He Stood in the Tree, Worm in his Mouth, Looking for Babies to Feed

Who Chains You

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The bluebird stood in the tree, a green worm in his mouth, but he had nowhere to go with it. There was no nest.

Instinct told him he had little ones to care for; so, on autopilot, he collected the worm. He held the squirming green body for long moments, hopping along the branch, looking down toward where the nest was just yesterday. Nothing.

He finally ate it himself.

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The evening before, I’d looked out my window to see what my bluebirds were up to—like I did about 100 times most days. I had never been a birder before, and probably drove my Facebook friends crazy with my requests to identify new birds I spotted around my home in the woods of rural Virginia.

“Newbies,” they’d scoff to themselves. “So annoying.”

But I’d become attached to the birds who lived in my backyard, as I became attached to all the…

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PA Senate Passes Anti-Tethering Bill, Six Years to the Day of my Doghouse Wedding on the Capitol Steps

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Sonny, freed from a PA chain, attended my wedding on the Capitol Steps, June 20, 2011.

Today is the Sixth Anniversary of the day I persuaded my husband to marry me while chained to a doghouse on the Pennsylvania State Capitol Steps, and I couldn’t have asked for a better Anniversary gift:

I just learned that Pennsylvania chained dogs are set to be the recipients of an anti-tethering law as part of Libre’s Law, HB 1238! Someone pinch, me, please.

Today HB 1238 passed the full Senate, after passing the House back in April. Now it’s on to the Governor’s Desk, where it’s rumored the bill will be signed into law.

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Mojo, one of hundreds of chained dogs I was blessed to free as part of my work with DDB.

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Our Doghouse Wedding on the PA Capitol Steps, June 20, 2011

Most of the folks who worked so hard to pass anti-tethering legislation when I was living in Pennsylvania were not part of the effort that pushed the law over the top. I moved to Virginia in 2011, and although Dogs Deserve Better’s volunteers have continued to be part of grassroots efforts to pass a law, I was simply an advocate after 2013, which was the last year we held a Chain Off on the PA Capitol Steps.

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Ming, another dog chained on a PA porch. She was rescued in 2008 by DDB.

But this victory belongs to all of us, from the suffering dogs to the folks on the ground floor to the folks who brought it home.

I don’t personally know a lot of those who finished up, so I don’t want to thank anyone by name, because I’d be sure to miss a ton of people. Just know that you have my immense gratitude. All of you. Always and forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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Worthless, his real name, lived on a chain 1/4 mile from my home. I watched him suffer every day for six years. I suffered with him.

I founded Dogs Deserve Better in 2002 in Bellwood, Pennsylvania, because I saw chained dogs all around me, and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t believe this kind of treatment for our ‘best friends’ was legal, but it was.

I decided I would take a stand against it, even if that stand was alone.

Now, 15 years later, enough people in Pennsylvania have stood together to convince lawmakers that chaining a dog for life is not only cruel and inhumane, but needs to be against the law.

Honestly, I’m not sure I ever thought I’d see this day.

And I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.

But what so many of us have fought for has come to pass.

Here’s the part of the law that addresses chaining, from the Humane PA PAC site:

Tethering:

The legislation also places reasonable limitations on the continuous tethering of dogs outside including the following:

  1. Bans tethering a dog outside without providing for its basic needs as defined under Section 5532.
  2. Creates a presumption that the dog has been neglected as defined in section 5532 if the following are present
    1. The dog is tethered for more than 9 hours within a 24 hour period.
    2. The tether is not secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog whichever is longer.
    3. The dog does not have access to water and an area of shade.
    4. The dog is tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
    5. Excessive waste in the tethered area.
    6. Open sores or wounds on the dog’s body.
    7. The use of a tow or log chain or choke, pinch, prong, or chain collar.
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Senator Alloway, who worked on anti-tethering in PA when I lived there, was still on the front lines and pushing this new anti-cruelty bill. Thank you, Senator!

Special thanks to Libre, whose suffering opened hearts and allowed compassion and morality to enter where many hearts had been previously closed. https://www.facebook.com/whochainsyou/videos/1102998583152075/

They say a picture speaks 1000 words. Below are photos of just some of the people who lobbied, chained up with me, and spoke out during the years I worked the front lines in PA. And just some of the dogs who would have died at the ends of their chains without DDB advocating on their behalf and gaining their freedom—because there was no law to protect them from this abuse.

Thank you, everyone, thank you.

I’m sobbing, I’m so grateful.

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The PA Steps, June 20, 2011. Over 40 People Chained to Doghouses on Behalf of Chained Dogs.

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The woman who owned Adio threatened to shoot me when I went back to remove his doghouse

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Austin, freed

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Bandit, freed

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Banshee, freed

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Beck, freed

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Buddy, freed

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Chia, freed

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Dallas, freed

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Delilah, freed

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Doogie, freed

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Dusty, freed

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Levi, freed

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Magnum, freed

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Max, freed

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Bear, freed

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Sonny, freed (he came to my wedding)

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Mimi, freed

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Barney, freed

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Hunter, freed

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Senator Dinniman with his copy of Capitol in Chains

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Shaggy, freed

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Sloan, freed

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Happy Anniversary, Honey.

capitolbookcover16loP.S. In 2010, I spent 52 days chained to a doghouse on the PA Capitol steps trying to get our bill through. I failed. I wrote a book about those long days on the chain, and hopefully soon I will get to update it with the passage of this bill into law. If you’re interested in reading about that experience, here’s the Amazon link to the book. https://www.amazon.com/Capitol-Chains-Days-Doghouse-Blues/dp/0692744738/

Bubba Gets an “A” for Effort on his Veggie Burgers, but a “Back to the Drawing Board” on his Flavor and Texture

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So I was wandering the aisles of the grocery store (in search of Beast Burgers, if you must know, nosey!) when I happened upon such an extraordinary sight that I stopped dead in my tracks.

Bubba made a veggie burger? When did that happen?

I was so intrigued that I had to go back and take a pic, because…well, Bubba made a veggie burger.

That sentence alone is all you need to explain it. And, it’s fun to say, too. You know it is.

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I took note and then continued on my search for Beast Burgers. Alas, I was to be disappointed in the fact that my local Safeway didn’t make room for The Beast on its shelves. How rude!

But they did have Bubba Veggie Burgers. And I did think that Hell would freeze over before I ever ate a Bubba burger again….

So you see where I’m going with this.

(Full disclosure, I haven’t eaten meat for nigh on 15 years…so I can’t honestly say if I ever ate a Bubba burger in the first place. But I ate plenty like them in my time, I’m sure.)

So I seyz to myself, “Self. If Bubba can make a veggie burger, then by gum you owe it to him to man up and taste one.” Yep, that’s what I said.

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So I bought a pack.

Now, if’n we’re talkin’ price, Bubba beats Beast by the Barrel-full. I got 4 Bubba burgers for $4.00 at Safeway, and only 2 Beast Burgers for $6 at Wegmans. That’s a big difference.

For me, though, it all boils down to whether I want to have a burgergasm or not.

And I’ve decided that yes, yes I do.

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So I tried the Bubba. I fried the Bubba. And I added A1 Sauce to the Bubba—to be fair—because that’s what I do to The Beast.

And what’s good for The Beast is good for The Bubba. (Ha. See what I did there?)

But here’s the problem with The Bubba, and so many like them:

They think we don’t really want a burger that tastes like a real burger. But we do.

At least I think we do…

I can’t speak for every vegan or vegetarian. I can really only speak for myself, but I know that I want a burger that tastes to me like the old burgers tasted. The ones that were full of poor dead cows. THAT, I want no part of anymore.

But folks like Bubba just don’t seem to understand that. They think that vegans and vegetarians all come from another planet, where everything tastes like vegetables and we WANT everything to taste like vegetables; in fact, we’re tickled pink about it.

I mean, if I’m being honest, probably the healthiest vegans DO mostly want that. I get it. I wish I were that enlightened.

But I’m not.

I want my burger to hold the texture, mouthfeel, and taste of a real burger. For me, the Beyond Burger, Beast Burger, and Beastly Sliders have come closest to that goal, and I could gobble them three times a week and still want more.

Most of the folks I know who no longer eat meat do it because they don’t want the animals to suffer, not because they only want to eat vegetables for the rest of their lives.

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Bubba’s Burger fell apart. And it was smushy.

Bubba, I’m sorry to inform you, but the longer I cooked your burger, the mushier it got. The pic looks kinda pretty, but inside it was just not firmly burgerific. At all. And when I put it on the bun, it promptly oozed out the sides and toppled onto the plate.

Tsk tsk. That’s a No No, Bubba.

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I think you’ll enjoy Bubba’s story as much as I did, because in reading between the lines, he might be saying “What the fuck am I doing making this stupid veggie burger. Trump would hate it, and so do I. Screw those board members who are making me do this. I hate my life.” Or something of that nature.

He pretty much confirms my theory that he thinks one can just throw in any old veggie stuff, smush it together, and Voila, the vegans will be happy.

I also think Bubba’s got some complaints headed his way when folks throw his burger on the grill (as instructed), and it all falls through the grate and onto the fire. Because it doesn’t hold together, Bubba! It just doesn’t hold together!

So please, go back to the drawing board on the taste and texture thing, my bubbalicious friend. I beg of you. Hire a vegan chef, that’s my recommendation. They’re the guys who know what we want and know how to make it for us.

And then I promise I’ll come back and buy a second batch. And probably a third and fourth.

What I AM especially heartened by with Bubba’s effort at Veggie Burgers, though.

Take heart, Bubba. I am still giving you an “A” for effort, because I’m super impressed that you have made the attempt to create a veggie burger at all.

Oh, and I’m gonna slap on a second “A” for being Gluten Free! Most veggie burgers aren’t, and that puts them out of the running for my favorite burger before we even hit the starting gate.

I for one am very encouraged that even the large animal carcass purveyors can see the writing on the wall.

Maybe they know veggie burgers will be easier to grow and cultivate in the Zombie Apocalypse (after all, cows don’t run that fast, and would probably make good zombie meals, too), OR they know that there are enough people with hearts in this world who will eventually decide THEY DON’T WANT TO CONSUME THE FLESH OF COWS WHO ARE CHOPPED INTO PIECES AND SKINNED WHILE THEY ARE STILL ALIVE.

No. No they don’t.

Don’t believe that happens to the animals? Surely you’re not that naive. Read this article, which is short, well-written, direct, and to the point: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-pippus/meet-the-former-slaughter_b_10199262.html?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

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Note how the Beast Burger holds together, and gets all nice and burgery….yummm. Yum.

For those of you who like to compare ingredients

I know you’re out there. And you’ll ask if I don’t give it to you. Here you go:

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The Bubba Veggie Burger, above.

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The Beast Burger.

In the end, although I had a bit of fun with it, The Bubba Burger wasn’t awful. I’ve had much worse in the flavor department, and I’ve even had worse in the texture department. I think it needs work to have any staying power in the marketplace, and I hope Bubba puts in the effort. After all, the zombies WILL eat all the cows, that you can be sure of…so he will need an alternative ready and waiting for those not blown up by the nuclear bomb to partake of.

I plan to finish the pack, but I won’t be buying more unless I find that improvements have been made. I prefer my burgergasms, and I’m willing to pay more for them if need be. Curse you and my addiction, Beast Burger!

Megan Leavey and Rex Won’t Fail in Their Mission to Touch Your Heart: Movie Review

(Photo, above, from official website: http://www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/meganleavey)

Last night I was first in line with my hubby to see Megan Leavey, which is a movie about a young female Marine who trains a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd, Rex, and deploys with him to Camp Ramadi, Iraq as his handler.

Despite the fact that females aren’t supposed to be going on the more-dangerous missions, she soon finds herself and Rex out there anyway, and together they save hundreds of lives by searching for and detecting IEDs throughout two deployments…until an explosion almost takes them both out.

She has to fight many things, including bureaucracy, PTSD, and her own feelings of inadequacy to reunite with Rex—and it’s a fight so many will be able to get behind.

Of course the movie’s a tear-jerker, and I’m sure every shepherd lover will be remembering those they’ve loved and lost throughout the movie, adding to its emotional tug.

As a former chained-dog rescuer, I’m always floored when I see how much dogs are capable of: they serve our country, die for our freedom, and save thousands of lives.

Why do we as a nation still tolerate yahoos chaining them in our backyards. Why?

[Grumble. Grumble.]

Some of the lines in the movie that moved me or struck a chord follow:

  1. Rex is a Marine Corp dog. He’s not your dog or my dog.
  2. Everything you feel goes down leash. If you’re not confident, he’s not confident. I can’t teach you how to bond.
  3. They aren’t pets. They aren’t even dogs anymore. They’re warriors. They come back with all the same issues we do.
  4. I want you to be a person who shows up. So you failed. I failed. Keep failing until they’re tossing dirt on your corpse.
  5. As much as they’re our family, we’re theirs too.

Watching the movie gave me food for thought on where I stand in relation to dogs in the military. Having been in the Air Force, I have a military bone in my body, and I still believe in much of what our military does to protect us in time of need.

At the same time, I love animals, and I don’t want humans to bring them harm. The thought of an animal dying on our behalf hurts me greatly, as much as if not even more than we humans giving our lives in the line of duty.

Because we genuinely choose to be there.

But do they?

It’s a quandary. When I study the lines I jotted down from the movie, I can’t help but note the innate contradiction repeated throughout. Half of the time the powers that be talk about the need to bond with the dog—how we love them and they love us—but then they go off in the opposite direction, asserting that they are simply property of the military, just warriors like everyone else.

I had a very hard time making these polar opposite statements jibe with each other. And really, I guess, that’s the crux of the movie.

It’s a conflict between how we feel about dogs as living beings vs. the military hardline, which spares no room for bonding or feelings or any of that mushy stuff.

Unfortunately, humans are not wired that way, at least not the majority of us. In the end, if the military is to continue to use dogs in the line of duty, they need to—at a minimum—ensure a humane adoption by someone who loves them when they hit retirement age. It’s the least they can do for these heroes.

I highly recommend the movie Megan Leavey to all my animal-loving friends, and welcome your discussion points.

Here’s a link to a USA Today article about the movie. http://ux-origin.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/06/07/megan-leavey-sgt-rex/377334001/

P.S. Speaking of shepherds and shooting, I was reminded of Ezekiel, a shepherd I had the honor of saving from certain death around Christmas of 2011. Whether you believe in God or not, I am convinced a higher power sent us to rescue him at the exact moment we did. I would later realize that the very man who shot him drove up while we were there hoping to finish him off.

The man ended up confessing to the shooting, and it would be the ONLY case during my years helping abused dogs where the abuser was found guilty…or even charged with a crime. I got to speak on the dog’s behalf during sentencing, and I felt the responsibility of truly being the dog’s voice. Below is a short video of Ezekiel’s story, if you’re interested.

Ezekiel got his happy ending, and went to live in the mountains of central PA with a very loving family. It’s my heartfelt hope that he is still living his happily ever after today.

New Young Adult Novel by Author Tamira Thayne Finds Creative Ways to Highlight Dog Chaining, Cat Dissection

My first novel is out! “But then it hit her: What if the chained dog in the story was actually a lot MORE than he appeared to be? And what if he could somehow rise up and take vengeance on those who treated him so poorly? (I mean really, don’t all animal activists daydream about the animals rising up against those who torment them?)

And so, the idea for The Wrath of Dog was born.”

Who Chains You

wrathcover-lodropAnimal activist Tamira Thayne loved to read paranormal novels, and one of her dreams was to write one herself someday.

Trouble was, although she’d spent 13 years writing about dog chaining and dog foster parenting as founder of the nonprofit organization Dogs Deserve Better, she’d never considered any kind of storyline for a novel.

But then it hit her: What if the chained dog in the story was actually a lot MORE than he appeared to be? And what if he could somehow rise up and take vengeance on those who treated him so poorly?

(I mean really, don’t all animal activists daydream about the animals rising up against those who torment them?)

And so, the idea for The Wrath of Dog was born. While Thayne plans for a three-five book series, she’s already at work on a prequel short story entitled “The King’s Tether.”

The Wrath of Dog is…

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You’ll Enjoy this Excerpt from “The Dog Thief and Other Stories”, Out Soon in Audiobook, Too!

Who Chains You

dogthief-chosen-loThere’s a reason Kirkus Review named The Dog Thief one of its Best Indie Books…it’s just that good.

We’ve chosen it as our first audiobook, and we’re happy to announce it’s gone into production with Wes Super, and will be available by late June.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from “The Dog Thief” novella.

The Dog Thief

How it All Started

Lucky, the three-legged pitbull, escaped from confinement in the tool shed by chewing his way through the rotten boards of the wall. He emerged, blinking in the sunlight, just as Donald opened his front door to toss some trash out into the yard. Donald gave a yell and charged down the steps. Lucky galloped across the yard and took off down the narrow dirt track that led through the woods to the paved road at the bottom of the hill.

Lucky ran like a dog…

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Who Chains Us as Animal Advocates? What Stops You from Making Your Best Strides for the Animals?

“Unfortunately, many people in our world—including our current government—do not live by this motto, and regularly visit harm on both humans and animals without sparing it a second thought. For those who do agree with “Do No Harm” (in theory at least), the welfare of animals is not considered important enough to fall under the principle, and so they apply it solely to humans.”

Who Chains You

CowWhen one applies the “First, Do No Harm” principle to everyday life, feeling a need to extend protection to animals is a no-brainer, and should be the obligation of every human on the planet.

What is “Do No Harm”?

From Reflections on Ethics by Paul Sharkey: It is commonly believed that the principle “First, do no harm” originated with the physician’s oath and is circumscript with the practice of medicine. It did not and it is not. As a moral principle, refraining from doing harm is both much more fundamental and much more universal than that. It forms the very foundation of the moral teachings of the founders of at least two of the world’s major religions and was so central to the life and teachings of Socrates that he literally chose to die rather than transgress it. Fully understanding, appreciating and following this principle is, I believe, key to…

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