Archives for Animal Mentors

Animal Mentors

Why I Love My Stomach

Oh. The stomach.

That bastion of photoshopping. That naysayer of bikini season. That frenemy of (tasty) dessert.

With so much seemingly riding on its relative degree of concavity or convexity at any given moment, it is no wonder I have suffered with digestive issues for nearly as long as I've been alive.

But today I am happy to share I am mostly free from these life-long embarrassments and discomforts.

Thanks in large part to a combination of affirmations, probiotics, breathing techniques, meditation and other gentle helps, my stomach is too.

Today, my stomach and I have an agreement. It takes care of "digestion" and I take care of the rest. 
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Animal Mentors

Unexplained Powers of Our Pets

I really like to read books about animals, and especially about pets.

Frequently, one book leads to another and then another.

Recently, this led me to Rupert Sheldrake, PhD's book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home (and other unexplained powers of animals).

If you, like me, have ever wondered if your pet (dog, cat, parrot, tortoise, ferret, et al) is holding out on you, this is the book you need to read.

Obviously, Dr. Sheldrake wouldn't have written 300+ pages on the topic if there weren't something to write about.

But what he writes about - Oh. my. goodness. 
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Animal Mentors

If People Were Parrots (a Meditation)

Yesterday wasn't such an awesome day in my world.

When less-awesome days happen to me, I often try to cheer myself up by making lists of the things that annoy me most.

Usually "bugs" are at the top of my list. Often "forms" (such as the kind you have to fill out for the IRS) are right up there with the insects.

But yesterday, the number one slot was occupied by "people."

In other words, I had just had it.

Even biting red ants and buzzing mosquitos ranked higher than my own species.

And then, as I attempted to relax into sleep last night, all of a sudden a question popped into my mind.

What if I woke up tomorrow and all people were suddenly turned into parrots? 
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Animal Mentors

Of Dogs and Prisoners

I have always had a phobia about being locked up.

No matter how alluring the crime or how rich the prize, even the vaguest thought of being sent to prison afterwards would be sufficient motivation to keep me honest.

Not to mention that orange is definitely NOT the new black in my personal color palette, and I really like my personal space (a whole house full of it when I can get it).

Plus, prison seems to make already grumpy people even grumpier, and since you become like the folks you spend the most time with, that is a whole lot of grumpy I'd like to avoid.

But when I saw a documentary called "Dogs on the Inside" on Netflix, I just had to check it out. Reason being, I had the thought that if they are now allowing prisoners to bring their pets with them, I might be able to at least downgrade it to my "minor fears" list.

Turns out that isn't precisely what "Dogs on the Inside" refers to.

But it is still really, really cool. 
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Animal Mentors

Optimist Versus Realist Versus Pessimist

As I've gotten older, I've increasingly realized the lines separating behavior that is "optimistic," "realistic" and "pessimistic" are blurrier than I thought.

So rather than getting all tangled up in the various permutations of each, I try to keep it simple and choose my "optimist mentors" wisely.

Let's take my baby tortoise, Malti, as an example.

She loves to go outside and play. In particular, she enjoys a game I call "Malti tries to sneak in the forbidden gate....again."

The game is played like so: I let Malti down in the yard, and she takes off. She makes a beeline parallel to the fence all the way to the gate that closes off my neighbor's yard (which is full of cats, dogs, chickens, a huge koi pond and large water turtles).

Her goal? To get to the gate and under the wrought iron spikes.

My goal? To catch her before she achieves her goal.

Here I've learned that baby tortoises can suddenly get a lot faster when you take your eye off them for a few seconds.

I've also learned that Malti can play this game all day long (and I do mean ALL day long).

She never ever ever gets tired of trying to get inside the forbidden gate.  
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Animal Mentors

How a Puppy Taught Me to Trust My Gut

I didn't blog about it at the time, but back in July of this year we lost our 13 year-old dachshund, JP Morgan, Sr.

JP and I shared a birthday.

He was just one year younger than my parrot, Pearl.

Like the rest of his family, he enjoyed naps, walking slowly, watching TV and eating.

He also loved people.

He wasn't super crazy about other dogs, but man oh man did he crave the company of people! When my mom would take him out for a walk, he would stop when he saw a person walk by and refuse to move until that person (even if they were a total stranger) came over to give him a pat.

If ever I have met an animal whose sole purpose was to love and be loved, it was Morgan.

He went into a decline quite rapidly, losing the use of his hind legs, then his back half and all the functions that go with it. With surgery out of the question (long story) and cancer, an enlarged heart and other assorted ills already present, the kindest choice seemed to be to assist him to depart.

But this was quite a difficult choice for his little human family to make!

As fate would have it, I had just begun reading a series of books by Marta Williams, an environmental biologist-turned animal communicator (I started with "Learning Their Language: Intuitive Communication with Animals and Nature").

I had no idea I would end up calling Marta just a few weeks later for help connecting with JP in his final week. I just knew the book title intrigued me and the idea of being able to somehow intuitively communicate with the non-human world tugged at my heart strings.

When I emailed Marta, we had no idea what to expect.  
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Animal Mentors

A Choice Between Safety and Survival

Last night I started watching a new BBC series called "Hidden Kingdoms."

In this series, little wild beings like mice and beetles get their 15 minutes of fame as the camera takes a look at what it is like to be tiny and totally on your own in the wild world.

For instance, if you are a sengi, or elephant shrew, and you are not even as big as one toenail on the giant creature you are named after, how do you cope when that same giant creature lumbers by and obliterates the trail-based safety system you worked on all morning (and your whole life, really)?

If you are a sengi, you rebuild the trails, of course.

But then what if lightening strikes in the African desert right near your trail system and you have to run for your life?

What then?

The answer is surprisingly unpleasant...for both the sengi and BBC's viewers. 
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Animal Mentors

The Sheep, the Wolf, and the Sheepdog

For some reason, ever since I heard the movie was coming out, I have had a real eagerness to watch "American Sniper."

If I'm being honest, this reason probably had a lot to do with Bradley Cooper (who is - in my opinion - both uncommonly talented and uncommonly good-looking).

But as I started watching the film, I was captivated by much more than just its star.

In fact, the moment I knew I was hooked was a scene early on, when Chris (Bradley Cooper), his younger brother Jeff, and his folks were all sitting at the table eating. Jeff was getting picked on at school, and Chris had intervened.

At first, the boys' father misunderstood. He thought they were just beating up on others because they could. So he took off his belt, and told them a story.

There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep. Then you’ve got predators, who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.

Their dad went on to explain that he wouldn't tolerate any sheep or wolves in his household. When the boys explained what had occurred - that Jeff was being beaten up by bullies and Chris intervened - their dad asked Chris, "Well, did you finish it?" Chris nodded.

That was the end of that.

As I was popping around here and there online while writing this post, I realized this story resonated with lots of viewers. I am glad.

I too want to be a sheepdog....even on the days when I feel like a sheep, and even on the days I desperately wish I was a wolf instead.
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Animal Mentors

How to Know You Really Love Animals

It says "To Shannon, love Jack Hanna." :-)

Back in May, I got to meet legendary zoo director and animal activist Jack Hanna.

He even signed a cool postcard to me - addressing me by name.

At the time, I was pretty confident we were meeting as equals - two fellow animal lovers who simply choose to cohabitate with different numbers of non-human companions (me, 2; Jack, 200? 350?).

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Animal Mentors

The Birds of Pandemonium

Granted, now that Pandemonium Aviaries is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Michele has lots of volunteer help. But no one knows better than a fellow nonprofit founder (aka moie) that the pressure to do more, and do better, never ever stops.

Not to mention that - especially in the early years - she faced a rather staunch brotherhood of exotic bird breeders who overall hadn't much use for a gal with a soft heart for the injured, abandoned, neglected, misunderstood, and otherwise traumatized cast-aways in the exotic bird world.

But none of that stopped her. 
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