As you all know, I am a chimpanzee fan. I had planned my bucket list trip to see chimpanzees before this movie was ever announced; I’ve toyed with the idea of making primate medicine a career; I got emotional and weepy when I heard Jane Goodall speak for the first time. I don’t think I ever posted this snippet from October because it looks like a bad outtake from Blair Witch: Africa, but my eyes were THAT WIDE because it was seriously that cool.
So needless to say, I had high expectations for this Disney Nature film.
But not too high. I’m the first to admit I didn’t really enjoy African Cats. I thought it was terribly depressing. I mean, it is a documentary and you can’t control nature, so if all you get for years of filming is cat cubs getting eaten by hyenas and elderly lionesses abandoned by the pride to starve on the savanna, you gotta roll with it. But there were so few uplifting moments to balance the sad ones that the whole thing had a terribly melancholic tone.
Life is rough- really rough- in African Cats.
Last week I took a group of kids- I was excited enough about the movie to voluntarily agree to go with more than just my own, which should tell you something- to see Chimpanzee. I had hoped it would be as good as the trailers made it appear.
I was so not disappointed.
The cinematography was stunning. The narration by Tim Allen was entertaining without being overbearing. But what made the film just amazing was something that no one could have predicted- a completely mind-blowing moment never before seen on film. (Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers, though the trailers pretty much allude to what happens anyway.)
Now we all know the party line on chimpanzees: the females are the loving nurturers and the males spend their time beating each other up, grooming, eating, and impregnating. They have never been known to be particularly nurturing to the young, and have even been known to kill them. So when little Oscar’s mother died during filming, the filmmakers were mortified. He was, after all, the star they had been following since birth, and now- well, this was bad. They knew what was probably going to happen to him, but they were helpless to interfere.
They watched as the other females rejected him. Too young to take care of himself, he lost weight. In a last ditch effort, he started shadowing the alpha male, Freddy, who had never shown youngsters much tolerance or even interest. Freddy was typical of alpha males, a hulking, somewhat surly male who had an imposing bulk and a grim stare.
Freddy noticed this little shadow. He looked at this face staring back at him, a potential future challenger.
Freddy grunted. He picked up a rock. Then he bashed open a nut and handed it to Oscar, who had been unable to master the task.
Freddy adopted Oscar in all senses of the word. The sight of this hulking male with a little wee one hanging off his back hit every “awwwww” button in my cranium, the same one that gets pinged by pictures of firemen holding kittens.
This is just not something you see every day, even if you spend every day watching chimpanzees. To have caught such an unusual and tender experience is a treasure. I can only imagine the reaction of the filmmakers as they watched this singular event unfold in front of them, a documentarian’s dream.
And boy, did they commit to this movie in every sense of the word. I enjoyed the making-of segment even more than the trailers, if only to appreciate what they put up with: scorpions, spiders, vipers, fire ants, and bees. Thank you, Disney Nature Filmmakers of Genius, for putting up with all of that to bring the Ivory Coast to the air conditioned comfort of my local cinemaplex.
Have you seen Chimpanzee yet? Will you? You TOTALLY should. And I rarely say that.
Chimpanzee, by Disney Nature: Two opposable thumbs up.
It’s National Hairball Awareness day, and Snooki and I would like to remind you all of the importance of good deshedding on your pets. So to celebrate, here are 3 reasons you should remember to groom your dog or cat regularly:
1. Having to tell a guest “Excuse me, you have a fur tumbleweed on your butt” is really embarrassing.
2. Stepping in a wet hacked up furball in the middle of the night is, short of stepping on a snail barefoot, one of the grossest things that can happen to you. *squish*
3. Removing the hair before your cat ingests it is much easier than trying to get them to eat that furball lube they sell.
But don’t take it just from us. Plenty of other celebrities also recognize the importance of hairball awareness:
And just to make your day awful, I learned today that the world’s largest hairball weighed 10 pounds and was removed from a human. I don’t think any cats have managed a ten pounder, though Apollo’s come close once or twice.
Hairball Awareness Day and the celebrity look-alike contest were sponsored by Furminator, who would like to remind you all that making fur celebrities out of dry hair is much more fun than cleaning soggy regurgitated fur off the carpet. Have a good weekend!
Passengers on a flight from Detroit were held aboard a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport for more than two hours after a female passenger was suspected of having monkeypox, officials said Thursday.
The woman had been travelling in Uganda, according to officials, though they didn’t say when. She boarded a flight from Detroit to Chicago and while on baord, developed a rash. A family member told flight attendants that they suspected this woman had monkeypox, so the Chicago Fire Department called in the CDC, quarantined the plane for two hours, and then determined that no, the woman did not have monkeypox.
I come from a long line of hypochondriacs. My mother forbade me from travelling to Africa when I was in college, convinced I would come back with malaria, some sort of invasive roundworm, and a raging case of African trypanosomiasis. My sister got food poisoning at a dinner celebrating my graduation from vet school, which hit on the world’s longest one hour Southwest flight, which she spent cursing me for giving her Ebola. And when I started on a particularly long bout of allergy induced headaches, I put off going to the doctor for a month, convinced it was a slow growing brain tumor. This is why I avoid Dr. Google like the plague. All it does is make me paranoid.
People tend to fall into one of two categories: those who see illness in everything, and those who see it in nothing. There’s the client who brings their dog in for the skin tumor that turns out to be a nipple (true story), or the one who brings in the dog with the three pound tumor hanging off their chest that they thought was a small spider bite that would resolve on its own (also true.) We all know where this family member fits.
I bet I know exactly how this scenario played out. The woman was probably getting grief from her mother/cousin/whoever about going to Africa all along, sending her articles about yellow fever and people getting trampled by elephants and comparative analyses of the best water purifiers. She gets on a plane with said family member, who is already paranoid about her impending demise, and the second she breaks out in a minor rash from the hotel laundry detergent or whatever her loving relative sputters “I TOLD YOU SO!” and hits the call button, telling the flight attendant that this poor woman has monkeypox. Chaos ensues.
This is why I’m glad when I go back to Africa in June that it’s with total strangers and not, say, my mother (not that she would go anyway. Sleeping sickness and all of that.) A casual acquaintance would shrug at your rash and say, “Monkeypox? May want to get that checked out.” Even better, a veterinary acquaintance will give you a benadryl and laugh.
So which end of the spectrum do you fall into? And do you know anyone who’s gotten monkeypox recently?
As a medical practitioner, I’ve been trained from day one to be excruciatingly careful with controlled substances at work. We painstakingly log every tenth of a cc of morphine, keep impeccable logs for the DEA, and keep all that stuff locked up tighter than the gold bars in the US Bullion Depository.
We do it not because we like making our lives- and yours- all that more difficult, but because unfortunately controlled substance abuse is a huge problem. And many/ most of the controlled substances we use in veterinary medicine are also used by people, correctly and incorrectly. It’s a godsend to be able to provide these powerful drugs for our canine and feline friends, but I know as a profession we are somewhat lacking sometimes in making it clear to owners just how careful they should be with these prescriptions.
As strict as I am about my prescription-writing tendencies for veterinary clients, I realized my own compliance as a patient was less than stellar. I was shocked to find how much medication I’ve accumulated over the years through injuries, childbirth, and surgeries when I went through our cabinets in preparation for an open house to put it all away and out of the hands of strangers.
It’s hard to know what else to do with a long expired bottle of Tylenol with codeine, or that bottle of chemo drugs I never finished with Emmett. Like many people, I’ve just hung onto it. Prescription drug abuse really is a terrible problem- nearly 15% of high school students misuse prescription controlled substances- and it really is important for everyone to have an easy way to dispose of leftover medications so they are not a temptation for kids too impulsive to understand the consequences. 12-13 year olds- just babies, really- are abusing these substances on a regular basis, and it’s heartbreaking.
This Saturday is your solution.
Fortunately, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation, in conjunction with the DEA, has designated April 28th as National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. I was contacted by the NABP specifically to let you all know that they WANT you to bring back your dog and cat meds. The take-back service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. Sites will accept tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms of unwanted medication. There’s no distinction between veterinary and human prescriptions at this event. Sites will accept pills, both prescription and nonprescription, for disposal.
I had the opportunity to interview the Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Dr. Catizone on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Not only is Dr. Catizone the Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), but he is a licensed pharmacist and currently serves as a Governor of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Board of Directors and Chair of the PTCB Certification Council. Dr. Catizone is regularly called to serve as an expert witness for the US Government in the areas of pharmacy practice and regulation on both the state and national level issues.
What is the main reason National Drug Take Back day was started?
Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions across the country. In 2010, 7 million people aged 12 or older abused prescription drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a government agency that conducts a national survey on related topics each year.
The same survey showed that over 50% of people abusing these drugs got them from friends or family for free. Often those who abuse drugs, including teens, take them right of the medicine cabinet. This can include medications prescribed for pets.
Ridding the home of unused, expired, or unneeded medications, helps to prevent the drugs from falling into the wrong hands. Currently, law enforcement must be present if a person wishes to dispose of prescription controlled substance medications, such as certain pain pills. To provide opportunities for legal disposal of unneeded controlled substance medications, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began coordinating National Prescription Drug Take-Back events in September 2010. With locations in every state across the county, consumers disposed of 995,185 pounds (498.5 tons) of unwanted medication during the first three DEA Take-Back Days, illustrating the need for this service.
Why should people take drugs back as opposed to, say, throwing them away or flushing them?
Flushing certain medications or improper disposal in the garbage can lead to safety and environmental hazards. When drugs are brought to an authorized DEA collection site, or other legal disposal program, they are processed for safe destruction.
If there are no drug disposal sites near you, there are options for disposing of drugs at home. The information that comes with your prescription may provide instructions on home disposal. Only some medications should be flushed down the toilet and the US Food and Drug Administration has a list of these drugs on its Web site. If there are no instructions for disposal you can throw the drugs in your home garbage. But first, take them out of the container and mix them with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or cat litter. Seal the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container that can be disposed of in the garbage.
More details about drug disposal programs are available on the AWARxE Medication Disposal page.
Why should pet owners be concerned about this issue?
As noted above, often those who abuse drugs, including teens, take them right of the medicine cabinet. This can include medications prescribed for pets.
Proper disposal of unneeded medications helps prevent the drugs from falling into the wrong hands, and also helps protect the environment by keeping drugs out of the local water system and the local environment.
FDA does recommend that certain drugs are flushed to prevent danger to people and pets in the home. FDA has determined that the risks of accidental ingestion of these select medications, outweighs the small risk to the environment. A link to the list of drugs that should be flushed for disposal, as well as additional information, is available on the Medication Disposal page of the AWARxE Web site.
What is the most compelling or memorable story you know of regarding the dangers of prescription drug abuse?
Justin Pearson, a resident of St Cloud, MN, died tragically at age 24 because of a prescription drug overdose and his story was the inspiration for the AWARxE campaign. Justin had struggled with prescription drug addiction, and died on December 25, 2006, after taking a mix of prescription drugs which he ordered from an illegal Web site. Taking the drugs without a doctor’s prescription, and mixing a high dose of different prescription drugs led to Justin’s death.
More information about Justin’s story is available on the home page of the AWARxE Web site.
What is the most common veterinary drug of abuse?
Pain relievers and tranquilizers are two of the most commonly abused drugs, as reported in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey, and both types of drugs are used in the practice of human and veterinary medicine.
DEA has also indicated that buprenorphine and ketamine are drugs of abuse; each of these drugs is a prescription controlled substance approved for human and veterinary use.
For all the topics I’m happy to joke about, this is one that I take very seriously. I have seen too many bright and wonderful people have their lives destroyed by prescription drug abuse. So please, mark your calendar for Saturday and get rid of your leftovers. Or am I the only one who has a pile of half empty bottles in the cabinet?
By the way, Dr. Catizone’s idea for disposing of drugs in cat litter is pretty brilliant. Is there no end to the uses for cat litter?
It wasn’t until I almost passed out at the top of a mountain that I really understood how much I underestimated the effects of dehydration. I have the Dalai Lama to thank for this, you know. No, really.
Sure, I knew hydration was important for everyone else, but I figured, meh, I can do without for a bit. When I went out hiking last week, I packed a little water bottle for Brody- he hikes with a fur coat on, after all, and filled my little Camelbak running pack and set it on the counter, where it remained for the rest of the day because I forgot to put it in the car.
By the time I had realized my mistake, we were already on the road. It wasn’t a huge deal. I knew the weather was going to be hot, so I steered towards the coast where the temperature was a little more temperate. Plus, the coastal trail has plenty of water fountains.
But then his Holiness intervened.
I couldn’t figure out why traffic was backed up almost to my freeway onramp. “Is there an accident?” I asked Brody, who had no answer, so I turned on the radio.
No accident. Just, you know, the Dalai Lama talking to 20,000 enthralled admirers at San Diego State, which resulted in what one might delicately describe as a traffic situation. So rather than sit around and wait for all 20,000 of them to find the five available parking spaces on campus, we turned around and went to my alternative trail.
I love this trail, actually. 6 miles of beautiful country, 3 miles up, 3 back down. And when it’s not 85 degrees out, it really is lovely. But when it is 85 out, well, it’s a bit more of a slog.
Especially since there are no water fountains. Perhaps this is a sign, I thought. The Dalai Lama teaches courage, after all. I can do this. I’m tough. Brody trotted alongside gamely, goading me up the mountain. Sure, it was a little slow, but it was a good trot.
Halfway up we came across a tiny creek, where Brody joined a Corgi and rolled around for a bit. I briefly considered joining him but had to content myself with letting him shake off on me. With a nice soggy wet coat to evaporate and cool him off, Brody was good to go, so we soldiered on as the sun beat down on us.
“Let go of worldy anxieties,” the Dalai Lama exhorts. It was with this in mind that I decided I needed to let go of my worries about turning myself into a raisin, shrivelled up like a husk on the hillside. I lapsed into a state that could be either meditative or hallucinative, I’m not really sure which. I felt fine, that’s all I know.
We reached the top, and plopped down on the inexplicably placed mountaintop picnic table for a minute. I took out Brody’s bottle of water. I looked at Brody. “Be compassionate,” his Holiness whispered in my head. So I gave the dog all the water. I felt just fine.
Then I stood up, and the world started to swim.
“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry,” said the Buddhist in my skull. Despite his advice, I was a little bit worried. We had three miles to go, after all, and I had just given my last bit of water to a dog whose only concern in life was making sure the cat didn’t get all his food.
The hiking series, part 2: Delirious
I don’t even remember taking this picture. Why do I look so happy? I felt like garbage. Anyone looking at my phone for clues as to my untimely passing would have thought Brody pushed me off the top- because surely, this is not the picture of a person in distress.
I’ve heard it said that freezing to death produces a state of euphoria shortly before your actual demise. I don’t know if heat stroke provides a similar experience- though based on what I’ve seen, I’m guessing not. All I know is that I entered a thoughtful state on the way back down, wondering what you all would have made of my sunburned carcass being found on a backwoods trail with Brody nosing through my pockets in search of Powerbars. I’d like to think you all would have known I died giving my last drop of water to the dog, but I think a just as likely assumption would have been: “Dr V saw a mountain lion- or just an Irish setter that she thought was a mountain lion- and died of a heart attack. What a shame.”
But my point is twofold here:
1. Don’t be a dummy like me. Always assume you’re going to be stuck in conditions more extreme than you were planning on. And always have a backup water bottle in the car, if you tend to the absent-minded like I do. Just in case.
2. Never invoke an ascetic Buddhist when heat stroke is on the line. Next time, Brody’s sharing the water bottle.
This weekend we went and looked at houses. We can’t make any offers until our current one sells- SO HURRY UP SOMEONE AND BUY IT- but we can at least get a good feel for where we want to live.
We’re moving with two priorities in mind: lessen my husband’s commute, and get us into a good public school district. To that end, there are two communities we are considering.
Ticky Tacky Town is made up of little boxes on the hillside, and they’re all made of ticky tacky and they all look the same. And the schools are great and there’s lots of places like PF Chang’s and Starbucks and lots of people walking Vislas and Australian shepherds, and everyone’s yard is made of HOA compliant drought resistant sorts of materials, all master planned to blend in with the neutral stucco of the rows of homes.
Yes, it’s perhaps a tad dull in terms of character, but that is the reality of life in Southern California. The vast vanilla expanse of suburban doldrums is pretty much standard everywhere in newer homes, and with all other factors taken into consideration this is the place I was really pulling for. Boring, but pleasant. It got the job done. And then there’s Crazy Town.
Crazy Town is one I didn’t even think of considering until my husband brought it up. It’s old, it’s charming, and close to the water. The schools are great there too, but the community just couldn’t be any different. Multi-million dollar manses butt up to sprawling apartments and lots of itty bitty homes built in the 1940s, whose owners are slowly dying off and leaving the little downtown village area to the patisseries and coffee houses that are slowly popping up.
We went on Sunday, just to check it out, since I was pretty opposed to the idea. I sat on a bench at a coffee shop- excuse me, a ‘micro roaster’- and watched about 50 dogs of varying shapes and sizes wander by. On a three block stretch there was one chiropractor, two coffee stores, three groomers and two pet specialty stores. It was eclectic, low key, and the weirdest combination of pretty much everyone you would possibly run into on a Southern California beach.
Two miles up the road, crazy art museums and people with names like Biff and Muffy who do things like throw galas on a regular basis. Two miles down the road, fifty “medical herb” dispensaries and tattoo parlors and people named Stubby. And here in the middle of the two extremes, this crazy, eccentric, fifty flavors of awesome little beach village. I sat there on the bench and watched a guy load his beagle onto a Vespa. And that is when I realized maybe I didn’t want ticky tacky after all.
Now, instead of a nicely appointed standard issue tract home box, we’d be looking at a microscopic shoebox of a cottage, with four people and two dogs and a cat piled on top of one another in much less space than we were used to. We’d be struggling with old disguised as vintage, 1950′s plumbing and wiring and appliances, mold inspections, and battalions of magazine-selling shysters that never make it into suburbia since the HOA fees pay for people to chase them off. It’s a big tradeoff. Size for charm. And 99 cent fish tacos within walking distance.
So I don’t know. Since we’re still in the middle of selling our current home I don’t know exactly when the decision will have to be made, but it will soon enough. But I found it strange that despite its seeming perfection, nothing about seeing a coterie of perfectly coiffed middle aged women standing outside the Ticky Tacky Town Pilates Studio appealed to me, perhaps because I’ve talked to people like that, and none of them like puns or think putting disturbing pictures in your bedside table to toy with snoopers is a clever idea.
Of all the things that made me say, “I could fit in here,” it was the front and center presence of so many strolling dogs in Crazy Town that really did it. Though if I’m being perfectly honest with myself it probably isn’t that strange at all. You see that so infrequently these days.
And I could totally see Brody in a Vespa sidecar. Decisions, decisions.
Well, we’ve done it. Our house is on the market. I hope it sells quickly, because we’ve whipped the place into show-perfect condition and trust me, I can only sustain this for a very short amount of time. The pressure of the constant running around after two messy little primates dripping crumbs and two fuzzy big canines shedding fur and one giant ape dripping socks is just a whole lot for one person who isn’t that fond of housekeeping to begin with.
Every time someone wants to come through to see the place, I have to figure out two things, after doing a runaround to clean up at the last minute and sticking my daughter’s Dug doll (I’ll explain) on the bedside table:
1. Where do I put the kids
2. Where do I put the dogs
Because I’m sure the last thing a potential buyer would like while they are going through my drawers is a kid asking, “Do you want to buy my house? Want some fruit snacks?” while a dog runs interference leaning into their hip every two seconds for pets.
I’ve read that one should remove all hints of yourself from the house so that potential buyers just see themselves in it. We tried, but we have too many family pictures on the walls; if we took them all down they would be bare. I tried to hide signs of pet ownership in case someone is a freaky I hate pets person, but all they need to do is go in the garage to see the evidence: the dishes, the litterbox, the pile of leashes, and (usually) Apollo, hiding from the strangers.
We are animal lovers here. There are clear hints. The more subtle hints are hidden away in drawers: the rawhides, the Kongs, the Advantage tubes. Most people don’t see those things, because most people don’t go through your drawers, but some people do. I know this. I have planned for it.
I expect people to look in the cabinets, in the closets. Anything that is part of the house is fair game, and I get that. Opening a drawer or two to assess the cabinet structure, OK. But the one thing I know people do, because people have admitted to it, is rummaging through the free standing dresser drawers and things they have no business going through, either because they’re looking for stuff to lift, or because they’re just nosey.
We locked away anything of value, put prescription meds in the safe (though if anyone wants leftover malarone, be my guest.) Then I made a little sign for the bedside table, because anyone who opens that is just looking for trouble, that said: “Smile! You’re on the nanny cam!”
And because most people hide nanny cams in stuffed animals, they will immediately lift their eyes and see, staring right back at them, the steely Disney eyes of justice in the form of the Dug doll sitting on top of my bedside table.
Yeah, Brody’s not home, but I still have a guard dog.
And OK, technically I don’t even really have it rigged as a camera, but it would be classic if I did. Makes me almost wish I had a nanny cam just so I could record people’s reactions for YouTube. The beauty of the whole idea, of course, is that if you aren’t nosing around where you shouldn’t be, you’d have no idea I was trolling you. If you open the drawer, you deserve what you get.
Anyone have any experiences with nosey house hunters? Or any ideas for other surprises I should leave? I do have a copy of the infamous Purina fecal scoring chart in the garage.
So yaay everybody, happy Earth Day! In the last year I have been fortunate enough to see the majestic Amazon in Peru, the natural wonder of Ngorongoro Crater, and the jaw dropping Mahale Mountains in Tanzania. And living in California, well, I can’t complain about our natural beauty here as well. We have an amazing, beautiful, really mind-blowing planet to hang out on. And mess up.
I think it’s a fairly natural fit for people who love animals, who are fascinated by wildlife, to also be sensitive to conservation efforts. When burgeoning populations expand ever further into previously uninhabited areas, when forests are razed to make way for agriculture, well, this affects us all. And I’m actually going to see if my colleague who is now at CDC and was once a researcher with the local mountain lion organization will do an interview with me about the concept of human encroachment, because I find it fascinating. But since I don’t know enough on my own to say anything insightful, I want to limit this day’s Earth Day celebration to something I know much more about: suggestions about ways to spend your money if you’re in the market for some pet products that are good for the planet: (more…)
I read a great article yesterday on msnbc about the incredible work being done by World Vets under the leadership of one of the most amazing vets I have ever met, Cathy King. Then I read the comments.
Comments on news articles are a funny thing. People who like to comment on news sites are very odd, aren’t they? It’s like they have alienated every human they have come across in the real world so they need to go online in order to find somewhere they can moan and groan. On many blogs and message boards, there is an air of civilized discourse that carries over from our expectations of how one might carry themselves in polite company. But on sites like CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC, there’s no such expectation. It’s internet missile-lobbing at its finest.
Because I have come to expect this, and because any article about pet health or animal welfare published on a general interest website generates a predictable wave of irate people-centric responses, I can’t say I was surprised to see the comments. It’s a phenomenon one can reliably count on.
“Why are these weirdos wasting their time on DOGS when so many people are suffering?”
“ This is an asinine waste of resources that should be used for people in need, not some stupid animal. No wonder the planet is so hosed up.”
“People first. Millions of people sick, staving in desperate need.”
People make this argument as though most people choose between caring about animals or caring about humans. As if you have to pick one or the other. That just isn’t the case. In fact, the opposite tends to be true: people who care about animals tend to care even MORE about humans than those who don’t care about animals. That is because people who care in general, care about lots of things. Compassion is a universal trait.
People who identify as animal lovers are actually more likely to be involved in their children’s schools and in other philanthropic activities. They are probably giving more to charities that help people than those very same people who are criticizing them for helping animals. Funny how that works.
So let’s review a few misconceptions about animal lovers I think we need to work on:
1. We love animals, but we hate people.
Hey, even if it’s true, try not to respond to every dopey news troll with “Well, I love dogs more than any human I’ve ever met, so no wonder I’d rather help them.” Be that as it may, I know you all. I have seen you come together to help a friend in need time and time again, and it’s not just because you feel badly for their pet.
Sure, you get frustrated with stupid people who do stupid things, and horrible people who do horrible things, especially to the defenseless. But that is because you have a huge squishy compassionate heart, and for all your irritation with the bad people in the world, you all are the first to pull off your coat to give to someone who is shivering. You can’t hide that from me. I’ve seen it.
2. We have no sense of humor.
It’s hard for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about animal welfare issues to understand why people were upset about the Doritos commercial at the Super Bowl. And you know, lots of people thought it was funny and I’m sure they’re not all cat murderers. You know, I liked Pulp Fiction and I’m not a hit man and I don’t condone shooting people in the face.
I think this is a ‘pick your battles’ sort of thing. If we raise a fuss every time someone puts a picture online of a dog in a dumb hat looking dejected, eventually people are going to think we’re missing a funny bone. And I know for a fact this is not the case. Exhibit A:
Yes, I made a Snooki out of Apollo’s fur and a kumquat for National Hairball Awareness Day. 29 other bloggers took on Conan, Lady Gaga, and Ellen, to name a few.
Exhibit B: Everything on Icanhazcheezburger or Reddit. It’s OK to laugh at animals every once in a while. That’s because they are funny. We shouldn’t be afraid to laugh, no more than we should fear to cry. We are the types of people who feel emotions very deeply. It defines us.
So for the record, I’d like to remind the universe that animal lovers are well-socialized, compassionate human beings with some of the most amazing hearts, endless drives to better the world, and an ironic self-awareness that is quite cognizant of the perception that other people may have of them. Which brings me to my last point:
3. We’re creepy, gross, and/or antisocial.
People who are not into animals seem to think that people who are live bizarre lives of antisocial activity in their smelly basements surrounded by cats because those are the only living beings they can tolerate. You know, this lady:
Or Tamar from I Have Cat, a modern woman with impeccable style, and also cats.
Let me also remind you that Evan the surf instructor likes dogs:
And the list goes on and on. So no, being an animal lover is not a default place that sad and sorry humans regress to when the rest of humanity has rejected them. In fact, animal lovers make some of the best leaders (FDR), advocates (Jane Goodall), and humanists (Gandhi) the world has ever seen.
So to those who read about people helping animals and have the nerve to complain, I pity you. I pity that you do not see these people for what they are and what they have to give. And I feel sorry for you that you will will never be as great as they are.
Any other misconceptions I forgot to mention? I feel like I need a Top 10 List of Why Animal Lovers Rock to come out of this.
As some of you know, because I haven’t shut up about it for the last few weeks, we have our house on the market. It’s rough, not only because the market is rough, but because trying to pretend a house full of kids and animals is a pristine model home is an exercise in futility.
The furniture has some vestigial bite marks left over from Brody’s youth; the grass has some brown spots despite my best efforts; the walls have some stickers I haven’t managed to completely remove yet. However, those are things we can work with. These are workable.
The skunk, however, is not.
We’ve had a resident skunk for as long as I can remember living here. I believe it resides under the deck. Most of the time it’s not a big deal; he can’t be that bad if he’s never pegged Brody, because you know Brody would be all up in his business if he could be. I just get an occasional whiff in the evenings when I let the dogs out. No biggie.
However, the last few months he went nuts and sprayed all over the side of the house. It was bad. I wasn’t sure what to do. Over time, it’s lessened, and I thought we were in the clear. We had a realtor come by last week and he didn’t say anything, so I thought, well, maybe it’s not as bad as I thought.
“We have a skunk,” I told him. “Is that going to be a problem?”
“Don’t worry,” he responded.
Then the realtor came back over the weekend. I guess the skunk had made an epic return, because the realtor did an about-face and said, you need to do something about the skunk. He said, I can’t open the windows. And really, no matter how nice and clean your house is, a big noseful of skunk is enough to deep six any sale, unfortunately.
We made some calls. We were bounced around from animal control to exterminators before finally finding a licensed wildlife trapping service that is licensed through the state to carry out wildlife relocation services.
“We have two options,” the guy said. “We are only allowed by law to relocate within 50 yards of the place he was trapped,” which ruined my initial plan to relocate him to the yard of the person who complained about my Valentine’s Day matchboxes. “And if you put them down within 50 yards, they always come back.”
“What’s the other option?” I asked.
And you know, I just couldn’t. I mean, it is what it is, and we have this yard, and he lives in it, and barring the occasional whiff he hasn’t been a terrible roommate. And I just can’t bring myself to kill him in order to help us move.
So I told the realtor, who by now is probably beginning to regret his decision to work with a nutter like me, that he just has to keep the windows closed and hope the skunk is sleeping on the days we need to show. And that’s all I can think of to do.
Maybe this rattlesnake aversion stuff does pay off.
To the left is a shed skin just hanging out on the side of the road. Brody sniffed every single bush in that park but refused to show the slightest interest in the skin. NOT that I’m complaining!
We did an aversion training session when he was eight months old, but we are due for a refresher. With spring in full bloom, the snake babies are everywhere and ERs are gearing up for what is looking to be a brisk bite season.
If you live in an area where your dog is at risk for a rattlesnake bite, and you have an inquisitive dog, it’s something I recommend. Has anyone else done rattlesnake aversion training?
You all know I am irrationally petrified of getting eaten by a mountain lion. Every time I start to get close to being OK with the risk, someone comes around and says, “Oh yes, some woman DOWN IN SAN DIEGO had her scalp eaten by a mountain lion, I remember reading that in the papers, and she only lived because some guy rode by on a mountain bike and threw the bike at the mountain lion” and then I get all freaked out again. (Thanks, Susi.)
Yesterday Brody and I checked out a new-to-us area called Mission Trails. We went before the abovementioned lion-scalping conversation, when I was still feeling confident. Yes, they are out in the area, but sightings are rare, and to my knowledge no one has ever been attacked in this particular park. (They very habituated aggressive cougars featured in Cat Attacks live in Cuyamaca, a bit further east, and no I won’t go hiking there.)
Not to say the park officials don’t give you sufficient warning all the same. (more…)