Working for the Weekend

It’s not my job, really, that annoys me so. I actually love what I do and the idea that I’m making a difference for those who have no voice. But here I am, in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, driven insane by the people I deal with on a daily basis, just wishing for a time jump like they do in the movies — you know, to move the plot along — so I can just get to the weekend already.


Right to Remain Silent

I’ve recently come to the realization that network television will probably never make a reality show centered round me.  Not because my life isn’t interesting enough and not because the people in my life aren’t colorful enough. No, no, there’s probably plenty of material for them to work with. The problem has to do with the simple, unavoidable fact that I have a bit of a potty mouth.  Some of you may have noticed. I’ve known this about myself for some time, but my Lord, the things that I’ve been seeing in the news lately has had me making a run for the crown in The Most F Bombs per Minute contest (the title is currently held by Christian Bale in case you were wondering).

Can any of you relate? You turn on the news to see what’s going on in the world and are bombarded by so much horrible, detestable, gut-wrenching shit that your brain basically malfunctions. When my brain malfunctions, I am only really able to do one of two things:

  • Become speechless OR
  • Curse up a storm! This is where the producers of my reality show would decide to pull the plug. If one of my rants were ever broadcast on NBC, every other word would be a BEEP Now that might be okay in normal situations. But here lately, there’d be so many that you wouldn’t even know who I was mad at or why.  I’d be speaking Morse Code rather than English.

I know you’re wondering about that first point I made. Me? Speechless? Well, you got me.  I’m not really “speechless” in the technical sense.  I just can’t get past the various forms of the word f**k (in all its glory) in order to make my point completely clearly here in print.  My mother reads this blog after all. And if I were to censor myself, it’d be like reading one of those classified government documents with 90% of the text highlighted black.

Anyway.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m avoiding the mainstream news like the plague, so I’ve only been subjected to what’s been showing up on my mobile alerts and newsfeed. Stupidly, I thought this would “help” my mood.  Yeah, right.  My mobile alerts and newsfeed are filled with animal advocacy issues. Not exactly a subject that helps rein in my tongue.

I swear (ha!), it’s a wonder I haven’t had a stroke yet over the stories I’ve come across. Throw in some personal issues that have had me seeing red lately and it’s been a downright free-for-all at my house.  I won’t even bore you with the personal issues right now. Long story short, I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “so and so rears its ugly head.”  Yeah, well…them ugly heads, they’ve been a-rearing…’Nuff said.

So what gets me sounding like Joe Pesci in a Martin Scorsese movie? In a word – Bears.

Or rather, bears accidentally mixing with dumb, ignorant, attention-hungry humans. There was a story about some woman who ran into two young bears over the summer when she was on a walk in a State Park – where (gasp!) bears live, in case you didn’t know – and rather than back away like a normal person or follow any of the safety protocols that are posted in parks, she simply could not contain herself and just had to have her 15 minutes in the spotlight. So she whips out her cell phone and starts videotaping them. Well, lo and behold, just seeing the bears in nature wasn’t enough.  She then apparently started trying to get them closer to the camera by beckoning to them in baby talk. When one of the bears opened its mouth in an obvious attempt to take in her scent (as we’ve all seen animals do, hell my cat even does it), she decided to claim that it “almost bit her.” Almost bit her.  How does something almost bite you, I’d like to know!  It’s not like she fought it off and kept it from biting her.  In the video, this “almost bite” was the bear, smelling her leg with its mouth open.  Do you see the beginnings of my frustration?

Rather than keep the information of this encounter to herself, she showed the video – no, not to park rangers, but rather, to the media (therein lies the 15 minutes of fame), with the story that she was “afraid” and was just glad she got out alive. There were several times that the bears took refuge near a tree or into the woods to avoid the woman because they were clearly nervous and uncertain…did she take the opportunity to leave the area or yell to scare them farther away (since she was sooo afraid)?  No. She stuck around, even going so far as to put her water bottle down so she could videotape better.

What happens next? Two dead bears, that’s what. Because the park rangers, in their complete and utter brilliance, thought that was the right thing to do (despite a public outcry and petitions coming out the ears).  It should be noted that just one of the bears even approached her and most likely wouldn’t have if the woman had just had some common sense.  Did I mention they were very young animals? Just a year and a half old. Still babies really. Was the woman fined for interacting with or harassing wildlife (like you’re supposed to be) for acting as she did?  No. Of course not.

Okay…hang on…Breathe, Wendy. Breathe. I usually cannot get through this story without cursing profusely and typing is no exception.  I must say the poor bears were surrounded by idiots that day and they paid the a dear price for human stupidity.

Owners vs Lovers

Okay, so after talking to someone today about “rehoming”– let’s be frank, a great deal of the time that’s just a euphemism for “getting rid of” – pets, I feel the need to rant a little bit.  This particular conversation was about a horse, but it could easily have been about a dog, a cat, or any other animal.

If you were to ask a horse owner what they think of their horse, you will probably get a response like, “Oh, I love my horse!”

That might be true, or it might not.

There is a difference between horse owners and horse lovers, and a lot of people who say they are horse lovers – or even think they are horse lovers – really aren’t.

Loving a horse – or any pet, frankly – means providing for it fully and unconditionally. If there is a food shortage, lovers will make sure their pet was fed first, before they eat themselves. They ensure that all of the animal’s needs are accounted for…in a financial pinch, a horse lover would make sure his or her horse is taken care of before spending anything on themselves.

Ah…now there’s the rub. Who these days, in this economy, is not feeling a bit of a financial pinch? And pets can be expensive to care for.

People who can no longer afford to take care of their horse, or other pet, have no choice but to “rehome it,” and here I’m not using the word “rehome” in a judgmental or derogatory sense. If someone absolutely can’t feed their companion animal, or afford to take it to the vet on a regular basis, a good home where the pet can be taken care of must be found. It’s the responsible thing to do.

Now… a horse lover would take the time to do profile checks and screen any and all potential buyers. A horse owner, at least in my experience, just sells to the highest bidder – not really seeing or caring what might be in that horse’s future.

Now I’m not sure whether you are aware or not, but there are specific auctions just for horses. I’m not talking high-class auctions. I’m talking loose horse auctions where horses are sold by the pound. To a horse lover most of these “events” are an abomination. Abomination is the appropriate word. A horse lover would never subject their beloved horses to the degradation and horror of such things.

A horse owner, well they just see it as a way to squeeze every last penny out of their property. Or they just think it’s easier and quicker than selling/rehoming the horse on their own and just want rid of it as quickly as possible for whatever reason.

These folks will exclaim that there’s nothing wrong with these auctions! It’s a good place for the horse to have a second chance or find a new home!  And as they ship their horse off to these meat auctions, they will swear up and down that they just looove horses. Yeah, right.

This isn’t just something that can be applied to horses. Dogs, cats, gerbils, any animal under a person’s care falls into the same lot. There’s a difference between owning something (and loving it as an investment or “thing”) and truly loving it (as the feeling, sentient being that it is). The line gets a bit blurred sometimes what with all the debate that rages on regarding animal welfare and animal rights, but it’s there and always will be.


Because Animals Matter

‘Tis the season for giving, sharing, and spreading goodwill to your fellow Man. There’s so much that you can do. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Give old clothes to the Salvation Army. Work a phone for a telethon. Heck, even dropping a little extra change into a homeless person’s cup makes a difference. The options for how you choose to make the world better are endless. You can donate to leukemia research, drive recovering addicts to their AA meetings, and on and on and on.

I commend and applaud you on whatever avenue of compassion you go down and hope that it fills your heart with joy, but I am also begging and pleading that you please not forget the abused and downtrodden animals in the world.

You could be asking yourself, why should I care about dogs and cats and horses and cows when there are so many humans out there in need? That’s a more than fair question. I can only really tell you from my own personal experience what giving to the world of animal advocacy has done. I care deeply and intensely about animals (anyone who’s even semi-regular to this blog just gave their computer screen a “no duh” look).  Animal cruelty is something I will fight against until my last breath — because for as many people as there are who treat animals humanely, there are an equal number of people (if not more) out there who have no qualms about spreading cruelty and pain.

I feel that to be able to call our society civilized, modern, and advanced, we should try to put a stop to all forms of barbarism to the beautiful and unique creatures we share a home with. Dog fighting, trophy hunting, safari adventures with tranquilized or tamed prey, fur farms, unregulated factory farming, canned hunting, etc., etc. I have to say, the list of ways man has invented to destroy other living beings just speaks volumes about how positively sophisticated our species has become, don’t you think? By allowing these forms of torture, we are teaching our children a gravely flawed principle that we, as humans, own the earth and everything on it, which is simply not true. We share this planet and should take a stand to stop those who are all too willing to simply exterminate anything and everything in order to assert this premise.

I already know what some of you are thinking. You may think it’s stupid to care about animals when we have other issues such as wars and murder that are depleting the numbers of our own species. You could be thinking my priorities are way out of line because I’m advocating for wild horses rather than abolishing the lethal injection. And that’s fine. You have your priorities and I have mine.  I actually have several varying priorities and opinions in fact, on a number of issues, like many people. Not all of them are always addressed here. But there’s no harm in using my blog to perhaps raise a little awareness in some of the things I find to be important, right?   

My feeling, as for so many advocates, is: if we don’t speak out for these creatures, who will? They have no voice of their own. Someone must speak out on their behalf. Someone must take a stand and say enough!

You don’t have to care about a wild horse or a deer as much as I do. You don’t have to denounce your own equally valid agenda in order to save an owl’s forest. Sadly, cruelty and injustice come in so many forms, be it directed at other people or animals. Unfortunately there’s more than enough to go around. How you choose to combat the evil is up to you, so long as you do something that says, “Hey, let’s try and not make things any worse, okay?”

MLK Animal Quote

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ghandi animal quote

Mahatma Gandhi

Horse Rescuers — the Oft Lonely Advocates

I love, love, love to see advocates share the love like this writer! I know…that’s a lot of “loves.” But, too often there is divisive behavior that hurts the cause and ultimately hurts the animals. I think it’s great when people can be a voice for a cause — whether they’re at an event in person or just in spirit. We ALL count, we ALL matter and we ALL make a difference. So I say thank you to every advocate out there. You’re all doing a bang-up job!!

Equine Preservation of North America -EPONA

Many devoted animal advocates often attend events and demonstrations that support the cause we’re all backing and we cannot thank you enough! It may be as a part of a strong picket line or a peaceful protest outside a political office, or the storefront of a place that supports inhumane treatment of animals. These activists have the amazingly powerful ability to get together, swap stories, meet each other, and engage earnestly with other members of their like-minded community. They give much needed support to each other and are alleviated of any fear of isolation by being reassured that there are many others who feel just as strongly about the cause as they do. There is a group all too often unable to attend such events but who nonetheless are just as adamant in their stance for animal rights. Of course we’re talking about horse rescues.

become a gift to others and you will always be well received

The people who run horse…

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Lad of Sunnybank

As I’m sure most of you are aware, I kinda like animals. Shocking, right? Someone call the paper, we have a breaking story: Wendy is a Fan of Animals. I know, I know, old news. But recently, on my weekly trip to the library, I came across a book I hadn’t seen in years.  And this unexpected trip down memory lane prompted the realization that this deep, undying appreciation for animals has been a part of me, woven into my DNA one might say, ever since childhood. You see, this love didn’t come when I was a teenager and had to dissect a pig in Biology class nor did it develop after some terribly traumatic experience forced me to re-think my stance on animal protection. It has, apparently, just always been there.

How do I know? One word: Lad. When I was a kid I loved this one book about a dog named Lad — written by Albert Payson Terhune way back in the day (1929). Lad of Sunnybank. Maybe you’ve heard of it. There were several books in Terhune’s series about the dogs of Sunnybank, but this one was my favorite.  All of them were about pretty much the same thing: Lad the Collie goes on adventures, protects the estate, and spreads his canine loyalty and kindness to others in typical Collie fashion. Very heartwarming stuff and based on a real dog (even better, right!?).

Lad of Sunnybank

Lad of Sunnybank

In one of the stories, Lad finds a baby raccoon alone and hurt in the woods and takes it home to the Mistress (because she was the go-to person in times of need). The raccoon (whom the Mistress names Ramses) is tended to and rehabilitates under the care of the Mistress and Lad (aww!). Lad protects the raccoon whenever trouble rears its ugly head. Hey, it’s a kid’s story, what do you want? Pretty basic stuff here but I loved it.

Just like any story, Sunnybank had a villain. It was the next door neighbor who thought Ramses was a pest and decided that he must be done away with by any means necessary (insert evil mmmwhahahaha laugh here). Now, when I say next door neighbor, I don’t mean in an urban sprawl kind of way where your neighbor is like right there in your backyard…no, we’re talking rural, miles wide estate kind of way.  But still.  His neighbor having a pet raccoon apparently just annoyed this guy to no end. So what does he do? He puts crushed shards of glass in some chopped meat and sets it out in the woods for Ramses to find.

A little Raccoon 101 for some of you (something the evil neighbor apparently wasn’t privy to): raccoons are quite fastidious and often clean (or “douse”) their food before eating it, vigorously rubbing it between their paws or washing it in water to get off dirt and whatnot. That’s exactly what Ramses did…and it ended up cutting his hands to ribbons.

A raccoon we will call Ramses

A raccoon we will call Ramses

The whole idea just gave me a sickening ache in my stomach. Not the gore or blood so much as the cruelty. The idea that someone could hurt another living thing so badly pulled at a part of my heart unlike anything else. Add to that the confusion on the part of the animal. Ramses had no idea why all of a sudden he was bleeding, in pain, punished. There was only confusion…massive confusion… as he stared at his hands and tried to understand the reason behind pain. I think of this when I come across any story of abused animals. They have no clue why these terrible things are happening. They’re just trying to live, to eat, to be.

Even as an adult the story of Ramses disturbs me.  Maybe because I know too many real-life stories that are just as bad and worse. Seeing this book and remembering Ramses served to remind me that long before getting into the line of work I’m in now, back when I was that little girl reading Sunnybank for the first time, the thought of abused animals held a special place within me and my love for animals has only grown as the years go on.

This is Lad -- to find out more about the dogs of Sunnybank, click the photo

The real-life Lad — to find out more about the dogs of Sunnybank, click the photo