Animals as Teachers --2012 and earlier

"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."                                                                                                        --Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

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"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."

                                                                            --Henry Beston
                                                                                From The Outermost House


San Francisco SPCA

Animal Legal Defense

The Humane Society
of the U.S.


Humane Farming Assn

SonRise Equestrian


Project Hope Sanctuary

Prairie Dog Ecosystem

Physicians Comm. for
Responsible Medicine

Sharon Callahan

GoodNews Gazette


Jasmine's Love

Bear Mom Scolding her Cub

Stop the Hunting of Polar Bears for Profit
Polar Bear SOS

A Cage is a Cage by The Humane Farming Association

Aves y sus cantos - Birds and their songs

Lawrence Anthony tribute
Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of “Elephant Whisperer”

STRESS -- What stress?

How to make a Cat Tunnel on the cheap

Most Outrageous: The Cat's House

Camel and friend playing

Otter Pups Swim Lesson

Silence of the Bees - full-length PBS Nature special
The beauty of pollination

Pierce Brosnan: Don't Let the Belugas Go Silent
Stop Big Oil's Attack on Whales!

The Whale | trailer #1 US (2011)

Cute pandas playing on a slide

Maria & Dominic, the talk of Echo Park

What a Wonderful World with David Attenborough

Springer the Orca documentary -- 1 of 3
Springer's story

Cat Shower 2 (Woody Style, very funny and cute)

Slow loris loves getting tickled

Top Ten Cutest Photos of 2011



Dolphins given island citizenship to protect from slaughter 092212

MAC Cosmetics Is No Longer Cruelty Free 031512

One man, one dog, one Facebook photo that has touched thousands of hearts

Cats and Predators: Protect Your Pet Against Coyotes and Birds of Prey

Soul Connections in The Sea -- Sea Eyes

Lost rainbow toad is rediscovered

Felines can recline at B&B just for them

Race against the tide: Bravery of young mother who stayed by her horse's side for THREE HOURS after getting trapped in mud 'like quicksand'

In the Company of Wolves

The Pig Farmer - John Robbins

St. Francis: The Power of Loving All Creation

Animals Have Emotional Lives, Too

Saving Sido: How one dog sparked a movement

Flesh of your Flesh -- Should you eat meat?

Scrub jays -- It takes a thief to know a thief




RSPCA Queensland

Kitty Bed & Breakfast

Dumb Friends League

United Animal Nations
(now Red Rover)

Eileen Mitchell
Pet Tales

Modern Cat

Cats Trapeze

Cat Connection

The Refined Feline

Wayfair Design Pet

Drs. Foster & Smith

Conscious Cat

Brawny Cat


All Modern Pets

Floppy Cats



The World's Most Curious Looking Creatures

A True Texas Duck Tale

Close Encounters of the Giant Kind

Anaconda and human

Um terrivel pitbull vs gatinho

Every cat should have a dog

Awkward cat sleeping positions
The Art of Sleeping in a Box

Cat Clicker Training In Action
Clicker Train Your Cat at Home
Training your Cat
What is Clicker Training?

Tara lost Bella
A Dog and an Elephant Pound To Say NO to DISNEY Offer !!!
Animal Odd Couple, Tara and Bella in earlier days
Bella's tribute page

Little Red Comes Back to Best Friends for a Visit
Little Red’s happy ending

Blind Dog Who Was Found In Trash Heap, Is Rescued

Battle at Kruger

Amazing Dolpin Rescue on Brazilian Beach

Dog, Cat & Rat


Molly the Pony
You gotta meet Molly

Thank you, Major Bear

Heroic dog leads to shelter exception, expansion
Domestic Abuse Shelter Changes Pet Policy




Frostie dancing to Shake Your Tail Feather

A Chimpanzee at Stanford

One Rat Short

Joris Beim - Dinner for One

Ricochet -- From service dog to SURFice dog

Animal Rights Activist Jailed at Secretive Prison - Life Inside a "CMU"

Doug Peacock:“Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War &Wilderness”

Jessica, the Hippo

Paying it forward

Saving the mustang, one horse at a time

Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World

Deena Metzger:  Speaking with Elephants

Christian the Lion - the Reunion

Snowball, the dancing cockatoo

Dolphin rescues stranded whales





Best Day of Fishing Ever

Deer visits cat every morning!

Goats Jingle Bells Holiday Performance

Rescued from Dogfighting, Meet Honey

The beauty of pollination


Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? - Official Trailer

Amazing Journeys: Monarch Butterflies - Mexico

Vanishing of the Bees -- trailer
Vanishing of the Bees

Blind Dog Has Her Own Seeing-Eye Dog
and another duo - A dog's seeing eye dog!

Frank and Louie, the Two-faced Cat

Funny cats in water

Elephant Immuno-Contraception
More information at CoreLight

Elephants 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...

Carrie and her partner from Santiago, Chile
Carrie the Dancing Dog

Loyal Dog Won't Leave Injured Friend Behind
Loyal Dog stays by deceased owner's side

Penguins -- This is magical!


Giraffe Birth at Memphis Zoo

Funny Cats -- Hilarious!!!

Cat and Owl Playing

Polar Bear & Husky - animals at play

Wild Orphans - Baby Elephants

Dancing with Sharks

Sharkwater - Full-length documentary - MUST SEE!
A heart-opening view of sharks --really!!-- and our oceans, upon whom all life on Earth depends... and the devastating role of the sharkfin mafia.

Animal Crackers -- You'll fall out laughing!

Turning disappointment into joy: From Service Dog to SURFice Dog



Ivory Poaching At Critical Levels: Elephants On Path To Extinction By 2020?

Skinned alive to make fake Uggs: Horrific footage reveals slow, sickening deaths of raccoon dogs

Dog, Cat & Rat

Dog Smiles

Faith, the Wonder Dog

Tyson, the skate-boarding dog

Penguin never happier to see a human being

Dominic, two-legged greyhound

Parrot Intelligence: Dr. Pepperberg with African Greys

Alex, one of the smartest parrots ever

Hear a real story about an artificial tail

Daring rescue of whale. Humpback nuzzled her saviors in thanks

Paris Tilton -- Squirrel with a near-fatal dose of pesticide

Smart dog Rico has scientists asking if canines can reason like tots

Mill Valley's Mother Goose

Healthy sea lion heads to freedom - Chippy released

Hunt is on for polar bear mate

Monster Slash

The Meatrix 



World-wide Meditation/Prayer Vigil for Elephants, on-going

World's elephants are under seige. They desperately need our help.

The effect of poaching, culling, etc. is showing up as intense aggression of young male elephants against humans, their own species and other animals. See article in New York Times Magazine "An Elephant Crackup" -

The Meditation/Vigil is being called by CoreLight which maintains an Elephant Prayer Circle - CoreLight is the creation of awakened spiritual teacher Leslie Temple-Thurston, born in and deeply connected to South Africa.

Lastly, the U.S. is among the world's top consumers of illegal ivory. We can help offset this. Please sign the petition addressed to President Obama -

Immense gratitude from these profoundly intelligent Beings, our kin, for whatever kindness you do on their behalf... knowing that acting for them benefits our entire one web of life.










"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."


Useful Dog Tricks performed by Jesse

Earth Healing Magic

Energy Healing Wolf

Tippi - Bridging the Gap to Africa --
Tippi of Africa photos -- may require Firefox to view

Incredible Shark/Human love story - Aussie fisherman

Daring rescue of whale off Farallones

Animal Communication Retreat with Penelope Smith

Uniting Voices of the Earth - Animal Telepathic Communication

White Lion, the movie

Kitten and Crow are friends

Lucky the dog and Misty the cat are in love...

!! Dog and Deer !!    -    !! Labrador and Dolphin !!

America's Wild Horses

The cat and the fawn

Amazing Dancing Dog

Behind the Scenes of "Hummingbirds"

Humane Education Ambassador Reader Program (HEAR)
"Buddy Unchained" (audio clip)

Reino Animal

Linda Tellington-Jones -- Touching our Animals' Souls

Audio used w/ permission of New Dimensions Radio
over 800 hours of thoughtful conversation

Animal Partners

Rupert Sheldrake -- Human Mind / Animal Mind

Jean Houston -- Mystical Animals

Patricia Broersma -- Healing with Horses

Changing the World One TTouch at a Time
Linda Tellington-Jones' blog

HOW TO BUILD A BASIC CAT TREE with rope scratcher

DIY 110 - Cat Tree - Tower - Climber



When the moon crests the hills
giving each tree a black pool shadow,
the wolves wade in the forest,
wet themselves in the darkness,
shake it from their fur.

In clearings of light,
their eyes are stars,
their teeth comets,
their tails galaxies,
they are constellations of the night.
They roam the universe.

They run as Diana's companions,
laugh as her silver arrows
and their iron teeth
harvest the hunt's bounty.
They hide in her moon,
and cloud around her with breath.

They are brave of soul,
clear of eye and mind.
They are strong of jaw.
They are loyal and kind.
They are keen to scent.

Quick to 'fend their kin',
they are hot of blood,
they are slow to sin.
Grey, brown, white, black, blonde,
ear, tail, paw, claw, and tongue.

They play as a pack,
and they melt together
so that one is part of all
and all become one.
They prance through the forest.

They track through the sky.
They are noble in friendship,
and single in thought.
I join them in flight.
I run in the company of wolves!

BY: Wolfbard (D. J. Sylvis)

BTW, There is no record of human death by a healthy wolf in modern records!







What is Clicker Training?

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 means “YES”.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Keep practice sessions short. Much more is learned in three sessions of five minutes each than in an hour of boring repetition.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Above all, have fun. Clicker training is a wonderful way to enrich your relationship with your dog.

Karen Pryor.(copyright 1996 by Karen Pryor)






Nursery for Baby Elephants

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Daring rescue of whale

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.

San Francisco Chronicle    










The Pig Farmer

by John Robbins

“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 today.

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 drop dead.

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 away.

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 to do.

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.”
“What happened?”
“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 been.

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.”




















By Catherine Moore

"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 battle.

" 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 felt.

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 turmoil.

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 the house.

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 paw.

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," he said.

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 time.







A Chimpanzee at Stanford

Fran Peavey

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.

The Co-intelligence Institute      






Hear a real story about an artificial tail
Japanese sculptor to speak in San Francisco of labor of love

Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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 work.

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 was done.

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 for Fuji.

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," he said.

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 an artist.

Dolphins became a dominant theme. "I wanted to show my gratitude," he said.

San Francisco Chronicle      







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