Warning: This post contains graphic discussions of animal cruelty.
This past weekend I vended at the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Kings Valley, OR. It’s one of the most established faires in the Portland area, having been started in 1995, and after I missed last year I was eager to make it back this year. The faire is currently held in a big grass field south of Dallas, OR; the field had been mowed so the grass could be sold as hay, and so all that was left was a bit of dry stubble in the dust. This made it easier for people to walk around–and it also made for excellent vole-watching. The entire field, in fact, is pockmarked by the burrows of voles (probably creeping voles, Microtus oregoni), and we spent the weekend watching on particularly bold little critter popping out of her burrow and wandering the field around our booth and others. She even burrowed around underneath our air mattress at night, as evidences by the trails in the grass and dust underneath–a very determined little vole indeed! (I took the opportunity to subject my partner to several truly terrible vole puns throughout the weekend. Vole-tron. Vole-demort.)
Shrewsbury is quite family-friendly, and there were plenty of kids running around throughout the weekend. Several of the surrounding booths had children who would pass by our booth with some frequency. At one point late in the day on Saturday, one boy near my booth happened to mention to me “I’m going to squash a vole”. I stopped, not sure if I’d heard correctly. “What did you say?” I asked. “I’m going to squash a vole,” he repeated. He couldn’t have been more than about eleven or so, and he pointed at the burrow near the front of our booth where we’d been watching our vole neighbor all day.
I gave him a stern look and said “Don’t you dare. There’s no reason to kill an animal just because it’s there, and this is from someone who’s selling art made from animal hides.” The boy looked chastised and retreated back over to his own booth. I retreated as well; it was a reminder that people, children included, too often see the killing of another life as something to be taken lightly.
(PS—if you’re on mobile, the site may toss up ads before you can see the article itself.)
I am an animal lover, a sometimes pet owner, and an environmentalist dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats. I am also an omnivore, a hide and bone artist, and engaged in a fierce war with the ants that get into my apartment. A large portion of my spiritual path involves animal totems, and every day I consume some portion of their physical counterparts, whether in food or medicine or other products.
I’ve also spent years detangling the inherent contradictions in these relationships to my fellow animals. I’ve toured the free range ranch where I get a lot of my meat, and I’ve watched the (probably staged) videos put out by animal rights groups on fur farming. I periodically assess my personal ethics with regards to the animal remains I incorporate into my artwork, and I research environmental groups and their track records before donating a portion of the money made from that art to them. I’ve played with baby teacup pigs, and then gone home and eaten bacon, and considered how the life of one pig was different from another. In short, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the animals in my life.
So has Hal Herzog, anthrozoologist and the author of the 2010 title Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat. The cover features three common animals in the American landscape to go with the tripartite title: a puppy, a rat, and a pig. The opening question, then, even before you open the book, is why do we eat pigs and not dogs, why do only a few of us keep pigs and rats as pests, and why do we become incensed about some people in Asia eating dogs specifically bred for meat while ignoring the plight of pigs in factory farm conditions?
Did you happen to find the critter hiding in this past weekend’s Look & Find at Paths Through the Forests? Tell us here!
The ability of life to use whatever resources are available never ceases to astound me. Numerous species of invertebrates, and all vertebrates, have absorbed calcium into their bodies to create protective structures, from the houses of coral polyps to the shells of marine snails to our very own skeletons. Is that not just awesome?
After seeing her share of declawed cats, veterinarian Jennifer Conrad determines to put a stop to the often-crippling procedure.
I just got done watching this documentary on Netflix. I was already anti-declawing, but the stories and evidence in this film just firmed my resolve. Things I learned that I didn’t already know:
—When you declaw a cat, the claw tries to grow back underneath the skin of the toe. Except the leftover bone is mutilated, and the claw grows into a large, shapeless mass that can’t be pushed out of the sheath, and instead stays stuck and painful under the skin—imagine having large pieces of gravel embedded in your toes that you have to walk on. Worse, they often end up infected and inflamed.
—Housecats aren’t the only ones that are declawed. Many large cats, from cougars to tigers, are declawed when kept as pets (legally or not), and they suffer the same consequences.
—The American Veterinary Medical Association and other veterinary groups support declawing and lobby against legislation to ban it, primarily because veterinary clinics make a significant amount of money on declawing.
—Eight cities in California have banned declawing, to include Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Berkeley, among others.
Want to support The Paw Project and their quest to educate people on the horrors of declawing and pass declawing bans? Here’s their website (where you can get a DVD of the film for a $10 donation), their Facebook, and their Twitter.
funkysquirrels asked: What is your favorite aquatic animal?
Oh, geez, you’re making me pick just *one*? Honestly, probably the Ozark minnow and other minnow species, though the Ozark seemed most common. I always loved watching them in the creek behind my house and the one by my grandma’s house when I was growing up, and admired how quickly they darted around in unison. If I found minnows in a creek anywhere, I knew it was going to be a good one for exploring. It’s also why the various species of crawdad in the same creeks are a close second.
Beyond that, you’d have to ask me about my favorite aquatic animals from specific places—there are a lot of them I’m fond of.
Previously, the doctors had to wait until they cut into the dog to form the titanium plate. But with UC Davis’ new 3-D printing facility, they can now print an exact replica of the dog’s skull ahead of time, allowing doctors to plan and cut down on anesthesia time in the operating room.<br/>
The future is here.