Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Puppy/Kitten Mill Bill

Lollipop and Missy
My parents with Minnie
When I started volunteering with the Animal Humane Society a few years ago, I started to learn about puppy/kitten mills.  What I learned was so horrible I had to take action. I wrote letters to the papers and to my MN legislatures, to no avail.  I was already taking a writing class online, so I decided to write an article about these mills.  You can read this article in this blog under the heading My Writing.

I am posting this now as this is the first week of the MN legislature.  Our state goes on a two-year cycle.  So every two years a new bill has to be created.  This is the second year, and the mill bill was stuck in the agriculture committees last spring, as it has been in every other spring since the start of trying to pass this legislation.

Last year one of my letters finally made it in my local paper.  Over the years I have received letters from legislators that I wrote to.  But my legislators represent the Twin Cities metro area, whereas the Ag committees represents rural MN.  Therein lies the problem.

Pets are companion animals, not farm animals.  They are domesticated from the wolf and the wild cat.  Domesticated by humans, thence the label companion animal.  Why you might ask are the bills in the Ag committees?  Good question!  Of which I have no answer to.

After the bill did not pass the first year of my involvement, I sobbed that night.  I imagined those poor animals shivering in their barns, hungry for food, water, love.  I imagine them now as we suffer the coldest winter we have had for years.

I look into my cat's eyes, my family's pets eyes, the dogs and cats at the humane society, and they ask me why?  Why do humans do this?  They ask me will I be their voice?

I ask you will you be their voice.

To learn more about mills and what to do.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Loving my Enemies

I was in Paris during 9-11.  After a week I  was finally able to fly home.  By that time life had went on as usual as we Minnesotans were so far away from the terrorists attacks.  But I had a delayed reaction.  I was so distraught I couldn't go back to work for a week.  And when I did, I stared at Muslim men, wondering if they would be the next suicide attacker.  I watch planes fly over the skyscrapers in Minneapolis where I worked, hoping they would fly over them and not into them.   I did not blame Muslim women, I saw them as victims of an oppressive culture.  But the men, I feared them and hated them.  I had never known that feeling, knowing that someone hated me enough to want to kill me, just because I was an American.

After a few years of college and failed career attempts, I decided to delve into writing and use my free time to volunteer at places I had always wanted to but never had the time.  I started to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) for adults.  Some of my students were Muslim, including the men.

Over time I began to see that they are not all terrorists.  In fact, most Muslims, most anyone, just wants a better life for their families.  That is why they come here.  I don't believe they come here to take advantage, or to kill us.  But to have what we have always had, what we have always taken for granted.  Freedom.  Opportunity.  The basic necessities of life: food, shelter, education, health. 

I love my students, even the Muslim men.  What changed?  I read a lot of books, watched a lot of documentaries.  I reminded myself that we have home-grown terrorists too, like the Oklahoma bombing or the Olympic games bombing.

It is easy to group people into categories of good/bad.  But people are not so black and white.  I know I'm not.  This takes more time and energy, to get to know people, know their stories, and see them as they are human, like me.

We are not all so different.  We may practice different religions, speak different languages, or dress different, but I think most of us are pretty much the same.  And terrorists come from all walks of life, either here or someplace far away. 

I do believe God loves all of us, no matter who were are or where we come from.  I do believe Jesus is for all, not a white man's religion but for all as it says in the Bible, for we are not Greek or Jew, male or female, but we are all God's creation.  We don't get to choose where we are born, or what gender.  We are just here, trying to make it in this cosmic place at this time, at this place. 

In Les Miserables, the musical, the last word spoken is, "to love another person is to see the face of God."  I hope and pray I can always do this.  I know I won't, I am human, but God knows my heart, and He will help me do so.  


Tuesday, February 11, 2014



In Sochi the Russian government is killing the stray dogs that roam the Olympic Village.  Volunteers are on a race against time to save theses dogs.  Here is link to an article about this effort: http://www.aol.com/article/2014/02/11/volunteers-smuggle-sochi-dogs-out-of-town/20827857/

How can one look at the photos in this article and want to kill innocent creatures?  Yet it happens everyday, too much to count.  If not killed, animals are abused or neglected across the globe.

One might wonder why should I care when there is so much human suffering around the world?  When there are children dying of starvation, women having no rights, civilians being bombed as they go about their everyday lives?

I do care about those things.  But it seems like those things, at least to me, are far away.  I live a pretty secluded life in my hometown of Anoka, MN.  I don't see starvation, women have equal rights, and we are not bombed.  No terrorist wants to waste his time in my little city where they can make a much bigger impact elsewhere!

I do give to charitable organizations that help people like this around the world.  And I pray for them.  But here, right here in my backyard, there are animals suffering with abuse and neglect.  And I can do something about it here.

Some people like to say that humans are more important and we should worry about them.  They like to use “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground," in Genesis 1:26.  I think God meant that we are to be like a benevolent ruler, like a king who provides for his people and ensures their safety.  To rule over them is not to abuse or neglect them.

Not only that, but my pets have always ministered to me throughout my life.  I owe it to them to help others like them.  When I say good-bye to my cat Chocolate before I go volunteer at the Animal Humane Society, I tell him I am helping others like him, for he was a stray.  The dog pictures on the top of this page are the dogs that my sister and her family adopted from a rescue.  My parents  adopted the one on the bottom.  We all say they have been the best pets we've ever had.  It's as if the animals know they have been given a second chance, and they are so grateful.

Animals depend on us to take care of them, whether it be domestic pets, wild animals, or farm animals.  They depend on us to do what is best for them, whatever that may be.  So that is why the stray dogs in Sochi matter. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What I am Thinking About

I am thinking about a young woman who is depressed and feeling hopeless.

I am thinking about a young man who is being threatened because he is gay.

I am thinking of a man my age who seemingly has everything yet doomed to destruction due to an addiction.

I am thinking about a father who watched his son suffer from a mental illness.

Maybe it is because I am in the throes of my period but all these things, and more, make me sad.  They make me cry.  I feel so for these people who live in a world that seems like there is no hope.  Who feel hopeless.  Who feel handicapped by illness, addiction, or bigotry.  I know how this feels.

In the past, I too felt hopeless.  Life was hell and I wanted no part of it.  I was angry at God, at the world, at everyone.  I felt like they owed me.

Living with depression is a black hole that you can't get out of.  It is wanting to hide in bed with the covers up, over my face, and waiting for the hell to end. 

But it doesn't.  Not that way.

It ends through time.  It ends through effort.  I had to choose to change.  I had to go to counseling, support groups, therapy groups, read self-help books, experiment with different medications, the list goes on.

I had to pray and be honest with God.  I had to read the Bible, go to church, go to Bible study.

I had to keep going.  I had to get out of bed each morning and face each new day, even if I gave up the day before, I had to start again.

I had to dissuade myself the notion that I would never get depressed again.  Like an addict who can never say they will never abuse drugs, I could not hope I would never get depressed again.

God is my only hope.

Sure, there are things on this earth that help us, like family and friends.  And I am so thankful I have both.

But sometimes that is not enough.  No one person can fill that void that is within each of us, for all disappoint.  I know I have.

But God never disappoints.

God overcame the world.  Nothing can separate me from His love.  Not anything of me, or anyone else, can take me away from Him. 

That is what I hope in. 

So for those out there suffering, like the ones I wrote about:

Don't give up!
Life is worth living!

Get out of bed.  Get dressed.  Get the paper.  Do one thing at a time, one day at a time.

Make the choice.  You are more than what you look like, what you do, where you come from, and where you are going.

You are a precious gift from God.