Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘animals’

Leave Some for Me

Excerpt from The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales

Leave Some for Me as told by NSHINIYIMANA Dativa (10 years old) at the ROP Center for Street Children (Rwandan Orphan’s Project)

There was a young couple that had a child called Imanway. The couple had a field of maize next to their home. When the father found the maize was ripe, he brought it to his wife who cooked a delicious meal.

Her husband said, “I am full. That was wonderful. It is so wonderful, I don’t want this feeling to go away. Maybe, if you wrap me in a mattress (a traditional mat made out of reeds), give me some more food and carry me to the forest, this feeling will remain.”

His wife and child wrapped him in a mattress and left him in the forest with his food.

It wasn’t long until an animal and her animal children came upon the man and his food.

“You are alone in the forest with all this food. I am going to get some of my friends to come eat the food you have,” said the animal. She told her children to stay with the man, but after she left, the man dropped his mattress and ran away with the food.

When the mother animal came back with her friends, she found that the human had run away. She asked her children, “Why did you let that man with the mattress and food go? Now we will have to eat you instead.”


When Animal Friends Die

They say cats have nine lives. I wish that were true, but the facts contradict such myths. Everything dies, including the felines, dogs and other creatures we choose to care for and have in our lives. Most animals tend to have a shorter life span than humans, thereby increasing the chances that our beloved friend will stop breathing long before we leave our mortal bodies behind.

To add insult to injury; is the often callous or dismissive attitude and comments of others when we’ve lost a non-human friend. People don’t always understand the emotional impact losing a pet can have. They disregard our pain when we try to talk about the cat or dog we’ve had for fifteen years getting sick and needing constant attention. They scoff at our tears, when our affectionate tabby is lost or killed by a car. They belittle our sense of shock and disbelief when the dog we loved and cared for tenderly for the last eight years suddenly dies.

Yet, for some, pets, animals, and companions (which ever you prefer to use as a label for non-human creatures) are some of the closest and endearing connections we experience in life. Being responsible for any of the varied creatures placed in our care takes time, attention and devotion. And, just like people, such continued time and attention creates attachment, bonding and lasting imprints.

The love and commitment we give and receive from our animal friends, in some respects, are quite unique from that of other relationships. Sometimes, they are the only living beings that love us unconditionally and don’t argue, judge or hurt us in any way. They also provide forms of communication beyond words. There desire to be touched, patted, combed, and talked to provide warmth, softness, connection, meaning and continual reminders of enjoying the present moment.

A lady I recently met was shocked when told by her veterinarian that their beloved kitten had cancer and should be euthanized. She refused and is currently seeking a vet that will give Hospice-type services for her cat and provide whatever is needed to make sure her family friend dies comfortably at home enjoying as many precious moments that remain. Like human beings, there should be an alternative for animals beyond that of further treatments or mercy killing.

Losing a pet also reawakens other losses we’ve experienced; whether recent or long ago. When a cat of ours, named Sushi, was killed by a dog a couple years ago, I unexpectedly found myself remembering my childhood collie, named Pinky and the grandmother I used to visit when Pinky was still alive.

The loss of your animal friend should be treated the same as that of a human.
Talk about the loss; share your pictures, memories, tears and grief. Walk, run, swim, workout, hike, bicycle, dance, play or listen to music a couple of times s a week by yourself or with a friend.

Breathing exercises, visualizations, relaxation, stretching, meditation, affirmations and yoga have all been shown to relieve stress, anxiety and positive endorphins to help the body heal.

Relax in a hot tub, hot bath, shower, sauna or sweat lodge and let the emotions seep from your pores and evaporate with the steam.

Put together a collage, altar, memory book, picture frame, treasure box, video or CD of your cat, dog, bird, horse or rabbit.

Have a service or gathering. Memorials and/or funerals; provide validation of your relationship with that being; acknowledgment that their life was of value; and societal affirmation that all living creatures are to be honored and respected.

If you’ve lost an animal friend, at any time in your life and would like some additional support (outside your circle of family and friends) contact the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals), an empathetic therapist or your local grief-counseling center.

Almost Pregnant and Mostly Vegan

Not counting the rare exception, I would say that my diet is almost completely vegan. I know, saying I’m “almost” vegan, is like saying I’m a “little” pregnant, but there is a complex history to this situation. For those unfamiliar with the term, a vegan is someone that does not eat meat, dairy or animal products of any kind.

A few weeks ago a columnist for one of the weekly papers in our neck of the woods stated that eating tofu was just a “fad”. I had to laugh. If eating tofu and being vegetarian was just a fad, then it is the longest fad in history. There have been individuals, groups and entire societies that do not eat meat for centuries. The column did however jump-start a number of flashbacks to my past and present vegan dilemma.

When I was sixteen I decided to become a vegetarian, at that time for religious reasons of not wanting to kill living things. I was very “into” Mahatma Gandhi, yoga and Eastern beliefs at the time. Yes, I got plenty of protein from soy products and nuts and grew up to be a healthy, strong and wise adult. Well, maybe healthy and strong.

After a few years of not eating meat, I began to see the health benefits of lower cholesterol and fats, fewer toxins, more energy and feeling good. I became somewhat fanatical, telling everyone about how much land is used to produce one pound of beef, the water contaminated and the chemicals injected into the animals. But when it became apparent that I wasn’t single handedly going to change American’s eating habits, I decided, for self-preservation and a less frustrating life, to lay off my zealousness.

What had started as a strong belief in not killing, the turned into a health conscious religion and desire to spread the benefits, gradually turned into a way of life. I didn’t think about it much one way or the other. Being a vegetarian was no longer a belief or a cause; it was simply a habit; like sleeping, working or playing.

Then, it happened. First one, then our other daughter became vegan. Our oldest daughter, Leti, had read a book about it that she recited to us day and night. It wasn’t long until she had convinced our other daughter, Darcy, to join the vegan crusade.

At first I thought it seemed a little extreme to not include dairy in one’s diet. But, after about a year of debating, actually reading the book they had read and going to a class or two, it made all the sense in the world and I too joined the ranks of veganism or whatever you want to call it. This all took place many years ago. Then, after I was hooked, they turned into traitors!

A few years after I had converted to a no dairy diet, I saw Leti and Darcy both eating fish, chicken and dairy! Flabbergasted, I immediately interrogated the guilty duo. They nonchalantly replied that, “Oh, we’ve been off that thing for a long time.”

“That thing?!” I replied, having diligently restrained myself for years. I felt betrayed, hoodwinked, cheated. Actually, I only felt surprised. I had after all, decided to be vegan because I thought it was the right thing to do, considering how many cows and chickens are stacked on top of one another, floundering in their own feces and injected with hormones up the wazoo. I wasn’t about to change because they had finished with that “fad”.

But, as I was originally saying, there is and has been one problem, which continues to make me an “almost vegan” and that is ice cream. No matter how many times I’ve tried all the soy desserts and rice cream alternatives to ice cream, I have never found anything as good as Howlers Chocolate Orange Gelato or Ben and Jerry’s Super Fudge Chunk ice cream. I still partake, though not as often, in these dairy delights and refuse to change. It may be hypocritical and make no sense, based on my history and beliefs, but there you go.

That’s why I say, “Yes, I am a vegetarian; no particular reason, just habit. And I am ‘mostly’, with a few slips here and there, a vegan.”

Obviously, I am not one to judge others motives or beliefs as to why they continue to eat meat, fish or dairy. And I am the last person in the world that should ever tell someone else how to live or eat. I can only suggest that you consider your actions and think about how they effect not only animals, but the natural resources it takes to maintain those animals.

By the way; our daughters have since stopped eating meat and dairy again for periods of time, then started up again. I still consider my self to be “mostly” vegan, but you never know how long these “fads” will last.

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