"Until we have the courage to
recognize cruelty for what it is, whether its victim is human or
animal, we cannot expect things to be much better in this world.
We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any
living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such
moronic delight in killing, we set back the progress of humanity."
Carson, Silent Spring
"We need another and
a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals."
"Remote from universal nature, and living
by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature
through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather
magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize
them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having
taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err,
and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.
In a world older and more complete than ours they move
finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses
we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall
never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings;
they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of
life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail
of the earth."
Reunited after 20 Years
Jenny and Shirley were elephants at the same circus
when Jenny was a calf and Shirley was in her twenty's.
The two lived one winter together, but then were separated
twenty-two years ago... until this reunion...
The click is a marker signal: You use the sound of the click
to tell the pet “YES” that is exactly what I want
you to do. The clickers sound is non emotional and therefore continually
tells the dog that no matter what mood you are in the click still
No corrections or punishment
In clicker training, you watch for the behavior you like, mark
the instant it happens with a click, and pay off with a treat.
The treat may be food, a pat, praise, or anything else the learner
enjoys. If the learner makes a mistake, all you do is wait –do
not click- and let them try again. No words or physical attention
from you…just simply wait..
Replacing the clicker with praise
Clicker trainers focus on shaping good behavior. If a dog is jumping
up, you wait until it sits and you click it for sitting. Click-by-click,
you "shape" longer sits or more walking, until you have
the final results you want. Once the behavior is learned, you
keep it going with praise and approval and save the clicker and
treats for the next new thing you want to train.
Fun and exciting for pets and people
Dogs and other animals quickly learn that the marker signal means,
"Something good is coming." Then they realize they can
make you click by repeating their behavior. They become enthusiastic
partners in their own training. Clicker training is exciting for
animals and fun for us. In addition, it's easy to do. You might
get results on the very first try.
Fourteen Rules for Getting Started with the Clicker
Clicker training is a new, science-based way to communicate with
your pet. You can clicker train any kind of dog, of any age. Puppies
love it. Old dogs learn new tricks. You can clicker-train cats,
birds, and other pets as well.
Don't worry, at first, about getting rid of behavior you don't
like. Instead, start with some good things you want the dog to
learn to do. Keep notes. Jot down what the dog was doing when
you started. Once a day or so, jot down what you have achieved
with each behavior. You will be surprised at the progress! Reward
YOURSELF for the dog's improvements. Here are some simple tips
to get you started.
Push and release the springy end of the clicker,
making a two-toned click. Then treat. Keep the treats small.
Use a delicious treat at first: little cubes of roast chicken,
or freeze dried liver, something other than kibble.
Click DURING the desired behavior, not after
it is completed. The timing of the click is crucial. Don't be
dismayed if your pet stops the behavior when it hears the click.
The click says “YES” and ends the behavior. Give
the treat quickly after that.
Click when the dog does something you like.
Choose something easy at first, (Ideas: sit; come toward you;
touch your hand with its nose; raise a paw; go through a door;
walk next to you.) Click once (in-out.) If you want to express
special enthusiasm, increase the number of treats, known as
a jackpot, not the number of clicks.
Keep practice sessions short. Much more is learned
in three sessions of five minutes each than in an hour of boring
Fix bad behavior by clicking good behavior.
Click the puppy for relieving itself in the proper spot. Click
for paws on the ground, not on the visitors. Instead of scolding
for barking, click for silence. Cure leash pulling by clicking
and treating those moments when the leash happens to go slack.
Click for voluntary (or accidental) movements
toward your goal. You may coax or lure the dog into a movement
or position, but don't push, pull, or hold it. Work without
a leash. If you need a leash for safety's sake, loop the leash
over your arm or through your belt; don't use it as a tool.
Don't wait for the "whole picture"
or the perfect behavior. Click and treat for small movements
in the right direction. You want the dog to sit, and it starts
to crouch in back: click. You want it to come when called, and
it takes a few steps your way: click.
Keep raising your goal. As soon as you have
a good response—when the dog is voluntarily lying down,
coming toward you, or sitting repeatedly—start asking
for more. Wait a few beats, until the dog stays down a little
longer, comes a little further, and sits a little faster. Then
click. This is called "shaping" a behavior.
When the dog has learned to do something for
clicks, it will begin showing you the behavior spontaneously,
trying to get you to click. Now is the time to begin offering
a cue, such as a word or a hand signal. Start clicking for that
behavior if it happens during or after the cue. Start ignoring
that behavior when the cue wasn't given.
Don't order the dog around; clicker training
is not command-based. If your dog does not respond to a cue,
it is not disobeying; it just hasn't learned the cue completely
or may be distracted. Find more ways to cue it and click it
for the desired behavior, in easier circumstances.
Carry a clicker and "catch" cute
behaviors like cocking the head, chasing the tail, or holding
up one paw. You can click for many different behaviors, whenever
you happen to notice them, without confusing your dog. If you
have more than one dog, separate them for training, and let
them take turns.
Once you feel frustration building because
your dog isn’t performing, put the clicker away. Don't
mix scoldings, leash-jerking, and correction training with clicker
training; you will lose the dog's confidence in the clicker
and perhaps in you.
If you are not making progress with a particular
behavior, you are probably clicking too late. Accurate timing
is important. Get someone else to watch you, and perhaps to
click for you, a few times.
Above all, have fun. Clicker training is a
wonderful way to enrich your relationship with your dog.
Humpback nuzzled her saviors in thanks
after they untangled her
from crab lines, diver says
This was on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. It
is a true story about a female humpback whale who had become entangled
in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down
by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to
stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped
around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands
(outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for
help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined
that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive
in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives
and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she
swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to
each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them
gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most
incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut
the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the
whole time, and he will never be the same.
“One day in Iowa I met a particular gentleman—and
I use that term, gentleman, frankly, only because I am trying
to be polite, for that is certainly not how I saw him at the time.
He owned and ran what he called a “pork production facility.”
I, on the other hand, would have called it a pig Auschwitz. The
conditions were brutal. The pigs were confined in cages that were
barely larger than their own bodies, with the cages stacked on
top of each other in tiers, three high. The sides and the bottoms
of the cages were steel slats, so that excrement from the animals
in the upper and middle tiers dropped through the slats on to
the animals below.
The aforementioned owner of this nightmare weighed, I am sure,
at least 240 pounds, but what was even more impressive about his
appearance was that he seemed to be made out of concrete. His
movements had all the fluidity and grace of a brick wall. What
made him even less appealing was that his language seemed to consist
mainly of grunts, many of which sounded alike to me, and none
of which were particularly pleasant to hear. Seeing how rigid
he was and sensing the overall quality of his presence, I—rather
brilliantly, I thought—concluded that his difficulties had
not arisen merely because he hadn’t had time, that particular
morning, to finish his entire daily yoga routine.
But I wasn’t about to divulge my opinions of him or his
operation, for I was undercover, visiting slaughterhouses and
feedlots to learn what I could about modern meat production. There
were no bumper stickers on my car, and my clothes and hairstyle
were carefully chosen to give no indication that I might have
philosophical leanings other than those that were common in the
area. I told the farmer matter of factly that I was a researcher
writing about animal agriculture, and asked if he’d mind
speaking with me for a few minutes so that I might have the benefit
of his knowledge. In response, he grunted a few words that I could
not decipher, but that I gathered meant I could ask him questions
and he would show me around.
I was at this point not very happy about the situation, and this
feeling did not improve when we entered one of the warehouses
that housed his pigs. In fact, my distress increased, for I was
immediately struck by what I can only call an overpowering olfactory
experience. The place reeked like you would not believe of ammonia,
hydrogen sulfide, and other noxious gases that were the products
of the animals’ wastes. These, unfortunately, seemed to
have been piling up inside the building for far too long a time.
As nauseating as the stench was for me, I wondered what it must
be like for the animals. The cells that detect scent are known
as ethmoidal cells. Pigs, like dogs, have nearly 200 times the
concentration of these cells in their noses as humans do. In a
natural setting, they are able, while rooting around in the dirt,
to detect the scent of an edible root through the earth itself.
Given any kind of a chance, they will never soil their own nests,
for they are actually quite clean animals, despite the reputation
we have unfairly given them. But here they had no contact with
the earth, and their noses were beset by the unceasing odor of
their own urine and feces multiplied a thousand times by the accumulated
wastes of the other pigs unfortunate enough to be caged in that
warehouse. I was in the building only for a few minutes, and the
longer I remained in there, the more desperately I wanted to leave.
But the pigs were prisoners there, barely able to take a single
step, forced to endure this stench, and almost completely immobile,
24 hours a day, seven days a week, and with no time off, I can
assure you, for holidays.
The man who ran the place was—I’ll give him this—kind
enough to answer my questions, which were mainly about the drugs
he used to handle the problems that are fairly common in factory
pigs today. But my sentiments about him and his farm were not
becoming any warmer. It didn’t help when, in response to
a particularly loud squealing from one of the pigs, he delivered
a sudden and threatening kick to the bars of its cage, causing
a loud “clang” to reverberate through the warehouse
and leading to screaming from many of the pigs. Because it was
becoming increasingly difficult to hide my distress, it crossed
my mind that I should tell him what I thought of the conditions
in which he kept his pigs, but then I thought better of it. This
was a man, it was obvious, with whom there was no point in arguing.
After maybe 15 minutes, I’d had enough and was preparing
to leave, and I felt sure he was glad to be about to be rid of
me. But then something happened, something that changed my life,
forever—and, as it turns out, his too. It began when his
wife came out from the farmhouse and cordially invited me to stay
for dinner. The pig farmer grimaced when his wife spoke, but he
dutifully turned to me and announced, “The wife would like
you to stay for dinner.” He always called her “the
wife,” by the way, which led me to deduce that he was not,
apparently, on the leading edge of feminist thought in the country
I don’t know whether you have ever done something without
having a clue why, and to this day I couldn’t tell you what
prompted me to do it, but I said Yes, I’d be delighted.
And stay for dinner I did, though I didn’t eat the pork
they served. The excuse I gave was that my doctor was worried
about my cholesterol. I didn’t say that I was a vegetarian,
nor that my cholesterol was 125.
I was trying to be a polite and appropriate dinner guest. I didn’t
want to say anything that might lead to any kind of disagreement.
The couple (and their two sons, who were also at the table) were,
I could see, being nice to me, giving me dinner and all, and it
was gradually becoming clear to me that, along with all the rest
of it, they could be, in their way, somewhat decent people. I
asked myself, if they were in my town, traveling, and I had chanced
to meet them, would I have invited them to dinner? Not likely,
I knew, not likely at all. Yet here they were, being as hospitable
to me as they could. Yes, I had to admit it. Much as I detested
how the pigs were treated, this pig farmer wasn’t actually
the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. At least not at the moment.
Of course, I still knew that if we were to scratch the surface
we’d no doubt find ourselves in great conflict, and because
that was not a direction in which I wanted to go, as the meal
went along I sought to keep things on an even and constant keel.
Perhaps they sensed it too, for among us, we managed to see that
the conversation remained, consistently and resolutely, shallow.
We talked about the weather, about the Little League games in
which their two sons played, and then, of course, about how the
weather might affect the Little League games. We were actually
doing rather well at keeping the conversation superficial and
far from any topic around which conflict might occur. Or so I
thought. But then suddenly, out of nowhere, the man pointed at
me forcefully with his finger, and snarled in a voice that I must
say truly frightened me, “Sometimes I wish you animal rights
people would just drop dead.”
How on Earth he knew I had any affinity to animal rights I will
never know—I had painstakingly avoided any mention of any
such thing—but I do know that my stomach tightened immediately
into a knot. To make matters worse, at that moment his two sons
leapt from the table, tore into the den, slammed the door behind
them, and turned the TV on loud, presumably preparing to drown
out what was to follow. At the same instant, his wife nervously
picked up some dishes and scurried into the kitchen. As I watched
the door close behind her and heard the water begin running, I
had a sinking sensation. They had, there was no mistaking it,
left me alone with him. I was, to put it bluntly, terrified. Under
the circumstances, a wrong move now could be disastrous. Trying
to center myself, I tried to find some semblance of inner calm
by watching my breath, but this I could not do, and for a very
simple reason. There wasn’t any to watch.
“What are they saying that’s so upsetting to you?”
I said finally, pronouncing the words carefully and distinctly,
trying not to show my terror. I was trying very hard at that moment
to disassociate myself from the animal rights movement, a force
in our society of which he, evidently, was not overly fond. “They
accuse me of mistreating my stock,” he growled. “Why
would they say a thing like that?” I answered, knowing full
well, of course, why they would, but thinking mostly about my
own survival. His reply, to my surprise, while angry, was actually
quite articulate. He told me precisely what animal rights groups
were saying about operations like his, and exactly why they were
opposed to his way of doing things. Then, without pausing, he
launched into a tirade about how he didn’t like being called
cruel, and they didn’t know anything about the business
he was in, and why couldn’t they mind their own business.
As he spoke it, the knot in my stomach was relaxing, because
it was becoming clear, and I was glad of it, that he meant me
no harm, but just needed to vent. Part of his frustration, it
seemed, was that even though he didn’t like doing some of
the things he did to the animals—cooping them up in such
small cages, using so many drugs, taking the babies away from
their mothers so quickly after their births—he didn’t
see that he had any choice. He would be at a disadvantage and
unable to compete economically if he didn’t do things that
way. This is how it’s done today, he told me, and he had
to do it too. He didn’t like it, but he liked even less
being blamed for doing what he had to do in order to feed his
family. As it happened, I had just the week before been at a much
larger hog operation, where I learned that it was part of their
business strategy to try to put people like him out of business
by going full-tilt into the mass production of assembly-line pigs,
so that small farmers wouldn’t be able to keep up. What
I had heard corroborated everything he was saying.
Almost despite myself, I began to grasp the poignancy of this
man’s human predicament. I was in his home because he and
his wife had invited me to be there. And looking around, it was
obvious that they were having a hard time making ends meet. Things
were threadbare. This family was on the edge. Raising pigs, apparently,
was the only way the farmer knew how to make a living, so he did
it even though, as was becoming evident the more we talked, he
didn’t like one bit the direction hog farming was going.
At times, as he spoke about how much he hated the modern factory
methods of pork production, he reminded me of the very animal
rights people who a few minutes before he said he wished would
As the conversation progressed, I actually began to develop some
sense of respect for this man whom I had earlier judged so harshly.
There was decency in him. There was something within him that
meant well. But as I began to sense a spirit of goodness in him,
I could only wonder all the more how he could treat his pigs the
way he did. Little did I know that I was about to find out. .
We are talking along, when suddenly he looks troubled. He slumps
over, his head in his hands. He looks broken, and there is a sense
of something awful having happened. Has he had a heart attack?
A stroke? I’m finding it hard to breathe, and hard to think
clearly. “What’s happening?” I ask. It takes
him awhile to answer, but finally he does. I am relieved that
he is able to speak, although what he says hardly brings any clarity
to the situation. “It doesn’t matter,” he says,
“and I don’t want to talk about it.” As he speaks,
he makes a motion with his hand, as if he were pushing something
For the next several minutes we continue to converse, but I’m
quite uneasy. Things seem incomplete and confusing. Something
dark has entered the room, and I don’t know what it is or
how to deal with it. Then, as we are speaking, it happens again.
Once again a look of despondency comes over him. Sitting there,
I know I’m in the presence of something bleak and oppressive.
I try to be present with what’s happening, but it’s
not easy. Again I’m finding it hard to breathe. Finally,
he looks at me, and I notice his eyes are teary. “You’re
right,” he says. I, of course, always like to be told that
I am right, but in this instance I don’t have the slightest
idea what he’s talking about. He continues. “No animal,”
he says, “should be treated like that. Especially hogs.
Do you know that they’re intelligent animals? They’re
even friendly, if you treat ’em right. But I don’t.”
There are tears welling up in his eyes. And he tells me that
he has just had a memory come back of something that happened
in his childhood, something he hasn’t thought of for many
years. It’s come back in stages, he says. He grew up, he
tells me, on a small farm in rural Missouri, the old-fashioned
kind where animals ran around, with barnyards and pastures, and
where they all had names. I learn, too, that he was an only child,
the son of a powerful father who ran things with an iron fist.
With no brothers or sisters, he often felt lonely, but found companionship
among the animals on the farm, particularly several dogs, who
were as friends to him. And, he tells me, and this I am quite
surprised to hear, he had a pet pig.
As he proceeds to tell me about this pig, it is as if he is becoming
a different person. Before he had spoken primarily in a monotone;
but now his voice grows lively. His body language, which until
this point seemed to speak primarily of long suffering, now becomes
animated. There is something fresh taking place. In the summer,
he tells me, he would sleep in the barn. It was cooler there than
in the house, and the pig would come over and sleep alongside
him, asking fondly to have her belly rubbed, which he was glad
There was a pond on their property, he goes on, and he liked
to swim in it when the weather was hot, but one of the dogs would
get excited when he did, and would ruin things. The dog would
jump into the water and swim up on top of him, scratching him
with her paws and making things miserable for him. He was about
to give up on swimming, but then, as fate would have it, the pig,
of all people, stepped in and saved the day. Evidently the pig
could swim, for she would plop herself into the water, swim out
where the dog was bothering the boy, and insert herself between
them. She’d stay between the dog and the boy, and keep the
dog at bay. She was, as best I could make out, functioning in
the situation something like a lifeguard, or in this case, perhaps
more of a life-pig.
I’m listening to this hog farmer tell me these stories
about his pet pig, and I’m thoroughly enjoying both myself
and him, and rather astounded at how things are transpiring, when
once again, it happens. Once again a look of defeat sweeps across
this man’s face, and once again I sense the presence of
something very sad. Something in him, I know, is struggling to
make its way toward life through anguish and pain, but I don’t
know what it is or how, indeed, to help him.
“What happened to your pig?” I ask.
He sighs, and it’s as though the whole world’s pain
is contained in that sigh. Then, slowly, he speaks. “My
father made me butcher it.”
“Did you?” I ask.
“I ran away, but I couldn’t hide. They found me.”
“My father gave me a choice.”
“What was that?”
“He told me, ‘You either slaughter that animal or
you’re no longer my son.’”
Some choice, I think, feeling the weight of how fathers have
so often trained their sons not to care, to be what they call
brave and strong, but what so often turns out to be callous and
closed-hearted. “So I did it,” he says, and now his
tears begin to flow, making their way down his cheeks. I am touched
and humbled. This man, whom I had judged to be without human feeling,
is weeping in front of me, a stranger. This man, whom I had seen
as callous and even heartless, is actually someone who cares,
and deeply. How wrong, how profoundly and terribly wrong I had
In the minutes that follow, it becomes clear to me what has been
happening. The pig farmer has remembered something that was so
painful, that was such a profound trauma, that he had not been
able to cope with it when it had happened. Something had shut
down, then. It was just too much to bear. Somewhere in his young,
formative psyche he made a resolution never to be that hurt again,
never to be that vulnerable again. And he built a wall around
the place where the pain had occurred, which was the place where
his love and attachment to that pig was located, which was his
heart. And now here he was, slaughtering pigs for a living—still,
I imagined, seeking his father’s approval. God, what we
men will do, I thought, to get our fathers’ acceptance.
I had thought he was a cold and closed human being, but now I
saw the truth. His rigidity was not a result of a lack of feeling,
as I had thought it was, but quite the opposite: it was a sign
of how sensitive he was underneath. For if he had not been so
sensitive, he would not have been that hurt, and he would not
have needed to put up so massive a wall. The tension in his body
that was so apparent to me upon first meeting him, the body armor
that he carried, bespoke how hurt he had been, and how much capacity
for feeling he carried still, beneath it all.
I had judged him, and done so, to be honest, mercilessly. But
for the rest of the evening I sat with him, humbled, and grateful
for whatever it was in him that had been strong enough to force
this long-buried and deeply painful memory to the surface. And
glad, too, that I had not stayed stuck in my judgments of him,
for if I had, I would not have provided an environment in which
his remembering could have occurred.
We talked that night, for hours, about many things. I was, after
all that had happened, concerned for him. The gap between his
feelings and his lifestyle seemed so tragically vast. What could
he do? This was all he knew. He did not have a high school diploma.
He was only partially literate. Who would hire him if he tried
to do something else? Who would invest in him and train him, at
his age? When finally, I left that evening, these questions were
very much on my mind, and I had no answers to them. Somewhat flippantly,
I tried to joke about it. “Maybe,” I said, “you’ll
grow broccoli or something.” He stared at me, clearly not
comprehending what I might be talking about. It occurred to me,
briefly, that he might possibly not know what broccoli was.
We parted that night as friends, and though we rarely see each
other now, we have remained friends as the years have passed.
I carry him in my heart and think of him, in fact, as a hero.
Because, as you will soon see, impressed as I was by the courage
it had taken for him to allow such painful memories to come to
the surface, I had not yet seen the extent of his bravery.
When I wrote “Diet for a New America,” I quoted him
and summarized what he had told me, but I was quite brief and
did not mention his name. I thought that, living as he did among
other pig farmers in Iowa, it would not be to his benefit to be
associated with me. When the book came out, I sent him a copy,
saying I hoped he was comfortable with how I wrote of the evening
we had shared, and directing him to the pages on which my discussion
of our time together was to be found. Several weeks later, I received
a letter from him. “Dear Mr. Robbins,” it began. “Thank
you for the book. When I saw it, I got a migraine headache.”
Now as an author, you do want to have an impact on your readers.
This, however, was not what I had had in mind. He went on, though,
to explain that the headaches had gotten so bad that, as he put
it, “the wife” had suggested to him he should perhaps
read the book. She thought there might be some kind of connection
between the headaches and the book. He told me that this hadn’t
made much sense to him, but he had done it because “the
wife” was often right about these things.
“You write good,” he told me, and I can tell you
that his three words of his meant more to me than when the New
York Times praised the book profusely. He then went on to say
that reading the book was very hard for him, because the light
it shone on what he was doing made it clear to him that it was
wrong to continue. The headaches, meanwhile, had been getting
worse, until, he told me, that very morning, when he had finished
the book, having stayed up all night reading, he went into the
bathroom, and looked into the mirror. “I decided, right
then,” he said, “that I would sell my herd and get
out of this business. I don’t know what I will do, though.
Maybe I will, like you said, grow broccoli.”
As it happened, he did sell his operation in Iowa and move back
to Missouri, where he bought a small farm. And there he is today,
running something of a model farm. He grows vegetables organically—including,
I am sure, broccoli—that he sells at a local farmer’s
market. He’s got pigs, all right, but only about 10, and
he doesn’t cage them, nor does he kill them. Instead, he’s
got a contract with local schools; they bring kids out in buses
on field trips to his farm, for his “Pet-a-pig” program.
He shows them how intelligent pigs are and how friendly they can
be if you treat them right, which he now does. He’s arranged
it so the kids, each one of them, gets a chance to give a pig
a belly rub. He’s become nearly a vegetarian himself, has
lost most of his excess weight, and his health has improved substantially.
And, thank goodness, he’s actually doing better financially
than he was before.
Do you see why I carry this man with me in my heart? Do you see
why he is such a hero to me? He dared to leap, to risk everything,
to leave what was killing his spirit even though he didn’t
know what was next. He left behind a way of life that he knew
was wrong, and he found one that he knows is right.
When I look at many of the things happening in our world, I sometimes
fear we won’t make it. But when I remember this man and
the power of his spirit, and when I remember that there are many
others whose hearts beat to the same quickening pulse, I think
we will. I can get tricked into thinking there aren’t enough
of us to turn the tide, but then I remember how wrong I was about
the pig farmer when I first met him, and I realize that there
are heroes afoot everywhere. Only I can’t recognize them
because I think they are supposed to look or act a certain way.
How blinded I can be by my own beliefs.
The man is one of my heroes because he reminds me that we can
depart from the cages we build for ourselves and for each other,
and become something much better. He is one of my heroes because
he reminds me of what I hope someday to become. When I first met
him, I would not have thought it possible that I would ever say
the things I am saying here. But this only goes to show how amazing
life can be, and how you never really know what to expect. The
pig farmer has become, for me, a reminder never to underestimate
the power of the human heart.
I consider myself privileged to have spent that day with him,
and grateful that I was allowed to be a catalyst for the unfolding
of his spirit. I know my presence served him in some way, but
I also know, and know full well, that I received far more than
I gave. To me, this is grace—to have the veils lifted from
our eyes so that we can recognize and serve the goodness in each
other. Others may wish for great riches or for ecstatic journeys
to mystical planes, but to me, this is the magic of human life.”
"Watch out! You nearly broadsided that car!" My father
yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?" Those words
hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man
in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose
in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another
" I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."
My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really
Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I
left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect
my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise
of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner
What could I do about him?
Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed
being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against
the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions,
And had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with
trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly.
The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it;
but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to
lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about
his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done
as a younger man.
Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack.
At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was
lucky; he survived.
But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He
obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders.. Suggestions and
offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The
number of visitors thinned, and then finally stopped altogether.
Dad was left alone.
My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our
small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would
help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted
the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized
everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking
my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed,
Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman
set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of
each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind.
But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be
done and it was up to me to do it.
The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called
each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages.
I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that
answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the
voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might
help you! Let me go get the article." I listened as she read...
The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home.
All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression..
Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given
responsibility for a dog.
I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon... After I filled
out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels.
The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the
row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs,
curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying
to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other
for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared
the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled
to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was
a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a
caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle
with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles.
But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and
clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.
I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The
officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement.
"He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front
of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right
down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing.
His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.
As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror "You mean
you're going to kill him?"
"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We
don't have room for every unclaimed dog."
I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my
decision. "I'll take him," I said.
I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I
reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize
out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.
"Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.
Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had
wanted a dog I would have gotten one... And I would have picked
out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't
want it." Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward
Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and
pounded into my temples...
"You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad
ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed. At those
words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his
eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.
We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the
pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and
sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his
Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion
replaced the anger in his eyes.. The pointer waited patiently.
Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.
It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named
the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community.
They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective
moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They
even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in
a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.
Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years.
Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends.
Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose
burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into
our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into
my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his
spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.
Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne
lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag
rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite
fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given
me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.
The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This
day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the
aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see
the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church.
The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and
the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to
Hebrews 13:2. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers."
... "I've often thanked God for sending that angel,"
For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that
I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read
the right article... Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the animal
shelter... his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father...
and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood.
I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.
Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard,
love truly and forgive quickly. Live while you are alive. Tell
the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second
A Chimpanzee at Stanford
One day I was walking through the Stanford University campus
with a friend when I saw a crowd of people with cameras and video
equipment on a little hillside. They were clustered around a pair
of chimpanzees - a male running loose and a female on a chain
about twenty-five feet long. It turned out the male was from Marine
World and the female was being studied for something or other
at Stanford. The spectators were scientists and publicity people
trying to get them to mate.
The male was eager. He grunted and grabbed the female's chain
and tugged. She whimpered and backed away. He pulled again. She
pulled back. Watching the chimps' faces, I [a woman] began to
feel sympathy for the female.
Suddenly the female chimp yanked her chain out of the male's
grasp. To my amazement, she walked through the crowd, straight
over to me, and took my hand. Then she led me across the circle
to the only other two women in the crowd, and she joined hands
with one of them. The three of us stood together in a circle.
I remember the feeling of that rough palm against mine. The little
chimp had recognized us and reached out across all the years of
evolution to form her own support group.
Quoted from Fran Peavey,
Heart Politics (New Society Publishers, 1986), p. 176
COMMENTARY: Co-intelligence can be as simple as seeing through
categories like "species" or "other" or "alien"
or "them" or "enemy" or "bad" to
locate intelligences or forces with which we can ally ourselves.
It can be as simple as feeling compassion so vividly that it dissolves
all categories, and we find ourselves simply reaching out to another
being. Co-intelligence arises from our interconnectedness, our
relatedness to each other and everything. And then it turns around
and uses that relatedness to make something good happen.
Coming to San Francisco from Japan tonight is a touching tale
about a tail.
A bottlenose dolphin named Fuji caught a mysterious disease that
cost her 75 percent of her tailfin, a tragedy akin to a boat losing
most of its propeller.
The Okinawa aquarium where she lives cured the disease but couldn't
replace her tail. So it called upon the world's biggest rubber
and tire firm, Bridgestone, to make an artificial one.
Bridgestone's tires may be very good, but the fake tail didn't
The Okinawa Chiraumi Aquarium then turned to an Osaka sculptor
who crafts acrylic dolphins. Could he help make a tail for the
dolphin named after Japan's most famous mountain?
Kazuhiko Yakushiji felt he owed his happiness to dolphins. He
said yes and worked three years. This past July, the new tail
Fuji could not only swim again, she could jump out of the water.
"Fuji couldn't swim," the artist said in an interview
Monday as he recalled meeting the dolphin for the first time.
"She seemed really depressed. I thought Fuji might die if
nothing was done."
The problem was that Bridgestone had made a generic dolphin tail,
said Yakushiji, who at age 38 is one year older than Fuji.
"Each dolphin is different," said Yakushiji, who will
give a talk with illustrations tonight in San Francisco, the first
time he's told his story outside Japan.
"I found out that Fuji and her family have a special curve
in their tail," said Yakushiji, who had studied dolphins
at Florida's Dolphin Research Center. Together, he and Bridgestone
crafted a rubber-composite prosthetic fin with the proper curve
Yakushiji's devotion to dolphins began a decade ago, when he
was running a small energy firm inherited from his father.
"My heart and soul were exhausted," he said. He went
away for a swim-with-dolphins excursion at Ogasawara islands.
"I met a wild dolphin, and that changed my entire life,"
At first, he had been too tired to jump in with the other swimmers,
but he finally took the plunge alone on the other side of the
boat. The life-altering dolphin swam up and played with him.
"That dolphin completely healed me," he said. The encounter
moved him to quit his job and realize his life's wish to become
Dolphins became a dominant theme. "I wanted to show my gratitude,"
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