For some pet people this is old news, but not for everyone! If you have any interest in fascinating people, people who have found animal inspiration to work through problems or people on the autism spectrum, you'll find this information useful.
I found out about Temple Grandin while staying in a hotel that happened to have HBO and I saw a movie with Claire Danes that looked good so I plopped on a pillow and watched. I was amazed at that acting but more struck by the true story. Due to mental illness and autism in my family I've always been intrigued by stories that involved difficult physical, mental or psychiatric disorders.
Temple Grandin was unable to speak until she was five years old and doctors had written her off as a toddler with severe disabilities. They told her mother that she would never be able to speak normally or to live without 24 hour care from other people. They recommended an institution.
I'll leave out some of this story for those of you who haven't seen the movie, but by the time Temple was a young adult she had already defied the odds in enormous ways. This was partly due to the perseverance of her mother who ignored the doctors and worked with Temple for hours every day. We know now that Temple was on the severe end of the autism scale. She once stayed on a farm with family and she identified closely with the cattle since she saw that they were also spooked by too much sensory input.
I've avoided calling her Dr. Grandin to this point because it's part of her still-unfolding story today. I will say that she now travels the world to speak to people about the humane treatment of cattle, other animals and about autism. She is a spokesperson for Autism Speaks. If you haven't seen the movie lately or at all, check it out, it's worth it:
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So, first, I'm a vegetarian and I'm not really an activist, an advocate of some fad, an animal rights fanatic or anything like that. I do love animals so it feels good to me. I like to study spirituality and I enjoy Eastern Philosophy so that might motivate me a bit. I haven't been a particular healthy eater for years. I've eaten lots of vegetarian pasta, baked potatoes with cheese, cookies, chips and lots of things that will kill you in enough quantity. I used to be much thinner and healthier in spite of this diet because I spent hours a day riding and training horses. As I've grown older I've become less active and now I'm fat and less healthy.
On medication I got much better and I eat a better diet now. I decided I wanted to feel better. I'm not trying to lose weight but I wouldn't mind if it happened. I miss 25 years ago when I was lifting weights and near competing in a bodybuilding competition. So, recently I've started lifting again even if my protein requirements will be a challenge.
I found a product that I LOVE. It's called Soylent and I'll drop an Amazon affiliate link below but that's not just so you might click it, it's because I am passionate about the product. It isn't for everyone. If you already use smoothies or protein shakes to supplements, you might like it. It's lower in sugar than products like Boost. It's not a weight loss product like Slimfast but you could use it as part of a program and it has far more balanced nutrients. It's vegetarian. It comes in plain white and plain brown (cacao flavor.) The package is even pure white, like a lovely white cake.
Now, for those of you who read the book "Make Room, Make Room!" or saw the old movie "Soylent Green" you may already be wondering about Soylent. The guy who came up with the formula thought it was a bit funny and might draw attention. It hasn't hurt sales since I am on a subscription plan and last month they ran out of powdered Soylent for 2 weeks. They make it in pre-mixed bottles too but it's cheap in powder.
For a weight lifter, though, the protein in Soylent isn't enough to drink as a whole source of food. If you add peanut butter you get more sugar and fat. You can add egg whites but I'm scared of those. I was looking into protein sources when I found out about pea protein. It's basically powdered split peas. So, I decided I wanted to try it but now I'm pondering the issue.
What to DO for more protein? GREEN pea protein?
Split peas are green. Plain Soylent powder is white. If I add pea protein powder, is my Soylent going to turn green? Can I drink green Soylent? Does that make it into Soylent green and if so, is it made of people or just pea-ple? If you have thoughts on this or my dilemma, or if you have other ideas for a nonfat vegetarian protein source, leave a comment or sent me an email through my contact page!
Other than this green dilemma, Soylent is the best thing that has happened to me in ages. I've dropped 30 lbs by replacing 2 meals a day with it. I don't think it will help just anyone, but if you are interested, there is a link below. I really appreciate it if you click the link from my site and help me keep the site running, but it's also fine if you don't. If you are confused, go see the movie Soylent Green and you will understand my peaple conundrum.
Best Dog Costume Ever!
Happy All Hallows Eve! We love Halloween around here and apparently our kids (feline and canine) and their friends are getting in on the fun. We had a guest for Halloween this year. This is Tank:
I was quite pleased with my assembly of miniature chocolates and 3 packs of whoppers since we are also settling in to watch an old favorite movie tonight - Practical Magic! (Comment with your favorite Halloween movie, with or without animals in it!) I decided it was about time to go get Tank from the yard, and I was startled to find that he seemed to have climbed the fence and put on a costume tonight.
Okay, so it was or it wasn't Tank. By the time I went in to get the camera and came back out, Tank was back in doggie form and the fence was framed by nothing but night! Whatever the case, it was a fun Halloween surprise!
On our site we offer prizes or free promotions for some high-quality guest posts (see our FAQ page for more) but we don't have time currently to do anything for full-length works. Readersfavorite.com does and it's a site that I (Maddie) use to submit my own book length material, both pet-related and other. They also have ways you can sign up to get FREE Editorial reviews for your new book! If you are interested, check it out:
As more people see cats in movies and on shows like "America's Got Talent" there is more understanding that cats can be trained. The process is different from any other kind of training. A dog can generally be forced to do certain things through punishment, although this isn't an ideal training method. A horse can be trained to do some tricks with food and that works on some cats, but some are too finicky about food to go that route. Even so, cat training is a little more like horse training in that you still have to get the animal to want to do what you are asking. A horse can only be pushed so far without actual desire because they outweigh the trainer by a ton! A cat may not outweigh the trainer, but they have a will of a ton of iron. Cats can starve themselves if they want to, so you can be guarantee that they can ignore your commands.
I can go into more about how to train a cat in another post, but some average cat owners may wonder why you would really care about training cats. They go potty in litter boxes on their own and left to their own devices, many are fairly reasonable pets. (There are some breeds and hybrids that might not be "reasonable" but an average domestic house cat will get along if given the basics and left mostly alone.) An owner may not have any interest in taking a cat on stage or putting a cat in the movies.
Here's the thing: You don't have to just live with everything a cat does. Cats do care about pleasing people up to a point, though the degree may vary! Most cats are also motivated by either food, treats, toys or praise. Unlike a dog, though, you have to figure out which things they like and sometimes those things shift from day to day. It's a little more effort, but it can be really worth it. If a "stage cat" can understand how to jump, climb and hop on command, any cat can understand some basic commands. Your daily life might be improved by some commands like "Get down," "Get up," "Crate" and more. It's really up to you how far you want to go with it, because if a cat is motivated it will happen. Again, remember, if you want a cat that does what you ask with some pleasure, you can't teach with punishment except in the most dangerous situations.
Cat Training is Fun!
You can use any words that you want for the things you want to teach. I started out with "Get down" and I repeatedly put my cats on a chair and gave them a high-value treat for hopping down when I said those words. Now I can tell them "Get down" if they are counter surfing or on some new furniture and they will generally do it. I reinforce again with treats often to keep them motivated, but they don't require a treat every single time because they know they get a treat most of the time. I also taught mine to climb up things on command in case I'm working with a big dog in the space they are in. I taught them to enter a crate on command for trips to the vet or rides in the car. They don't love the crate, but they will enter it gladly for a reward and they seem to have learned it is a pretty safe space.
Try it out and train your cat for some basics to make your life with cats a bit better and to give your cats some fun! If you enjoy cat training, maybe you'll be next on the Late Show! If you don't, you'll still have a cat that is easier to live with. Have fun!
First off, congrats to the winner of our October 20 drawing for an Amazon gift card. The winner was Ashley G. from California and we hope she enjoys her prize!
Before you go, check out the tiny octopus in this story:
If Octopie (no that's not a word with that spelling, but it should be) aren't your thing, you might like this great story about a rescue dog rescued from the train tracks!
Rescue Dog Helped by Kind Man
I just read the post earlier (great blog to check out) and I wondered how I would react if that was my Kindle and it was my spouse's dog. I love my Kindle an awful lot. My own just died and I went into withdrawal.
Graphic Violence towards E-Readers in this Post - if you love Kindle e-readers be prepared for the image.
One more thing to remind any readers: Today was the date for one of our Giveaways which is a prize for one of our mailing list subscribers. We used a random number generator to draw a winning email, but when we contacted the first person the email was no good. The second person picked has not responded to confirm the email so hopefully we'll hear back after the weekend and award a prize. Remember that we have to confirm email addresses just to be sure we don't send a gift code to an inactive address and lose the giveaway funds! It's totally find if you do not want to enter our giveaways, but remember to use a working address and check it if you do want to win a prize. Thanks! We still have other October Giveaways that are not done yet, so sign up to win if you are interested! There will be non-stop giveaways running through November 1, 2018.
Sometimes these cases are tricky. What usually makes some of them really tough is considering whether or not certain animals can be trained enough to be reasonably mannered in such an enclosed space. In this news story, a woman notified Frontier Airlines that she would be bringing a Support animal, but did not tell them it was a squirrel. Then, fox news reported "that when the crew explained the policy to the passenger and asked her to leave with the squirrel, she refused. Orlando police were called and the entire plane had to be deplaned so they could escort the passenger off the aircraft." The whole story might not be 100% clear from the news story alone, but I can imagine why it could have been a problematic situation on all sides. I'd like to do more articles on Support animals of all types (ESA, therapy, service, etc.) and the differences as well as how different species would be workable in these roles. I can see some more than others and some in different roles from others. In certain places, though, it's always going to be tougher. In a tight airplane, a restaurant, a medical clinic: those are just examples of places where the issues aren't simple. In the meantime, read the story for yourself or just comment in general. What are your thoughts on animals like squirrels that are usually considered feral as support animals? What about animals that are often pets but are not as often in public spaces where it might be a sensitive issue? (Examples might be mice, snakes, full-sized horses, goats and so on.) I think it will probably require a whole series of posts to discuss fully. Here is the news story: https://faq.flyfrontier.com/help/may-i-bring-a-service-animal-or-an-emotional-support-animal-with-me-on-the-plane
Pets Help or Cause Stress?
Now that we've visited my childhood a few times and briefly discussed the Tribe of the Gays, we might as well take a look at the Tribe of the Crazies too. It's one of the major reasons I wanted to start this blog.
I've been attracted to animals from butterflies to cats to horses since I was very small. I believe that has mostly been beneficial since there is scientific proof that animals are a soothing presence for many of us, and especially for those of us who enjoy company but realize we are afraid of people.
I'm going to talk about some things here that are a bit tougher for me. I always knew I was a "weird kid." I'm over 50 now and I still feel like a weird kid. My mother reinforced my realization by suggesting that I make an effort to be "more normal." She was honestly trying to be helpful. She probably realized early on that there might be difficulties ahead for a child who pretended that the houseflies in the classroom were friends of hers. It didn't help that I carried a collection of plastic horses in my backpack until the early high school days, just so my friends would be nearby.
What I somehow understood from an early age was that I would always have challenges. I would always be a little weird. (Sometimes a lot weird.) I also sensed that the first person in my life who had zero concerns about me was the cat we got from the animal shelter. She did not mind that I listed to opera at the age of 7 but that I also found a non-stop diet of Apple Jacks to be a sensible plan. (I wasn't a musical prodigy, I just found opera comforting. I moved on to Hindu Bhajans and Ravi Shankar's sitar by the age of 9.) My cat also did not care if I had to stack all my coins in perfect columns with the same number of coins in each one. I hated the way that nickels rested on top of each other since the images stamped on them made them less likely to sit in perfectly alignment. Dimes were the best stackers, and I still like dimes the best.
That cat was not my first pet, but she was probably my first serious ESA, what today we would called an Emotional Support Animal. I recognized that having her with me helped with with all sorts of small anxieties. I didn't know that I had severe OCD, so extreme that I would later become malnourished due to eating only white foods for several months. I didn't know that I had social anxiety that would develop someday into crippling agoraphobia. I didn't know that my OCD would eventually make it impossible for me to work at a job where any human might cough in a room that I was in. I only knew that when I was out on the streets, my cat made things better.
A dog might have been easier, I suppose, due to their joy in traveling. At the time it wasn't a good time for our family to have a dog, so I put my kitten in the basket of my bike when she was only 9 weeks old. She adapted rapidly and learned to stay in the basket even when I was off the bike. I had her snuggled in with a cushy hand towel and she was given frequent handouts of deli ham from the convenient store. When other children were cruel to me because I was having an animated conversation with a ballpoint pen, I could ignore the other kids and include my cat (Monnie) in my intense conversation. It either made me seem slightly more normal to be talking to a cat, or the fact that I was talking to a pen and a cat just scared the kids enough to back off. Whatever the case, it worked.
There are some challenges to having pets and severe OCD. I am very lucky now that my wife is willing to help with the germier tasks that come with pet ownership. She will muck out horse stalls and clean out litterboxes and let me joyfully bleach all the white household laundry in trade. In spite of the difficulties, I strongly recommend that if you have ANY sort of mental or emotional challenges and you haven't tried really bonding with some kind of animal, do it. Even if you only feed a stray cat or put out a birdbath to attract local wildlife, it will help. If you are able to develop a tighter bond with an animal, the effects will be apparently quickly. I take a lot of meds now, but the warm cat laying across part of my laptop right now is stronger than all of them!
I'm sure we'll revisit this many times, but I wanted to get it out there. It's important. If you belong the the Tribe of the Crazies, include some willing critters. You'll be glad for it.
In the Tribe of Crazies
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