Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tax Dollars to Benefit Animals in America

I am outraged that the Obama administration intends to disburse $2.5 million in economic aid to Libya. In fact, $400,000 of it is going to dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi’s kids’ personal foundations. Once again our tax money is being piddled away on a country whose leader resents Western culture and values. Once again, we are funding a foreign country in which most of the people can’t stand us. Doesn’t this administration have anything better to do that fritter away our hard-earned dollars?
Think about all the good that could be done—here in our own country—to aid people, pets, our national park system, and other deprived American sources. Imagine that: Americans’ tax money actually going toward something within our own country! The thought is nearly unimaginable.

I never intended to get political in this blog, but this president has me infuriated with his outrageous spending, his big government looming over us, and his health care reform bill that is so expensive and so untransparent in its language, that more people, particularly older folks, will ail than prosper from it. As the song goes: “He’s killing us softly—with his song—killing us softly. . ..” Most of what this president has given us so far has, indeed, been a song and dance: the Obama Shuffle.

Just think what good all this wasted tax money could do. Let me just quickly throw out some propositions:
1. Instead of shoving the $2.5 million dollars into Libya’s lap, why don’t we take just a million of that and provide free spaying and neutering of pets to people who can’t afford to fix their animals? In turn, thousands of future unwanted kittens and puppies wouldn’t suffer from lack of care and shelter. Likewise, they wouldn’t be a financial burden on people and humane societies.
2. Why not take all the money designated for Van Jones’s salary and purchase pastureland in the western United States for unwanted wild mustangs?
3. Why not take the money meant for ACORN and update struggling zoos and animal rehabilitation centers around the country?
4. Why not sell Pelosi’s private jet and buy some cat and dog food for struggling humane shelters around our country?
5. Why not take taxes owed by Charlie Rangel and Timothy Geithner and fund Catch and Release programs for unwanted and feral cats throughout our country?
6. Why not get rid of all the Czar advisers, elect a president with more experience—one who doesn’t need an “army” to help him steer our country--and assist our wildlife harmed by oil spills, forest fires, air and water pollution, and poaching?
7. Why not take all the money Obama intends for countries that hate America and use it to encourage people to adopt all the unwanted pets from our humane shelters, to set up animal relief organizations during times of catastrophe, to fund education for aspiring veterinarians, vet technicians? Why not fund pet emergency clinics hospitals as well as provide funds for pet cancer research?

Oops! I forgot about the other $1.5 million in aid to Libya.
8. Why not take this money and help farmers raise farm animals in humane ways—let them raise, transport, and slaughter them so that the animals meant for American plates experience no fear or suffering and can live their shortened lives in peace and contentment?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrating the Life of Boo

Mare and I are celebrating the life of Boo, Mare's beloved Siamese, who died on September 9, 2009. His life is one worth remembering, as are all the lives of our pets so dear to us. They offer us comfort when we're stressed; they never criticize, badger, or nag us. They seem to know when we're not feeling well or feeling down in spirit. They need no blackberries, no fancy clothes, no gourmet feasts. They have us.

Boo was an exceptional cat about which the world deserves to know. Before his death he raced Mare's halls, a huge 16 pound ball of fury and love wrapped up in a beige and tan cat suit. As he ran, motorcycling through the living room, he pounded the floorboards with his thunderous paws. When he wasn't skipping through the kitchen, he talked, murmured sweet somethings to his Mare, his human, and lap-sat her to sleep every night. And he shared his catnip, treats, and bedtime dreams with his elderly feline friends, Spotty and Meg, as well as Claudia the corgi.

I commemorate Boo's life and his relationship with his human companion, Mare. His life serves as a reminder to us all of the innocence, the honesty, the guilelessness embodied in our pets. Our pets' love and admiration for us is unprecedented--limitless. What more can a person ask of life than to have been owned and appreciated by a pet the likes of Boo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ralphie's in Heaven

Ralphie died last night. We knew he was going: metastatic cancer. Though, in the end, he was a skeleton dressed in skin clothes, during the day he had eaten a couple mounds of whipped cream I had sprayed from a can. I didn't realize it then, but that was to be his last meal. Now he lies buried alongside all my other feline friends: behind the house in the cat cemetery. I loved Ralphie, a shelter cat who had a penchant for wrapping his front legs around my neck in a big hug.

A few days ago he had lost his appetite for any other food, despite my offering him the most delectable treats I could find. Yesterday we discussed putting him to sleep, but when my husband, who is a veterinarian, went to do it, Ralphie purred and rubbed his head against Edgar's arm--his sign that he wanted to be with us a while longer.

Last night when I went into the garden room where Ralphie rested on a dog bed, I covered him with a blanket, tucked him in for the night, and whispered private things in his ear. His ears were cold, and one front claw was stuck in the material of the bed. I freed his paw, and he looked at me with appreciation. Then, I did something that people who know me wouldn't believe. I baptized him. I lay my hand on his head and said, as our minister told us in confirmation class many, many years ago, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." And I put the finishing touches on it with a soft, "Amen."

Doing such a thing is completely uncharacteristic of me because I'm not a religious person. I was raised Lutheran but do not practice any religion. I make no apology for that. People can fault me if they want, but I'm just not sure there's a God or Goddess out there. I'm not sure. In fact, when I look at the state of mankind and what we've made of this world, more in me tells me that the likelihood of a supreme, caring essence is highly unlikely.

Ya know how as a person grows up, certain things and messages stick with her that last throughout her lifetime. Well, when I went through confirmation class at the age of 14, the minister told us that if we were ever in the presence of someone dying, we should baptize him--just as I had Ralphie. He said we didn't need water or anything fancy. Laying one's hand atop the dying person's head was enough. And he told this class of awestricken teens that doing that would guarantee the person's place in heaven. That instruction stayed with me to this day--maybe I was struck by the fact that heaven could so easily be attained by doing a simple ritual. I don't know. But with Ralphie, a cat who never did anything bad, who was not over-bearing and generous with his bear hugs, I wasn't taking any chances. If there was a God or Goddess, then Ralphie was going to heaven, if there was such a place--provided that minister was telling us the truth, and I wouldn't suppose a minister would lie to a bunch of kids. And if my ideas that a God or Goddess maybe didn't exist were correct, well, then Ralphie and I didn't lose anything anyway. But I wasn't taking any chances with Ralphie's possible soul.

After my husband and I buried Ralphie, I came inside and sat down with my coffee, my eyes still thick with tears. How many people are crazy enough to baptize their animals? For sure, I couldn't be the only nut sending their animals to a possible heaven, but I'd bet most people didn't know or think to do it. And, to be sure, I didn't even know the Bible's position on this procedure--as far as it relates to animals. Are baptized animals afforded heaven as are people? Not being a Bible aficionado, I had no idea.

Still, I wasn't taking any chances. Ralphie was baptized--by a heathen--if he wanted it or not. I hoped Goddess wouldn't hold that against him.

Then, suddenly, I laughed out loud. I could only imagine that heaven--so overloaded with people souls. I envisioned a Goddess upon her golden throne who gazed upon all these people souls lazing back in recliners--dotted here and there amongst the clouds--and eating potato chips, ice cream, and donuts; others were playing frisbee; some were playing harps and guitars, others were smelling flowers and skipping from cloud to cloud. They were, after all, in heaven and enjoying fun things.

And, then, Goddess glanced around the crowd of human souls and cast a quizzical gaze. Something was amiss--in heaven! Suddenly other beings appeared before her. There frolicked all my pets. And elsewhere lay other animals that other earthbound nuts had baptized, too. Goddess was probably wondering who on Earth was bending the baptism rules to include animals. My Cornish cat Wendy began chewing on her sandals, and Ricky was using one leg of her throne as a scratching post. Suddenly I saw Nicky, my first horse, looking over her shoulder as my Gramma Eckensberger stood beside him brushing his mane. All my animals were there, everyone of which I had baptized right before they died. Some were chasing each other, happy expressions on their faces. The cats darted behind Goddess's throne and lapped milk from a golden dish that never emptied; the Irish Wolfhounds bounded after a couple of little kid souls. My other horses, Merry, Shadowfax, and Lillie, were grazing in a ray of sun. There were no saddles or bridles in heaven. I smiled: they were all there under the gaze of Goddess--thanks to my attentiveness during confirmation class.

Suddenly I saw Ralphie at the base of her throne. He wasn't skinny anymore, and with renewed strength he began crawling up one throne leg. Goddess held out her arms, and he climbed aboard, working his way to her shoulders. Then Ralphie tucked his head under her chin and wrapped his arms around her in his characteristic bear hug. And Goddess smiled.