Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dogs and Eagles At Odds: Express Your Outrage at Vick Signing by Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles has signed dog executioner, Michael Vick, to their team, much to the disgust of animal lovers worldwide.

Spending thousands of dollars to equip a dog-fighting training facility and headquarters in Smithfield, VA in June of 2001, Michael Vick, then quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, became the “king pin” organizer of dog-fighting on the East Coast. As such, he participated in horrific executions of pit bull dogs that he and two associates felt were under-fighting in their bouts. Vick, himself, participated, in from 6 to 8 pit bull killings, not limited to drowning and hanging. As a result, Vick spent 18 months in a federal prison as well as several months on house arrest.

During a news conference on August 14, 2009, Vick, appearing humble and contrite, said, “I’ve made some mistakes and done some terrible things. Referring to his involvement with dog-fighting, he admitted he had “made bad decisions” and that he had had “to reach a turning point in his life.”

Vick, with former NFL head coach Tony Dungy at his side, also credited Donovan McNabb for being instrumental in helping him get this opportunity to play football with the Eagles.

During the news conference, Vick questioned why he ever got involved “in such pointless activity.” He said, “If I can help more animals than I hurt, then I’m doing my part.” Vick also said, “Everybody deserves a second chance. As long as you want to come back and do the right thing, then everybody deserves a second chance.”

Whether Vick’s TV audience believes his contrite apologies seems irrelevant. Vick said he was “wrong” and that “he made some terrible mistakes.” What he did was not really about wrong versus right? In fact, his murdering of dogs speaks to a unequivocal deep-seated amorality, something that cannot be righted in a course of 18 months in prison.

We all do wrong things, but we don’t deliberately murder innocent, sentient beings as Vick did. What Vick did strikes much deeper than simply choosing to do wrong over right. His actions speak to his lack of character, his essence of evil, his monstrous motivations and emotions. He is devoid of heart. His drowning and hanging of dogs are proof of a deranged, morally bereft sensibility—one that should never benefit from a second chance and a lucrative football career

Vick’s moral degradation precedes his football career. What went wrong with Vick cannot be fixed by any prison system. What went wrong with Vick cannot be honored with a second chance at a pro-football career. What went wrong with Vick still runs deep within his veins and in his heart; what went wrong with him is not capable of rehabilitation and certainly should not be ignored by fans of the Philadelphia football team.

What can the average individual and animal lover do about the Eagles’ signing Vick to their team? Obviously the Eagles’ management does not value the humane treatment of animals. Hiring Vick speaks to a complete disregard for Eagle fans that love both the game of football and their canine animal friends. People need to let the Eagles’ coach and management know that before we are Eagles fans, we are moral people who respect all life, including a dog’s life. We need to let them know that their signing Vick is, at the very least, inappropriate and in very bad taste..

Eagles fans and decent people worldwide have recourse. We do not have to stand by while Vick stuffs the millions of signing dollars in his pocket. We can boycott anything Eagles, including Donovan McNabb. We can refuse to attend games. We can refuse to watch TV broadcasts of Eagles’ games. We can refuse to buy Eagle shirts, caps, and other paraphernalia. We can refuse any celebrity, company, news station or any other group or individual who aligns themselves with the Eagles.

In addition, we can also contact sponsors of the Philadelphia Eagles and express our repugnance with regard to this signing. Please go to these sponsors’ websites and express your boycotting of their products and/or interests by the following companies:
AquafinNovaCare RehabilitationThe Strauss FoundationVWRJ&J Snack FoodsLincoln Financial GroupMasterCardSovereign Bank

With our dogs, our good friends, by our side, we can turn our backs on a football team that ignores what it means to be a good, decent person.

For more information about Michael Vick’s crimes and his signing conference, go to:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Foster By Any Other Name . . .

Our bellies filled with funnel cake and lemonade, we left the Lorah Family Farm Fest that night renewed and rejuvenated--my faith in the goodness of man and womankind restored. Dusk descended as a river of cars poured from the parking-lot grass field. There was one hurdle to overcome, however: we had to cross the road with a rather lethargic, nobody's-gonna-make-me-hurry-no-matter-what pot-bellied pig named Foster.
The rush of cars was exiting as from a rock concert--people all pumped up and eager to get back on the road. While cars flowed from the field, Sheryl and I discussed the necessity of timing the crossing just right. When we spied a lag in the traffic, we'd have to hurry her pig to the other side.
I looked up the road and saw a break in the rush of traffic. "Okay, Sheryl. Let's go!"
Sheryl ran into the middle of the road. She pulled and tugged, but Foster, all dressed up in his shiny purple nylon harness and lead rope, was not going to hurry for her sake, though he didn't realize that the expediency was intended for his own welfare.
Sheryl pulled harder, "Come on, Foster. Hurry up before we all get run over!" Not in the least impressed, Foster turtle-stepped with his right front hoof onto the macadam. Then, slowly, very deliberately, he stepped with his left hind foot.
"COME ON, FOSTER! HURRY UP!" Sheryl pleaded, tugging on the leash.
To my left a car shot into the traffic and headed towards us. We had to get Foster across the road--fast. With no time to spare, I got behind him and pushed his rump as Sheryl pulled his front end. As usual, I rarely have the opportunity to see myself in action the way others do. So, I invariably have to step back and imagine what a passerby must be seeing and, therefore, thinking. Squatted down, legs splayed apart, both hands a mere eighteen inches from the ground and latched onto the ass-end of a pig who, clearly, resented my intrusion, I saw myself as others saw me. Surely onlookers were stifling laughs at a middle-aged woman bent double, huffing and puffing, leaning her full weight into the butt-end of a recalcitrant pig. Together all three of us must've resembled an Abbott and Costello gig. But I had little time to indulge myself with what others were thinking. In the encroaching darkness I had to help move Foster across the road before the car reached us.
When Sheryl saw the approaching car, her eyes widened like Gumby's, and she pulled harder on Foster's leash. But he was not going to speed it up without good reason, and, usually, for a pig, that meant a bribe of a donut or fries.
As the car drew close, I worried the driver would not see the three of us in the deepening twilight. I leaned into Foster even harder. Both Foster and I were grunting: me because I was trying to move his 250 pounds when he clearly wanted to remain static, and Foster out of rebellion against two weak women trying to manipulate him. He was refusing to move, probably more out of pride than anything else--it was a guy thing.
Stuck in the middle of the road with a vehicle approaching us, again Sheryl yanked on the leash. Though we were in a potentially dangerous position, she recognized the humor of the situation, too. We were like the three stooges--whooping, dancing, and behaving like clowns.
Suddenly, in a last ditch effort to get Foster across the road, Sheryl yelled,
That's all I could take. With the image of Foster as Forrest Gump, my legs and arms went weak. I let go Foster's ass and held my guts as I curled up and let out a gigantic belly laugh, the likes of my dear grandma Eckensberger. No matter the car barreling towards us, the image of the pig likened to the slow-witted movie hero being warned to run from danger reduced me to a quivering, giggling lump of jelly.
Finally, Sheryl yanked Foster into the shoulder of the road, and I, laughing and snorting and holding my guts, tripped behind him, the car flying past. The three of us stood in the field, we two yucking it up, with Foster looking on with some annoyance.
Not only was Foster's road crossing an adventure, but it has also resulted in a major change. Today Foster goes by the much more quirky, homespun, and fitting name--Forrest.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lorah's Family Farm Fest

Last night my friend, Sheryl and I and Sheryl's pot-bellied pig, Foster, went to the draft-horse pulling exhibition at Lorah's Farm Festival in Walnutport, PA. Foster went along for a meet-and-greet session in preparation for a stint at a local nursing home. Foster drew a crowd almost as large as that watching the draft horses pulling a sled full of concrete blocks.

I can seldom enjoy myself at such competitions like horse racing, jumping, competitive trail rides, and even regular horse shows. Why? I always worry that a horse will get hurt, drop over from exhaustion, or that something terrible, like a trailer accident, is imminent. When it comes to animals and the sometimes over-zealous expectations people have of them, I'm the biggest worry-wart around. After all, the animals themselves don't sign up for all this competitiveness. They are more content lazing their days on pasture than cavorting around the countryside looking to show off and best others of their own kind. Horses don't understand the point of being trailered off their home patch, taken from their mobile house, saddled up, and ridden among a throng of others like themselves around a showring or racetrack. Likewise, the draft horses at the Lorah Family Farm Fest, even though they've pulled dead weight at other times, don't really understand the logic behind pulling eight thousand pounds of concrete block 27 and a half feet across a dirt lane.

As we watched the horse pulling contest, I held my breath, almost too afraid to look, as the horses strained against their collars, their front legs pulling, stabbing into the ground, their hind legs hopping, galloping against the poundage. And then the laden sled lurched forward, the horses' nostrils flaring under the effort. I grimaced. For sure, I thought, some disaster is about to happen: a horse snapping a knee, a hock, or injuring a shoulder. When each pair of Percherons or Belgians, each horse weighing in at around 2,000 pounds, were hooked by chains to the sled, I gasped, scared to death for those horses who were giving their all, who were pulling with their hearts. I worried their owners, in an effort to win the contest, would push them beyond the limits of their bodies.

My faith in mankind, however, was restored as, in a couple of cases, the owners stopped their draft horses before they could have injured themselves. Their way of competing their animals yet protecting their health and welfare should be a lesson for those in Thoroughbred racing. Racehorse owners owe their large-hearted horses the consideration of and respect for their physical soundness, their lives: no racing before the age of three when the growth plates have closed and the fragile leg bones have grown strong.

At the Lorah Family Farm Fest, great men put aside greed and ego for the sake of their horses' well-being. What a refreshing evening.