When There’s a Fox in the Henhouse, aka a Traitor in the White House

When living with a narcissist, or under a narcissistic president, victims (citizens) often become numb.

Hopeless—at least until it becomes a fight for their lives.

Because the narcissist is so good at gaslighting, that he or she (yes, there are plenty of women narcissists) gathers a gaggle of groupies and easily convinces said groupies to punish and pummel the victims with whatever lies they’ve been fed, whereupon the victim ends up feeling crazy and helpless.

And alone.

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Here in America those who see the so-called president for what he is are far from alone. Yet we are accosted on a daily basis with lies, misdirection, and outright villainy by a government that has now proven itself to be nothing more than a puppet to Russia.

Even though after Helsinki this fact can no longer be dismissed for conjecture, we still have to put up with family and friends who say ridiculous things like “The media is to blame.” Or “Hillary’s emails.” Or “Barack Obama was a socialist dictator.”

None of which make sense OR does a thing to stop the fascist progression of our country.

Maybe those who hide and bury their heads in the sand do so because they feel hopeless and helpless, and, look, I totally get that. I’ve gone to DC to protest three times, made the phone calls, facebook posts and tweets, and signed a bazillion petitions, and yet it’s not nearly enough. I still feel like a slacker and need to do more.

Because after Helsinki, everyone in America who isn’t a white supremacist SHOULD HAVE THEIR EYES WIDE OPEN.

The man TOLD US EXACTLY WHAT HE IS.

The man betrayed America to our enemies. The man BLATANTLY SOLD US DOWN THE RIVER FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE.

And what I want to know is, WHO ARE WE? WHO ARE YOU?

He showed himself to be the traitor that he is. And if you aren’t, if our elected representatives aren’t, standing as ONE AMERICA to say this treasonous fool must go, then each and every one of you are complicit as well.

Trump took an oath to uphold our constitution, and he has failed in that oath, and must be removed from office. He has proven that he doesn’t hold the best interests of our country over himself repeatedly, but never more clearly has he shown that he puts Russia before us than he did in Helsinki.

My favorite quote from the articles I’ve read is as follows: “The fact is that [Trump]’s behaving like a controlled spy,” he said. “If all signs are that there’s a fox in the chicken coop, then don’t think that there was probably a lightning bolt — there’s probably a fox in the chicken coop.”Glenn Carle

Did you know that foxes don’t just kill one chicken and leave the rest? Nope. They kill them all.

I spoke to a girl who runs a local farm, where chickens run through the field and are bedded inside two mobile henhouses for protection each night. She told me they’d recently lost about 20 chickens that they couldn’t find the night before, and all 20 had been slain by a fox or foxes, yet not eaten.

These poor chickens were demolished and left where they lay to be discovered the next morning. Apparently foxes go into a murderous frenzy and kill everything—but then only take one to eat and leave the rest behind.

The U.S. is the henhouse.

Trump and Putin are the foxes.

And THEY ARE INSIDE.

Dig your heads out of the sand and stand up. Please. And for God’s sake, vote this November. It’s never been more crucial.

P.S. For those of you who come here for animal issues, consider this: Animals are nothing in Trump’s America. Do you really think those who cage kids at the border give a rat’s ass about protecting a dog on a chain? Come on. Even if your hands are full with rescued and dumped animals, make sure you vote these folks out this year, if you ever want a chance for better lives for the animals.

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An Open Animal Rescue Like No Other Before: When Love is the Motivation

I was, am, and probably will always be, the lone wolf type…which is often not a good thing when trying to make a difference in the world.

When I was rescuing chained dogs, even though I instinctively knew the more people I could get to stand together the more difference we could make, I struggled to bring that dream to fruition.

Yes, DDB had more success than had ever before been seen for chained dogs, but I dreamed of a day when a community would stand as one against a dog chainer, and INSIST, no, DEMAND, that the dog be given up to a better life. Where community pressure and love for the dogs would blow away any ridiculous notions of property rights as they applied to our animal friends.

Mostly, my stands for animals resulted in just me being arrested, and while that created a ripple, it didn’t create a wave.

But this week that wave was created on behalf of another animal: chickens caught in the brutality of factory farming, and—even though I had nothing to do with it—I couldn’t be prouder of the 500 people who took action on behalf of the animals.

THIS is how lasting change will be made…

By an entire community of people standing, in love, and for reasons of love, against those of ownership, hatred, disregard, and abuse.

The folks who participated in this action have my deepest respect, and my deepest thanks. Below, I highlight the words of Wayne Hsiung, leader of Direct Action Everywhere, as well as photos from his page.

Thank you, Wayne, and each and every one of the 500 people who stood by your side. You’ve done what so many of us have dreamed of.

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From Wayne Hsiung:

“Just a small handful of the powerful photos from yesterday’s #MassOpenRescue. We walked into a vile factory farm with around 500 activists, and we walked out with 37 lives.

• When we first walked down into the facility, a huge group of activists with white flowers were tasked with supporting us, as we confronted hell on earth. (Another group stood outside on the public road, to be our public face for the media.) This image shows the buffering effect that our support team had on us. We could literally look up and see that we had allies to back us, and to bear witness, as employees or police assaulted us.

• The police arrived within 30 minutes. I discussed with them the “right to rescue” – our statutory and common law right to enter animal abusing facilities and take victims out. They mostly refused to listen, and just wanted us to get out. But the fact that we had a legal basis for our actions gave them pause. And our rescuers continued their life-saving work as I negotiated with the police and owners for most of the next hour.

• Despite being commanded by the owner to leave animals behind, and in the face of extremely intense negotiations with officers who were armed and prepared to use violence to stop us, we walked out with 10+ birds, almost 1.5 hours after we first arrived. We walked right past a police line, with flowers in our hands and love in our hearts. We showed the officers the rotting, cannibalized birds in our hands, and they declined to stop us. So the last 10 birds got home, allowing us to rescue 37 in total.

• We had been promised—by the owner and the police—the right to resume our inspection and rescue any dying birds. But the owner took that off the table, and refused to allow the media to join us in inspecting the facility. I suspect they just wanted to separate me and other leadership from the rest of the activists, arrest us, then hope that eventually the other activists would dissipate in the heat of the sun.

• But that didn’t happen. The activists on site felt strongly that we had the right to remove, at least, the injured animals — and yes, perhaps them all — so we walked back on the farm, nonviolently with red flowers in one hand, and rescue packages in the other. And 40 of us were arrested as we descended on that police line.

• There are so many other stories to tell, but here are 4 of the most important. Thanks to each and every one of you who was at #ALC2018. You are the ones who saved these 37 lives, and garnered media attention across the globe.”

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Join Direct Action Everywhere to be part of history for animals.

Isle of Dogs: The Weirdest, Coolest, Littlest, Biggest Dog Rights Movie You’ll See this Year

Have you seen the trailer for Isle of Dogs, in theatres now? I admit, when I saw said trailer (numerous times), I thought, that looks so freakin’ weird—I just don’t think so.

Yet, I was intrigued, despite myself.

Plus, it has some awesome stars providing character voicing…Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johannson, Bill Murrayand MORE!

So. To see or not to see? That was the question.

In the end, I had every intention of blowing it off. I knew the hubby wouldn’t want to see it—he’s not a cartoon fan—so, an intentional effort would have had to have been made by me. And I didn’t feel strongly enough to put in the effort.

But then one of my FB friends raved about it.

And I was sold. Aw, the power of social media.

Here’s the official synopsis: “When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

The movie is at once weird, cool, little, big, sweet, and horrible. My emotions were on a roller coaster ride throughout, and I laughed a lot more than I thought I would.

But I was also disgusted, angry, perturbed, sad, and upset by turn.

The bottom line of the movie was that dogs were treated like crap, and the many, gullible citizens simply went along with dastardly government actions and decrees without any significant pushback. (Sounds creepily familiar, doesn’t it?)

Dogs, members of their families, were simply dumped on a garbage heap of an island—some STILL LOCKED IN THEIR CRATES (WTF!)—and left to die there.

The movie brought up big issues such as rampant animal abuse, conspiracies within governments, the power of the few to stand up to corruption, and the often overlooked ability of the young to see through the evil of older generations.

There were many, many laugh out loud moments for me. One of my favorite lines was when Chief, who was a stray dog, told Atari, the young boy “I am not your pet. I never liked you. I don’t care about you. And I bite.”

And then “Don’t ask me to fetch that stick. I don’t fetch…fine. I’m only doing it because I feel sorry for you.”

Do I think you’d enjoy the movie? As long as you have even a little tolerance for the bizarre, then yes. I love bizarre, as long as it makes sense. If it’s weird and strange, or weird and funny, I’m all in. If it’s weird and I don’t understand WTH is going on, then I get frustrated and want out.

This movie was amazingly good bizarre, for me at least.

And the overall message rocked.

Dogs are people too.

P.S. And the bad guys all had cat fixations. Just sayin’…I’m a cat lover myself, but the way this obsession was tucked into everything was silly and the laughs snuck up on me. Be looking for them…they’re easy to miss.

How Much Crating is Too Much? After the New OAS Book, Some Thoughts on What Constitutes Over-Crating of Dogs

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My dog Khronos (left) and Sam (right) one of our two houseguests playing in front of open crates.

lostcoverlo-dropI left active rescue in 2015, so it’s been awhile since I thought much about the use of crates for dogs, in rescue or otherwise.

But between the release of our latest book from Who Chains You Publishing— I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found: Daisy and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary Rescue—and my occasion to use crates this week for two dogs I’m babysitting, I was forced once again to look the issue in the eye and give it a good mulling over.

My dog Khronos has been with us for over a year now, so he’s trained to a doggie door and is a perfect gentleman inside the house, no longer needing or using a crate.

Yet we still have one or two of them, folded up and gathering dust in the back basement room, most likely to get used soon when I foster a dog. It’s always good to have a crate around, even when your pack is stable and you have no foster doggies…just in case.

But just how much crating IS acceptable? When does crating a dog become cruelty?

I’ve always been a big believer in the ultimate freedom for our companions…which to my mind meant chain-free AND cage-free was the ONLY way to go.

So when I came into rescue I’d never used a crate before, viewing them as borderline cruel. However, eventually—and through multiple foster dog situations—I was forced to change my mind and opinion when matters of safety and sanity reared their ugly heads.

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George, my other little houseguest. Yes, that underbite is just too cute…at least all the rescue ladies think so, cooing when I post his pic on my page.

Sam and George’s dad doesn’t crate them at home anymore, either. He’s had the boys with him for years, and both are well-trained to his house and know their daily schedule.

But I asked him to bring his crates with the dogs for the 12 days they’d be staying here. Because the truth is, when you combine new dogs with your own family dog(s) and/or cats or other companions, one never knows what can happen, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry. A crate is a useful tool that can and will keep everyone secure at bedtime or if you have to leave the home for work or errands.

The boys have now gotten used to my dog, and the three have started playing quite nicely together, but I still wouldn’t leave them alone without crating our visitors. Why? Because I’m not going to take the chance that I get up in the morning or come home from town to discover that play turned violent and someone’s been injured, or something was destroyed and eaten that could harm one of them. If I’m not here to directly supervise, the crates will be used.

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Khronos and Sam posing for their pic like good boys.

So I crated Sam and George for bed both nights so far (and probably will every night they’re here so I don’t lay awake worrying). Then today I wanted to go to town for a few hours, and I’m not gonna lie—this put me in a dilemma.

I felt hella guilty about crating them again after they’d spent eight hours in the crate overnight.

But I knew I had to. For my peace of mind and their safety.

So to assuage my guilt, I took all three dogs for a half mile walk on our property. Then I fed them. Then I took them for another half mile walk. Only then did I feel they’d had enough exercise to sleep in their crates while I was gone.

And when I came home a few hours later? I immediately took them for another half mile walk, fed them, and walked them again.

And guess what? I STILL felt guilty about leaving them in the crate for the time I was gone!

Which got me to thinkin’…

If I feel distressed about leaving two dogs in their crates at night and while I run out to do errands—when I know it’s for their safety AND only after making sure they get some good exercise—WHAT KIND OF MONSTER IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY CAPABLE OF LEAVING A DOG IN A CRATE FOR DAYS, EVEN YEARS, ON END?

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One of the crates outside the Olympic Animal Sanctuary. Note the hardened and crystalized urine encrusted on the top. Can you imagine the suffering?

Seriously, don’t you wonder that, too? Who can emotionally handle that kind of guilt?

Unless…unless you just don’t feel guilt.

Unless you don’t feel empathy for other beings, feel responsible for their welfare, feel any of the emotions that a normal human being should feel.

Because leaving a dog crated for years on end, forcing him to sleep in his own defecation and urination, refusing to walk the dog, allow him to stretch his legs, or provide daily food and water? That’s just the definition of heartless. And that’s exactly what Steve Markwell, founder of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington, did to the dogs in his care. He went out into the world, misrepresented himself as the ultimate dog trainer, got rescues to send him their difficult dogs under the guise of rehabbing them, and then plopped them in crates as if they were nothing more than props, wandering back out to repeat the pattern.

And I just don’t understand HOW. HOW could anyone do that?

If you’re a dog rescue or foster home who’s working out of crates, think long and hard about the appropriate amount of time a dog can be crated without slipping into the realm of cruelty and neglect.

Dogs need daily walks, AND they need time to just BE DOGS. To wrestle around with other dogs or their humans. To play, to lounge, to loll, to eat, to drink. If you’re crating dogs longer than bedtime and while you’re at work or out running errands, it’s too long.

If dogs can’t have hours a day to be a (supervised when needed) part of the family, IT’S NOT ENOUGH.

I still believe dogs deserve as much freedom as humanly possible. I’ve grown to understand that this often includes the use of appropriate crating, living INSIDE the home with the family, playtime, and a walk daily or as often as possible.

No matter if you’re a home-based dog rescue or a family fostering or training a new dog, keep in mind that crates are tools, nothing more. The ultimate goal of crating is to achieve the point where your dog no longer needs the crate—but for those dogs who see their crate as a den, it can remain available in the home with the door open so they are free to go in and out as desired.

lostcoverlo-dropIn the case of the OAS dogs, many of them eventually earned their freedom from crating hell, thanks to those in the rescue community who did their parts and kept up the pressure on Markwell until the goal was achieved.

As Laura Koerber, the author of I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found: Daisy and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary Rescue states, “the OAS rescue was an epic narrative that extended over several years and featured small town politics, protests, assault, lawsuits, arrests, and a midnight escape, all played out to a nationwide audience.”

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend the book; the story is nothing short of astounding. I think you, too, will be left with the same burning question I am: HOW?

HOW could anyone do that?

I just don’t know the answer.

Interested in the book? Here’s the links to read more or buy:

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kindle | Buy from Createspace and $1 Will be Donated to our Charity of the Year

Let’s Call it What it Is, Rescue Ladies and Hangers-On: Jealousy

I’ve always considered myself a woman’s woman, but after the horrible cruelty I experienced at the hands of women in the rescue world—lashing out through their keyboards because they’re too cowardly to say it to my face—I really had to pull back and rethink.

I’m still rethinking, as a matter of fact.

And what I think is that I’d never again get involved in active rescue (beyond my annual foster pledge). Which one could argue is a shame, but I like to believe that I did my time—I spent 13 years on the front lines and taking abuse from all sides—and now we have new blood to take center stage.

During those difficult years, I all-too-often believed my abusers; believed it was me. There must be something wrong about me, off about me, too abrasive about me, too ‘radical’ about me, and maybe they were right—maybe I was just a horrible person.

Yet now I see the same thing happening to two other lovely ladies who are standing tall and making change for the animals, and quite frankly, it’s making my blood boil, and I’m compelled to speak out on their behalves. (Although they both did a fine job standing up for themselves.)

When it’s not me in the hot seat, when I can see the machinations behind the bullying more clearly, I can see exactly what it is:

jealousy

Jealousy. Pure and simple.

When it’s happening to you, you don’t have the freedom to say people are jealous of you, even if you have the clarity of mind to figure it out. It just makes you look narcissistic, which will already be one of their accusations against you and only further fuels the rage they spew.

But now that I’m not on the chopping block, I can and will call out jealousy when I see it.

And I’m seeing it now.

Two women who I am friendly with and hold respect for in the rescue movement put out posts in the last two days talking about the abuse and vitriol that is currently being heaped upon their heads.

Why? Because they’ve stood up and taken action. And people are jealous of that. Let’s call it what it is, folks.

Jealousy, pure and simple.

denisebitzOne, Denise Bitz, is the founder and President of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, North Carolina. She used to be a rep in that area fighting for the chained dogs when I was with Dogs Deserve Better, so I got to know her through that work, finding her to be strong and ethical.

She’s done fabulous things since starting Brother Wolf, and the organization now, in addition to rescuing dogs and cats, has embraced veganism and right to life for ALL animals, proudly standing by that vision.

For this stance, she has been personally attacked, and even shamed for the way her body looks, for the fact that she’s not model-thin.

Last I checked, being a model was not a prerequisite for making a difference for the animals. Or most of us would not be here, now would we?

When I was being relentlessly attacked on social media, I was told over and over again to just ‘take the high ground. Continue on about my work. They would get bored and go somewhere else.’ But that’s not really true. There are some really sick human beings who become obsessed with destroying their targets, and these SOB’s continue despite you ignoring them.

If one has the money or the energy to take these sorts of people to court for defamation, you might spend many thousands of dollars and come away with little in the form of satisfaction or peace of mind.

How ugly your situation gets depends on the personality disorder of the person you’re dealing with. For those sidekick bullies, the ones just following the BIG BULLY, a strongly-worded letter from an attorney is usually enough to scare them off. But for the hard-core folks with major personality disorders—the leaders of the anti-YOU movement—not much scares them off once they sink their teeth into you.

Take the below, for example: this is from an expert analysis of a woman, a doctor, who harassed one of our reps (who also happened to be her patient) during my years with DDB. This doctor simply switched over to me (having never met me in person) once she was court-ordered to leave our rep alone. I’m sure she is still out there targeting someone today, because her analysis all but guarantees that fact:

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When you’re dealing with a psychosis of this magnitude, above, nothing short of a miracle and another poor SOB pissing them off more will sway them from targeting you.

Denise stood up to her abusers with grace and dignity, even showing compassion for them and not anger. I applaud and commend her, and hope that others will rally around her and her group in the face of others’ cruelty.

She writes: “The nasty comments, allegations, rumors, falsities that continue to be perpetuated by a VERY SMALL group of people in Asheville including the two mentioned above…I want to make sure that everyone is crystal clear here….their hate stems from a very simple place. From my personal stance on veganism and our organizational stance on veganism. The hate attacks, orchestrated attacks on Facebook, etc. all started at the same time we started promoting veganism. And you will see subtle hints of this from them—like Sue mentioned in the screen-shotted comment ‘Denise won’t eat the dog food because it’s not vegan.’

I know our veganism makes you uncomfortable. And for that, well, too bad. I am not going to apologize for being a kind, compassionate person, leading an organization that is a reflection of my values NOR am I going to apologize for having a beautiful Board Of Directors who not only embraces our core ethic of Uncompromised Compassion but lives it everyday. And if you don’t want to hear compelling stories about animals—all animals—from our organization and just want to hear about dogs and cats, then maybe it is time to move on. There are plenty of other “animal welfare” organizations out there that do not promote veganism as a moral baseline.

Our work for the dogs and cats will not only continue, but get stronger every year. But so will our work for the farm animals. And yes, when we tell you a story about a calf that we rescued from the veal industry and a pig who came from a factory farm that gives you the warm fuzzies, we are also going to ask you to give them the same consideration you give your dogs and cats. And please don’t eat them. Because they all want to live. There is no humane way to take another beings life. And you can live a healthier life by embracing this lifestyle of compassion. ‘I will not stay silent so that you can stay comfortable.'”

So well said, Denise!

reginaquinn.jpgAnother woman I consider a friend (but have never met in person), Regina Quinn, is going through similar harassment for taking a really strong stand for animals in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. In fact, when I watched some of the videos she was making—and how much she was putting herself out there—I cringed, because I knew what was coming for her: online abuse by those who became jealous of her efforts and willingness to put herself on the line, and legal trouble because authorities can’t stand a woman doing their jobs for them. They find a need to put her in her place, to remove her from their territory.

Both of these things have since happened to Regina, and I’ve watched her struggle so greatly in the past few weeks.

My heart goes out to her, because I know what it feels like. I share her pain and heartbreak.

She wrote an amazing bit on Facebook I’d like to share in part with you: “I have much to say to the rescue community—some of it good, some bad. 
These past few months have been my greatest and my worst.

The greatest has been realizing my own potential, trusting in my faith and knowing anything is possible if you believe in yourself and let that higher power in to guide you. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished when you truly believe in your mission and purpose on this earth.

We are living in trying times, families against families over the presidential election, religion and values. 
We are as a rescue community working together to save lives each day and at the same time cutting each other’s throats in the name of self righteousness and ego.

The very justice system we claim to be just is crumbling before us and many of you are falling with it. 
Through the ages there have been people who have risen above the masses, took risks to make change, spoke out when their lives were at risk, took chances not from a self-driven need to be acknowledged but for humanity and justice for all.

I decided four years ago that I wanted to be a part of the change. 
My dedication and appreciation comes in the form of knowing I am being driven by a divine power that cannot be seen, only felt. 
How many of you have that inside you? 
I have lost fear in the light of following a purpose driven life. 
To me being a voice for animals is being a voice for you as well. 
No living creature deserves to be ridiculed, stereotyped, judged, abused, neglected, or used for profit.

I want to ask why anyone in the rescue community would go against, bash, discredit, defame a person willing to take a stand for their freedom? The judgment I have received from some of the rescuers here in VA is staggering.

We as humans kill what we fear, destroy what we don’t understand. Someone like me makes those type of people who are lacking in faith and confidence uncomfortable.

I am trying very hard to do what’s right yet people continue to get in the way, bringing false claims and hearsay to the table and pounding forks and knifes with a hunger to destroy my mission.

I am here to tell you that you will not succeed. 
The negative people, the corrupt systems to which we live in every day are the obstacles I will continue to overcome.

For those of you who say you stay out of “the drama”, it is your resistance to standing for what’s right that instead continues to fuel the drama.

For those who seek to destroy, I hope one day you will lose your fear and stop using others to make yourself appear a better person than you really are. Examine yourselves and find your own faults and stop pointing the fingers at those who are willing to make a difference in this world.

I appreciate being liked but its not the purpose of why I’m here. 
I’m here to force change. 
Either you’re with me or against me. 
Just realize every time you get in my way, you are preventing more progress for the animals I am here to help.”

Today, as one on the sidelines trying to cheer for those doing the work, I want to say “BRAVO! HEAR HEAR!” to these two women, and the many others out there who are going through hell at this very moment because you stood tall for the animals.

They cannot say it, but I can.

YOU BULLIES? YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS of their success.

When a woman stands tall in her beliefs and finds some success, suddenly she is attacked and becomes a target for others’ cruelty.

Every human being (at least all but the very highest of us) feels jealous of the success of others. It’s what we do about that jealousy that matters. When I feel jealous of someone else, I recognize they are succeeding in an area in which I’d like to succeed, and take stock of how much effort I’m willing to put into being a success there.

If I’m not willing to put in the effort that they do, then I have no one but myself to blame for not being as ‘famous’ or successful as these other woman. I know that I have no right to go after them online to make myself feel better. None whatsoever. Neither do these women. Denise and Regina pointing out their bad behavior is not playing the victim. They are standing up to their abusers.

I always considered myself a woman’s woman, but the way I’ve seen women treat each other in this movement is truly shameful, and I hang my head for those who seek to do harm to our sisters.

Jealous of what someone else is accomplishing for the animals? This is a clear sign for you to take action to improve your own life by doing more for the animals, too. When you do that, you’ll be so busy building something that matters that you’ll have no time or desire to do harm to other women.

And you’ll be ashamed that you ever did.

If you’re a woman who’s participated in these attacks, even orchestrated them, and have had a change of heart, I urge you to apologize to the one you hurt. It is so freeing, for you AND for her, and gives you good karma points to boot. God knows we could all use more of those.

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.

A Fight for Human Rights IS a Fight for Animal Rights

cfd5The year was 2000, and I was searching for a mission, a way to make a difference before I left this planet. My love for animals pushed me to fight for chained dogs—the forgotten dogs, the dogs languishing in backyards with no one to speak on their behalf.

Even though I loved all animals, and shortly after forming Dogs Deserve Better became vegetarian (and now mostly vegan), I always carried a deep fascination for cows. Those faces! I just wanted to squish them and kiss them all over.

But a part of me always thought, “if I can’t get people to care about the dog suffering on the chain, how can I get them to care about the cows, pigs, or chickens laying on their plates?”

I never envied those who fight on the front lines for farmed animals—the difficulty of their mission made mine look like child’s play. 

But now, today, we have a fight that must engage every animal rights activist in the cause of human rights. This very moment in America we are facing a level of crisis unprecedented in my lifetime, a crisis that has given me and many of my fellow animal advocates serious pause in our daily lives, disrupted our work for the animals.

As people told me to calm down, as they advocated for “let’s wait and see”, “let’s give Trump a chance”, my heart, mind, and soul all knew there was no need to do any of that. It would be as bad as we thought—no, it would be much worse.

I grew up with a narcissistic father and I then married a narcissist; I know what happens when people like Trump come into your life.

EVERYTHING FRACTURES. Everything is destroyed.

We’re seeing it already in myriad ways that you don’t need me to elucidate for you. Here are takes on what we’re dealing with, and reading these articles can give you a good picture of what’s really been going on.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/a-clarifying-moment-in-american-history/514868/

http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/12/right-wing-extremists-militants-bigger-threat-america-isis-jihadists-422743.html

View story at Medium.com

Without human rights there are no animal rights. If our fellow human beings—or we, ourselves—are terrified, enslaved, marginalized, ostracized, killed, or imprisoned for being different than “the all-powerful white man”, who is left to care about the harm that is being done to animals?

When we as humans are in survival mode, we have no room in our psyches to care about the animals we share our planet with.

When our fellow Americans lose rights to basic dignities like equality, safety, homes, we cannot expect them to stand with us to fight for the animals. We can’t expect them to donate, we can’t expect them to protest, we can’t expect them to give us even a part of their soul—they have nothing left to give.

Every fight for human rights is a fight for animal rights in the end.

Therefore, today I ask all my friends who fight for the animals to also stand and fight for our basic human rights as citizens of these United States. I know that many of you already are, and you have been inspiring me for months. I thank you.

Each and every American has the right to equality—whether we are white, black, brown, or tan in color, gay or straight, woman or man. We have the right to equal pay for equal jobs and to live without fear we will be dragged from our homes for speaking out. We demand the right to feel safe in our homes, our land.

We insist the U.S. maintain our democracy, that we don’t allow Trump to become the dictator he obviously believes he can be. We must resist.

As much as we want to devote all our time to the animals, we must now divert at least a portion of that time to standing for our fellow human beings, no matter their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, or country of origin.

I signed up for this daily action, below, but there are myriad ways to get involved. I pledge to do more to fight for our democracy, and I hope you will too.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/a-capitol-hill-mom-directs-thousands-of-anti-trump-activists-by-sending-texts-from-her-living-room/2017/01/27/cf0538f2-e447-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html?postshare=9261485646755900&tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.9e8c96062dd6#comments

A fight for human rights IS a fight for animal rights.

God help us all.

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