The Cold Christmas Puppy

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On 9th December 1998, I named a puppy Tiny Tim, and he’s on my mind today, 19 years later, because I can’t forget him. Then, I pressed a heart shaped stone into the earth that covered his frozen fur. At a guess, he was around 12 weeks old. We found him tied to a fence with wire; it had snowed more overnight, and there was no chance for him on the exposed hillside. His tiny body was as cold as the “person” who left him there to die.

The “person” who went out of their way to hide their shameful actions, knowing that they were condemning him to death. Close enough to see homes, but not close enough Tim would be seen. He would be able to hear dogs barking, but no human would hear his little cries. The wire was less than a foot long, so he was too far into the fence line for passing cars to spot him. He didn’t even make it to being the coveted Christmas Puppy.

We are at a time of year when puppies and kittens are on wish lists, cards, and advertising, everywhere we look. The stereotypical ideal of wrapping a box containing an adorable fluffy to light up Christmas morning; they will certainly do that. But there are a heartbreaking number of those animals who will be abandoned, be killed in awful ways, end up in shelters, and who will be put down because the novelty wore off. They are the ones which are seen purely as property, and for those who were supposed to be responsible for them, to do with as they see fit.

There are wholly genuine reasons for which people have to re home an animal, but so, so many have excuses not reasons. Being bothered by the ‘mess’, the ‘hair’, the ‘noise’, the ‘smell’, the ‘hassle’, the ‘accidents’, the ‘inconvenience’; that they aren’t enough PlayStation to entertain the kids, or even enough to keep your own interest anymore – aren’t reasons. But if you do find yourself with an animal in your home you don’t want there anymore, the least you can do is make sure your last action as a guardian is a decent one. If you consider them disposable in any of the ways, it is in your interests, and certainly in those of the animals that you remove yourself from future responsibility for any other animal too.

Those of us who talk of commitment, and animals being for life – not just occasions, or until the moment fades, do so because we’ve picked up the pieces for unwanted ‘pets’ so many times, and sometimes we were too late. As in the case of the soul on my mind today he died minutes from my house.

Everyone who is, was a new guardian at some point. This IS a lovely time of year to welcome an animal for the first time, but so is every other time. Even when you do your research, it’s often not quite the way you imagined it in practice. Don’t rush. Be sure you know what you are about to do. Speak to your local vet, they are happy to provide advice. There are many websites and resources available, and most of the rescues have information on how to adopt an animal from them online. Your local shelter will be able to help you find someone whose personality works for you and your life. Animals there are vet checked, spayed or neutered, often micro chipped and most shelters offer ongoing support.

Those of us who already have animals in our lives, would love it if you joined us in providing a loving, forever home to someone. That’s all they want for Christmas, and all they ever ask for. If you do have what it takes to be in it for the long haul – the love, loyalty and joy you will receive in return, will change how you view animals. In fact, it’ll change how you see the world.

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own.” ― Elizabeth Parker, Paw Prints in the Sand

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Merry Christmas.

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The Shame Of Animal Testing In The 21st Century.

26FAE73800000578-0-image-a-1_1445520581720In times when brutality towards man, and creatures, was common practice, early records show Greek scientists like Aristotle (384 – 322 BC), and Erasistratus (304 – 258 BC), performed experiments on living animals, and animal testing has been used repeatedly throughout the history of biomedical research.

Since then, global progress in most places has thankfully shaken off, and outlawed many of the other historical cruelties which involved stomach churning treatment of humans, in favor of civility and respect for life. Yet, animal testing remains legal, funded, and openly practiced in a modern world.

This is despite the fact that 90% of experimental drugs fail. The prevention, and cures for disease is held up because curing animals doesn’t translate to curing humans. Animals are fully conscious and aware when being subjected to some of the most horrific procedures, and millions of dollars of taxpayer, and donated money, gets thrown into a bottomless pit of misguided (at best) research.

When experiments began, our practices were in infancy, and knowledge was limited, but the advances made since then have shown us that not only is it a flawed approach to use animals, but it’s one which is well over the wrong side of morality.

Cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and monkeys (not an exhaustive list) among the most common, are subjected to painful experiments for reasons from anything to testing cosmetics, used by the big cancer research charities, electric shocks to test and provoke behavior, vivisection, and forcing animals to inhale smoke, paint, and other fumes to study the effects.


“The ends justify the means mindset has been the impetus behind many a cruel medical or social experiment.”
― James Morcan


Research laboratories literally have broken bodies piling up, and precious few animals ever make it out through rescue. These lives cannot be brushed off as collateral damage. If we were doing the same tests on humans, even just one would cause an outrage.

It is irrelevant as to whether or not animals comprehend the world in the same way we do, for there are many humans who unfortunately are suffering from various cognitive impacts which would make ideal test subjects if that were the case. Most people would agree that’s a despicable thought to even consider, so the argument that animals don’t know what’s happening to them to the same extent, is moot.

They DO know when they are hurt, or afraid. That in itself should cause us to refrain from our outrageous abuse of power, and from using thinking, feeling beings, in any kind of harmful research. If we do not even permit some of the most evil humans on the planet to be used for such purposes, innocent lives should never have been put in the position they are.


“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are not like us.’”
– Charles Magel


Science and technology is advancing at an ever increasing rate, with some incredible discoveries and quantum leaps in what is possible. With so much at our disposal, by focusing on old, outdated models of research, we limit the growth and expansion of human potential, delay vital medical breakthroughs, and in the process we’re causing immeasurable death and suffering to animals used in the pursuit of a “cure”.

Over 100 million animals die in US laboratories each year. Continuing down the path we are on, is nothing short of legalized torture, and a self imposed limitation on science and progress.


CAARE is working to end animal testing – a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to sparing animal suffering by promoting alternatives to animal research.
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Saving One Bee May Not Save The World, But….

Honey_bee_on_blue_flowerOvernight, a spider had spun an impressive work of art across the outside of my bedroom window, sadly though, I noticed that a bee had become trapped. I thought he was dead, and I was quite stuck by the sight that I decided to take a photo (which didn’t go as planned because nothing was ideal – the light, nor taking a picture through a double glazed window, but I took it anyway…..) thinking it might be useful for something relevant, and as I was looking through the camera, he moved and began struggling against the silk tethers. Fortunately our upstairs windows flip round so we can clean the outside so I thought it would be easy enough to set him loose.

z5I opened the window and found a False Widow spider sitting inside the void where the slider is, and I couldn’t flip the window without her moving, somehow.  You may remember that I once commented on how being vegan was helping with my arachnophobia, but these kind, are still way out of my comfort level.

“This is not even funny”

I sighed, and very…. very slowly, I started to tilt the window to hopefully encourage the spider to back up, and she did, at first, but then she stood up on her back legs and when I moved it a little more, she darted forward quickly – that was me done!

I paced the room trying to work out how to get the bee – our ladder is far to short to reach upstairs, I couldn’t use water or a stick somehow because I’d likely drown the little creature or kill him by accident, and the longer he was there, the more tangled he was getting. I realized then, that while I was scared of the spider (no rationale for this – it’s just a lifelong phobia), this poor soul was about to be eaten by one. That for me is truly a horror movie worthy situation. I know even spiders have to eat, but I couldn’t see this live bee, and leave him to that fate.

Back to sliding the window, and the lady graciously stepped outside.

z1At first, I wasn’t sure what the kindest option would be because he was in a far worse state than I thought; couldn’t walk, wings stuck to his body, and he kept falling over. But we got this far, he was still alive. There was still a chance.

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They’re so delicate that I didn’t know if I could help him without hurting him. But I grabbed a new cleaning cloth to give him something to get a grip on, and a nail file, and started gently moving the silk and fluff stuck on him. I wasn’t sure of the stress tolerance level these little guys have, so I gave him a break now and then, and after a while, I could tell we were getting somewhere because he was able to start helping – using one leg to try and kick it off the other, it was quite cute to watch!

When he was able to walk I used the nail file to hold down the loose silk and waited for him to pull enough that it broke away – I knew we were on a roll when he was running around, but he was running too much to get it off his wings, so I carefully held him still with the file, and gently rubbed his wings towards the back of his body, and slid everything off the end.

At one point, as I’m holding on to the backside of this bee, I ponder “Do these guys sting?” and for a moment, after getting over my own ignorance, I was slightly horrified at what I was doing if he does indeed, given that I have the weirdest allergic reactions to far too many things, but I decided that if it was going to happen, it would have by then.

It suits my mind to think somehow he knew I was only trying to help.

z445 minutes later, he walked up onto my hand – which was terrifyingly wonderful (You may have gathered I’m not a bug person!), sat a moment, tested his wings, and then flew off out of the open window. I couldn’t help but smile!


Saving one bee may not save the world, but it will certainly change the future for that one bee. We don’t have to rescue them from spiders, but with 7 billion people on the planet, the greater percentage of us have the ability to at least do less to harm them, and can help with some easy actions.

Whether that’s making a source of water  during times of the year bees are active and visiting your garden, terrace, balcony, or plant pots, leaving the dandilions, some nettles and daisies, not using harmful pesticides and lawn treatments, planting bee friendly plants, avoiding GMO foods and crops (which we know is healthier for us, too), or resisting the temptation to kill bees simply because they are bees.

This is not a joke: the future of our food supplies, and the health of our earth rests heavily on these tiny shoulders.

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This is a hard world for all of us living here.

Bee Kind

Well, Yes, I AM “Only Concerned About Animal Rights”

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Animal activists and advocates are often accused of putting animals first; of dismissing the challenges faced by humans in favor of animal rights. Well, humans are the only species on earth to oppress others, trade lives as commodities, and who treat living beings as disposable; to be used for our own conveniences. I’m all about changing that.

In all of the wars, genocides, and atrocities we’ve inflicted upon our own species historically, and as an ongoing shame, the incomprehensible suffering, and loss of life, is a drop in the ocean compared to the horrors we commit against animals. Shocking figures for the United States alone, list that over 9 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans.

Wait a second.

9 billion.

This mind blowing death toll does not take into account fish, and other sea creatures, whose deaths happen in such great number they can only be measured in tonnes, and it does not include the animals killed for “sport”, killed in pounds and zoo’s for “lack of space”, to wear, experimented on, used for entertainment, commercial breeding, racing, or any other twisted ways we can profit from their use.

For perspective, by the end of the Jewish Holocaust, a monstrous undertaking, 6 million people had been persecuted and murdered by the Nazi’s, and countless other humans turned a blind eye and bought the story that “they are not like us“.

Albert Kaplan, a Jewish-American who lost family in the Holocaust, observes that: “The vast majority of Holocaust survivors are carnivores no more concerned about animals’ suffering than were the Germans concerned about Jews’ suffering…. we have learned nothing from the Holocaust.”

Of the people who have survived, and are facing violence and oppression at the hands of other humans, precious few realize the parallel of their own experiences, and those of the animals they in turn are causing suffering to. Before, and after enduring terrible circumstances, most show no mercy towards animals, and can be found using that same thinking their own tormentors do: they are not like us.

The same goes for people who have never been oppressed.

The majority of us are not killing and eating animals for survival, and there is irrefutable evidence to show we don’t need animal products to be healthy. We support their killing literally for the sake of a taste (and if we pay for it, we are supporting it). Surely such a reason can only classify as evil – death for a  want. Not need. A selfish, transient, want.

Is cheese really more important than a life?
Is bacon really more important than a life?

There aren’t too many people who would genuinely think either is, but when the law says animal agriculture is legal, along with the cruel practices it entails, when the advertizers blind consumers with feel-good labels and conveniently omit the atrocious reality of production, when our big religions decide that Gods created animals to be eaten, and humans have power over them (a whole topic in itself), and when our society in general operates within a backward paradigm in terms of our view of non human animals, we accept it as being “normal”, and it enables the most horrific treatment of other sentient beings, justifies slavery, torture, and murder on such a scale it dwarfs human struggles. It doesn’t negate what humans experience, but nothing we’ve ever faced comes close to the magnitude of the suffering of other animals, and we’re totally oblivious to the irony.

Deep down, most people know what we do is wrong, but we become comfortable in our ignorance; made easy by those who profit from the use of animals. This is all enabled because animals are treated as property, not really through capitalist ideals, which definitely don’t help, but because the last “ism” to be recognized legally, and by society, is speciesism; born from the same foundation which allows racism, sexism, and other labels for classifying the importance of someones life. The form a soul takes on this earth, doesn’t give us any moral right to cause harm, to anyone who can feel fear, pain, or otherwise suffer, or to dismiss the impact of our actions upon them.

“What about my rights?” is often the cry of those who like meat and don’t want to stop eating it; usually people who rarely witness taking the life from the body they want to consume, and who would quickly decide a hearty lentil burger was more appetizing if they had to kill the animal themselves. We do have the right to eat what we want. But in any honorable, evolved, compassionate, and intelligent way of living, those rights would be recognized only up to the point in which they encroach on the rights and wellbeing of others, to negatively affect another life.

“When I see cages crammed with chickens from battery farms thrown on trucks like bundles of trash, I see, with the eyes of my soul, the Umschlagplatz (where Jews were forced onto trains leaving for the death camps). When I go to a restaurant and see people devouring meat, I feel sick. I see a holocaust on their plates.”


Georges Metanomski,
a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

With so few protections and considerations given to animals, it’s no wonder that animal activists are only concerned about “animal rights”….humans are the ones doing the oppressing! But here’s the thing – we all should be fighting for animals, because, for those of us who have forgotten: humans are still animals.

We may break down the problems of the world into smaller, single issue points of focus, but we’re all in the same game here. Tackling racism, sexism, and speciesism, is the same fight. Black lives, white lives, and cows lives, matter. Womens rights are human rights, gay rights are human rights, human rights are animal rights. All we’re doing is extending the same right to live, and be free from harm, to all sentient beings. It’s not an extra we’re asking for, it isn’t a restriction of anyone elses rights, it’s a returning of what was never ours to take away.

If we could only see that, all of the justice activists in the world, working together, would be an incredible force for change. As it stands, the surpression of one group, makes our activism for another, hypocrisy.

In our self appointed superior status of the animal kingdom, and as the “advanced” species, we can do better, we should do better, we are able to do better, and as guardians of this planet, it’s our job to do better.

For all animals.

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour towards creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.”

Isaac Bashevis Singer
–  Nobel Prize winner, who lost family in the Holocaust.

Say A Prayer For Animals, But DO Something Too.

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For animal lovers, it’s rare a Facebook session doesn’t include one or more pleading stories from death row animals, or shelters desperately trying to find homes for some of the creatures who pass through their doors. For advocates and cross posters, there are so many of these posts that it’s hard to make a soul stand out, and get the best chance.

A particularly sad case passed my news feed recently, in which an old dog was killed in a “shelter” because no one came forward to adopt him. The post had 52 “Likes” and sad face reactions, 11 Shares, and 233 comments. Scrolling through them, I noticed that around 90% were “Sending prayers”, and Facebook’s new filtering system had hidden people pledging money, and transport for anyone able to get the dog out. The pledges more than covered the old boys adoption fees, in time, but they were seen too late.

This is also true in the majority of cases, that the amount of comments on a plea, although well meaning, far outweigh the shares of a post, which do more to help the situation than stating “I hope someone saves this cat”. Sometimes it’s making it harder to.

We have so many animals in need, but we’re sabotaging efforts to save them, by clogging up threads with genuine, but unhelpful comments – burying pledges/home/help offers in a sea of “prayers”. A missed home offer literally means the difference between life and death for these animals.

ACT instead.

If we truly subscribe to a religious life, we also have to understand that no God is there to fix everything. He, or She, is an enabler – putting us in situations we can help. Social media is a platform which can be used by every user to make a difference regardless of your ability to help in any other way, and the simple act of sharing a post could put the animal in front of those who can help them; for all you know, you were meant to see that post, and share it because the person who can help the animal is on your list.

Wishing the animals well is a wonderful thing, but we don’t need to publicly announce we hope they’re saved – no decent person would wish them dead, and whomever it is you’re praying to, isn’t sitting online.

By all means, say a prayer, as you share. But please, for the love of God, it’s time to stop commenting with things that people can’t use to save the poor souls in need. You mean well, but considerate action, can make your wishes achieve something.

If you can offer practical help, say so, but otherwise, think it, feel it, but keep it in your heart, and let relevant information be in the spotlight.

The Cruelty Right Under Our Noses, Because We Don’t Care Anyway.

I hadn’t eaten since lunch time, so when it got to 1am I was feeling the need to go raid the kitchen to see what I could find. I opened the fridge and my eyes settled on a box of newly purchased eggs (I’m vegan, but not the only person living in my house), and even if I wasn’t vegan, I don’t think I could have missed the words: “Eggs from caged hens”

Battery hens.

Birds condemned to live in cramped, dingy cages, with their allocated space being even smaller than a standard sheet of paper. Their entire lives, until they’re spent, and slaughtered as a “thank you” for their service.

No sunlit retirement, no dust baths, no digging in the earth.

No kind words as they slip into the night.

This is the reality for 95 percent of commercial hens, including “cage free”, unless they’re boys, in which case they’re ground up alive; useless to the egg industry.

“Eggs from caged hens” – we know what that means, and when such a truth is blatently printed for all to see, on the box next to the producers logo, the company evidently doesn’t care about the suffering they cause, or the ethics of doing so, for they wouldn’t keep living beings in such conditions.

And my Dad. My Dad, Didn’t care enough to even buy the supposedly kinder “Free Range” eggs, or was too switched off that any eggs would do.

We know that in most cases, “free range” is a feel-good title only, and the environments are still dire for the birds trapped in the system. From a buyers point of view though, free range eggs are a little more expensive, but nothing major – certainly not enough that it would dissuade someone from choosing them because they were too pricy, so you’d think that the average consumer at the very least would buy products which are marketed as “better”.

It’s just easier to pretend not to know.


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A hen fallen through the cracks; literally, stands on mounds of faeces from the rest of the caged captives. – Photo by Animals Australia

If people were to visit factory farms, and “free range” housing, in person, they’d be disgusted if they were decent humans. But when we’re so far removed from the actual production of “food” as we’ve become, there is a mental wall around the brain of most people, which even some intelligent, and caring people allow to be there, by embracing the ignorance is bliss attitude.

Another truth though, is that if we ignore the suffering, it doesn’t in any way absolve us from the responsibility of causing it.

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Many cigarette boxes now have hard hitting images printed on them, to show people the effects of smoking on their lives, and those around them. I think it’s time we printed the victims of those we’re exploiting on every egg box, cheese, meat wrapper, and carton of milk.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if we cannot say we did not know, yet still choose to support cruelty, we have no business calling ourselves kind, compassionate, or caring, because none of those things come with selective conditions.

If your heart is caged, set it free.

Some Humans Are Missing The Empathy Gene.

It has been a busy week here, and I sat down to reply to the touchingly kind, and caring comments people had left on the earlier passing of one of my girl rats, and the stories of their own, when I scrolled by this:

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There was a moment I almost had the knee jerk reaction which would have let this below par person have a negative impact on the way I was feeling, when I snapped to my senses to realize that they aren’t nearly worth it.

Instead, I’m going to use it to demonstrate something I’ve long thought: there are two types of humans. In a nutshell, the fatally flawed ones can be easily spotted by their utter lack of empathy and compassion; my sympathy to those who cross their path.

I believe most people are essentially good, and just trying to get through life as best they can. Tragically, as we do that, we’re influenced by traditions, society, marketing, and the normalzing of our horrific treatment towards others, but if people would open their eyes, and look outside the paradigm, they’d extend their compassion to all beings.

Then there are the people who are missing the empathy gene. These people will never change, regardless of what’s presented to them, and it’s these people who are holding society back.

Different even from those who make “Mmm Bacon” jokes on pictures of suffering pigs, because generally those comments are the result of a defense mechanism when presented with an uncomfortable reality.

This particularly hopeless case decides to create an “Anti Roland” username, comment on a post he didn’t write, on a blog which isn’t his, with a deliberately cruel rhetoric, on something which mattered to me, presumably because Roland is important in my life, and he clearly has said something which challenges a self important world view. Roland and I may not always agree on method, but we always agree on how vital it is we move this world to a place which is protective of all animals, and people.

Now if “particularly hopeless” seems harsh, consider this:

What kind of person would go to the page of someone other than the person they dislike, to respond in such a way, with no other outcome than causing distress?

And even if it was written by Roland, who tries to cause more pain, to anyone who is already experiencing it?

To my dear non-friend Anti-Empathy, there are things which are obvious about you as a person:

  • You have a regressive outlook on life, shown by the lack of consideration for Alice simply because she was a rat.
  • You support animal cruelty in some way. A compassionate, animal-kind person, wouldn’t make such a statement, even if they were angry at someone.
  • You are highly likely to be a sociopath.
  • You don’t like being held accountable for your actions.
  • You are incredibly immature, and would do far better in life, to grow up.

As initially jarring as the comment was to read, I’ve decided to leave it there. Other people can see what you are, alongside your cowardly name.

To all of the genuinely decent humans here, and elsewhere online, and off, who have been truly wonderful, and are going out into the world with eyes and hearts wide open, to make a positive difference for everyone we share this planet with,

Thank You.

Thank You.