Posts from the ‘Animals’ Category
I think it was well worth it.
“I still dream that Jasper is alive. Before that my heart will not go.” ~ Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars
A couple of months ago I wrote a review for The Dog Stars, a debut novel by adventure writer Peter Heller set in a post-apocalyptic world.
I won’t ruin it for you, because I believe that you should read it for yourself, but I wanted to talk about one very important theme in the book and that’s the relationship between man and animal.
Hig, the novel’s protagonist is accompanied by his aging loyal dog, Jasper. One evening, after a hike in the woods, Hig and Jasper set up camp to rest until morning breaks. When Hig wakes he notices that Jasper has died in his sleep. After a desperate attempt to wake his friend, he holds vigil for a few hours before burying Jasper, and continuing alone on his journey.
It was at this point where I had to put the book down and sob. Anyone who has ever owned a dog is privileged to know the wonders of unconditional love. They forgive easily. And you never forget them when they pass. At least, I never have.
There is a phrase I often repeat, “Be the person your dog thinks that you are.” If only we could follow this piece of advice, but alas, life is challenging, and we lose perspective easily.
Jasper’s death affected me, not only because of my deep affection for animals, but because death is incomprehensible. How can this little guy, who brought Hig so much company and love, be gone? Then there is Hig’s guilt that he hiked with his visibly older dog, who had trouble keeping up.
But then I thought how content Jasper must have been to have died lying next to his best friend. And how lucky Hig was to have been there, and to know that Jasper went peacefully.
Towards the end of The Dog Stars, Hig, in honour of Jasper, recites his favourite Chinese poem, written by Li Shangyin.
When Will I Be Home?
When will I be home? I don’t know.
In the mountains, in the raining night,
The Autumn lake is flooded.
Someday we will be back together again.
We will sit in the candlelight by the West window
And I will tell you how I remembered you
Tonight on the stormy mountain.
A confession. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have pets. I mean, they’re a lot of work, and if they’re anything like Maude, really expensive. Truly, I love my pets very much, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them, but they’re constantly in my face needing attention and love. I want to scream.
Maude is a special case. She’s always restless, except when I take her for a walk, where she stands motionless, as if to say, “What the fuck are we doing?” I’m constantly worried about her because she’s always sick.
Beenie on the other hand is the most needy cat on the planet. She purs all the time and I can’t sit down to eat breakfast without her nestling in my lap pressing her head to my hand demanding that I pet her. I always acquiesce but she can never get enough. I just want to eat my breakfast!
I’m sorry, this is all coming from sleep deprivation. I probably slept about four hours last night, Maude was up bright and early pacing back and forth throughout the apartment.
As usual I prepared all her medications; she’s on a strict regiment to control her hypothyroidism and epilepsy. Then I brought her outside to do her “business” and thought while we were at it I might as well take her for a walk so that I could get a coffee and snap some photographs of the tulips in St. James Park.
I shouldn’t be complaining. I get up at the crack of dawn anyway, and never sleep past 7:30 in the morning. Even on weekends, even after I spent the evening binge drinking, which I didn’t do last night by the way.
Anyway, I love my pets, I just wish they would sleep when I do.
The documentary, How I Became an Elephant, about a young girl on a mission to save endangered elephants is now available online and DVD. The film was directed by 16-time award-winning filmmakers Tim Gorski and Synthian Sharp, produced by television actor/producer Jorja Fox, David Reuben and Alec Pedersen and starring Juliette West, and a musical score by Cody Westheimer supported by internationally acclaimed musicians Xavier Rudd, and Tori Amos. The film has been released worldwide, and is available on iTunes, Google Play, Distrify, and Amazon.
At the age of 14, Juliette is on a mission to save elephants. After single-handedly raising funds, she embarks on a life-altering journey to Southeast Asia to meet and work with her hero, Lek Chailert, known as “The Elephant Lady,” who has risked her life and freedom for more than three decades to protect elephants from illegal trade and abuse. This is the story of two women, one from the East, one from the West, coming together on common ground to save elephants. It’s also the coming-of-age story of a passionate young woman joining forces with a wise and experienced animal advocate on an enlightening journey of compassion, action and hope. The message: no matter what your age, your ethnicity, or disposition, no matter what the cause, you can make a difference. The film is one girl’s story that led to a movement that became a comprehensive plane to save a species.
I hope you watch it and learn something new.
Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes yesterday. I don’t celebrate by throwing a party, rather I prefer to drink a bottle of red wine all alone and pass out on the floor. It’s my thing.
In all seriousness, I had a nice day. I left work at noon and sat on a patio by myself enjoying a beer (Rolling Rock if you’re interested) when a complete stranger sat next to me. He kept going on and on about his life, and inevitably the topic turned to sex. He was one of those early disclosures and I was being held hostage.
In 20 minutes I learned that he lost all his teeth to cancer, that he was Jewish and that he recently moved to Toronto from Ottawa. Three months to be exact.
Then he explained how reserved and cold Torontonians are, and sensing my hesitation to speak with him, he told me that I was an introvert. I explained that I wasn’t, that I was simply enjoying some alone time — making no mention that it was my birthday — and that sometimes people appear cold because they prefer to be alone, and are caught off guard when a stranger starts to speak to them.
This didn’t deter him. He kept touching me, trying to feel my muscles, and then made observations about my face, which were unwarranted. I asked him to stop touching me, that I don’t like when people I don’t know invade my personal space. He kept asking me if he could buy me a shot, or another beer, but I politely declined his persistent offers. Then, out of no where he started to “woof” at men as they passed by on the street.
I was shocked that anyone would actually bark at another human being, but he clearly thought this was appropriate. I said to him about one particular gentleman he seemed to fancy, “Maybe you can go and speak to him,” to which he responded, “I’m too shy.”
Just not shy enough to bark at him. Anyway, I got up, paid for my beer, shook his hand and excused myself from his presence.
People! Here are some photographs I took from a recent visit to Riverdale Farm. Enjoy.
The Wishing Well Sanctuary in Bradford runs on the spirit that we’re all connected. I visited this afternoon and saw first-hand how easy it is for us all to live in harmony on Earth, and the animals we share the land with.
The peace pole, erected in May 2012 at the request of farm owner Brenda, sets the tone of tranquility upon arrival. Inscribed on it are the words May Peace Prevail On Earth in Braille, English, French, Ojibway, Sanskrit, Hebrew and paw prints. This is certainly a place where one comes to relax. And it’s easy to see why, sanctuaries are meant to be havens after all.
A charitable organization, the Wishing Well Sanctuary saves animals from neglect, abuse and slaughter. But it’s also a place for personal growth and to find inner peace, healing and joy. This afternoon I spent $10 for a tour of the facility, meeting cows, pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, and roosters who are showered with love and affection by the sanctuary staff and their visitors. It’s a heart-warming sight to behold.
I met Bruce, and his hens, who were stuffed in a garbage bag and thrown into a trash bin and left to suffocate to death. Eventually they were saved by someone who heard their screams. He and his posse now live on the farm, safe from the cruelty of human hands. He was quite the show-off, demanding attention and crowing when we walked away.
There are the bunnies, Toffee, and Puff who were raised for food, until someone took mercy on their beautiful, innocent souls. They looked content and safe in their own roomy stall with access to a protected outdoor area designed to keep predators away.
But most of all there are a variety of cows, donkeys and sheep, who are spoiled rotten and showed the visitors how individual, unique and original their personalities are, much like ours, if you can imagine that!
But of course my favourite animals are the pigs and pot-belly pigs. One unfortunate incident resulted with my face being covered in mud! But it was worth it to see how happy they are, and I am comforted that they will never be bacon.
The Wishing Well Sanctuary also offers educational courses on animal welfare and lessons on how were all connected. The overall message is that we should treat all living creatures with the respect that they are entitled to.
Brenda explained to the group that they were awaiting the arrival of two sheep who were going to be euthanized last Monday by the University of Guelph after many years of being used for medical research. The students who had grown to know and love the animals called Brenda, and asked that she save them. Luckily she was able to, but she revealed that she gets a lot of calls everyday, especially for horses, but cannot accommodate all of them with such limited space at her disposal. There are too few sanctuaries, and too many animals in need of saving. Sadly the majority of them never experience human kindness.
I had a great time visiting the Wishing Well Sanctuary this afternoon, and I will be back to see how they are progressing. Brenda bought the property six years ago but the sanctuary welcomed its first animal less than two years ago. If you get a chance, check the sanctuary out for yourself. Tours are conducted on the last Saturday of every month.
Have a lovely weekend everyone. This proved a great start to mine.