong flavor to them, so they are beautiful for decorating cupcakes or soups.

Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goldfinches

Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

The early morning hours are magic time for goldfinches. Flocks rush to the dew-speckled flowers and plants to enjoy breakfast. This goldfinch is enjoying some mountain spinach, or orach. I enjoy it too - tastes just like spinach. It's bolted in the picture, which makes for a bitter-tasting leaf.


Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

While a telephoto lens is a must-have, the birds don't have an enormous flight distance. Patience, not one of my strong suits (hence why I don't do a lot of animal nature photography), is a better gift than an expensive lens.

Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

What a beautiful little bird!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sunflower

Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

This is one of the sunflowers at the sanctuary's vegan micro-farm. The flower is telling Important Business to some edible bachelor button flowers, probably that they are edible and should be concerned.

I don't live in New Hampshire, but if you do, walk on over (b/c everyone can walk to their destination in NH, amirite?) Lyman Orchards and enjoy their sunflower maze. I have been through corn mazes, but I feel sunflower mazes are more awesome because, hello! sunflowers!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Shelters Doing Good

When animal shelters are not doing all they can to find permanent placement for all adoptable dogs and cats, they should be called out on it. But when shelters are trying new (and old) techniques to improve live release rates, they should be called out on it too!

These are all programs and ideas ANY shelter can implement!

Christmas in July: For the month of July, the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control facility is offering microchipped, vaccinated, castrated cats for FREE! Making it easier to adopt is always a good thing.

Reduce adoption fee: The Sonoma County Animal Care and Control facility in California is offering all dogs and cats for a $25 adoption fee through the month of July.

Specialize in Seniors: An animal control officer in Prince William County animal shelter created a non-profit to help find homes for senior animals. They work with the local shelter to pair dogs and cats over the age of 5 (hardly senior!!!) with senior citizens. The adoption fee is waived. It can be difficult to find homes for senior dogs and cats, so this is a great way to do so!

Get out in the community: The Pell City shelter in Alabama has increased adoptions by with a variety of easy-to-implement techniques - they partnered with Petsmart and have a Saturday adoption day, they created a "bonding" area at the shelter offering visitors a quiet area to meet dogs, and they are in the process of creating a foster program.

Sheep!

Sophie

Smile! I don't mean Sophie, I mean you!

Sheep prefer smiling faces over angry or frowning ones. Researchers have studied this very important behavior.

Sophie is a "bummer lamb". These are lambs born to a mom who cannot care for them. Farmers rarely spend the time and money to hand-raise an abandoned lamb, so they are often left in the fields to dehydrate and die. Really, that IS a bummer.


Carmen

Smiling is important, because sheep also remember faces. They can remember nearly 100 unique human faces for up to three years.

I don't know who came up with the theory that sheep are stupid. Probably someone who presumed that their flocking and following behavior is some magical sign of stupidity. It's actually pretty smart and rather selfish. Sheep flock so that each individual has a higher likelihood of surviving an interaction with a predator...and they will try and shove their way to the center of the flock to increase individual survival rate!

Carmen is a three-legged sheep rescued from a small farm that raised sheep for weed abatement. When Carmen broke her leg tripping in a hole, the farmer spent no money or effort on helping her. For two weeks, she hobbled around until a neighbor came to the rescue. After a week of intensive care, we decided to amputate the now dead leg.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Police Dog Shootings 7/22/2012-7/28/2012

7/28/2012 - A dog inaccurately described as a 100-lb Pit Bull (no Pit Bull, unless obese, should weigh that much) was shot and killed in Michigan for running towards officers. Those same officers "controlled" an unruly man by tasering him, and then killing his dog. Problem solved, yo.
LINK

7/27/2012 - During a shootout in Indiana, a police K-9 was shot and killed by officers after the German Shepherd attacked another officer.
LINK

 7/26/2012 - A Pit Bull was shot twice after he charged at an officer and "bared his teeth". The dog survived.
LINK

7/26/2012 - Goodness knows why Prince George County has waited four years and a lawsuit later to implement animal handling policies. Four years ago, the mayor of Berwyn Heights (he lived in Prince George County) was the victim of a no-knock SWAT raid that resulted in the tragic murder of his two Labrador Retrievers (one of whom was shot as he ran away from the officers), and the terrorizing of the mayor's family. No crime had been committed, but hey! That hasn't stopped no-knock "drug" raids. Now Prince George County has finally decided to train officers.
LINK

7/25/2012 - A woman in Ohio was attempting to put her dog, described as a Pit Bull, into an outdoor kennel when the dog bit her. Police arrived, separated the dog from the woman, and when the dog attempted to bite one of the officer, he shot the dog four times, killing him.
LINK

7/23/2012 - A homeless person's dog was shot twice when a police officer kept physically trying to wake up the intoxicated person. It is unknown if the dog survived.
LINK

7/20/2012 - A 3-yr-old Golden Retriever was gunned down by police serving a search warrant for drugs.
LINK

Sunny the one footed hen

Sunny the 1-legged hen

Did you know the modern hen bred for egg production lays five times more eggs than non production birds?

That's nearly 300 eggs a year.

When I am told veganism is "extreme", I want them to meet Sunny. And I would like for them to explain to me how artificially selecting for a trait that stunts growth and dramatically increases the risk of death by cancer is not extreme.

Really, if you think about it, all the things we want in animals raised for food production are exaggerated, extreme expressions of growth. We've normalized it, because we want to eat animals, their milk, and their eggs.

Sunny only has one foot, by the way. The egg farm she is from used plastic leg bands on the chicks when they arrived. They never took them off, and the bands became embedded in the hens' legs. All have scars and damage from this, but some were even less fortunate in that their entire foot fell off.

Despite that, Sunny is the sweetest hen on earth. She is the first to greet you in the barn, and the last to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Celeste

Celeste telling me to move forward more, photo less #dogs
Celeste does not understand the documentation, "I was there", aspect of our walks.