The Sway-Back Horse

8726074306_0f40ca7d39_sAlmost every window in the house across the pasture was lit up at night, like cheerful eyes peering out into the darkness.  Sleek cars purred up the winding drive, and people came and went.

Each day the other horses and I had fresh water and grain.  In summer we grazed in the pasture and slept with fireflies blinking around us.  In winter, we passed our nights in the barn, away from the biting winds and snows.  I was the oldest of the four of us.  I’d carried many a foal.  In my day, I streaked across the meadows, my head held high, my tail flying in the wind.

Gradually a change came: fewer cars, fewer people, and less food.  One day some strangers arrived, looked carefully at each of us, then led the other three horses into a trailer and drove off, dust kicking up behind the wheels.

I was let out into the pasture.  I grazed on the grasses and drank from a small pond near the fence.  There was a blackbird that kept me company sometimes, perching on my back and clutching my mane, chattering away.

The only human I saw was a man who walked the far hills from time to time, disappearing into valleys and emerging again.  One day he came to the fence, offered me a fistful of grass, and stroked my face.  I closed my eyes at his touch.

With the first winter storm the pasture grasses were buried in snow.  I pawed at the ground and ate what I could uncover.

As winter set in the snow grew deeper, and the grasses were more difficult to reach.  The pond froze from the edges inward, and I couldn’t quench my thirst from eating snow.*  Mostly I stood with my eyes closed, snow crystallizing on me.  My hunger and thirst grew, and my ribs became more pronounced.

The walking man came one day, spoke to me gently, and climbed over the split-rail fence.  He looped a bridle over my head, and I stood still for him.  He led me away through the snow, each footfall sinking deeply.  We walked a long way, coming at last to a barn.  Two horses in their stalls looked up expectantly, their ears forward.

The man led me into a stall with soft hay, and grain and water, and I drank and ate my fill.  The man leaned against the wall and watched.  Then he said a few words to me that I didn’t understand, but their meaning was clear: you are safe here.

The winter has turned to spring.  The other horses and I run in the pasture, blue sky overhead, sweet grasses beneath our hooves.

* Did you know that horses cannot get enough water from eating snow only?  A bucketful of snow melts down to an inch or two of water.

Why Do I Inconvenience Myself to Help an Animal in Need?

56149118_3d9b94d590Why do I inconvenience myself to help an animal in need?  I’ve been known to be late for meetings, wading into the field alongside the road to call a skinny, scared dog to me and deliver him to the SPCA so that he can be helped, reunited with his owners or placed in a caring home.  I’ve been known to humanely trap a feral cat, have her spade, release her, and provide ongoing food, water, and shelter to her.  I’ve been known to adopt a rescue cat, a rescue dog.  I’ve been known to telephone for help and wait by the side of an struggling, car-struck deer until animal control arrives to put it out of its misery.  I’ve been known to contribute to neutering costs for people in financial hardship.  Why, I’ve been asked, why?

The reason:  because I feel deeply, can empathize with the feelings of others, and I care about the suffering and experience of individual animals.  Of course animals can feel pain and fear.  Of course they can suffer.  I have a commitment to myself to do what I can to help, and it turns that with minimal effort, I can do a lot more than I originally thought I could.  Doing so allows me to live in peaceful alignment with my values.  Yes, it can be a nuisance at times, but it’s worth it.  In the bigger picture, it doesn’t require that much of me, really, to help a creature to experience less pain, less hunger, less thirst, less bitter cold.

What if each of us committed to helping an animal in need?  It’s so much easier to turn away, but that small sense of satisfaction that comes from bringing relief to another sentient being is a reward in and of itself.  I am immensely grateful for the ability not to turn away.

 

 

 

New Zealand 2015 Ruling Recognizes Animals as Sentient Beings

FUR OUT THE CLOSET:

So many people justify cruelty towards nonhuman animals with the argument that animals are considered property in law. In other words, they are simply products to be used, abused and traded. This is certainly the view of those involved with fur production.

The New Zealand Government, this year (2015), has formally recognised animals as sentient beings through its Animal Welfare Amendment Bill.

Please dont wear usAccording to the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, Dr Virginia Williams,

“To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain, distress and other forms of suffering”. 

Although this is a step forward for animal rights, when will the rest of the world come to its senses?

Dedicated to all nonhuman animals who live and die in captivity for human greed!

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World Animal Protection – Sea-Changing Campaign

Matching Challenge – DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT

Through your generous gift, you partner with World Animal Protection to combat global animal welfare issues around the world. Did you know that by giving monthly, you make a bigger impact on animals? If you donate monthly, you provide reliable support that provides not just an immediate difference in the lives of animals but lasting change. Your monthly donation charges automatically and reduces the need for regular appeals, saving money on printing, paper and stamps. Click here to donate by mail or call 1-800-883-9772, option #2. Your donation will be used where it is needed most.

https://donate.worldanimalprotection.us.org/SC0615E1

Sergeant Shane & Julia

Shane
I’m going to let Sgt. Shane tell you about Julia. But first you should know that Sgt. Shane is not asking us to make the trip to Egypt to rescue her. He is insisting that he do it himself – he doesn’t want to put anyone in danger on his behalf.You should also know this: Sgt. Shane serves in the National Guard and was deployed to Egypt in 2012. He came home to Lexington, NC in 2013. And he’s been trying to adopt Julia ever since then — only to be stopped each time by the military bureaucracy. Not once, not ever has he given up hope of reuniting with her. Now, after two long years, he finally has the chance to save her. And you have the chance to help make it happen. We are coordinating the travel and rescue logistics for Sgt. Shane. It’s a complicated and expensive endeavor. What he still needs is the only thing he doesn’t have – the money to make it all happen.Sgt. Shane’s story is one of devotion, of determination, of perseverance. It’s the story of one soldier’s promise to the dog he loves with all his heart. And I hope and pray that we can give the Sgt. and Julia the happy ending they deserve.I am asking you to please take a moment and read Sgt. Shane’s heartfelt words: “My name is SGT Shane, I am currently serving with the US Army National Guard in North Carolina. I am contacting you today in the hopes of receiving your assistance in bringing home the dog that was attached to my unit as a “visual deterrent” while I served in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers. The dog’s name is Julia and I was her first handler in 2012 and I developed a bond with her that I have never had with any other animal. She ate, slept, played, trained, and comforted us every day. She never once left my side. I attempted to adopt her multiple times while there with her, but my efforts were blocked by my chain of command each time. I recently was informed that there was a possibility that I may now be able to adopt her as the need for her there has somewhat changed. I am able and willing to do whatever it may take to get Julia back. She was the absolute best dog I have ever had the privilege of serving/working with, and I made her a promise on my last day in country that if there was ever a way for me to get her back that I would do it, and that I would not allow her to live out the rest of her days in the desert if there was anything that I could do about it. Please let me know what it is that I need to do, or what I can do in order to keep my promise.”I’ve read Sgt. Shane’s words many times – and I am moved by them each and every time. I imagine you are, too. And I believe that you will give what you can today so that the Sergeant can do what he needs to do, what he has waited two years to do, what he promised Julia he would do – go to Egypt and bring her home with him.Please help us fund his trip. Donate right now to help Sgt. Shane save Julia.

Empath, Voyeur or Action? What Type of Advocate Are You?

DSC_0135 2by Gretchen Pachlhofer, co-founder of www.untoldanimalstories.org

Let’s face it.  If you are reading this blog, you are an animal advocate.  You love to read stories about animals and nature.  It touches that chord, deep inside you, the place that very few humans allow themselves to venture. It’s a special place deep within ourselves that we tuck tightly away for fear of our true feelings being exposed to those around us. That is the source of the feelings that allows us to honor animals.  Animals allow us to stop, and feel, and experience being in the present moment.

Empathy for animals is the key ingredient that allows us to take the first step in helping all creatures great and small. Whether it be a stray cat, a dog that has been dumped on the side of the road, or a bird that has fallen out of the nest, there is no way we can just turn away and ignore the situation.  If you choose to actually stop and do something to contribute to the given situation, you have just entered the world of being an Action Advocate. Congratulations!

Another choice is to be a Voyeur Advocate for animals. You read the blogs, you identify with the feelings that are unlocked inside as you immerse yourself in your own private reading experience. It make you feel good to read all the wonderful stories that others have chosen to share. Now, I’d like to just toss this out to you—what would happen if you made the choice to take the next step and actually DO SOMETHING to help animals? What would it feel like to actually BECOME an Action Advocate?

I want to share my recent story with y’all (yes, I am from Texas) and hopefully you can take the giant step forward and join me.

I recently relocated to a rural area of the Texas Hill Country.  I sold my business and now have a choice to continue to make a difference for animals.  I found a group of women who run a shelter located on a ranch in acute need of regular volunteers to help care for the dogs and cats in their facility. I chose to make a commitment to volunteer once a week for 3-4 hours.  Volunteering is such a rewarding experience and the animals give back ten times of the effort I give weekly.  I jokingly call it my “therapy time” but there is a lot of truth to that statement.

So all of you reading this, I want to throw something out to you.  Over the next couple of weeks, think of something you can DO for animals, then TAKE ACTION and do it. And then, if you feel inclined, chime in and tell us what you did.  This is not a contest.  The purpose is to create a community for Untold Animal Stories for all of us to share and become more interactive. Email us at untoldanimalstories@gmail.com

You Can Save This Iraqi Kitten…Really

SPCA International
Picture 22Mike believed he would never see Lani again. When this ex-Marine left Iraq… he had to leave behind the little kitten he raised after finding her crying, alone in a gutter. Mike’s heart broke last June when he said goodbye to Lani. He thought she’d never survive Iraq without him. He was her protector. She was his best friend.But Lani DID survive. Mike’s buddy at the U.S. consulate recently emailed him and told him he’d seen Lani hanging around. This is the miracle Mike thought would never happen. And I can tell you that right now he’s hoping, praying that you will help him save the cat he loves from that miserable place and bring her home to him in the U.S.Yes, Lani is alive. We must rescue her and 17 other dogs and cats BEFORE June 1st. That’s when the airlines start their heat embargo in the Middle East. And we still haven’t raised enough money to get there, get every dog and cat, and get back home. If we’re not able to fund our mission, they face death. Maybe they won’t die today or next week. But believe me, it will happen. If not from the blistering heat, then from starvation or from torture at the hands of the locals. It doesn’t have to end that way. You can make sure they live by giving today.This is the moment that Mike– an ex-Marine who has bravely served and sacrificed, has been waiting for. I’m asking you to do what he wasn’t able to do last June – save his adorable kitten, Lani. Please give right now so that we can go to Iraq BEFORE the deadline of June 1st.   To DONATE $5 OR WHATEVER YOU CAN:  {click one line down if link is not visible} https://www.2dialog.com/spcai/main.php/micro_sites/showpage/id/44/package_id/1436/page_number/1With hope,

JD Winston
Executive Director
SPCA International

P.S. Mike will never see Lani again if we don’t go rescue her from Iraq before the June 1st heat embargo. Will you please give now – whether it’s $100, $50, or even $5 to save this little cat from certain death in Iraq? Thank you so, so much.

Lars

by Keith Barnaby*

securedownloadMy name is Lars. I used to be an outdoor cat. My people would let me out to roam my domain, explore, and hunt. Over time, other outdoor cats came and went in my neighborhood. I was friends with some, especially Shadow, another young male. We played and teamed up to defend against other cats who entered our lands.

One day Shadow disappeared, and his people brought home another cat, an unspayed female. She had many kittens, the kittens had kittens, and their ranks grew exponentially. Pretty soon there were lots of cats. Unlike Shadow, the young males didn’t like me and my life changed.

Now when I crossed onto Shadow’s and my old lands, I was the one being attacked. I fought but was bitten badly. My face swelled and my people took me to a man who made me feel better.

Why I returned to Shadow’s lands, I do not know. Why I stood my ground and fought the cats instead of avoiding a fight I could not win, I do not know, but I did so repeatedly. And this time I was hurt worse than ever before.

Once I healed, my people kept me inside. They made a new room for me on the side of my house with soft walls through which I can smell and see birds and passing cats. One day a cat came too close. I hissed and lunged, forgetting about the see-through wall. I bounced off it backward. The cat was so surprised he ran away. I acted like I meant to do it, and licked my paw in a dignified manner. Taught him!

I don’t mind being an indoor cat. My people put a little swinging flap in the front door so I can go out to my special outside room any kitty DSC01014time. When I see a bird, I crouch low, stare, and think, “One, two, three…gotcha!” Then I curl up and go to sleep.

A 2013 Nature Communications study estimated that outdoor cats kill more than 1.4 billion birds annually.  To protect wildlife—and your cats—please keep them indoors.

*Keith Barnaby owns www.youreldercare.com and helps seniors and their families save money, time, and pain with a flexible, customized elder life plan.