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Archive for the 'Animal Welfare' Category

The Story of a Dog

For several weeks, I have been ignoring the elephant in the room—at least as far as this blog is concerned. And by “elephant,” of course, I mean “dog.”  And by “dog,” of course, I mean Hippo.

But readers have been asking.  It turns out (not surprisingly) that no one wants to read about kumquats when everyone knows perfectly well that I could be posting dozens of cute puppy pictures.  Faithful readers, I will deprive you no longer.

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Hippo Watch: Tuesday

That muhammara post is coming later today; sorry, but I have been swamped with classwork, coupled with taking Hippo to the vet twice in the last two days.  The animal control vet wanted him examined in a full-facility clinic to check for Valley Fever and glaucoma, so we took him to a wonderful new vet today.  The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, with the stipulation that he needs to eat more to put on some weight and chew some bones to clean up his teeth.  Not a bad check-up!  It turns out the redness in his left eye isn’t an infection, but rather a fairly common phenomenon called “cherry eye” where the tear duct on a dog’s third eyelid pops out a little bit from where it’s supposed to be.  We’re going to try massaging it back into place later today.  If that doesn’t work, we’ll look into other options and decide what we want to do.

You will note that in the picture above, Mr Hippo is wearing a very stylish and becoming personalized scarf to help keep him warm in the daytime.  He got an exciting gift box from Grandmasaurus yesterday, and this was tucked inside. I think he wears it well.

Being completely responsible for the health and welfare of a dog, even if it is only temporary, has been an interesting experience.  I am used to dogs, as I grew up with them (as in, my family had some, not as in “I was raised by wolves”), but I have never been the primary caregiver.  One of the things I’ve found very overwhelming in the last couple days is trying to sort out what exactly to feed him.  Since this is, after all, a blog about making strong food choices, I thought I should take advantage of Hippo Watch and talk about something a little better suited to the usual content here.

So, what does one feed a dog?

Duh.  Dog food, right?

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I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas

Christmas at our place was rich with stuffed squash, soup, pies, ambrosia, and fresh bread; all the usual suspects.

Unlike past Christmases, however, this one also contained something more out of the ordinary. Specifically, we had ourselves a hippo this Christmas. No, not on the table.  In our living room.  He’s pretty cute, actually.  This hippo is likely to eat up quite a bit of my time in the coming weeks, which is why I’m breaking from my usual postings about food and policy to tell you about him. If postings are sparser than usual, I can guarantee you that his skinny shoulders carry a good part of the blame. So, who is this hippo? Well, he’s a bit unusual, as hippos go.  First, this hippo is not especially fond of water.  Second, he’s neither as corpulent nor as leathery as you might expect.  This hippo—rather, this Hippo—is a tiny, terrified little creature who accidentally found his way into our lives, and who now has a spot in our home.

All evidence thus far suggests that he’s okay with that.  Here you can see our Hippo exploring the basil in the garden.

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Before You Gobble Your Gobbler: The Real Deal on Turkeys

Thursday is fast-approaching.  Welcome to Thanksgiving 2008.  Or, as it’s also known, Turkey Day.  Is it just me, or is that an odd nickname?  It makes it sound like of fun, poultry-based activities intended to honor the noble turkey, even though it’s more like “The Day All Turkeys Must Die.”

Imagine if the same was true of other holidays so named, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Yeesh.  Okay, extreme, but do you get the aforementioned weirdness now?

If you’ve not seen the video of Sarah Palin pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving while others are being slaughtered on camera right behind her, perhaps you should take a gander.  While it’s rife with irony (and innuendo from the interviewer at times—”programs on the chopping block”?), it does bring up an issue that I want resolved. And no slight on Governor Palin, here.  This is far bigger than either this interview or the governor herself.

Can someone, ANYONE, out there please explain the whole “pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving” thing?  I know how it started—that’s not my question.  I really don’t get the rationale.  Frankly, making a PR opportunity out of pardoning a specific turkey while encouraging the deaths of countless others seems to smack of a sick sort of humor.  It’s only because so many birds will wind up on dinner tables for the holiday that marking one to have the chance to die a natural death is remotely noteworthy.  This is particularly true when you consider that the president/governor/other public figures in question fully intend to have a turkey at their family dinners, just not that particular one.

“Heh heh heh.  Yous guys is all invited over for dinner, if you know what I mean.  But hey, I gots a heart, so…you there, with the feathers and the red bobble on your noggin, you gets to go free.”

Seriously, wha?

Watch the drama of the pardon unfold on an episode of the West Wing, shown here.

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Monday Entertainment: The Meatrix

Okay, so it’s been around for a while, but it’s amusing.  What can I say?  I’m on the road again, busy lady, reading like crazy on the airplane so I have loads of exciting new stuff to post for you.  Anyway, this animation is from Sustainable Table.  Check it out.  (Yes, they do have sequels.)

And in the lineup for the near future, you can expect a review of Food Security for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler, the nitty gritty about the modern turkey, holiday recipes, and so much more! I’m in Wisconsin…cheese for everyone!  Huzzah!

(Except for the vegans, of course.  I’ll get you folks some baby rice popcorn from the farm down the way.  So good!)

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Film Review: Silence of the Bees

Check those eyeballs, folks: Can you spot the bees in this brilliant stand of Wisconsin roadside goldenrod?

There’s more than one.  And more than two.  I came across this stand (bigger than what you can see here) while biking out in the boonies of Wisconsin late this summer.  Despite their tiny size, the bees were hard to miss; their drone was loud and unmistakable.  Apparently, bees love goldenrod.

And I love bees.  Welcome to the topic of today’s post.

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Last Flight of the Honeybee?

Last pre-written, on-the-road post.  Next time, I’ll let you know how the veggie Philly cheese steak and decadent NY cheesecake were as I headed back to Phoenix.  Until then, folks!

In May of 2008, British journalist and amateur beekeeper Alison Benjamin wrote a book with Brian McCallum, an apiarist-in-training. That book is A World Without Bees, and it examines the possible causes and consequences of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Remember CCD? It got quite a bit of press a year or two ago. Häagen Dazs even got involved trying to spread the word and find solutions.

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Vegetarianism 101: Confined Animal Feeding Operations

A lot of vegetarians have chosen their diets because of a belief that killing animals for food is wrong. While the Unicyclist and I respect that belief, we are aware that tilling fields and clearing them kills a lot of rabbits, mice, pheasants, and the like. Basically, modern agriculture isn’t animal-friendly any way you slice it. Even so, ethics are a part of why we are vegetarians.

In the past couple days, I covered some of the impacts of industrial ranching and CAFOs (Confined or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, depending on whom you ask) on your health and the health of the environment. For anyone wanting to have a realistic understanding of the wider implications of the way they eat, looking at the conditions in CAFOs is essential.

In about fourteen months, a steer in a CAFO will go from 80 to 1100 pounds and to slaughter, raised on a diet of corn, protein and fat supplements, and drugs. Animals in a CAFO are packed into a confined space, be that a pen crowded with other animals, or, in the case of many pregnant pigs, in a tiny enclosure where they likely can’t turn around.

Original image courtesy of the EPA

Original image courtesy of the EPA

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