Friday, October 29, 2010

National Cat Day.....

Just a reminder that today is National Cat Day in honor of those fur people that are so important to so many of us. My thanks and gratitude to the two (Gracie Ray and Bobby Ray) that have condescended to hang out at my place......and I honor those cats that I once knew that are now gone.......thank you for being yourselves and for allowing me to know you....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spice, the chocolate bunny.......

Sad stories abound regarding animals, among the saddest are those involving human families deciding to reject animal people they once wanted. Spice, this chocolate colored velveteen furred bunny has just such a history.
Spice the beautiful

Once a family wanted her, after a few years....no more. She came to Heartland Rabbit Rescue with this history and it is pleasing to watch her begin to blossom.

It may be that she was ignored and socially neglected or that she was in shock from having to adjust to a new home....no one knows, but for whatever reason(s) she spent almost all of her time huddled in her small box in her living area when she first came to Heartland.

Just in the past few weeks has it become noticeable that Spice is emerging from her shell. Where before she recoiled and rejected offers to pet or caress her she now seeks them out and will allow many minutes of stroking and touching. Where before she was shy and frightened appearing she now approaches and seeks attention.

The color and texture of her fur make her a strikingly beautiful being and watching and experiencing her inner self grow and expand is a pleasure and a gift.
Spice the bold
Welcome Spice, it is good to see you..................

When we take an animal person into our life it is a commitment of serious and deep responsibilities and consequences. If we willingly renege on that commitment it is usually the non-human animal that suffers. Spice was lucky enough to have a family that did not just dump her somewhere, lucky enough to have a rabbit rescue operation available that happened to be able to accept her. Many of the animal people rejected by their human families are not so fortunate.

Spice is both a sweetie and a beauty......any forever family would be lucky indeed to have her. In the meantime, being around her is both a pleasure and a treasure.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Play, joy, happiness...............

When I watch the bunnies cavorting (see video - previous post) it intrigues me to consider what they might be feeling. I do know that Simon experiences the world somewhat differently than I do because he...for example....has a sense of smell that is many times more sensitive than mine. He is much much smaller, he detects light much better than I do, his field of vision is much larger than mine....and on and on.

Does this mean we don't feel similar emotions? Marc Bekoff is a scientist (Ethologist) and author that has written a number of books about animals and emotions. I ran across a video of him talking about these issues and found it to be very interesting. The video is pretty brief, 6 or 7 minutes and well worth watching......there is a quick shot of his office....and I felt quite at home because it looks much like my office (clutter as an art form).

Years of graduate school and academia have left me cognizant of the value of a scientific approach to apprehending the workings of our world. Not only that, in the world of science can be found folks that are terrific human animals and great teachers (lots of jerks and dolts too). Marc Bekoff is a good scientist and one of the terrific human animals. Give a look and listen to him talking about animals, emotion and play.

I have read several of his books and can readily recommend them for their solid research and scholarly approach to understanding more about the animal folks with whom we share this planet. He also writes a blog called Animal Emotions over at Psychology Today (referenced on this blog site) that is excellent.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Hijinks on bunnycam..........

Wednesday October 19th (yesterday) was truly a gorgeous day here in central Oklahoma and one of the goals was to get as many of the bunny people outside as possible. The video is about 5 minutes long and shows why we try to get these guys outside whenever we can......there is little doubt that they love it.

The enclosures and coverings are for safety from predators and.....these terminally cute in appearance fur people will.....sometimes.....get into rather major confrontations with one another, hence unless friendliness is known to exist, they are separated into their own patch of earth.

A guide to the stars would include knowing that the black fur person that puts on a major show several times is Simon, the white with spots fur person that looks like an animated toy is Sophie and the nearest to the camera black with white shoulders fur person is Betsy. The fur people couple over to the right of Betsy and Sophie is Bella and Sachel. A brief cameo by the Heartland Rabbit Rescue founder and director occurs at about 3:30 into the clip......thanks Jeannie!

If you aren't volunteering and getting to hang out with some animal folks....then both you and the animal people are missing out. Enjoy....

If you can't adopt, foster....if you can't foster,volunteer....if you can't volunteer, donate. Do all of these things if possible.

Few things can make you feel better than watching a bunch of bunny people enjoying themselves. They are unique beings indeed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What hunting would look like.......

Hunting, the killing of an unsuspecting sentient being, often from ambush is not a sport. It is a deplorable activity which promotes the notion that causing death is "recreation" or "sport".

In addition, about 1,000 human animals are injured or killed inadvertently each year because of hunting.

In Defense of Animals reports that:
With an arsenal of rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, bows and arrows, hunters kill more than 200 million animals yearly - crippling, orphaning, and harassing millions more.
Casting the infliction of pain and death on a living being as "sport" or pleasure is one of the more egregious examples of the bizarre and degrading  distortions that masquerade as "truth" or reality  about human interactions with other animals in our very strange culture.

This video shows what deer hunting might look like if it were actually a "contest".
If human animals went out and engaged in contests with other animals without cheating by using weapons or tools, it is likely that interest in doing such would not last long.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just to say Hi..........

I could not resist:

Briefly.........

It is mid-term time, hence this is a week that is a little more busy and intense........

I ran across an article titled "Not Your Regular "-ism""  that tied in very well with my previous post.  In part it reads:
......Veganism calls for dissemination of the truth and an end to ignorance. Animal agricultural industries pay a lot of money to hide the gory goings-on inside the walls of slaughterhouses and factory farms. But how can consumers be expected to make conscientious choices if they aren’t educated? This is where the efforts of animal advocates come in – they inform people about animal agriculture and the exploitative practices involved in the production of meat, eggs and dairy. (Granted, some people may prefer to remain ignorant about these things – but when one person’s ignorance results in the torture and death of another being, denial is no longer an option.)
The writing comes from the University of Wisconson - Milwaukee student weekly. An interesting read.

Halloween is coming up, why not make your treats animal-friendly?  While being gruesome is all in the Halloween tradition, don't make the occasion horrid for the other animal people.

Continuing on a Halloween theme, if you live in the Norman area, drop on by Main Street Photo-Video if you are looking for some totally unique Halloween cards.  The owners are bunny people and animal rescuers as well as pleasant and creative human animals. The Dracula bunny card they created is a hoot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stick your fingers in your ears, squeeze shut your eyes and sing "la la la"........

Compassionate, educated, caring, intelligent human animals want to know about the world they live in and about what they are doing. Right?

Back when I was a young and unseasoned beginning psychotherapist, one of my wiser professors told me that facts do not change attitudes.....he could have added that facts do not necessarily change behaviors either. At the time, I did not quite understand what he was talking about. I now know he was quite correct in his observation......I am still uncertain about the mechanism(s) that makes this true.

One thing that likely contributes is that change takes more energy and effort than inertia. It is work to explore, test and decide on new ways of doing something rather than continuing on some previously established path or routine. Most organisms are inherently conservative in this respect....youth notwithstanding. The principal reason youngsters are willing to try new things is that they have no history with enough longevity to have established any well-routinized patterns. This is not always the case however, as any parent knows, sometimes getting a child to try something new or different can be incredibly difficult. It just depends....on the child, on the situation.......on what I am not sure.

Of this I am sure, many otherwise kind, caring, intelligent, compassionate human animals absolutely do not want to know about the suffering and abuse and terror and death that their routine, everyday, usual food and clothing choices - and other choices and actions causes to be inflicted on rabbits, cows, chickens, pigs and sheep - and other animals.

They would much rather, as the title of this post indicates.....stop up their ears, shut their eyes and sing "la la la" to avoid the facts (and sights and screams of terror and pain) that might cause them to have to reconsider how they go about choosing their food or what to wear.

I have had people say quite clearly that they "did not want to know" when presented with evidence of the horrors of animal use. Compassionate people, caring people, intelligent people.

Except their compassion and caring seems to evaporate when it comes to animals that are not human animals or dog animals or cat animals or rabbit animals or perhaps parakeet animals or maybe hamster animals.

Somewhere in that list of kinds of animals, all that caring and compassion disappears and it seems to turn into "anything goes as long as I don't have to directly know about it".

I am puzzled by this, and unsettled and not at all comfortable with it, I do not understand. It bothers me a lot.

I do not know how to view those that seem to presume that deliberate ignorance precludes responsibility for the consequences of ones behavior. Or maybe ignorance and/or inertia does obviate responsibility and culpability and I am too dense to get it.

I am bothered by all this.....a lot.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday FYI.................

Did you know.....in 2009 the government spent over 121 million tax dollars to kill over 4 million animals.....including around 7,000 rabbits? This was done under the auspices of a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture program euphemistically called "Wildlife Services".......using this naming logic the Federal Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Oklahoma State Dept. of Human Services should be out murdering the human children and adults who are the focus of their efforts.

And we wonder why children have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy?

Did you know over half of the 540 or so National Wildlife "Refuges" allow hunting?

Refuge? Hunting and killing?

And we wonder?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can you dig it?

Many (including me) find it interesting to watch someone else work. This video was filmed over a two day span and included about 15 or 20 minutes of recording....which was then edited down to approximately 3.5 minutes. The worker (Alice-formerly momma rabbit) appeared to be tired at the end of each day, it is certain that her paws, wrists, arms and shoulders got a workout. Behold:
The House Rabbit Society notes that "Wild rabbits share their warrens with up to a hundred family members"....Alice would have to do a lot of digging to accommodate 99 other rabbit folk.

One of the things I have become sensitive too is the fear felt by a bunny whenever anyone picks them up. This excerpt makes such fear (and sometimes terror) more understandable
In the wild, being lifted off the ground means being in the hawk’s talons, soon to be his lunch. Restraint precedes the killing bite of predators on the ground. Most house rabbits can learn to tolerate being held and picked up by humans, but it is the rare individual who views these as pleasurable gestures of friendship.
So picking up a bunny or holding/restraining a bunny has ancestrally been a prelude to a painful and horrible death. That awareness makes me feel profoundly graced when a bunny restrains their fear enough to not struggle when they are lifted or held.

Quite a gift is being bestowed by a non-struggling bunny....a gift of trust to the human picking her up or holding her......and we human animals are often oblivious to that gift.

What human animals view as affection and caring (holding, picking-up) are the very behaviors that signal an approaching painful and violent death for the rabbit animal.

Hmmm.......that would mean in order to understand a rabbit person you might have to rethink what some fairly natural human animal affectional impulses (holding, hugging, picking-up, etc) mean to the rabbit folk. Hmmmm............

If you "dig" rabbits, support them at: www.heartlandrabbitrescue.org.

Remember, support your local rescue organizations, adopt if you can, if you can't adopt then foster, if you can't foster then volunteer, if you can't volunteer then donate. Do all of these things if you can.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oklahoma, Native Americans and Columbus.....

In Oklahoma today is officially noted as a celebration of Columbus and his "discovery". Only one state, South Dakota, has been enlightened enough to change this day to something honoring the victims of Columbus. In South Dakota, today is Native Americans Day.

Oklahoma, which proudly displays Native America on the state automobile license plate, continues to recognize this day as Columbus day even though, as the author of this article notes:
If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

Question: Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?
Oklahoma insults all Native Americans, and all beings that oppose and detest oppression, theft, murder and slavery by continuing the shameful "honoring" of this disgusting individual.

A further excerpt from the article:
Columbus wasn't a hero. When he set foot on that sandy beach in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered that the islands were inhabited by friendly, peaceful people called the Lucayans, TaĆ­nos and Arawaks. Writing in his diary, Columbus said they were a handsome, smart and kind people. He noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. "They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no," he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kind-hearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.
Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.
Columbus deserves no honor and Oklahoma dishonors itself by continuing this sham "holiday".

As long as we human animals continue to believe lies and misinformation, as long as we confuse historical or current myth with reality......we will continue to be oppressors and torturers and murders of the innocent.......and deniers of our behavior and our crimes.

I oppose and detest oppression, slavery, torture and murder.......no matter what species the victim happens to be.

I deeply and sincerely apologize for this travesty of a holiday to all victims and all the ancestors of the victims of this monstrous being named Columbus.

Update 10/12/2010: Further writing about this subject can be found here. Be sure to see this brief video.

Friday, October 8, 2010

County fairs and animal mutilation.......

In much of this country (and others) the end of summer signals the onset of numerous events called "fairs". Apparently these originated in pre-industrial times when agriculture and autumn harvests were insinuated into the daily life of most people. A celebration of some sort was associated with the harvesting of crops and the presumed presence of enough food for the humans to subsist over the non-growing season of the winter and the growing season but no food harvest months of the spring and into the early summer.

I grew up in a farming/ranching area of rural southwestern Oklahoma and "fairs" and "fat stock shows" were a pretty important facet of the annual progression of the seasons. There are organizations devoted to inculcating children into the culture of the farm/ranch, the most prominent of those being 4-H and FFA. One of the more important cultural transmissions of values that occurs in these organizations is that animals are property and just about anything can be done to them in the name of efficiency and profit.

The FFA (Future Farmers of America) has an especially prominent role in the schools and lives of students in the rural and small town areas as they age into high school. Back then this was an exclusively male organization. Classes were taken in school and various "educational" forays onto working farms and ranches were part of the curriculum. These "field trips" usually consisted of providing unpaid labor to the farmers/ranchers.

I remember traveling in the back of a pick-up to some farm and wrestling with baby cows and baby pigs....wrestling with them because we were being taught how to castrate them. No anesthesia, just hold them down while they were screaming and bellowing and terrified and....with a hopefully sharp knife blade cut into the scrotal sack, pull out the testicles and cut the tissue attached to the testicle and dab on an antiseptic (or not) and release the terrified, injured, bleeding baby. Joking and laughter about the severed testicles was all part of the experience, "mountain oysters", etc.

The social pressure was considerable on the boys to participate in FFA. Once you reached 9th grade you were subtly and not so subtly encouraged to sign up each year for the FFA elective. One of the only areas of minor pride I have about my high school times was that my best friend and I refused to join FFA our senior year. This was heresy and unheard of in the history of the little school and some serious arm-twisting from the school faculty involved was brought to bear. We resisted (how I don't really know) and completed that last year being the only boys ever (as far as I know) to not be in the FFA our senior year.

I went out to the local county "fair" this past month to see how the animals were being treated there. I knew it would be painful and depressing and disgusting and.......it was.

To the left is a photo of one of the mutilated sheep on exhibition. Notice the rear of the sheep, no tail. Apparently this is a new "fashion", instead of cutting off part of the tail (euphemistically termed "docking") now the whole tail is hacked off.

There are various justifications advanced for either practice that you can find here and here.

Suffice it to say that if sheep had not been interfered with by humans and not bred to grow too much hair (called wool)...no problem with a sheep's tail would exist.

But, as always, human interference creates a problem and resolution of the problem involves doing something painful and grotesque and disgusting to the animal involved.

If the sheep's tail (because of the excessively lengthy hair) collects feces which causes flies to lay eggs there which results in maggots growing......well....cut off the tail. No matter that the mutilation injures the sheep and creates a much greater likelihood of rectal prolapse.

This is what we teach the children in 4-H and FFA. This is what we teach the children that attend the "fair". Mutilate the animal, they are yours to do with what you wish. We don't tell the children that the problem with too much hair was caused by humans in the first place. We tell the children that mutilating the sheep is "for its own good" because the mutilation will reduce the chance of maggots growing on the sheep. What is even more ludicrous is that most humans do not understand that humans caused the problem to begin with.

To the right is the face of one of the victims. I felt and still feel shame and sorrow as I look at her eyes. What wondrous beings we humans are.....we maim and enslave and show off our victims as if they were testament to our worthiness and skill. And we award prizes and honors to the mutilators and animal abusers that have the most "attractive" victims.

There was also a "petting zoo" at the event. Here we teach our children that other animals, usually baby animals are "cute" and there for our pleasure and profit. Often the animals shown are not well cared for and exist only to make a profit for the owner. We don't tell the children this, no, the adults point and oh and ah and smile and tell lies (lies the adults often believe too) to the children.  Meanwhile the animals suffer and despair and look back at us with empty eyes, having gone away somewhere inside....as we all do when we are forced into situations we hate but must endure.
And they lay in prison, guilty of no crime except that of being themselves. And we bring our little ones to gawk and point and "learn about the animals".

And we inadvertently say volumes about ourselves, our vapidness, our cruelty, our utter and total debacle of failing to participate as wanted and responsible and caring citizens of the community of life.

Thus we teach our young ones to not care, to be blind to obvious cruelty, to slavery, to exploitation. We teach them and we twist them and we make liars and insensitive torturers and louts out of them. We educate our children.

At the county fair.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rescued young ones.............

Saturday, October the 2nd was a gorgeous day weather-wise and Veronica was not the only bunny  to get to be featured in "film". The first video is of the brother of "Fast Eddie", these 2 brothers were born at Heartland Rabbit Rescue after their mother was found running through a neighborhood in Edmond, OK.

This video has only about 30 seconds of footage but enough to allow you to see that the "baby" has grown into a very good-looking youngster. They are bunny "adolescents" now and anytime they are allowed running free privileges inside the warren you can be sure they elicit upset and irritation from everyone they get near (sound familiar?).

It is remarkable how most (if not all) of us mammals follow the same trajectory of development and decline. Young...increasing physical abilities, need lots of care and attention, adolescent...can look out for self but reckless and irritating, adult....fending for self (mostly), healthy, elderly....decreasing physical abilities, increasing needs for care.

This dependent, independent, dependent path is followed by human animals, rabbit animals, dog animals, cat animals, rat animals, ad infinitum. We all start out relatively helpless and dependent, then proceed to relative independence and.....if we are lucky to live that long.....begin a period of decreasing physical abilities and waning independence. For those of you that continue to cling to the delusion that we humans are not animals, well........

Here is a brief view of a bunny version of a middle school kiddo.
The next video is of Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn was running the streets of Noble, OK when she was about 7 weeks old. She was emaciated and in poor shape. Luckily for her she ended up at Heartland instead of being a predator's meal.

Gwendolyn is a real sweetie, she is very social and often seeks out strokes and petting from humans that happen to be around. She knows that humans call her Gwendolyn and will respond to that name. In the video we can see her finding some tasty bits by digging in the earth and....using her special ears and eyes to listen and watch for danger.

Gwendolyn belongs to a group of animal people that do not attack or hurt other animal people for food. She is a vegan, a live and let live individual, a prey animal, unlike the more usual companion animals cats (obligate carnivore) and dogs (omnivore)....who are both predator and prey animals.

Gwendolyn has a different approach to life.....she is quiet for the most part and rarely vocalizes (the better to avoid drawing attention to herself), she (along with all bunnies) has very little odor......if you sniff a healthy bunny what you get is a very faint smell of fresh bread. At least that's what they smell like to me. Take a good whiff of a dog or a cat and you will likely get a much stronger smell (not a fresh bread smell, for sure)......they do not need to be as invisible to their environment. Cat and dog animals also make lots more noise than do rabbit animals.

Can we generalize? Vegans.....quiet, little odor, live and let live. Predators.....noisy, stinky, hurt others.

Here is Gwendolyn enjoying the outdoors.
 Most of us humans have been exposed to cat and dog animals. A much smaller number of humans have been exposed to rabbit animals (or other non-omnivore or non-carnivore animals).

Rabbit animals and cow animals and horse animals and sheep animals and chicken animals all share an approach to living that can be called vegan. They do not typically use other living (sentient) beings for food or clothing or entertainment, etc. (note: chickens will eat insects, worms and sometimes carrion)

None of the previously named animal people eat sentient beings for food. They do not hunt or stalk or ambush or kill other (sentient) living beings (except accidentally or in self-defense).  Notice what we human animals do with vegan animals.....we exploit them, enslave them, kill them. (Hell, we exploit and kill all other animals, but numerically by far the largest number of our victims are vegan animals)

We tend to ridicule human animals that emulate the vegan animals and try to live a life of not harming others. Readers that practice a vegan lifestyle are familiar with this. Readers that follow other approaches to living almost invariably think (or have thought) vegan folks are extremists, weird, odd or peculiar.

Average folks believe enslaving, exploiting and killing just for convenience, pleasure, entertainment or taste is 'normal'......avoiding harm to others is, well, 'weird'.

Curious, isn't it?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Exuberance, October and Veronica......

One of the many reasons that rabbits are interesting beings is that when the opportunity arises they will express "joie de vivre" (the joy of living) like few of us can. Yesterday (Saturday, October 2nd 2010) we were out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue doing some volunteering and I had the chance to sit down with Veronica and catch some of her excellent expressions of the physical joy of being alive. Take a look:
Veronica can be a sweetie, but she can also be rather grouchy. Sometimes she seeks caresses and other times she will nip you if you come near her. It just depends (on how she is feeling, I presume). I know a number of human animals that act much the same way.

In the video, Veronica is in a pen on the northside of the warren. Sheets or covers are placed over the pens to discourage hawks from grocery shopping. The bunnies need lots of supervision when they are outside and volunteers are always welcome. Bunny watching can be extremely interesting. She exhibited all of her moves in just a 3 minute span of time, I edited out the moments when she was contemplating her next move and I also removed a moment when she came over and had to have a period of petting.

Every bunny is a unique individual and getting to know Veronica is an experience not to be missed. She is a hoot.

All the animal people, in all the shelters, need the opportunity to strut their stuff. Volunteer at your local shelter........the animal people need you and..........you need them.