Category Archives: Animal Rights

Inky the Intuitive Bunny

When I was ten years old, after acknowledging my mother’s “Be home in time for dinner!” I set off with a PBJ sandwich in my pocket and maybe an apple. Sometimes I’d saddle up a neighbor’s horse and take off for hours, racing down the Pennsylvania turnpike bareback before it opened.

There was no bottled water in those days, and there wasn’t yet such a thing as helicopter parents. My playground was the farmers fields that surrounded our house; my parents had no fear of my playing “range free child” as author Lenore Skenazy describes in her book of the same name. Amber law? Never heard of it. Children, like today, despite the warnings of “stranger danger,” were most often molested at home by a relative.

There were favorite spots in the woods. One place that captivated me was an old abandoned well. I’d climb down to the bottom, which was scary and covered with dried leaves and twigs and some pretty creepy looking insects. I dared myself to climb down, challenging my fear, and was always glad to climb out, proving to myself I was fearless.

One day, climbing out of that well, as I lifted myself onto the ground, there was a baby bunny looking at me with a twitchy nose. All black, he stared at me as if to say “Where have you been?” He wasn’t afraid of me, coming toward me, curious.

Where was his mamma and siblings? How did he get here all by himself? Had a hawk gotten his family? Or had some kid had to drop him off in the woods because his mom wouldn’t let them keep him?

Offering a nibble of my sandwich, he didn’t protest as I picked him up. I immediately fell in love with him with the passion of a ten-year-old animal lover.

“Look what I found, Mom, he was all alone in the woods. Can I keep him? Please? Please? His name is Inky.”

She looked at me, looked at Inky, and said, “OK.” But you’ll have to build him a hutch and keep him outside.” I knew she was a softy.

Inky made himself at home, his nose in a constant twitch as he observed life around us. He got on well with our collie, Cleo. I got him a harness and walked the neighborhood, introducing him to the various neighbors and their dogs. Sometimes when he got quite large, I’d let him run loose, though always keeping my eye on him. He was cool—he’d let the dogs sniff his butt patiently. As he spent more and more time in my house, sometimes sneaking into my bed, he became housebroken and scratched to go out (and back in). Sometimes I’d just open the door and watch him hop away. If I didn’t see him when it was time for him to come in, I’d call and he’d come hopping.

One day a distant cousin brought her fiancee’ to meet the family. When he heard of Inky, who by now was a legend, he wanted to meet him.

I went to the door and called Inky and up he came a’ hoppin’. I picked him up and holding him by his bottom feet and his chest, went around the circle, introducing him to each person in turn. He twitched what looked like a smile at them.

When he came to the fiancee’ he peed on him!

Horrified, I ran out the door with him dribbling away.

They went ahead with the marriage anyway, but it didn’t work out.

Inky knew…

 

For more on care and kindness for our animals (and fellow human beings) pick up my new book, The Global Kindness Revolution: How together we can heal violence, racism and meanness!

 

Rethinking Chickens

An on-air comment by Micah Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe, about how much she loved her three chickens, one ironically called “Nugget,”made me ponder our relationship with the poultry that’s beating out beef in popularity with Americans.

Years ago I saw a PBS special about a man who loved chickens who had a large, luxurious “coop” and an assortment of truly beautiful bantams. He told stories of traits shown by the chickens indicated a higher level of intelligence that surprised me. I was so touched that it gives me pause each time I look at a crispy thigh or watch hungry kids scarfing down nuggets of sometimes questionable contents. Images of the life of chickens in factory farms fill my mind.

While living on sabbatical on a Greek island in the seventies, I developed a bad attitude about chickens, particularly roosters. Mykonos was on a different schedule than America’s. Businesses shut down in the middle of the hot days for siesta. (Imagine if Americans shut down for a nap after lunch!) Slowly re-opening in late afternoon, mostly for the tourists clogging the narrow streets, dinner wasn’t served until around 11:00 pm followed by dancing ‘till dawn in the tavernas. Dancers took to the streets under the midnight blue sky with hundreds of shooting stars twinkling across the universe. Walking home via the donkey trail, ready to sleep, the sky glowing a soft pink, one by one, roosters across the valley began a cacophony of ear shattering cock-a-doddle-do-s which didn’t help falling asleep and made me cranky.

As a child, I’d accompany my mother to a local farm where she’d select a chicken, we’d watch as the farmer chopped off its head leaving a headless body to run around the barnyard spurting blood, no doubt the source of my adult avoidance of horror movies. I once raised an Easter chick that ended up on the dinner table; I had to leave the room.

Recently I met a woman with a remarkable chicken story. It used to be that when grandmothers met they’d share pictures of their always adorable grandbabies. Nowadays with the seduction of smart phones, some grandmothers now include endless photographs of their companion animals, often in costume. She had photos and videos of her rescue cat and dog. And a chicken the dog had gifted her with, dangling squeaking and protesting from his softened mouth. The chicken took over the fenced city backyard and spent her days playing with the cat and dog. They all got dressed up for holidays though the chicken was usually not cooperative. Twice a day, they all came in to eat and cuddle. The chicken slept outside in the beribboned coop the woman had built for her.

One morning, the woman decided to sleep in. Not long after the silenced alarm would have gone off, she was awakened from a delicious slumber by a tapping sound. Raising the blinds, she looked out onto the back yard. There was a storage shed beneath the window. She stared at the face of a disgruntled chicken who’d somehow gotten up on the shed scolding the woman for neglect. No one knows how she got up there though maybe she’d taken secret flying lessons.

Maybe the roosters are trying to tell us something. Maybe sharing their hens’ eggs is ok but a short life of never moving or seeing the sky before being slaughtered for nuggets cannot be ok. Maybe we need to listen to them.

If you find yourself enticed by Tyson and McDonalds, pause, take a deep breath and think of that plucky, un-plucked chicken who has so much to teach us. Show gratitude for their giving us their eggs.

A Transformational Act of Kindness

I was moved to tears reading this story by The Dodo:

Starving Dog Found Collapsed On Street Is Completely Transformed By Kindness

This starving dog, who had all but given up on the world, underwent an amazing transformation. And it’s all thanks to a little kindness…

Go here for the rest of this amazing story.