Oh, This One Wild Life, our passions once ran so deep that the story of our love spilled effortlessly over countless pristine white sheets. Hand in hand, we ignited a fire within the hearts of even our most distant of blogging friends. We planned to change the world together, and we did our best to try but, somewhere along the way, that blaze was dampened to a smoldering ember until… I’m sorry, This One Wild Life, but can’t you see? We’ve been losing our spark for some time.
Just look at past letters to the Pet Blogger Challenge, evidence of our dimming light…
2011 Pet Blogger Challenge Beyond the Honeymoon. Our relationship once reached toward limitless horizons representing all that life had to offer – until your animal welfare addictions and product review promises eclipsed my vast and varied interests. I began to resent your commitment to others over your commitment to my desires. I ached to indulge in South American travel logs and fully flesh out Ghanaian volunteer notes into colorful adventures with you by my side. These needs utterly starved for your attention.
2012 Pet Blogger Challenge The Others. They Make Me Sick. When your heart was hacked by a ruthless interloper,I was chronically ill at the time, struggling through my sickness to rebuild your trust. I devotedmonths of determination to revive the contents of your soul — only to have you, my love, relentlessly courted by and committed to brands who cared nothing about your true interests the way that I did. Engagement with other blogs seemed my only recourse, an open relationship without selling myself out. “I could love my blog deeply and monogamously again, but I think we should start seeing other people,” I said. I hoped you would notice my wandering eye, but that didn’t work for either of us.
2013 The Doggone Dirt on Pet Blogging The Final Throw Down In a fit of malcontent, I threw out every 2013 Challenge question and threw down my top five bitter blogging gripes. Point #4 was “Pushy Product Review Requests? Lick My Cat.” 83 comments roared up in a chorus that proved I was not alone in my growing frustration. Hallelujah! But somebody was ready for a full-blown time out. I broke from your lackluster embrace, the one I once loved, only casually falling back into bed with you when I needed a good friend to talk to. The heart wants what the heart wants.
It’s difficult to admit but, what one thing made me most proud about my bloggingin 2013?
Living my life without reporting back to… who? Who would miss me when I was gone? You? I’m not fishing for kindness here. I celebrate the answer. Nobody. To realize that, I finally felt FREE.
In order to move forward with my life, I forgave myself, This One Wild Life, and I hope you can too…
for allowing you to dictate the direction of my every thought for years.
for pimping out my beautiful animals.
for selling products that nobody cares about.
for making myself so sick of dog topics, I cringe at all I see.
for hogtying myself to a specific niche, neglecting my many other interests.
And I accept your apology, This One Wild Life,
for always begging that your insatiable pages be filled, asking for more when I had nothing left to give.
for changing the locks, making me hang my head in shame as I asked the admin for access previously granted.
for your shitty response time when I tried to reconcile. (Although, even now, you load with hesitance. We truly must work on this.)
for your constant quirks and needy updates.
In all honesty, I’ve missed you, my darling blog. I never stopped loving the stories we crafted and shared together. I’m still drawn to the shape of your layout and the brightshade of your accent, the way you caress my words between your borders.
I’ll eagerly meet you half way, freely giving gobs of love toward your animal interests. Please, just tell me you’ll support my non-animal desires, too, entertaining musings from human experience. (I’ve finally started compiling notes this week, six years after visiting Africa. Exciting, no?)
However this happens, if this happens, can we agree to swirl our toes around in these crisp, cool, new waters, drawing in a fresh breath of air as our flirtatious giggling is carried on a light breeze? If this can’t fuel our souls with passion once more, I want no part. We each deserve better than mediocrity, as do those who bear witness to our re-blooming love. We deserve full immersion in amazement at the world around us, our booming,ecstatic voices rising over the dull din of white noise. We deserve all that This One Wild Life has to offer. And we shall take it and claim it as our own or be forever silenced by the golden mean.
A free ticket and a desire to learn about ocean conservation landed me at the Georgia Aquarium a year ago. I was wholly impressed with their tremendous space, engineering, advanced technology, and how much information I absorbed. That was until, ultimately and sadly, I entered the dolphin show to see the equivalent of a circus performance and not the premium educational program I expected. Explosive music hurt my head and flashing lights were nauseating.I couldn’t fathom how this act of fairy-tale fiction was part of GA’s mission for education, research, or conservation. All I could see were 2 kids saying “I want one!” Terrific.
I headed for the door. Watching wildlife enslaved and exploited solely for human delight isn’t my thing.
On my way out, I passed the Beluga whales. As I watched them gracefully glide and float, anger subsided and joy took its place. I can’t help but think that these are one of the most beautiful species on this planet. Taking a seat for what I thought would be just a moment, I couldn’t tear myself away. But my perception changed as I sat watching. Over and over again, these beautiful whales rounded what amounts to a pond, bouncing themselves off of the confines of the glass.
Watch for yourself. This is the video I shot in October of 2012.
These creatures who had so quickly captured my heart were the cause of it breaking as I realized what a very sad and repetitious life they lead. GA boasts of having the largest aquarium habitat in the world, but it’s nothing more than a small prison to these incredibly intelligent whales who naturally explore 100s of miles of ocean out of sheer curiosity.
1.) Say No to New Russian Import Whales
I learned upon my return home that the Georgia Aquarium was asking permission from NMFS (now NOAA) to import 18 more Belugas from Russia for display. Sustainability of the whales in human captivity was of great concern, as was research and conservation – although the GA spends only 3% of their annual funding on conservation efforts. GA’s application, the first of its kind in more than 20 years, was also the first public display permit ever denied by NOAA in August. NOAA’s reasons include all the various ways that removing the whales from their natural habitat would cause considerable damage to the animals’ wild population. Read NOAA’s decision for yourself.
Guess what. GA is appealing the decision. If overturned, Georgia Aquarium will transport the whales under breeding loan agreements to other U.S. partner facilities including Sea World of Florida, Sea World of Texas, Sea World of California, Shedd Aquarium and possibly Mystic Aquarium. (See SeaWorld’s issues below.)
How do these animals come to be captured? Watch if you’re brave enough.
If you agree that public display and hope of successful captive breeding to keep displays full isn’t enough reason to open Russia’s door on cruelly capturing and selling wild marine animals, tell GA!
And now, just in time for Thanksgiving, turkeys aren’t the only ones running for cover. SeaWorld will get promotional glory in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with their own float… unless we decide that it is not acceptable to enslave highly intelligent marine creatures like whales and dolphins. When these animals are confined in a small space, they become bored, angry, and lash out. Their human handlers have died when this happens, but it is humans who are at fault.
According to PETA’s petition, they have made Macy’s well aware of SeaWorld’s cruel treatment of animals, lack of concern for safety, and willful violation of federal law. Macy’s doesn’t seem to care, so let’s tell them how much WE do.
In June, Omni Development Co. announced a plan for a downtown Albany, NY science museum, aquarium and an IMAX-type theater on land originally targeted for an Albany Convention Center. On August 21, they announced hiring a consulting firm to study the feasibility of such a project. ConsultEcon of Cambridge, Mass., described as “the leading consultant to the aquarium and educational attractions industry,” has done numerous aquarium studies for cities in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia … including Atlanta. (Feel like you’re circling the same tank over and over yet?) The first phase of results is expected to be finished by the end of September and the findings shared with the public.
Well, some of the public isn’t waiting to be asked. Thanks to Change.org, a petition exists to express why a new aquarium is a bad idea. Albany may not be your home town, but consider this. The aquatic animals ripped from their natural habitat belong to none other than this Earth. And it’s our collective job to protect them no matter where you live.
Frankie, my best Cockatiel friend (named after Sinatra for his choral abilities and charm with the ladies), slowly stopped singing over the past couple of months. At the age of at least 18, it’s no wonder, really. At some point, oft-used body parts wear out. But, while Frankie has seemed perfectly healthy and happy in every way, I’ve been well aware that an end is near.
This morning, Frankie’s breathing was slightly labored. In the moment I saw it, all my growing fear of his eventual loss liquefied, cascading in rivers down my face. This sweet fella has been by my side through every happy moment and life crisis, every job, apartment, and house. I couldn’t imagine life without greeting him every morning. But I envisioned the end crashing down upon us in a sudden heap of senseless trauma and pain.
The rest went as follows, which you can read in my open letter to Animal Communicator David Louis, for whom I am eternally grateful for having spoken with me. While compiling his website these past weeks, I’ve been reading letters about how many human/animal relationships he’s helped with and, while I cannot viscerally understand or envision the level at which this type of communication works, I do feel that something good is going on here. So, I called him.
After we spoke, I wrote this.
Thank you so much for helping me connect with Frankie’s wishes for his last chapter in life, David.
When Frankie stopped singing, perhaps two months ago now, I surmised that it was because he reached the age of 18 and, in Cockatiel years, that’s a long, lovely life. His repertoire of microwave mockery, The Addams Family theme song, Pop Goes the Wease (because he never learned the last syllable of weasel), and other songs had been reduced to the mere whisper of a wolf whistle over time – and now he barely gives a hoarse squawk. It seemed he just grew tired and his song went utterly silent.
But is he just tired? Or is he suffering physically? The biggest part of me suddenly worried that he stopped singing because he was unhappy, a signal often seen in stressed parrots. Did he need more from me?
When I woke to Frankie’s slightly labored breathing this morning, I panicked. Is this a growing tumor that will slowly choke him? At my husband’s suggestion, I called our local vet but I was hesitant knowing how difficult it would be to get Frankie there. Then came the brick to my heart. No longer providing avian services, our vet referred me elsewhere.
Forced to step back from my initial trajectory, I felt exceptionally frustrated with our vet’s discontinuation of service. Once I called, I felt sure they could help, but that option was ripped away.
Then, while pausing at the thought of using strange vets in a strange place, that’s when I understood. The only mild sense of comfort our own vet could offer was to me. Having to catch Frankie, clip his wings, force him into a carrier, drive him to a cold examination table, he would feel utterly distraught no matter where we went.
Then it came ’round again, that feeling of ” But what if something can be done?”
Bird health can fail like a flash in the pan. I was torn.
I went to Frankie. He tapped his beak on his perch the moment I came near, a sign of flirtation among birds and bonded bird/human pairs. He came to me and preened my bangs when I leaned in to kiss his beak. While obviously winded, he still seemed happy and not in distress, unlike me in that moment.
I shoved aside our vet’s referral numbers and called my husband. I told him that I didn’t want to do anything but wait and see. If Frankie began to suffer, we would work quickly to end that, but I didn’t want to take him out of his comfort zone and away from his family flock. There, I said it. I had made a choice.
Still I had doubts.
I, I, I…
Up to this point, all my thoughts had been about me – what I should do, what I want, what I feel is best. No more. It was time for me to learn what Frankie was thinking and feeling.
That’s when I called you.
As one who cannot communicate with animals the way that you do, and I’ve said this to you before, I don’t know how to believe in what I can’t experience for myself. But I’m not a non-believer either. Whatever I am, the more that you and I gather stories for your website, the more I feel that there is something here.
And then you made me laugh without intending to. You asked, “You have birds?”
In our chance meetings over the years, dog or cat rescue was typically involved in some way – but that was it. I not only found it amusing that you didn’t know that I’ve had birds for 1/2 of my life, I was relieved by that. I didn’t want to influence your connection with Frankie in any way.
In the short sentences I shared with you about why I was calling, you gave me so much more in return. What you said was exactly what I felt I knew about my fabulous feathered friend, a companion who has been a huge part of my life going back to my early 20s. I wrote down every word you uttered when I could see the paper through my tears.
Thank you for sharing the universe’s response to your opening prayer asking who Frankie is. I will always cherish the answer: “Frankie – the beautiful soul who has chosen his life with Kim.”
When I chose Frankie and brought him home, I just had to have a bird. I had always wanted one and, having moved out from under my father’s bird-restrictive roof, I finally had he opportunity to get one. It never occurred to me that Frankie had chosen me too. I’ve just always seen him as a cheerful little companion who has made me happy all these years, not necessarily a being with a grand destiny. But what a grand destiny that is, now that I think about it.
You described Frankie’s first layer of existence as so filled with bliss and peace that you had to press him to address the heart of any physical discomfort. “He is always happy,” you said, but the singing takes too much work now, even for my “energizer bunny,” as you aptly called him. You added, “He says that was the old Frankie, you won’t likely hear anymore singing, but he says he’s not ready to go either. He still has work to do.” For the “couple more months” of living you felt he has left, I will do what Frankie told you he wants. Together, we’re “gonna shine until that last moment.”
When he does wind down, which you feel may be heart related (“There is something slowing down within the engine that drives everything,” you said), I’m so glad to know that our wishes are in line with one another’s. As you described, I will honor what I now know Frankie and I both want, to experience his passing together by sitting with it and through it, by experiencing the beauty of our deepest friendship, and by receiving the healing of allowing the end to happen naturally without putting that control in the hands of a stranger.
“It will be sad, but it will be healing. It won’t be traumatic. There is something beautiful in being there for one another,” you said.
I believe that.
Most poignant to me, as one so heavily focused on dog rescue, was hearing the words, “You don’t have to save this one.” Oh, how that resonated to the depth of my core and stomped every ember of my initial animal saving fire.
My mind is at ease now that we can go on living a beautiful life for whatever time Frankie has left. We won’t distract ourselves from that precious opportunity while trying to cheat an inevitable death.
Thank you so much for sharing what Frankie feels, especially without knowing what I wanted – because I couldn’t 100% decide what that was until after we spoke.
And now I’m off to sing to my bird who can longer sing to me. Because there are still joyful songs left to experience, no matter the vocalist.
With all our gratitude, Kim and Frankie
For More on David Louis
As an animal communicator, David has worked with many species, from dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, ferrets and hedgehogs to raccoons and porcupines. He has taught, presented workshops, talks and sessions throughout the northeastern United States, in Canada and Europe. And, with an eye toward the stressors often endured by rescued animals, David regularly uses his skills to assist and raise money for nonprofit animal rescue organizations. Talk to Your Animals is a sole proprietorship started by Animal Communication Specialist David Louis in 2001.
David has studied interspecies communication extensively with the finest teachers available, most notably Penelope Smith (www.animaltalk.net) the author of four books on the subject, including Animal Talk and When Animals Speak. He has assisted Penelope with her workshops at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and the Omega Institute. He lives in Wynantskill, New York with his family, which includes his wife, stepchildren, three cats and three dogs.
Sunday, July 21st is “No Pet Store Puppies Day,” the third year of the ASPCA’s campaign to fight puppy mills. But it doesn’t end there.
Molly and her dog Joey know that puppy mills are bad and why to avoid pet stores that sell puppies. That beats 78 percent of consumers who remain unaware that most pet stores puppies come from puppy mills. (This according to a national study conducted by Lake Research Partners and commissioned by The ASPCA.)
Molly may be a child, yet she has the power to educate millions, if we help her. Besides, she and her dog are too adorable. See for yourself.
In honor of ending the puppy mill industry, please share Molly’s message. Do it for the dogs.
Share the “Meet Molly” video across their social networks, thus educating people that shopping in pet stores that sell puppies supports puppy mill cruelty.
Take the Pledge not to shop for anything –including pet food, toys, etc – at pet stores stores or on websites that sell puppies.
Check out the newly launched consumer tool that allows consumers to see photos taken inside U.S. Department of Agriculture licensed commercial dog breeding facilities that sell puppies to pet stores around the country.
Join the ASPCA Puppy Mills Awareness Twitter chat with the hashtag #ASPCAchat taking place on Tuesday, July 23rd from 1pm-2pm EST!
Let’s up the stakes! Leave a comment below about why you agree with Molly and you’ll earn a chance to win a special No Pet Store Puppies gift pack!
In April, my dog rescue was invited to work in support of another to save mill dogs. Contrary to my title above, there are never too many mill dog rescues. I want to save them all. But there are far too many reasons to have to rescue, and that’s what needs to stop. You have the power to make the difference just by making a simple, educated choice – even if you aren’t in the market for a dog.
How the dogs come…
An unending supply of beautiful little souls arrive through a contact who begged puppy mills to give up their unwanted dogs. These dogs would otherwise be shot for lack of productivity or for missing traits of the breeds that they are supposed to represent.
Our contact gets the call, retrieves dog-filled crates at the end of a mill’s driveway, surveys the dogs for immediate health concerns, and sends them on a 12 hour transport to freedom.
When 2 means 30…
Last Thursday’s call said two dogs were ready for pickup. Somehow 2 meant 30. Mills are dumping dogs now that a new law went into effect. Puppies were pulled from 3 young moms by millers that morning and the mothers, leaking milk, were shoved into small crates two at a time.
Its estimated that our mill sources house anywhere from 500 to 800 breeder dogs living a life of pure hell. Jemma, a white rescued Chihuahua, was just one of these dogs. And yet she is such a happy, shining soul despite her need for reconstructive surgery for poor genetics (We know her one son, now adopted, was born the same way and nearly thrown away, yet the mills kept breeding Jemma and selling her “purebred” pups.). Can you please chip in for Jemma’s care?
When the dogs arrive…
Never have you seen a more happy dog when the world opens before them beyond a crowded chicken wire cage. These dogs light up regardless of oozing paws damaged from wire cage floors, eyes so sticky the dog can’t see through the flies, internal parasites so plentiful that up to 3 dewormings are required, teeth fully rotted from poor nutrition and lack of water, or kidneys so weak they only have 35% function. Some immediately seek human touch and comfort. Others take a bit longer to understand, but they do learn with patience and love.
What boils my blood…
We protect our contact’s identity to preserve a mill’s hard-earned trust, trust that took years to build and which remains precarious regardless. But I abhor the fact that we must shield the identity of the mills in order to save the dogs. None of us in New York know where exactly the dogs come from beyond which state. The paperwork is color coded so we are kept blind to the details. We must often remind ourselves that, at the end of the day, our contact and the Companion Animal Placement Program has saved truckloads of dogs this way and that we at Dog House Adoptions have joined a valiant and vigilant fight.
Know the facts…
Pet stores will tell you that their puppies come from “USDA licensed breeders.” USDA licensure is a good indicator that the breeders are, in fact, puppy mills. Licensing by the USDA as a commercial breeder is strictly reserved for those selling puppies to pet stores or brokers. Even the meager guidelines they tend not to enforce are horrific.
According to the ASPCA:
Under the federal Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced by the USDA, dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in cages only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. It’s completely legal to house dogs in cages with wire flooring and to breed female dogs at every opportunity.
One way mills skirt the law is to sell their dogs strictly online. This type of sale falls into a loophole that does not require USDA licensing or inspection. If you think paying good money for papers ensures a healthy breeding stock, you are sorely mistaken.
Do your dollars support the mill dog industry?
You may be supporting a life of cruelty for millions of dogs confined to pumping out puppies like machines. Refuse to do either of the following and you can change that fact:
Do not purchase a puppy at a pet store or online
Buy your pet supplies from stores (online or brick and mortar) that do not sell puppies
Find ethical pet stores by zip code thanks to the ASPCA. Visit the database to find one near you or add one that you know of! Just remember, don’t shop ’til they stop. Your dollar makes the difference.
Meet the one that grabbed my heart…
This little lady from Friday’s transport made me fall apart, a little momma who ran joyfully like the others but instantly froze and closed her eyes at my touch. Being spayed today, she’ll never have to deliver or lose another puppy. (Her last puppy was taken away.)
We’re going to heal her eyes and I will do everything in my power to help her see that touch is every bit as good as she thinks it might be. Last night, in my lap, she flattened to me as if to disappear … yet she let me feed her this way. I set her down and she came right back. It’s a start.
I’ve named her Leila, honoring her with more than a number, if she even had that. My husband and I are personally sponsoring her care. This one has my whole heart wrapped around her. If she weren’t at the vet, I’d be with her right now. Since I’m not, I’m using my time to ask for your help.
Please consider adoption.
Every single day, sweet dogs like Leila need you and they will quickly blossom in your care. Nothing feels better than knowing that you gave a dog a chance.
Blog the Change for Animals the 15th of every January, April, July and October, an event sponsored by Be the Change for Animals.