Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The old man was barefoot, his hair was matted, tears streaked his sweat-begrimed face. He looked totally worn out, as if he had been through a rigorous physical labour. He obsequiously and repeatedly bowed as he saw and recognized Schweitzer. Joseph then interpreted and told us how this man lived about forty miles downstream. It must have taken him two days by pirogue to get to the hospital.
In a choked voice, the man said, “I’ve brought my oldest friend up to see you, Oganga, because I feared my friend would die. Everyone in my village had told me that the white doctor’s magic could make my friend well, that Schweitzer was my only hope.” His friends had put food and water in his pirogue and sent him off.
Schweitzer was silent until the man had finished and asked, “Where is your friend?”
The old man pointed to a large woven-reed mat lying on the door. Schweitzer, surprised, turned to the mat. As we looked closely, we saw the nose of a dog protruding from one end. The straw mat was the means by which the old man carried his pet and protected it from the hot sun. The man gently opened the mat, revealing a large dog of unknown age or vintage which weighed sixty or seventy pounds and was cushioned by a worn blanket—probably the old man’s only one. The blanket was encrusted with blood. The dog was sick. His dry tongue hung from the side of his mouth, his eyes were glazed, and he was gasping for breath. The old man turned from Schweitzer for a moment and knelt beside his friend. He lovingly wet the dog’s parched tongue with a damp cloth that he dipped into a bottle of water he carried. All the while, he was telling how some hunters had accidentally shot the dog. “They didn’t mean to,” he murmured.
Schweitzer tenderly turned the dog on its back to examine it. The dog was obviously in his last throes, and incontinent. There was a large gaping wound in the upper abdomen that glistened with the lustrous sheen of busy flies and the wriggling of white maggots.
As stenchful as it was, Schweitzer felt no aversion to carefully examining the dog. He then ordered some paper napkins from the dining room to keep the flies from the wound. He told two infirmiers. “Transfer the dog to a stretcher and take him immediately to the O.R.” He put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and, his eyes glistening, said, “Your friend is very sick but we’ll try to save him.” The man threw himself at Schweitzer’s feet, held onto his legs, and tried to kiss his hands.
Schweitzer was visibly moved by the whole affair, all of us were. This anguished old man had used all of his waning strength to paddle two days against the rushing current. We also thought how that old, withered body had borne his sick “friend” off the boat and carried the heavy load up the steep hill to the dining room.
Schweitzer helped the old man up, keeping a hand his shoulder. He seemed to want to clasp the man to him. Almost as if to hide his feelings, he quickly turned to one the younger doctors who was scheduled to go to the O.R. and ordered him to get things ready and prepare to operate on the dog. “I’ll be down,” he said.
The doctor remonstrated that it would be an hour or two. First, he had to repair a recto-vaginal fistula of a woman patient.
For about the third time in a few weeks, I saw Schweitzer’s well-publicized anger. The two other times when the gendarme had brought in a boy who had stolen, another time when Schweitzer returned from a trip and found his native laborers all drunk.
This time his ire was aimed at one of his own staff. He remained quiet for a moment, trying to control himself. Then, giving the young doctor an ice-cold glare, he asked how long the woman had had her fistula. “Two years,” the doctor replied.
Schweitzer exploded. “She can wait another two hours; this man’s friend can’t!” He turned away.
As I strode down the hill toward the operating theatre with Schweitzer, I heard the generator go on. “We’ve done many operations on animals here,” Schweitzer said, they usually die of pneumonia. I think it’s from the anesthesia.” (Though highly flammable and dangerous in that heat, ether poured over a nose cone was frequently used.)
I followed him into the OR. The young surgeon was now not only ashamed but also contrite and would not look either of us in the eye. It always appeared to me that whenever Schweitzer showed his displeasure to one of his European helpers, they immediately became overtly and overly solicitous about their patients. But even more evident was their repentant attitudes toward Schweitzer—as if they re disciples who had in some way spiritually failed their Christ.
We watched the young doctor begin to operate; but almost before he began to debride (surgically clean) the wound, the dog gave his last gasp. The dog had not only been depleted from loss of blood but was also terribly dehydrated. Though he was given intravenous fluids, the heat and the two-day boat ride were too much. The bullet, which judging from the size of the wound, must have been a large calibre, had penetrated the side of the chest then went through the diaphragm and liver and out, leaving that gaping and festering area.
When the dog stopped breathing Schweitzer turned and went outside. His brow furrowed, shoulders hunched in sadness, he went over to the waiting native and took him to a bench. Sitting with him, he sadly explained, through Joseph, that they had done everything possible but had failed. His friend was no more.
Schweitzer then spent about twenty minutes telling the old man how much he admired the man’s love for a friend, but that he must immediately begin a new relationship with another friend.
“I understand your grief,” Schweitzer said, “but go home to your village. We will give him a proper burial.”
Schweitzer, with an arm around the old man’s shoulder, helped the man, now sobbing like a child, to where pirogue was tied up. We soon had him provisioned with food and water and wished him well.
I followed Schweitzer back into the operating room He wanted to tell the infirmiers where to bury the remains. As we walked in, everything was just about cleaned up; and the young surgeon was getting into dry chinos.
“Where is the man’s friend?” Schweitzer asked. Since that morning, he had not mentioned the animal as anything other than “the man’s friend.” Pierre, another infirmier, pointed diffidently to a trash can containing all of the post-operative soiled sheets, bloody sponges, and empty bottles piled in it.
Schweitzer’s eyes grew wide, his teeth clenched, he exploded into a roar. “How could you degrade that body?” he shouted at the young doctor. “Haven’t you learned that there is as much dignity of the spirit in death as in spirit of life—in any life—even this poor animal’s?”
The young doctor and all the infirmiers were actually cringing. Schweitzer went on, waving his arms and pointing his fingers, saying, “Never will I hear of this again, or you all leave.” He repeated himself. “Have you learned nothing? Do you still have so little feeling even for the spirit of friendship between this dead animal and that old man?” Trying to calm himself, he added, abruptly, “Give him a decent burial.” He mentioned a place on a hill where all pets were buried. Slowly, he turned and left.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Well, first of all I couldn't agree more about that kind of super power. God, that would be something!! But I'm not sure humans would really want to hear what the animals would have to say - maybe that's why humans don't really make an effort to 'listen' to them. It'd probably be too horrific to hear what most of them would have to say!
But... Samantha Khury has this gift and she is awe inspiring. I once saw her in a documentary and it's the most heart warming thing to see her in action. Profound really. Here's a small quote about the documentary:
"Samantha Khury is an "animal therapist and psychic" who has convinced skeptical pet owners, zoo keepers, and race horse trainers that she really can "talk" to their animals. In I TALK TO ANIMALS we see her at work counselling race horses in need of leisure time, depressed cats, and misguided ants. And we hear from owners and trainers who describe how their animals' behavior changed following Samantha's sessions, and how she told them things about the animals that she "could not have known" - unless the animals told her themselves."
If you want a Christmas present this year that will warm your heart, make you happy and no doubt move you deeply, then go to Strange Attractions and order the movie. Sounds corny, but it was a life changing experience for me to watch her in action!
P.S. You might want to revisit this post from February 28th about how to communicate with your animal. It really works!!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Dear friends in the blogosphere...
I received this mail update today from Make Animal Testing History. Might you consider lending your voice to this URGENT matter. Thank you!! http://www.makeanimaltestinghistory.org/the-march.php
Over 12 million animals are used each year in EU laboratories, many in countries with very few rules to protect them. Your support has helped us to call for numerous improvements to existing legislation such as ethical evaluation for each experiment, regular unannounced inspections, increased action on developing non-animal alternative tests and for legal limits to be placed on the severity of experiments.
On October 21st, as the final stage of discussions between the European Parliament and Council began, we presented your call for animal protection rules to be strengthened and for animal experiments to be replaced with humane alternatives, to a special 'intergroup' gathering of Members of the European Parliament and a representative of the EU Presidency.
We explained why your views matter, and why it is important that they listen to citizens like you, who want to see an end to animal suffering and the promotion of more advanced research techniques.
Discussion of the new legislation may finish soon if the Council and Parliament reach agreement quickly. However, if they cannot reach agreement, the Parliament will hold a full debate in the first half of 2010.
We will alert you as soon as this becomes clear but in the meantime, we are keeping the Make Animal Testing History virtual march open so please continue to ask your friends to join and follow us on facebook.
The Make Animal Testing History team
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Found this sweet story for today. Enjoy!
Some years ago, our family expanded to include a one-year-old Siberian husky named Princess Misha. Like all Siberian huskies, Misha had an innate love of the outdoors, and of course, the cooler the better. She would lie curled up in a ball on top of a snowdrift on the coldest of winter days with her tail flicked over her only vulnerable spot -- her nose. When fresh snow fell, she would lay so still that she soon disappeared under a blanket of snow and became a part of the landscape. Every so often, she stood up, shook off, turned in a few circles, and then laid back down to keep watch over her domain.
On warm summer days, she found the coolest corner in the house and spent her days napping. Then after her nightly walk, she'd spend the rest of the evening stretched out on the cool cement of the front patio. All through the hot summers and into the fall, this was her nightly ritual.
One summer evening, as we sat out on the front patio relishing a late-evening breeze, we saw a small toad hop out of the grass, then down the sidewalk to a few feet away from where Misha was lying. Suddenly Misha stood up, walked over to the toad, picked it up in her mouth and then walked back to her resting place and lay back down. She then put her chin down on the walk, opened her mouth and let the toad hop out while we watched in astonishment. The toad sat there in front of Misha's eyes, the two seeming to stare at one another for some time. Then the toad hopped down the walk and back into the grass.
On other nights that summer, we noticed this same ritual. We commented on the fact that Misha seemed to have a fondness for toads. We worried because some toads can be poisonous, but since she never experienced any ill effect and never hurt them, we didn't interfere. If she spotted a toad in the street on one of her walks, she would actually run over to it and nudge it with her nose till it had safely hopped off the street and back on to the grass, out of harm's way.
The following summer was the same. Misha enjoyed cooling off by lying out on the front patio after nightfall. Many times, we noticed a toad within inches of her face. At other times, we watched as she walked into the grass and came back to her resting spot with a toad in her mouth, only to release it. The toads always stayed near her for some time before hopping off into the night. The only difference from the previous summer was that she spent more nights in this manner, and the toads were bigger. A toad always seemed to be close at hand.
One night early in the third summer, after letting Misha out, we watched as a large toad hopped out of the grass and over to her, stopping inches in front of her. Misha gently laid her head down so that her nose almost touched the toad. That was when it finally dawned on us -- perhaps there was just one toad! Could Misha have shared the past three summers with the same toad? We called a local wildlife expert who told us that toads can live three to six years, so it was entirely possible. Somehow these two unlikely companions had formed a bond. At first it seemed so strange to us. But then we realized we were very different from Misha too, but the love between us seemed completely natural. If she could love us, we marveled, why not a toad?
I have to share this, it's lovely.
Misha had a minor operation that summer, and we kept her indoors for a while afterwards to recuperate. Each night she went to the front door and asked to be let out, but we didn't let her. Instead, leash in hand, we took her for short walks. One evening a few days later, I went to the front door to turn on the porch light for guests we were expecting. When the light came on illuminating the front stoop, there, to my utter amazement, sat Toad (as we came to call him), staring up at me through the screen door! He had hopped up the three steps from the patio, and we supposed he was looking for Misha. Such devotion could not be denied. We let Misha out to be with her pal. She immediately picked the toad up in her mouth and took it down the steps where she and Toad stayed nose to nose until we brought her in for the night. After that, if Misha didn't come out soon enough, Toad frequently came to the door to get her. We made sure that the porch light was turned on before dark and posted a big sign on the porch, "Please don't step on the toad!"
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This is what I learned from nature books, but I wonder if they are right. Isn't there another reason why elephants can't fall down? Perhaps they have decided not to. Not to fall down is their mission. As the wisest and most patient of the animals, they made a pact - I imagine it was eons ago, when the ice ages were ending. Moving in great herds across the face of the earth, the elephants first spied tiny men prowling the tall grasses with their flint spears. "What fear and anger this creature has," the elephants thought. "But he is going to inherit the earth. We are wise enough to see that. Let us set an example for him."
Then the elephants put their grizzled heads together and pondered. What kind of example could they show to man? They could show him that their power was much greater that his, for that was certainly true. They could display their anger before him, which was terrible enough to uproot whole forests. Or they could lord it over man through fear, trampling his fields and crushing his huts. In moments of great frustration, wild elephants will do all of these things, but as a group, putting their heads together, they decided that man would learn best from a kinder message.
"Let us show him our reverence for life," they said. And from that day on, elephants have been silent, patient, peaceful creatures. They let men ride them and harness them like slaves. They permit children to laugh at their tricks in the circus, exiled from the great African plains where they once lived as lords.
But the elephants' most important message is in their movement. For they know that to live is to move. Dawn after dawn, age after age, the herds march on, one great mass of life that never falls down, an unstoppable force of peace.
Innocent animals, they do not suspect that after all this time, they will fall from a bullet by the thousands. They will lie in the dust, mutilated by our shameless greed. The great males fall first, so that their tusks can be made into trinkets. Then the females fall, so that men may have trophies. The babies run screaming from the smell of their own mothers' blood, but it does them no good to run from the guns. Silently, with no one to nurse them, they will die, too, and all their bones bleach in the sun.
In the midst of so much death, the elephants could just give up. All they have to do is drop to the ground. That is enough. They don't need a bullet: Nature has given them the dignity to lie down and find their rest. But they remember their ancient pact and their pledge to us, which is sacred.
So the elephants march on, and every tread beats out words in the dust: "Watch, learn, love. Watch, learn, love." Can you hear them? One day in shame, the ghosts of ten thousand lords of the plains will say, "We do not hate you. Don't you see at last? We were willing to fall, so that you, dear small ones, will never fall again."
Friday, November 13, 2009
If there was a historic person you could sit down and have dinner with, who would it be?? Well, of course there are many great historic people to choose between, but I would love to sit down with Albert Schweitzer and talk about animals. Among many other titles he is known as a 'lover of animals'. He had such extraordinary ethics about life - all life. Here's a small extract from his beautiful writing "Reverence for Life" - I think it is just exquisite.
The fundamental fact of human awareness is this: "I am life that wants to live in the midst of other life that wants to live." A thinking man feels compelled to approach all life with the same reverence he has for his own. Thus, all life becomes part of this own experience. From such a point of view, "good" means to maintain life, to further life, to bring developing life to its highest value. "Evil" means to destroy life, to hurt life, to keep life from developing. This, then, is the rational, universal, and basic principle of ethics.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Yesterday I started a clear out of my wardrobe, and there it was again. This time I pulled it out and sat with the coat in my hands. I let my fingers run through the fur and pulled up the collar where for the first time I really got the live sensation of the animal that had once inhabited this fur. Underneath the collar was the markings of what clearly would have been the part across its shoulder and neck. I could FEEL it in a crouched position, I could FEEL its sheer ferocity, I could FEEL it charge across the savanna. I almost wept. To think that such a spirit should have been reduced to this. There and then I came to the desicion to bury it. I felt it deserved peace from human hands.
Fashionistas would probably call it a crime... we are talking about a short tailormade, genuine vintage leopard coat (mink collars and cuffs - God forbid) from the 40's or 50's. Anyway... haven't even got a clue what someone would 'value' it at today. Maybe not even much. So I'm settled that it was the right decision.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
There's just been a major outcry in my country because of a secret footage of farm-minks living in appalling conditions, badly bruised and with injuries. Well, the uproar won't last long. As one woman told me the other day... "I better wait a few weeks before I wear my new mink coat."
To think that these creatures should live a life like that, and then just to be skinned so that humans can ADORN themselves.
Whatever happened to the sanctity of life? Do we really believe that animals are only a commodity?
I'll be diplomatic and leave out all the swear words. I'm sure you have your own words to fit this kind of human atrocity.
Monday, November 9, 2009
We have this policy in the house that "murder" has to happen outside, and since the "gifts" hasn't always (rarely) been finished off before they make it into the house, we often find ourselves in a frantic mouse catching chase. And boy are they fast!! The other day we were up against the fastest I've ever encountered. Too fast for it's own legs, it skidded on the floor whilst it tried to run for cover. Just like in a cartoon. We finally gave up and believed it would be easier to catch it the next day, thinking it would be exhausted. During the night we heard the cats have a go. Poor thing. The next day I found a bit of blood but no mouse. Then... a few hours later when I sat quietly in my working studio, there was suddenly a rustling little sound from a pile of small pillows on the floor. One of the pillows had a small hole and there was feathers lying around... the pillow had obviously become a nest! It seemed as if it'd gotten rather comfy, but still I knew I had to rescue it. And on the chase went again. The small pool of blood had come from its tail which had gotten nibbled at the tip (really, poor little thing), so I thougth it surely would be easy to catch. But this was a mouse with an iron will. I tell ya! I used an empty kitchen towel roll which they tend to run for cover inside quite easily. I had to STUFF it in whilst its rear legs was holding their ground firmly! Finally ready for its release in the garden, I almost wanted to shake its little paw thinking it had been the most worthy opponent.
Just hope his tail made a not too painful recovery.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
A voice from the control room spoke. "You okay?"
"A little tired I guess," I said. I slipped on a windbreaker and headed down the hall. Running footsteps came up behind me. I was pretty sure who they belonged to.
"I know you too well," she said, catching up with me. "What's really wrong?"
I hesitated. "Well, I don't know how this sounds, but I saw a picture today in the papers. A dolphin had drowned in a fishing net. From the way its body was tangled in the lines, you could read so much agony. Its eyes were vacant, yet there was still that smile, the one dolphins never lose, even when they die..." my voice trailed off.
She put her hand lightly on min. "I know, I know."
"No, you don't know all of it yet. It's not just that I felt sad, or had to face the fact that an innocent being had died. Dolphins love to dance - of all the creatures in the sea, that's their mark. Asking nothing from us, they cavort in the waves while we marvel. They race ahead of ships, not to get there first but to tell us, 'It's all meant to be play. Keep to your course, but dance while you do it.'
"So there I was, in the middle of rehearsal, and I thought , 'They're killing a dance.' And then it seemed only right to stop. I can't keep the dance from being killed, but at least I can pause in memory, as one dancer to another. Does that make any sense?"
Her eyes were tender. "Sure, in its way. Probably we'll wait years before everyone agrees on how to solve this thing. So many interests are involved. But it's too frustrating waiting for improvements tomorrow. Your heart wanted to have its way now."
"Yes," I said, pushing the door open for her. "I just had this feeling, and that's enough for today."
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sometimes it can be rather sad knowing about all the animals in desperate need in this world. Therefore I sometimes get SO elated at small gestures in places where it seems no one would otherwise have a care. The other day whilst walking through a Greek town besieged with cats I wished I could have created a small shelter in the middle of it all providing some shelter and food for the cold and hungry cats. And then in the middle of it all... a bit of light appeared! Someone had put a small cardboard box covered in plastic (and with a piece of wood on top to keep it from flying away) on their door step. Next to it there was a small bowl of food and a bowl for water. That's all it took to make me happy! Someone showed a little bit of care and obviously to the extent they were able!! I really thought it didn't take much, but if each person was able to do just a little bit. What a difference that would make.
Wished I'd taken a photo but this "model" photo will have to do.
When in Greece I naturally saw a number of stray cats like I've never seem before. Having just arrived at our destination my husband and I encountered a tiny high pitched miauw with an urgency that was clearly designed to stop you in your tracks. And it did. Underneath a car we found a tiny frightened ferel kitten. Don't know if it had gotten lost from it's mum or?? But we couldn't do anything. The road was busy and if we scared it further we worried it would run out on the road.
And yes, it was bitterly cold and stormy. Late at night the next evening, just as we were strolling across the town hall square, we saw two large dogs lying between each their sets of staircases. Just as we passed one of them walked up and litterally pushed it's body against my legs. It was skinny and shivering, obviously freezing cold. It being right in the middle of town it was obvious noone intended to do anything for this dog, so I did what I could in that moment and knelt down and embraced him for a little while. Afterwards I told him to go back between the staircases thinking that it would at least shield him a bit from the wind. When you have encounters like these (and there were MANY during the few days we were there) you can end up really frustrated and overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing what on earth to do. When I'm in a situation like that - when everything else seems impossible... I pray. I pray that they may be safe and well, find shelter, have food and water and that a compassionate human will find them and look after them. Curiously... when I came home yesterday I found an invitation on my Facebook for a Greek orthodox blessing of animals service. I've never heard of the Greek church blessing animals before!
Today, wondering about the power of prayer, a wonderful little book came mind that I read several years ago. It's called "Embraced by the Light" and is the story of a womans profound near-death experience. In it she recalls all the insights she has from beyond. One of them is about prayer. She says: "I saw many lights shooting up from the earth like beacons. Some were very broad and charged into heaven like broad laser beams. Others resembled the illumination of small pen lights, and some were mere sparks. I was surprised as I was told that these beams of power were the prayers of people on earth. I saw angels rushing to answer the prayers. They were organized to give as much help as possible. They deligthed to help us and were especially joyful when somebody prayed with enough intensity and faith to be answered immediately. I did notice, however, that insincere prayers of repitition have little if any light; and having no power, many of them are not heard."
Well, there's great mystery and wonderment in that which we have no exact meassure of. If nothing else - itsn't it wonderful that something actually matters so much that we would actually make a prayer about it!