Archives for Animal Mentors

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?).

Then...
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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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Animal Mentors

The Face of Unconditional Love


It has taken nearly half my life to realize unconditional love is a very achievable experience that I really can have.

I can receive it. I can give it.

However, being me, at first I tried to tackle unconditional love the same way I try to tackle everything new - the hard way.

I tried to give it long before I knew what it felt like to receive it (no experience = no ability).

I also tried to find it with people first (in a word - whoops).

And I tried to find it in big chunks rather than in fleeting moments (which was all I could sustain at first).

Later I learned it is much easier to find unconditional love in nature before seeking it amongst my own kind. 
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Animal Mentors

You are Wonderful


"You are wonderful."

Those have to be three of the most, well, wonderful words in the world.

I say them about 2,500 times a day to my parrot, Pearl, and my baby tortoise, Malti.

I often share that having pets is like having built-in reminders to say my daily affirmations.

This is because, even though I'm speaking the sweet words to other beings, in a way I'm saying them to myself at the same time.

I can tell this is true because I also feel more wonderful after telling someone else I think they are wonderful.

After a time, after so many affirmations spoken very authentically from my heart, I begin to believe they apply to me too. 
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Animal Mentors

Why an Apple a Week May be a Better Plan


I went for my annual checkup today.

I really love my doctor - a delightful first in my medical history.

She is easy to talk to, practical, and (a must for anyone who has ever suffered from an eating disorder) non-dramatic when it comes to the normal ebbs and flows of medical test results and daily life.

When she asked how I've been doing, I shared I feel better than I ever have before in my whole life.

I feel more balanced - insides with outsides.

I feel healthier in my relationship with my body.

I feel really good about my mental state.

I feel like a better "me" than I've ever been able to be before now.

But then I told her sometimes I still worry when I don't eat everything I want to include in my meals every day.

And that is when she said it - a nugget of pure, true wisdom I am sure will stay with me for the rest of my life. 
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Animal Mentors

Fighting for Happiness


If there is one realization I would say is both persistent and perfectly-timed for the start of my "Year of Living Intuitively," it is this:

If I want to be happy, I have to fight for it.

I say this because life IS hard.

It is hard for all of us. And if I choose to, I can always find hardships - mine or others' - to focus on.

In fact, without even breathing hard, I could keep myself miserable 24/7 just thinking about the incredibly painful, awful things happening all over the world right at this very minute to people, animals, and the Earth.

With all that grimness so visible and readily available, I have to make a conscious, intentional, and absolutely consistent effort to find the bright bits and hold on tight.

I have decide that every glass that looks half-empty at first glance must also have a less easily seen twin that is half-full....and then I have to muster up the guts to walk over and introduce myself and make a new friend.
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Animal Mentors

Relearning Self-Forgiveness


A few weeks back I posted about my journey towards releasing false self-esteem.

I really loved reading your comments on this post - thank you!

As part of my work to release false self-esteem, I have discovered I also need to re-learn how to forgive myself.

To start with, I am noticing some things are easier to forgive myself for than other things.

For example, right or wrong, it would seem I can forgive myself for transgressions against myself without even breathing hard. ("Oh, it was only me who got hurt - oh, well, then, no big deal!")

More challenging is to forgive myself for transgressions - accidental or otherwise - against others (in order of difficulty - most to least: family, friends, acquaintances, total strangers).

Nearly impossible is forgiving myself for any transgression that may have put an innocent (my pets, any animal, a child) in harm's way.

Yet in this new "re-learning self-forgiveness regimen," forgiving myself for all of the above is not optional.

If I am going to learn - I mean really learn - to forgive myself, I can't just do the easy ones and call it a lesson learned. I have to be able to forgive myself no matter what.

Ack.

Here is an example of particularly challenging one I'm working on now:

The other day I was on the phone with my best friend. She was in tears - I had taken care of her during her eye surgery, and she was telling me she had been taking her eye drops in the wrong order. I was the one who was in charge of reading the directions and organizing her drops. While we were talking, my parrot started screaming. He was very loud, but my friend was very upset, so I ignored him. He screamed for at least 10 minutes (probably longer) before I went to check on him. When I did, I discovered he was on the floor and unable to get back to his cage (he can't fly so if he ends up on the floor he needs me to help lift him back up to safety).

So here, there are two main areas where I need to forgive myself:

The eye drops oops.
The parrot rescue oops.

Where I'm at with the eye drops oops: 
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Animal Mentors

Baby Steps to Tortoise Mama-hood


Can I just say I thought being a tortoise mama would be easier?

I kept several water turtles when I was a girl, and it felt smooth and simple (of course maybe this was because my mom was the real "keeper of the torts" and I just fed and admired them....and fled when it was water-changing time!)

But for years I had wanted a tortoise (land turtle) and one day, after a bit too much "bad day" for my taste, I got on Craig's List.

The next thing I knew I was driving home with a tortoise the size of a silver dollar sitting in a tiny tupperware in my front passenger seat.

It has been like this ever since.

She is 1 year old this month, and I don't feel any more confident (well, only marginally more) than I did on that very first day.

One of the hardest things about being Malti's mom is not knowing where to go to get my questions answered.

With my parrot, Pearl, there are loads of amazing cockatiel groups and communities with wonderful peeps who eagerly respond to all my queries.

It is not the same with Malti.
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