Why are Some Animals Pets, and Some Food?


It never fails to upset my kids when I question their choices to eat chickens, eggs, cheese, hamburgers, pizza, and so on. They beg me to stop talking about it, and so I do. I understand that for them to stop eating these products would equal social suicide and awkwardness all around. I can respect that; after all their meal choices are not yet their own and often they eat at friends’ houses. To put restrictions (that some might find cumbersome or unreasonable) is a lot to ask. For example, every birthday party consists of pizza and cake. Yes, for their own birthdays I could come up with vegan comparables, but for all of the other parties they attend? No, that just wouldn’t work. And that might lead you to question just how committed I am to not eating animals or their products. To that I say, I’m very committed for myself, and I think some day soon when my midgets have more control over their food and feel more secure as independent people, they will see the light.

Everyone knows by now that factory farming is hurting animals, the environment, and ultimately ourselves. Right? Now we have a niche market created to ease the consciences of meat eaters; organic/free range/pasture raised animals/dairy/eggs. Some companies purporting to be organic, local and ‘humane’ have been exposed as frauds, but still people persevere in seeking a solution that will allow them to continue eating the same food as always, while easing their mental burden.

It’s ok to kill and exploit animals, as long as they have a chance to frolic first. That’s what makes it ok. Oh and sometimes the ‘kosher’ style of killing is said to be humane. Really? Ask Temple Grandin about that. She created a system for soothing animals who are being led to slaughter, because animals, like people, freak out when they know they are about to be killed.

The fetishization of bacon kills me. We now know pigs are intelligent beings. But should their intellect make any difference as to whether they ‘deserve’ to be eaten?

Lately I’ve really gotten interested in pod casts. I listen to them when I walk the dogs, ride my bike to work, and when I clean the house. Here is one of my faves:

Our Hen House (they are on Facebook too)

You can’t listen to this and still think eating animals is ok or necessary.

Yes there is some pretentiousness and rhetoric, but also an acknowledgement that being vegan is usually territory of middle and upper class first-worlders. There is also an admission that because in today’s world there are huge industries built around growing, selling, and promoting the consumption of animal products, it’s difficult for the average consumer to avoid them. Or at least, to make that shift is socially awkward at best.

Today I listened to the latest Hen House and they interviewed a person who is part of a team developing prophylactic vaccines for deer. These harmless vaccines last 1 year and naturally prevent conception. As we urbanize farmland and expand our cities/towns, we are creating a more hospitable environment for deer and therefore supporting the deer population expansion. Once the vaccine wears off, a deer’s fertility returns to normal. Grass, other plants (some of which grow year round), and shelter all encourage an increase in the number of deer living among us.

Yes, even when I’m walking my dogs and picking up their poop, I’m learning new information. Multi-tasking at its finest!





I’m Super Grumpy. So effing what?

This morning I walked my dogs 3 kms, returned home, got ready for work and then rode my bike to work another 7.5 kms. (Don’t be too impressed. I still look all of my 44 years and not in a 44-is-the-new-34 sort of way) During my trudging, I listened to the Monday Morning pod cast, produced each week by Bill Burr. He is a grumpy comedian, my favourite kind. I’m reveling in my sour mood because I’m not at this moment able to do anything else about it. I might as well relax and accept what is.

I am also a big fan of Mom of 4 is Tired. It’s honest, funny, and relatable. And she is often grumpy too, or at least a little pessimistic about the state of her world. My sister in arms, basically.

Keep yourself entertained today and don’t think about the suffering in the world and all the children and animals who are in peril and how much your job sucks that you’re lucky to have, and how messy your house is, and how you have no idea what food to assemble for dinner because it’s all so overwhelming. And don’t think about how wonderful your kids are and marvel they turned out so well (so far) given how much neglect they have probably (but hopefully not) suffered because of your own depression and other shit.

Amy Schumer is another one to watch. Check out this little skit on pious dog owners.


A weekend of very little talking: A love story 

This weekend, husband is off on a short trip to visit far-away family. The midgets are with their dad. I have a few days on my own, and I’m looking forward to it. I will have no responsibilities, no obligations, and no noise except that which I create myself or is created by the dogs. 

I feel about these upcoming days the same as a hungry person sitting down to a plate of good food. I will savour every moment! 

On Monday the cacophony resumes.

As an aside, I don’t want to try any more recipe iPhone apps. Unless that code will shop, prepare, and clean up after a meal, there’s nothing new in it for me to discover. Nothing. 

How to Appear Pathetic: Lessons From My Dog

That's My Shoe

I write and talk about my dogs a lot. Arguably I post more photos of my dogs online than of my midgets. I have a good reason for this: my dogs can’t be exploited?/endangered? as easily as my midgets. Everyone knows about the faceless numerous creeps online who get their jollies by looking at photos of kids. Usually I dismiss my fears because I want to share photos of my darlings, but generally I feel more confident about sharing photos of canines than I do of children. It’s a modern problem.

Another modern problem is getting noticed. My midgets are skilled at looking pathetic, but my dogs are pathetic all-stars. When I make plans to leave my house and I attempt to leave the hounds at home, they put on quite a display while barely making a sound. All I need to do is put on my shoes and the dogs react by swiftly walking to the front door and either prancing or sitting to block my way out. And oh, how their faces fall when I tell them No, you can’t come. Dogs aren’t people and so they don’t have the range of emotions that we do, but man are they good at imitating them. Unless I’m headed somewhere dogs aren’t allowed, or if the weather is especially cold or hot, which would make leaving the dogs in the car or outside unwise, I take them along.

My family had a mini poodle when I was growing up, and his act was sitting by the front door with 1 front paw raised, body shaking while whining at a low volume. He was very good. But, dogs aren’t allowed on a school bus or in an elementary school and so Pepper was left behind that time. I’m sure within 5 minutes of our departure he was on our couch, snoring. And I’m sure my dogs are on the couch or dog bed, having their 8-hour daily nap within 10. But if I can make them happy by giving them a walk or car ride, I’ll do so. Simple emotions, simple problems, simple solutions. This is why I, and many others, like having a dog around: we experience small victories every day.


I Need the Motivator from Wipeout

If I could get that installed at my house, I could better propel myself out the front door of my house.

My jobs in the morning are: let dogs out for a pee; take my pills; get midgets up out of bed (sure, they have alarm clocks, but that doesn’t mean they will heed them, so I’m their backup, their plan B); monitor the progress of the aforementioned midgets, offering solutions to problems such as forms that need to be signed, swimming stuff to find, and a distinct lack of socks all while keeping an eye on the clock; get myself ready for work, the effort of which varies depending on the dirtiness of my hair; feed dogs (because if I feed them as soon as I get out of bed, they wake me up earlier and earlier every day); kiss girl midget good-bye; take dogs for a walk; and go to work. Would I want my midgets to be more independent? I used to think Yes, but I’m glad to be included in their daily routines. This involvement keeps us connected.

I can (usually) get myself out of bed easily enough, and I crank some tunes via Songza to get my mood to a happy state. It’s the leaving of the house that presents a problem, one that would be solved by The Motivator. For now, the warmer weather is my metaphorical Motivator, and for now that’s good enough.

I’ve been riding my bike to work and that’s providing some joy. Always people wonder why I bike on busy streets instead of the bike path. The bike path is boring. The landscape is homogenous, the wind is formidable, and there are no flower shops, bakeries, or traffic lights to break up the windy monotony.

The warm weather has also quieted down the plaintive whining in my head that appears during the winter to wonder why in hell I live in such a cold climate. So there’s that.

Joyful as F*ck

My little family has been growing up. Boy midget took the subway & city bus on his own this weekend. Girl midget has started riding her bike over to friends’ houses during daylight hours. About these events I feel thrilled.

Husband and I have been discussing our near and far plans, and have come up with a 7-yr plan. For the next 7 years I’ll keep my office job and he will continue to build his business and open a 2nd storefront. I can keep my head down and toil for 7 more years.

I mean really, many people look at their working life in 20-year chunks. And then feel like a hamster on a wheel. But 7 years? I can do 7 years. At that point our youngest will be 18, off to post secondary, and ready for independence. I will take a long unpaid leave of absence from my job, and husband and I will travel. Not just travel but live elsewhere for extended periods of time.

7 more summers, 4 Christmases and 3 Chanukahs. That’s not very many when I put it that way. I enjoy my life as it is now: the routine, my young kids, my career that I have worked so hard to maintain through countless personal milestones and challenges, and my many friends at work and outside of work. My weekends, vacations, busy life, carving out quiet times and talking with my kids while they are still interested in my opinion, are just some of the good parts. I joke a lot about my kids growing up and not listening to me eventually, but honestly I will be pretty effing pissed/sad/crushed when that happens. Maybe it won’t happen? Dare I even hope? Once when boy midget was in grade 1 or so, he told me I was the prettiest mommy at school. Excitedly I asked if I was the coolest as well. His brutally honest response, “No, but definitely the prettiest,” was impressively thoughtful.

One of my good friends recently lost her dog to illness. This reminded me of losing my beloved dog in 2011, and the losses I’m facing with my other 2 dogs in the years to come. Having a dog is wonderful and I have often waxed poetic about how great they are and how much they irritate the crap out of me at times so much I want to give them away. No doubt I will be heartbroken when they die, and they will surely die before I do. That’s good though, because I plan to live beyond the next 10 years!

I guess this post has been all over the place topic-wise. Not surprising given how long it’s been since my last entry.


Self Preservation

Dogs have none. This morning I took my dogs to one of the nearby parks here, in which there is a pond. In that pond live some ducks and a mated pair of swans who have just had cygnets (babies). Thus, the male swan is protective of the pond and its environs. No matter to dopey Ellie, who is determined to get her morning drink from the pond.

Ellie approached the pond even though the cob (male swan) was sitting there, growing more and more agitated the closer Ellie became. Ellie had the good sense to pause, but, being a stubborn large dog, she figured she could go ahead and do as she pleased regardless of the cob puffing out his chest and raising his wings to make himself seem huge.

I should have let Ellie do what she wished; that probably would have been more effective than me screaming at her, in the long term. But I couldn’t help myself and yelled at Ellie to get the hell out of the vicinity of the pond.

You know what else I can’t keep myself from doing? Answering questions on behalf of my midgets and steps. My immediate instinct is to step in and answer for them, as if I need to protect them from something, even when the situation doesn’t call for that response. Weird.

Today I’m tidying (what a benign term from what I’m undertaking) in preparation for dog sitters to arrive when we leave for Philadelphia. This is a new arrangement we’re trying out via www.mindmyhouse.com. This way we don’t need to worry about mail being brought in, plants being watered, and dogs looked after in our own home. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Dogs Don’t Ask Questions

Dogs understand. They are easily won over. Lots of people identify themselves as dog people. Does that mean they are easily won over and compassionate even when they don’t understand the cause of the upset? Can you bribe these people with food?

Dogs are sleeping, warm, comforting lumps. Once they’re out of the puppy stage, dogs seem to nap most of the day and night. They are always up for a nap. The big dog at our house snores, more and more each day it seems. I love the sound of snoring. Husband snores too. Sometimes the snoring sounds like waves crashing on a beach. Other times it reminds me of a hibernating bear.

I find myself drawn to human noises, such as snoring and also the bustle of city life. I like living near other people in a community setting. I don’t want silence and isolation. And apparently I want noise around me even when I’m sleeping.

Zeus found a home

Very soon after we returned Zeus to the dog shelter we fostered him for, he was adopted by a couple who lives nearby to the shelter. So yay for Zeus. And yay for us, for I don’t think I could have handled 1 more day of dog house-training and wrangling. One occasion of Zeus awesomeness came when he pooped. In my husband’s shoe. Without anyone noticing until Husband went to put on said shoe to go outside. I was sort of amazed at Zeus’ accuracy. Husband wasn’t so impressed.

Even though Zeus was just 9 lbs, he was a handful, especially since we have 2 other dogs already. Aaaaand I think that’s the end of our fostering career. We have done it twice: once with a 100-lb black dog who was nothing but affectionate; and now with Zeus, a 9-lb 8 month old puppy. It appears size doesn’t matter, because even a 9-pounder like him caused an upset to the delicate balance in our household. For example, our dogs know that when we humans sleep in, they are supposed to as well. I may very well get up and let the dogs outside for a quick pee, but then it’s back to bed and our dogs accept their fate. They easily adapt to our schedule and don’t require a morning walk every day. Yes they would like one, but if it doesn’t happen their world continues to spin on its axis.

Secondly, our dogs know how to behave during feeding time. I put down their food bowls one at a time, and then they scarf down that meal as if they haven’t eaten for a month and don’t expect to again for weeks to come. Easy, done, and no arguments between them because one is trying to eat out of the other’s bowl.

Thirdly, our dogs know the car routine. We often bring them along for a ride when we are running errands. They love it and are very well-behaved in the car. Yes, even the wiener dog is civilized. Hard to believe, I know. Our car routine is thus: We get ready to go out, and tell the dogs they can come too. We open the front door of our house and the dogs run out to the car and wait for us to open a car door. The dogs do NOT run down the street and nearly get hit by a car. Ahem.

Fourth, when we are at work? Our dogs sleep. They don’t chew, they don’t cry, and they seem genuinely happy to begin their daily 8-hour nap until the kids get home from school.

So yeah, fostering is over. It’s not impossible to do even while holding down an outside job, but man. It’s difficult to accept that my free time will be taken up with a high-maintenance (simply because they don’t know our routines) dog.

Pee, Poop, & Puke

I’m away from home right now, visiting my parents. I have girl midget with me and boy midget is at camp. The other three offspring are busy living their lives. This leaves husband with the task of looking after Ellie and Pickle.

Husband is not what you would call a dog-person. He doesn’t understand them, like them, or enjoy them in his daily life. Unlike me, he does not find the smell of their fur comforting. As a result, our dogs are really MY dogs, and I’m fine with that. I do all the care, walking, and feeding. Husband tolerates having them in our home and trust me that’s a big deal.

So when I leave town occasionally, husband is the dog sitter. This time around he made it 2 days before sending out a hail Mary to the dog sitter we usually employ. Husband did everything I do; he took them to the beach in the mornings, let them out into the backyard when necessary and even showed them affection. He noticed Ellie, our neurotic golden/coonhound seed depressed without me around but otherwise normal. Pickle, of course, was fine. But she is a dog.

Last night he came home from work to 2 dogs and a horrible stench. Words don’t do justice to describe the HUGE amounts of pee, poop, and puke spread out on our main floor. We are all grateful this happened on the hardwood instead of the carpet. But still. Ellie was a nervous wreck and her body demonstrated her distress.

Husband immediately called me to get the dog sitter’s number. Luckily Ellie loves her and goes with her willingly. But still sucks for husband who did nothing wrong and yet still had to clean up piles of waste. He sent Pickle out too because he didn’t want to risk her misbehaving due to Ellie’s absence.

Ellie you are not endearing yourself to Husband, and if it weren’t for me you would find yourself out on your ass!