Archives for Animal Mentors

Animal Mentors

Help Me Make Amazing Happen (A Service Dog for FuMing Cutts)

You probably noticed the last name - FuMing Cutts - yup, we are related. :-)

FuMing, or we like to call him "Ming" for short, is my youngest nephew. But along with hope, intelligence, strength, courage and the love of his new forever family, Ming brought with him trauma.

He brought remembered grief for his birth mom who abandoned him when he was one day old (likely because she couldn't afford the many surgeries his cleft palate would in time require).

He brought PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from the many months when he basically starved because no one at the orphanage knew how to properly feed a cleft palate baby.

And he brought fear from all those moments before he came into our family when he didn't know if he would belong to anyone, anywhere, ever. 
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Animal Mentors

Mentors with Feathers


Approximately three years ago, I went to Cape Cod with my folks for our annual getaway.

While I was gone, I started to miss my parrot, Pearl, very badly.

I was already writing his blog, Love & Feathers, so I started re-reading past posts to see if that would help ease the ache.

It just got worse.

Then I started looking through the photos I've taken of him over the years. Right about that point I realized I had several thousand photos of Pearl - more than every other type of photo I've ever taken (from the moment I was born or when they first invented the camera, take your pick) combined.

Since reading old blog posts and looking at old pictures wasn't helping, my next attempt focused on writing.

In years past, I have often journaled - either through physically writing in a journal or (more frequently) writing songs. So I began to journal out some of my favorite stories about my life with Pearl.

This helped.

It helped me not just feel closer to Pearl on the inside while we were so far apart on the outside, but it also helped me feel less anxious about his approaching double-digit  birthday and how I might cope once he and I are separated by more than just geography.

So I kept writing....and writing. 
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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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