Libby & Louie, a Love Story

Libby and Louie’s story is a remarkable true tale of profound love and devotion, as told by an equally remarkable human  – Joanna Lucas, creator of the Be Fair Be Vegan social justice campaign responsible for the recent high-profile billboard display in Times Square & Javits Center NYC. As well as being a person of incredible vision, Joanna has a deeply empathetic insight into an animal’s heart and soul, which she beautifully reflects in her luminous writing.

It took extraordinary events – a shattering blow, like the loss of her right foot to the wire floor of the “cage-free” egg farm where she was rescued from, or a rapturous release, like her arrival at the sanctuary, or a seismic shift like Louie’s absence – to shake, charm, or punish a sound out of Libby. It’s not that her voice was frozen in fear, like so many of her fellow refugees. It’s not that she was shy, feeble, injured, or ill. She was quiet. And, unlike so many of her kin, she did not enjoy, or need to, commit her inner experiences to the stream of constant humming that often fills chicken communities with the music of their thoughts. Libby’s thoughts were silent. Silence was her nature, her disposition, her remedy, her talent, her power, her gift, and her pleasure. She looked at the world in soundless wonder – her thoughts, streaming and darting, swelling and swarming in the dark pools of her eyes – and filled it with the hush of her mind.

ll-libby-1In the blush of her first weeks at the sanctuary, when everything astonished her – the open sky, the endless fields, the scent of rain, the feel of straw underfoot – we thought we heard her voice a few times: small, joyful cries coming out of nowhere, seemingly formed out of thin air, the musical friction of invisible particles, not the product of straining, vibrating, trembling vocal chords, but a sound of pure joy coming from the heart of life itself. But, after she paired up with Louie and became his sole partner, Libby turned so completely quiet, that we began to wonder if the voice we had heard in the beginning was truly hers.

Louie’s delight in the sound and functioning of his own magnificent voice, his pleasure in putting sound faces on everything – their finds and failures, their contentments and complaints, their yearnings and fears, their joys and hopes, the major, minor or minute events of their daily lives together – gave Libby the improbable ability of being heard without making a sound. For the first time in her life, she could enjoy the bliss of silence and the full power of voice at the same time. Her thoughts, her needs, her feelings, her pleasures and displeasures, were all there – perfectly voiced, perfectly formed, perfectly delivered in Louie’s utterings – each experience, captured in the jewel of a flawlessly pitched note. And in these notes, you could hear the developing musical portrait of Libby’s inner happenings.There was the sighed coo for Libby’s request to slide under his wing, the raspy hiss for her alarm at OJ, the “killer” cat’s approach, the purred hum for her pleasure in dustbathing, the bubbling trill for her enjoyment in eating pumpkin seeds straight out of the pumpkin’s cool core on a summer day, the grinding creak for her tiredness, the rusty grumble for her achy joints.

There was the growing vocabulary of songs used to voice their shared moments of delight – the lucky find of the treasure trove hidden in a compost pile, discovered by Libby and dug out with Louie’s help to reveal a feast of riches to taste, eat, explore, investigate or play with; or the gift of walking side by side into the morning sun and greeting a new day together; or the adventure of sneaking into the pig barn and chasing the flies that landed on the backs of the slumbering giants.

Occasionally, there were the soundbursts for their shared moments of displeasure, hurt, sadness, fear, or downright panic, such as the time when Libby got accidentally locked in a barn that was being cleaned and Louie, distressed at the sudden separation, paced frantically up and down the narrow path on the other side of the closed door, crowing his alarm, crying his pleas, clucking his commands, flapping his wings, showering us with a spray of fervid whistles, following us around, then running back to the barn door, clacking at it, knocking on it, then running back to us, whirring his wings, stomping his feet, tapping the ground with his beak, staring intently, and generally communicating Libby’s predicament in every “language” available to him: sound, movement, gaze, color, and certainly scent too.
But, for all of their panache, Louie’s most spectacular acts of voice were not his magnificently crafted and projected vocal announcements but his quiet acts of allegiance, his tacit acts of devotion, his daily acts of restraint. The things he did not do.

There was the silent song of giving up his treasured roost in the rafters, his nest in the sky where he had bunked every night of his years before Libby, the space where he felt safest surrendering to sleep, strongest entering the night. Happiest. The spot closest to the clouds. His personal Olympus.

ll-roostBut, in her lameness, Libby couldn’t join him there. She managed to climb next to him a few times but, with only one foot to grip the perch, she kept losing her balance and fell to the ground and, after a while, she stopped trying and just stayed there, grounded, anchored to the earth. So Louie quietly descended from his blue yonder and settled next to her in her terrestrial roost – a long, narrow tent created by a leaning plywood board – and he slept near the entrance, exposing himself to the intrusions of curious goats, wandering cats and restless geese, the better to protect Libby from them.

There was the soundless song of limiting the sport of his summer days to fewer and fewer hours when the stiffness in Libby’s stump increased with age, and the effort of following Louie in the fields, hobbling and wobbling behind him, turned from tiring to exhausting in fewer and fewer steps, and she started to retire to their nest earlier and earlier in the day. At first, she was able to make it till 6 in the evening, but then 6 became 5, and 5 became 4, and then it was barely 3 in the glorious middle of a summer day when she felt too weary to go on. The day was still in its full splendor, there was still so much more of its gift to explore and experience, and there was still so much energy and curiosity left in Louie to explore with, but Libby was tired, and she had to go to her tent under the plywood plank, and rest her aching joints. And Louie followed. With Libby gone from the dazzling heart of the summer day, the night came early for both of them.Then there was the tacit song of forfeiting his foraging expeditions and his place in the larger sanctuary community only to be with her. When Libby’s advancing age, added to the constant burden of her lameness, forced her to not only shorten her travels with Louie, but end them altogether, and when her increased frailness forced her to seek a more controlled environment than their plywood tent in the barn, she retired to the small, quiet refuge of the House. And Louie followed her there, too, even though he still enjoyed the wide open spaces, the wilder outdoors, the hustle and bustle of bunking in the barn. But Libby needed the extra comfort of the smaller, warmer, more predictable space inside the House and, even though Louie did not, he followed her anyway. And, when she started to spend more and more time indoors, curtailing her already brief outings, Louie did too.

ll-togetherAnd there they were. Just the two of them in the world. A monogamous couple in a species where monogamy is the exception. Determined to stay together even though their union created more problems than it solved, increased their burdens more than it eased them, and thwarted their instincts more than it fulfilled them.
It would have been easier and more “natural” for Louie to be in charge of a group of hens, like all the other roosters, but he ignored everyone except Libby. He paid no attention to the fluffy gray hen, the fiery blonde hen, the dreamy red hen, the sweet black hen dawdling in her downy pantaloons, or any of the 100 snow-white hens who, to our dim perceptions, looked exactly like Libby. Louie, the most resplendently bedecked and befeathered rooster of the sanctuary, remained devoted only to Libby – scrawny body, scraggly feathers, missing foot, hobbled gait and all.

It’s true that, with our dull senses, we couldn’t grasp a fraction of what he saw in her because we can’t see, smell, hear, touch, taste, sense a scintilla of the sights, scents, sounds, textures, and tastes he does. But, even if we could see Libby in all her glory, it would still be clear that it wasn’t her physical attributes that enraptured Louie. If he sought her as his one and only companion, if he protected that union from all intrusions, it wasn’t because of her physique but because of her presence.

ll-roamingIt would have been easier for Libby too – so vulnerable in her stunted, lame body – to join an existing chicken family and enjoy the added comfort, cover and protection of a larger group, but she never did. She stayed with Louie, and followed him on his daily treks in the open fields, limping and gimping behind him, exhausting herself only to be near him.

What bonded them was not about practical necessities or instinctual urges – if anything, it thwarted both. Their union was about something else, a rich inner abundance that seemed to flourish in each other’s presence, and that Libby nurtured in her silence and that Louie voiced, sang out loud, celebrated, noted, catalogued, documented, expressed, praised every day of their 1,800 days together.Except today. Today, it was Libby who “spoke” for both of them. And, this time, there was no doubt whose voice it was, or what it was saying, because it not only sounded off, it split open the sky, punctured the clouds, issued forth with such gripping force and immediacy that it stopped you dead in your tracks. It was a sound of such pure sorrow and longing, hanging there all alone, in stark and immaculate solitude, high above the din of sanctuary life, like the heart-piercing cry of an albatross. She had started to cluck barely audibly at dawn, when Louie failed to get up and lingered listlessly in their nest. She continued her plaintive murmur into the afternoon, when Louie became too weak to hold his head up and collapsed in a heap of limp feathers. And then, when we scooped him up and quarantined him into a separate room for treatment, her soft lament turned to wrenching wail.

ll-aloneThe next morning, she was still sounding out her plea, her love, her desperation as she feverishly searched every open room in the house, then wandered out into the small front yard, then the larger back yard, and the small barns behind it. Soon, she left the house and the fenced yard and took her search to the open fields, cooing, calling, crying like a strange sky creature, using her voice as a beacon, it seemed, a sound trail for Louie to follow back to safety, and roaming farther than she had in months, stumbling and staggering on a foot and a stump, the light in her being dimming with every solitary minute, her eyes widened as if struggling to see in dark, her feathers, frayed at the edges, as though singed by the flames of an invisible fire, their sooted ends sticking out like thorns straight from the wound of her soul, her whole being looking tattered and disoriented, as if lost in a suddenly foreign world.

And, for three excruciating days, we didn’t dare hope she’d ever find him alive again. Louie was very weak, hanging to life by a thread that seemed thinner and thinner with each passing hour. He didn’t respond to the treatment we were advised to give him and, after three days of failed attempts, we were beginning to accept that there was nothing more we could do except to keep him comfortable, hydrated and quiet until the end.But we underestimated both his strength and her determination. Libby did find her soul mate again. We don’t know how she managed to get into the locked rehab room, but she did. We were planning to reunite them later that day – going against the Veterinarian’s advice, as we sometimes do out of compassion for the animals – because it had become clear to us that Louie’s ailment was not contagious, it was “just” a bad fit of old age. But Libby beat us to it. She found her way into his room, only she knows how, and Louie found his way back to life too, seemingly at the same moment. There he was, looking up for the first time in days, life flaring in his eyes again, and there she was, huddled next to him, quietly sharing his hospital crate. And there they still are, Louie, slowly recovering, and Libby, blissfully silent again. She hasn’t moved since. She won’t leave his side now that she’s found him again, she refuses to even look away from him, as if he might disappear in one blink of her eye, as if the force of her gaze alone can keep him anchored in life.

She beholds him with her deep, dark eyes, thoughts streaming and darting, swelling and swarming in their inky pools, and she envelops him in her symphonic silence, which – you hear it now! – is not really a silence, but a space in which Louie’s voice may shine, a protected space where his voice may grow stronger, vaster, freer – not because it can boom against her muteness, but because it can speak for someone other than himself and, in so doing, it may grow from an instrument of self expression to an instrument of grace. Not the abstract concept of grace that we like to discuss and dissect, but the daily practice and experience of it.

They are both quiet now – Louie, exhausted from his ailment, regaining his strength, Libby, exhausted from her dark journey, gazing steadily at him. Both, brimming, basking in the rich silence that is so alive with voice and flowing conversation, that it glows between them like a strange treasure. And it shines.

© 2009 Joanna Lucas Be Fair Be Vegan
Libby and Louie lived and loved at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

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8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Hens
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Libby and Louie were extraordinarily lucky to survive the human demand for eggs. Virtually every one of the billions of chickens who are born into egg production does not come out alive. Egg production on ANY scale, from hobby farms to factory farms, is predicated on the mass killing of  the “unproductive” birds—the male chicks (roosters), who do not lay eggs, and the hens themselves when they become “spent” (unable to lay eggs at a profitable rate), at 1.5 to 2.5 years of age, a fraction of a chicken’s lifespan. The day-old roosters are killed by suffocation or maceration at the very hatcheries that supply laying hens to backyard egg enthusiasts and big producers alike. If the roosters are hatched on the farm, they are killed on the farm, usually as adolescents.

© Joanna Lucas, Be Fair Be Vegan
Libby and Louie lived and loved at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

For more information about the cruelty and injustice inherent in ALL egg production, from backyard farms to factory farms, please read:

What’s Wrong With Backyard Eggs?
Why There is No Such Thing as Humane Eggs—in a Nutshell 

What Happens to the Roosters?
What Happens to the “Spent” Hens of Backyard Egg Farms?

The Faces of “Free Range” Farming
Their Eggs, Not Ours

The Humane Egg ________________________________________
If living ethically is important to you, please remember that there is nothing humane about “humane” animal farming, just as there is nothing ethical or defensible about consuming its products. When confronted with the fundamental injustice inherent in all animal agriculture—a system that is predicated on inflicting massive, intentional and unnecessary suffering and death on billions of sentient individuals—the only ethical response is to strive to end it, by becoming vegan, not to regulate it by supporting “improved” methods of producing dairy, eggs, meat, wool, leather, silk, honey, and other animal products. For more information, please read The Humane Farming Myth. Live vegan and educate others to do the same.

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From Freedom to Hell – Flaviu Captured

Sad news indeed this Sunday morning. Flaviu is back in captivity at Dartmoor Zoo after walking into a ‘humane’ trap. The only blessing is that a farmer or hunter didn’t get to take a pot shot at him during his three weeks of freedom.

But it’s impossible not to wonder how much harder his captivity will be for him now after his taste of what life should be like for a lynx, a life in the wild, a life where he got to hunt for his food, stalk prey, climb trees, hide in woodland, drink from streams and pools, sleep under the stars.

Please never go to a zoo. Never take your children, your nephews and nieces.

Take the pledge

We are more sorry than we can say Flaviu, for what people have done to you and all the other animals kept against their will in sad captivity.

Sign here to support rewilding the lynx – petition to Natural England & Scottish Natural Heritage

Photo for Lynx UK Trust

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Flaviu Ghost Cat of Dartmoor & his Swiss Cousins

UK Rewilding the Beautiful Lynx

 

 

Doctor Dog – the Power of Loving Licks

When I read about a team of therapy dogs sent to comfort victims, survivors and families after the tragic Orlando massacre, I felt a warm glow inside. This story had THE biggest feel-good factor. Twelve golden retrievers right there with those in need to offer their therapeutic doggy affection, of which they have oodles and more to spare. The twelve are just a few of the one hundred and twenty dogs the American Lutheran Church has in its Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs team which has been helping human victims through difficult times for the best part of 20 years.

“Just the simple act of talking to the dogs is where the real therapy comes. People dealing with tragedy and grief in their life want somebody to talk to and need someone who will listen to them without any form of judgement – and dogs are the perfect listeners. As the victims tell their stories and let out all their anguish, they can gently stroke the comfort dog and that’s when the healing takes place.”

Tim Hetzner president of the charity explains “The dogs help provide a feeling of security to the victims they visit. Many of the people who stroke the dogs break down, having a moment of vulnerability, which is vital during these devastating situations.”

“Dogs show unconditional love”

Four words that say it all.

The dog’s best-friend status with humans reaches back into the far mists of time, but the first person recorded putting the bf concept into words was 18th century King Frederick of Prussia who apparently described one of his Italian greyhounds as his “best friend”. Wise man. And his contemporary, French philosopher Voltaire wrote that the dog, “C’est le meilleur ami que puisse avoir l’homme” – the best friend man could have.

It’s so true. No-one needs to tell a doggie’s human that they are the most loyal, devoted, loving, trusting, forgiving and patient of creatures. They shower you with excited doggy kisses when you walk through the door. They never get out of bed the wrong side and they’re always happy to see you, which is more than can be said of most humans. They are known to reduce anxiety and depression in their human companions, bring down blood pressure, lower heart rate, relieve symptoms of PTSD, and induce the release of oxytocin, the love hormone, in both human and dog. Dog-love comes with no strings attached.

That’s why they’ve proved so beneficial for the sick, the dying, the traumatised and the lonely. “People dealing with tragedy in their lives need this more than anything: uncomplicated affection.”

golden-retriever-1342252__180Ideally, the dog/human relationship is symbiotic – they get as much out of their relationship with us as we do with them. Which is quite unlike our relationship with most other animals whom generally speaking, we make useful to us, while we are harmful to them in varying degrees.

The Lutheran Church’s comfort dogs are called K-9s, because they are ‘service dogs’ used for a particular task that benefits humans. K-9 service dogs are trained as K-9s so that humans can use them for some specific task they want done, but that may not necessarily be in the canines’ best interests.

They are given a wide variety of tasks to perform in the service of man, and many of those tasks are dangerous: guarding people, property and places; attacking and subduing offenders; searching and rescuing; sniffing for drugs and explosives, for live people and for dead people.

Service K-9s are known as ‘partners’ by their human handlers, and on the whole they are loved and well-cared for, though sadly not always. Their ‘working life’ is however only 6-9 years, and then they are retired – if they are still alive, that is. What happens to them then? The Daily Mail reported that the UK police destroyed at least 84 of their ‘retired’ dogs in the three years leading up to 2013, in spite of a long list of people waiting to adopt them. One was just a pup, only 4 months old. And the Ministry of Defence destroyed 288 service dogs in the ten years to 2013, including two RAF dogs that guarded Prince William, Brus and Blade, who were destroyed just days after he quit the service.

UnknownThe point is, service dogs have no say in their ‘working life’, or what happens to them after, any more than do greyhounds or foxhounds who are just fodder for human ‘sport’, dispensable and replaceable commodities. Yet K-9s are routinely put in harm’s way by their human handlers. They are being used against the best interests of their own lives.* We know all too well from the sad story of beautiful Diesel the French police K-9 (pictured here) who was shot by a terrorist in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, what can happen to these trusting and utterly trustworthy animals. It’s just hypocrisy to award them medals for ‘bravery’, and heap praise on them after they’ve been killed ‘in the line of duty’.

So, as always when it comes to the human/animal interface, it’s still all about humans using animals for human purposes. It comes from an assumption that animals’ lives have little or no intrinsic value, and exist for human use. Those lovely golden retrievers deployed to Orlando are being used by humans for humans. Hopefully, they do benefit from their work themselves, if not as much as the humans on whom they lavish their love. Hopefully they have a good doggy life. Compared with most animals being used by humans, they are privileged. But is it stressful for them being shipped wherever their services are needed, all over the States? Is it stressful for them constantly being taken into strange places to meet strange people? We don’t even know if and how they themselves are affected by the emotional distress of the people they go to heal.

And there is another issue. Have these dogs been bred, or purchased from breeders for this task they have been set to? Judging from their webpage all the Lutheran Church’s comfort dogs are golden retrievers. Are any of them rescue dogs? It seems unlikely. How sad is that, when thousands upon thousands of wonderful loving dogs are languishing in rescue centres, and many get put down because there’s no space.

golden-retriever-744045__180

I started to have doubts about that warm glow I experienced reading the ‘dog doctors’ heartwarming story. Should they be ‘working’ for us at all? Should they be used, even if in a seemingly benign way? Is it right, or is it wrong? I don’t know.

Post Script 

The very first time dogs were used by the police here in the UK was in the hunt for Jack the Ripper in the 19th century. Sir Charles Warren then Commissioner of the Met, was being savaged in the press for failing over and over again to catch the serial killer. So hoping to silence the hostile press, he made the decision to get two bloodhounds trained up, and use them to track the murderer from the scene of his latest crime. Unluckily for him, it didn’t quite go to plan. Not only did the hounds fail to find the Ripper, one of them, less than lovingly, bit the Commissioner himself. Then both ran off. They had to launch a police search to find their own dogs. Oops! I imagine Sir Charles was less than eager to open the morning papers over his breakfast toast after that little debacle.

*Neck-break police dog Nero home from hospital  German Shepherd Nero jumped over railings in Watford which, unknown to his handler, had a 12ft (3.5m) drop on the other side. His neck was broken in two places. Glad to say, he is recovering well.

Petition to sign: Stop redeploying war dogs for profit

Petition to sign for justice for Totti two year old yellow lab K-9, left in hot car to die by her handler

Support IFAW’s caimpaign for Finn’s Law. Sign message to your MP – Police dog Finn stabbed multiple times in course of duty

Update

30th November 2016 Interesting article about protecting therapy animal welfare, but nothing about their rights. Should Canadian unions take up the cause for working animals? – The Current

Sources and quotes

One Green Planet feature by Lauren Kearney on the K-9 Comfort Dogs

Man’s Best Friend Wiki

Police Dogs Wiki

Charities for retired K-9s

In the UK:

FiresideK9.org

In the US:

Retired Paws

Saveavet for retired military dogs

Mission K9 Rescue for private sector service dogs

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RIP Diesel

Diesel Makes the News Again

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The Plant-Powered Teen behind the Earth Peace Foundation

The lovely young person in this picture  – no, I don’t mean the piggy one, though she is gorgeous too – as I was saying, this lovely young person and I have two things in common. First of all we are both committed vegans for the animals, the environment and the planet. And second, like many others we both draw inspiration from Albert Schweitzer. For her, “Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace” and for me his philosophy of “Reverence for Life” – one and the same thing of course.

Sadly for me, there the resemblance ends. Because this teenager is a wonder and has already accomplished more in her 14 years on the planet than I have in my … well, I don’t think I’ll divulge just how many years.

So meet Lila Copeland. At 8 years of age, already an activist, Lila’s CV included marching with fellow activists for GMO transparency and animal welfare, working to pass Prop 37 “California’s Right to Know” Act, as well as protesting factory farming.

By 10, this vegetarian-from-birth went vegan. And what a vegan she is, with a passion for sharing information with her peers, on “factory farm cruelty on animals, the cruelty of slaughter, the viability of living vegan, and how important that is to the planet.”

Age 11 she set up the Earth Peace Foundation. We can certainly see the influence of Dr Schweitzer in its mission statement:

We are for achieving peace between all species and preserving the earth’s ecological soundness for future generations

On the EPF’s website, informative videos, a reading list and useful web links. Best of all, “A Guide for Young People Going Vegan (and how to help your parents chill)”

Watch the video she made for Al Gore, Kevin Wall and the United Nations when she (then 13) discovered from Morrissey that unbelievably, animal products were on the menu at the climate change event Live Earth last year.

2016 sees Lila working on her latest project, the Healthy Freedom Campaign, to get vegan meal options in Los Angeles schools five days a week. No need for her to rely on just words for the benefits of the plant-based diet. As a Junior Olympian in long distance running and a keen surfer, shes’s the perfect demonstration of the fitness and energy vegan foods provide.

This is Lila with guess who addressing the LA schools board just last month, in her bid to get vegan meals into school cafeterias.

Lila Copeland Pamela Anderson Healthy Freedom Campaign LAUSD school meals vegan

As well as Pamela Anderson, she brought into the meeting Cowspiracy’s Dr Michael Klaper, athlete Torre Washington, and some notable health experts to explain the connection between animal products and heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. But what is more persuasive than vegan talk? Why vegan food of course. The schools board were treated to some tasty hot food samples, and were in Lila’s words, “blown away”.

Her ambitions are not small. (I guess we could have worked that out from the Earth Peace Foundation!) From LA to nationwide – Lila wants to see her Healthy Freedom Campaign taken up at federal level by 2020. And with a video like this, how can she fail?

This is how Lila shares her recipe for success with other young activists:

Be prepared “to be told no 100 times before you get a yes. If you get fatigued, just think about the animals who are dying every minute of every hour of every day against their will and you will have the strength to keep going.”

If there are inspiring passionate young vegans like Lila in the next generation, there’s hope for planet Earth yet.

 

Like Lila’s EPF Facebook page 

Sign petition following Lila’s plea to the Live Earth event, to ask world leaders for urgent action on climate change

 

Sources

One Green Planet

Earth Peace Foundation

 

Talking to children about animals: how society sends mixed messages about respect

The only thing I can add to this powerful post, is that I agree with everything it says. Thank you for sharing this Stacey!

Our Compass

Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons

SourceEcorazzi
Guest Essay by April-Tui Buckley

One of the key responsibilities of parents is to teach their children respect. We try and raise them to be kind and considerate children who grow into respectful and compassionate adults. We have many more considerations as a parent, but this is one I prioritize myself, and I know most parents do. My own childhood was spent on a farm in New Zealand, not the most likely place to foster a vegan ideology, but believe it or not the seeds were sown there. I am also Maori and raised by a strong Maori woman. Respect for the land and its people were central to my upbringing. In our culture we are considered caretakers of the land, we govern it and care for it for future generations. By no means is the Maori culture vegan, but my culture also played its role…

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Puppy Covered in Tar Rescued by Kind People … the Ending is so Amazing! (VIDEO) | One Green Planet

This poor pup wandered his way into a tar pit and was stuck fast. Luckily, a kind boy noticed the puppy and called in Animal Aid Unlimited to help. It took four baths with special soap to rid the small dog of all the tar, but seeing his happy, wagging tail afterward makes it all worth it! Now all this little guy needs is a loving pet parent to make sure he stays away from harm in the future.

The world can be a dangerous place for a small puppy, especially if they don’t have a kind guardian to watch out for them. Unfortunately, this is the case for many dogs born onto the streets across the world. In the U.S. alone, there are around 70 million homeless dogs and cats, of which only around six to eight million will be brought into shelters and then only about half are adopted into forever homes. The statistics are harrowing, and sadly, they are not much better in other parts of the world.

Animal Aid Unlimited, a rescue organization in India, is hoping to change these statistics for the better by rescuing stray dogs in need and helping them to find forever homes.

The little puppy in this video is a shining example of truly remarkable work that Animal Aid Unlimited does.

Source: Puppy Covered in Tar Rescued by Kind People … the Ending is so Amazing! (VIDEO) | One Green Planet

Pero the Sheepdog Travels 240 Miles to Find his Way Home

A touching and intriguing story.

Wouldn’t you just love to know how this beautiful boy made such a journey?  I know I would. I wonder if we will ever find out. The good news is that when he turned up on the doorstep of his birthplace, he was well-fed and in good condition, if a little bit lame – who wouldn’t be after covering 240 miles.

And does this look like one happy dog!

Pero sheepdog farm collie

A sheepdog originally from a farm in Ceredigion appears to have made the 240-mile solo journey back to its birthplace from its new home in Cumbria.

Pero, a four-year-old working sheepdog, escaped from Cockermouth on 8 April only to reappear on the doorstep of Alan and Shan James’s farm near Aberystwyth a fortnight later.

His previous owners have no idea how he found his way back.

They now plan to keep Pero.

Mrs James said: “The farmer in Cockermouth was looking for a dog that could round sheep and follow a quad bike, and we thought Pero would be ideal for the job.

“We told the farmer to take him away and see if he’d be willing to work for him on his farm up north. And so Pero left us at the beginning of March.”

But it seems Pero would not settle in his new home, and while out working on the farm, he bolted across the fields.

“We’d been told that Pero had disappeared, and was nowhere to be seen ” said Mrs James, who lives with their five children on the sheep farm in Penrhyncoch. 

“But then, last Wednesday evening, April 20, my husband Alan went out to check on the animals after supper and there was Pero on our doorstep. 

“It was a bit of a shock, and the dog was going crazy after seeing Alan.

“No-one called us to say that they’d dropped the dog off, and even though he has a microchip no-one’s been in touch either to say that they’ve found him. 

“It’s a total mystery as to how Pero has managed to find his way back to us. We know that dogs can find their way home, but 240 miles is a long way to travel.”

Now the family wish to find out if anybody has had an unfamiliar black and white sheepdog calling around looking for food at any time over the past two weeks.

“When he came back, he wasn’t hungry or weak, so he must have managed to find food somewhere. He must have stopped in places along the way,” she said.

To hear more of what his ‘mum’ has to say watch the video on BBC News

Update

Someone has reported seeing Pero in Harlech, running “with determination”. Maybe there will be more reports of ‘sightings’, though how to distinguish the true from false might prove tricky. For instance, someone reported seeing him in Worcester. One look at the map makes a nonsense of that!

I have a slight disquiet, unfounded I hope, that Pero’s story might prompt scientists to test out the theory that dogs come with inbuilt GPS. Worse still, that some bright spark might conceive of a use for this predicated ability and invite funding for research. Given humans’ propensity to rate every living thing by how useful or otherwise it is to our race, it’s not an entirely irrational thought. Pero himself was measured this way, just a farming tool, a sheepdog who could be useful just as well in Cumbria as in Wales. That is, until he told people different. Let’s hope that his exploits will strip the distorting lenses from people’s eyes, and he will now be seen, not as a tool of the trade, but for what he really is, a person.

 

Vegan Rights & Why They Really Matter For The Animals

Sunflower Vegan Society logoYou will probably be surprised to learn that our rights as vegans actually began as long ago as 1948, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, just four years after the ‘birth’ of veganism with Donald Watson’s invention of the V-word. Both events world-changing, but entirely unconnected of course!

There are 30 Articles in the UDHR, but Article 18 is the most important one for vegans. Under Article 18 people are entitled to their beliefs and have the right to both practice and teach others about their beliefs. And beliefs that qualify for protection under human rights law concern a life lived with deep convictions, which can be religious or non-religious in nature.

A few months ago Care2 published the good news that Ontarian vegans’ legal status has gone up. My apologies for being a little late with the news. I’m afraid this particular post’s been sitting neglected in my drafts since last December. So much for New Year’s resolutions. But it’s still worth taking it out and giving it a good dust off because it shines a light on Vegan Rights and why they matter for animals. And anything that matters for animals MATTERS!

i am vegan veganism vegan rights green healthy animals

“Some people view veganism as a diet, others as a way of life. Critics equate it to a religion and the Canadian province of Ontario has recently subscribed to that definition — but that’s a good thing” says Care2

Since 1995 when the policy was last updated, discrimination cases based on ‘creed’ were only considered if they involved prejudice against religion-based beliefs, but now the Ontarian commission has ruled that, ‘Creed may also include non-religious belief systems that, like religion, substantially influence a person’s identity, worldview and way of life,’ veganism stemming from ethical concerns included.

So what does the official recognition actually mean?

From a practical standpoint, it means Ontario’s vegans are entitled to have their diet, vegan-oriented choices, and beliefs legally respected.”  Care2

You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Why did their policy need updating? Why the need to define veganism as a ‘religion’? Deep convictions of a non-religious nature are already covered under Article 18 of UDHR. Well, it seems it isn’t quite as clear cut as it at first sounds. Signatories to The Declaration have quite a bit of leeway in interpreting Article 18. Some chose to allow it to apply only to those with religious beliefs, which means that veganism could only come under Article 18 if defined in law as a religion. So Ontario’s vegans actually had no vegan rights under UDHR – until that momentous re-definition in December last year. Other states and nations though, like the UK, already apply Article 18 to both religious and secular beliefs.

appetite-1284778__180But why is that important and why do vegans need legal rights anyway?

  • Vegans could be discriminated against in hospitals, schools, prisons, care homes and other institutions by not being provided with suitable food
  • Certain educational courses require students to undertake experiments on, or dissections of, animals. Because of their ethical beliefs, vegans need the legal protection of the right to be exempted
  • Vegans could be discriminated against in the health service if suitable medications are not provided
  • Vegans are still marginalised socially, in restaurants etc, where vegan choices are very restricted or non-existent

International law requires nations to implement EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL and prohibits discrimination. European case law has recognised VEGANISM AS A BELIEF FOR THE PURPOSES OF RIGHTS LEGISLATION. As such we believe that society has a moral duty to accommodate vegan belief and generate wider respect for veganism – International Vegan Rights Alliance

IVRA’s prose style – and this topic itself – may seem about as dry as some heavy old legal tome gathering dust in the archives, but what’s being said there does really matter. Not just to us, but to the animals too. Why? Well sadly, as yet we don’t have an equivalent UN sponsored Universal Declaration of Animal Rights – if you think like me, that the nations of the world signing up to UDAR would be just about the best thing that ever happened, please add your name to the petition below and share far and wide. Thank you in advance friends and animal-lovers.

So it is in the light of animals’ almost total lack of rights the world over, that it’s beholden on us to insist loud and clear, that our belief system – our belief in the innate rights of animals – has an absolute right to be respectedThis is Vegan Rights. This is why they matter. It isn’t really so much about whether all we can get to eat somewhere is chips and salad (though that would be very important if we were in hospital or prison). Or whether we’re made to feel like we’re a nuisance if we ask for plant milk. It is about the animals. The more we insist (politely, kindly and gently) on our rights as vegans, the brighter the spotlight thrown on what veganism is all about – the animals and their lack of rights in the world of humans.

2016 started with a zing for vegan rights here in the UK. Gourmet Burger Kitchen plastered around London a series of what they considered lighthearted ads poking fun at vegetarians. Take a look for yourself here:- We CAN Change the WorldA group of vegan Facebook friends countered with a social media campaign #gourmetmurderkitchen which trended on Twitter and hit the national news. I tried to make the point with one of my own tweets “Veganism is not a joke. Animals matter. Join us 2 demand  remove insulting ads”.  We won! GBK got a ton of bad press, were forced to issue public apologies and remove all the ads. Their brilliant advertising idea backfired on them big time.

images-3A year or so earlier, a regular feature writer in our local rag thought he would entertain his readers one November by ridiculing the oh so absurd idea of having a World Vegan Month – whatever next! And while he was at it, sneering at vegans.

“As if November isn’t depressing enough some masochists have declared it Vegan Month. Why is it that every veggie I meet looks like they have about 48 hours to live? No-one spends more time with animals than I do but if we all forgo meat what’s to become of all those beasts? Unless of course every vegan plans to adopt a cow, sheep and a couple of pigs. Soon as they’ve settled in they can move on to geese, turkeys, ducks, hens etc. I have noticed in restaurants that whenever a steak is served in error to a vegetarian they never send it back – they don’t have the strength. Almost every veggie I know is either a student or unemployed. They used to taunt me with that much loved question, “Would you eat meat if you had to kill it yourself?” Until I asked, “Would you eat vegetables if you had to get a full-time job?” I have a pal that grows his own potatoes, cabbage, carots, lettuce and owes his entire existence to …. benefits.” 

I wrote a firm rebuttal of his nonsense which the rag eventually published, and afterwards sent the following to the editor: In brief, Mr Barlowe depicted a minority group (vegetarians and vegans) as masochistic, weak-willed, spineless, unhealthy, unemployed benefit claimants. And after slurring the character of this group of people, wrote, “I’m joking”, as if that made it amusing. If you are in any doubt about this piece’s offensiveness, just substitute the word “Muslim” everywhere Mr Barlowe wrote veggie or vegan, and see if you would then be happy to allow that to go into print under your editorship –  there would be public outrage. But vegetarians and vegans are clearly seen as a soft target for cheap laughs. It’s pitiful the way your paper feels the need to poke fun at anyone who has beliefs and principles, and who is actually doing their bit to make the world a better place.

You are probably wondering why I’m woffling on about this. The reason is, both this and the GBK episode are good illustrations of why vegan rights matter so much for the animals. It isn’t that we feel personally insulted. It isn’t that we are delicate over-sensitive flowers who can’t take a joke. It’s that in mocking vegetarians and vegans, our beliefs about the rights of animals were themselves being mocked. Our beliefs are not funny. We need to tell that rag, that feature writer, GBK and everyone else who is listening, that billions of animals suffering miserable lives and dying cruel deaths at the hands of human beings IS NO LAUGHING MATTER.

UnknownAs it stands, the law endorses, no, actually protects the human-centric, speciesist world order. In its role as protector of humans’ property it stands as a very real barrier to animal rights. If we want to turn the tide of the terrible abuse animals suffer, we need as IVRA puts it, to “raise the profile of veganism as an important, workable, reasonable, rational and intelligent belief system.” It is a belief system that has the absolute right to be respected. Absolutely no apologies for being different, being inconvenient, being a nuisance, putting people out, refusing to allow our beliefs to be mocked. We are entitled to our vegan meal in school or hospital. We are entitled to our right not to carve up animals. We are entitled to vegan medication. We are entitled to be served a suitable meal in a restaurant. We are entitled to our beliefs and not to have them mocked. We have legal rights and by insisting on those rights, by demanding our beliefs be respected, we are laying claim to the rights of animals.

 This is why what happened in Ontario last December matters. 

This is why Vegan Rights matter. 

Sign the petition for a Universal Declaration of Animal Rights

And also here

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Know Your Rights – International Law Check out your vegan rights here if you live outside the UK or Europe

Know your Vegan Rights – European Law for UK & European vegans

Updates

16th August 2016 The Independent Italy’s proposed law to jail vegan parents for up to 4 years condemned as discriminatory attack on human rights

10th March 2017 It’s now illegal not to offer vegan food at prisons, hospitals and schools in Portugal – The Metro

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Rare Glimpse of the Miracle of Birth in the Wild

 

While it’s every bit as bad keeping marine animals captive as land animals, there is a silver lining to this particular cloud – a wild sea otter mum chose the safety of the rocks surrounding The Great Tidal Pool outside the Monterey Bay aquarium to give birth to her beautiful sea baby. And unwittingly offered the aquarium a unique opportunity to film this primal event.

Jo Frederiks – Artist for the Animals

So Jo, can you tell us a little bit about yourself. Were you always making art as a child? Was there a moment when you knew that this is what you wanted to do and said to yourself, “I am an artist”?

I was always drawing as far back as I can remember. I loved the solitude of drawing and reading, and still do. When I was about 6, I fell in love with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I read it countless times, which started an obsession with drawing horses.

Drawing 034

Then about 6 years ago when I was predominately a wildlife artist, I felt frustrated and disillusioned with my art. It all seemed rather pointless.

Drawing 014

I asked my partner for advice, and he said, “What are you passionate about?” I immediately replied, “Veganism!” And then proceeded to talk earnestly about the animal holocaust. He said, “Paint it. Paint what you’re passionate about.” That pivotal piece of advice completely changed my direction in life.

Tell us about your background. Were you brought up in a vegan family?

Hardly! My dad owned a number of cattle properties where thousands of nonhuman animals were bred and raised for the purpose of being killed. I quickly learnt to desensitise myself to the brutality of farm life, as all people in the outback must do. There was relentless killing, barbaric mutilations and absolute torture that we sanitise as “standard industry practice.” Those we belittle as ‘livestock’ were regarded as mere ‘things’ back then, and still are today. There was nothing remotely humane about any of it. Nothing. 

both are victims

Was there a particular event in your life that prompted you to choose vegan?

23 years ago I became a vegan overnight after attending an information night by Animal Liberation Victoria in Melbourne. Peter Singer was one of the speakers, hence I was introduced to his watershed classic, “Animal Liberation” which I immediately read. I was completely unaware of the horror of the dairy and egg industries before then.

What was the easiest thing for you about being vegan, and what the hardest?

The great part is knowing I no longer contribute to the needless suffering of sentient beings. The difficulty is dealing with society’s apathy and indifference to it all.

Are you ‘owned’ by any companion animals? Tell us about them.

I’m the guardian of 3 girls: Holly, Jess and Lucy. Two I adopted when I was fostering kittens at the Animal Welfare League on the Gold Coast. Holly though, she turned up lost and scared on my front door a couple of days before one Christmas. She’s a Ragdoll, so I can only presume she was meant as a ‘gift’ for someone and escaped.

What would a typical day look like for you?

I’m generally working alone in my studio – drawing or painting for the entire day. In the evening I search for material online that I can use for future concepts or to spark ideas. On the other hand, I may be with my wonderful partner assisting in the studio of another artist  he is interviewing for his art TV series Colour In Your Life. 

Can you tell us something about the techniques you use?

I mainly just draw in graphite now. Oil paint was my main medium. However I’ve recently decided to abandon it. It’s practically impossible to source paints free from animal by-products in Australia. I’ve now switched to Derwent pastel pencils and Velour paper as both are cruelty free.

Can you tell us if and how your art is informed by your beliefs? What inspires each picture? 

Nina Simone once said “An artist’s duty as far as I’m concerned is to reflect the times.” I hope my art work is holding a mirror up to society’s unjustifiable crimes against our fellow beings. I’ve found most people do not want to hear the facts when it comes to the suffering and environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture. Nor are they willing to look at graphic photos or confronting videos of helpless victims we reduce to ‘food’. They will look at a painting or sketch though. It’s a powerful and effective way to penetrate the deep-rooted denial, lies and indoctrination we were all born into. I hope my art inspires change.

How would you like to influence people through your art and your life?

Education and awarness. Art has the ability to make others aware of these social crimes. It’s like carving a marble statue with a feather – it’s a long and tedious job but one that has to be done if we are to save the Planet and our species for future generations.

The Animal Holocaust Exhibition

heather at farm animal rescue santuary

Jo and friend Heather – Carol Slater Photography

Find Jo on her website here