Category Archives: Creature Thoughts

Creature Thoughts: May/June 2017

Warriors Of The Rainbow

When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear. When that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.
—Chief Seattle

I am not sure who this great man was referring to when he talked of the Warriors of the Rainbow, but these words have touched my heart today. I think that many of us are Warriors (though we may not see ourselves that way). There are also many phases and degrees to this battle for the animals, and as many different points of view as there are species of animal to help.

Now, to clarify, I am not what many have come to think of as an “animal rights activist”. I do not believe, for example, that only rescues deserve to have good homes, or that all breeders are evil. I do not believe that every working animal is being abused or neglected or needs to be rescued. I believe that each situation should be assessed individually, and that those individual circumstances, when viewed with honesty and compassion, can range from the delightful to the horrific. I do not paint all — “fill in the blank” — with the same brush, and I am very careful not to needlessly dip my brush in warpaint.

However, there are many times where the kind at heart, the Rainbow Warriors whose paints bear the pigments of love, need to do something about a situation, to help those who cannot speak for themselves.

There are Warriors who do rescue of many kinds: dog, cat, horse, bird, wildlife. There are Warriors who fight larger battles to protect endangered species. There are Warriors who adopt an elder dog or cat, and Warriors who bring a new puppy or kitten into their homes and give it love and security for life.

There are Warriors who step in to contact authorities when they see neglect or abuse. There are Warriors who fight to prevent cruelty in the agricultural animal market. There are Warriors who battle to reintroduce species, such as native predators, into ecosystems to try to restore a more natural balance.

Rainbow Warriors don’t always work directly for the animals themselves. Those who promote education about the dangers of climate change, to try to assure a future for our planet and her generations to come, are some of the top-echelon of Warriors today.

The truth is that each of us, in our own unique way, can be a Warrior of the Rainbow as long as we don’t close our eyes to injustice or need. When we see something that doesn’t feel right, we educate ourselves as to the situation and its surrounding truths, and reach out our hand to help. The true Warrior never loses sight of compassion when seeking those truths. We must never forget, when working to help the animals, that human beings are animals, too. Yes, there are some who are just plain rotten, I’ve no argument about that. However, compassion dictates that we try to ascertain the reasons behind a problem — it could well be that the one in most desperate need of rescue is the one we initially see as the cause.

I believe that everyone reading this message can look back on their lives and find examples of how they, too, have acted as a Warrior of the Rainbow. Who has not, at some time, lent a helping hand, planted a tree, adopted a pet, filled a bird feeder in the winter, or picked up a piece of litter that was carelessly tossed into the environment? Each small act of compassion and kindness counts. As we look back on our Warrior moments, we can look forward to the future with more clarity, and more determination to heal our Mother Earth.

 

News and Updates:

Although I am taking a hiatus from doing wild bird rescue this year (due to the need to keep two more un-releasable Starlings from last season, there’s “no room at the inn”), there are many good Warriors out there who are doing wildlife rehabilitation. These folks work on their own dime, often day and night, without any official compensation and with very little thanks. If you’d like to help your local wildlife and the people who fight for them, seek out your nearest wildlife rescue center, and leave them a donation. The nearest and dearest to my own heart, of course, is New York Wildlife Rescue Center. The link will take you to their website, where you can click the PayPal button and lend a hand.

As always, please continue to visit my website for updates, changes of schedule, etc. I will always try to keep the Unavailable Times page current, and you can also follow my Twitter announcements in the sidebar.

Blessings and Light,

Creature Thoughts, April 2017

Know Your Teachers

Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk)

Last month’s newsletter touched on how we are constantly teaching our animal friends with our actions, and how we respond to theirs. Most of us who live with animals as integral parts of our lives know that they are forever teaching us, as well.

We learn so much just by watching them and interacting with them. The more we open our eyes, and our hearts, the more we can learn. We learn about unconditional love, about forgiveness. We learn how to calm and comfort ourselves. We learn that it is possible to find peace in the midst of chaos. (And yes, we also learn things like the best way to get cat puke out of a carpet and dog-hair off the furniture.)

One way we can expand what we learn from our pets, is to do all we can to learn about our pets. Who, really, is your dog? What makes a cat tick? What does a horse say with his body language? Why do our animals react to circumstances the way they do?

I touch on this topic on one level in Through Their Eyes, which looks at the “problems” commonly faced by pet owners from the point of view of the pets themselves. The book takes into account the instincts and nature-embedded behaviors that lead our animal friends to respond in certain ways to their environment.

When we study animal behavior, and seek to understand who the being deep inside our furry friend really is, it makes it easier to see that our dog is just being a dog, and our cat just being a cat, when they misbehave. They’re not out to punish us or cause us problems. Taking that emotional misunderstanding out the equation makes it easier to fix problems in a methodical (and forgiving) way, and enhances the relationship we have with our animal companions.

Whether we are talking about pets, farm animals, or wildlife, the more we learn about their inner nature, their history, their behavior, the more we can learn from them. Knowing the wild prey animal that drives our horse will allow us to see that horse in a new light. It will allow us to learn a bit about what it is like to be a large equine with finely tuned reflexes for survival.

When we become acquainted with the highly-skilled predator inside our cat, likewise, we embark upon a journey through the undergrowth of time. By opening up to the true nature of our little lap-warmer, we become closer to her in so many ways.

I believe that all humans who live with, work with, or dedicate their lives to animals, should do all they can to study those souls, and learn their natures. Yes, it’s very important to know accurate information about health care, nutrition, and the mechanics of training. It’s also important, though, and so enriching, to know the soul of that being. Who did he evolve from, and why is he who he is in modern times? What were his ancestors like? What aspects of his life and behavior can be traced back to the wild creatures in which his DNA took form?

Our animal friends enrich our lives in so many ways. I hope that we can all continue to expand that enrichment, as we open our knowing to the lessons they teach.

 

News and Updates:

As always, please continue to visit my website for updates, changes of schedule, etc. I will always try to keep the Unavailable Times page current, and you can also follow my Twitter announcements in the sidebar.

Blessings and Light,

Creature Thoughts, March 2017

March, 2017

What Are We Teaching Our Pets?

Our animals are learning from the moment of birth (and it’s very possible that they are learning even in the womb). They are born into a world of education that continues to their very last breath and, some say, beyond.

How aware are we, when we bring our new family members home, that every moment of every day, in everything we do with our pets, we are teaching them? What behaviors are we likely to encourage if we’re not paying attention?

For example, how many of us have trained our dogs to beg at the table? “He’s so rude,” we might say to ourselves, when, in actuality, our little friend probably would not have started begging if we hadn’t given him a taste of our dinner to begin with. (And yes, I speak from experience!)

Like human children, our pets watch everything we do. Dogs usually follow our actions more closely than cats, but don’t let a cat’s casual attitude lull you into thinking she doesn’t notice. When you think about it, that can be a bit intimidating.

On the other hand, this can be used to our advantage. If we are consciously aware of how smart our animal family members are, we can watch for opportunities to mold their behavior.

When you walk through the door and are greeted by the dog who jumps up on you, do you use that moment to teach the proper way to greet? Or do you edge around your leaping and panting friend, get your shoes off, and get dinner started — thus unwittingly encouraging the behavior? Even worse, do you pet him and praise him for being impolite? Try keeping a favorite toy just inside the door, but out of the dog’s reach. It will only take a moment longer to grab that toy, use it to lure your friend into a sit, and then reward him with the toy. Before you know it, you’ll be greeted by a happy dog, who sits politely in anticipation of his new game.

Do you ask your pet to “say please” (by sitting) before you put her supper dish on the floor? Even a cat can learn to sit on request (all of mine have, anyway). It takes only a few extra seconds a day to turn dinner into an opportunity to build a routine of proper mealtime etiquette.

Much negative behavior is reinforced when we’re not paying attention. We often inadvertently reward them (or fail to instruct otherwise) for behavior that, should we actually think about what we’re doing, we might prefer not to encourage.

How often does the cat who howls at night get just what he is seeking (attention) when the owner wakes up and talks to or pets him to calm him down? Some cats even train their owners to get up and give them an extra meal in the middle of the night. We continue to reinforce that behavior, rather than nipping it in the bud right away. We have taught our cat that if he howls after midnight, we’re going to respond with a reward (even negative attention is still attention, after all). If we totally ignore kitty as soon as he starts this behavior, he’ll learn quickly that night time is for sleeping. Once the pattern has become ingrained, it can be much harder to break.

I encourage you to pay close attention for a few days. Count how often simple interactions with your pets might be used to help them behave in a certain way. Are your actions reinforcing bad behavior, or good? What small changes can you make that will turn your daily routine into a series of training opportunities?

After all, our pets teach us so very much. Let’s try to be more conscious of how much we teach them, in return.

 

News and Updates:

Although the March issue is a bit late, I’m pleased to be able to share it with you. Moving life-in-general from PC to Mac has been fairly seamless, though it has taken some time to get everything up and running. Thank you for your patience as I’ve returned to something resembling a normal routine!

As always, please continue to visit my website for updates, changes of schedule, etc. I will always try to keep the Unavailable Times page current, and you can also follow my Twitter announcements in the sidebar.

Blessings and Light,