When religion and spirituality meet, sometimes there’s smoke

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For some time now, my aunt has been telling me to sage my house - sage, meaning burn sage in a cleansing ritual to rid the rooms of negative energy. She's also talked to me before about balancing my chakra, too. When I was younger, I pooh-poohed that kind of thing, but as I've aged I've become more interested in the spirituality that I'd always been taught was ... well, bad. Wrong. Evil.But the last decade or so, I've begun to question a lot of things about organized religion -  not the f … [Read more...]

Auction fundrasier includes puppy; should live animals be given away as prizes?

Seven-week old Goldendoodle puppy. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, user Gandydancer

There's a discussion going on among some of my Facebook friends about a local charity raising money with a silent auction that includes one "Golden" dog owner package, complete with a new Goldendoodle puppy.The organization is CURE Childhood Cancer Association, which "provides emotional, educational, and financial assistance to area families whose children are treated in the oncology and hematology department at Golisano Children's Hospital" at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. … [Read more...]

Why “free to good home” can be a death sentence for your dog

This image, of a dog given way in Boston on Craigslist, is making the rounds on Facebook.

 This image is making the rounds on Facebook. I have a difficult time looking at things like this, partly because I'm sent these kinds of pictures daily. It can be overwhelming and, after time, desensitize you.But for some reason, this one caught my eye. Maybe it's because I'm sympathetic to the "need to rehome" situation. We were there a few years ago, when I brought home a little pup to foster, decided to keep her, and then started having major behavior problems with her. In short, new dog … [Read more...]

How do you find the balance between healthy and convenient meals?

I was watching "Recipe Rehab" this morning, the cooking show where chefs take a family's favorite dish and rehab it to make it healthier. Two chefs come up with recipes, and then the family makes both, deciding which tastes better, is easier to make, and is healtheir (determined by Everyday Health). One chef is crowned the winner.The new recipes usually include ingredients the families don't usually cook with or steps that they don't normally have to take.  It's always fun to watch families l … [Read more...]

Dog training, the Shedd Aquarium way

I saw a story this weekend on NBC Nightly News that highlights positive dog training in new way: training shelter dogs at Shedd Aquarium using the same techniques used on dolphins.I noticed the similarities between dog training and sea lion training last summer when I was at our local zoo; the trainers used clickers and rewards to teach sea lions tricks and new behaviors. I know a lot of dog owners who scoff at trainers who preach humane treatments and eschew the choke, prong and shock c … [Read more...]

Living more with less

I couldn't talk about the school without sharing a picture of the kids!

The homes in this village were ramshackle sheds, put together with scrap metal, cardboard and whatever other materials the owners could salvage from the sides of the road or the dump. Each small plot of land - about 30 x 30 feet - had a cement floor and two holes in the yard, one for water to come up and one for waste to go down. A drainage ditch ran through the community, stagnant sewage-filled water littered with plastic bottles and other castoff garbage. The hot sun beat down on the village … [Read more...]

Training your dog with a prong collar (or shock collar, shake can, alpha roll) is not positive

If you have to use a prong collar to have a "special relationship" with your dog ... that's not a relationship either you or dog want.

I was coming out of our local natural food store yesterday when I saw this poster hanging on the community bulletin board. Something didn't seem right about the picture so I stood for a moment looking at it - and then I saw it. Look closely. The dog is wearing a prong collar.Newsflash: if the trainer could actually "talk" dog or had a relationship with his dog, it wouldn't need to be on a prong collar.I'm an amateur student of dog behavior and communication - and when I say amateur, I mea … [Read more...]

Chocolate, Easter bunnies and child slavery

The first step in making cocoa is to harvest the cocoa pods, open them up and remove the beans. This is how it happens. (Screenshot from "The Dark Side of Chocolate")

I went to lunch with a friend last week and we stopped in at a local gourmet chocolate shop. The place was mobbed with people stocking up on the upcoming Easter holiday but all I wanted to do was ask the owners if they knew where their cocoa came from.Chances were quite good that the cocoa they used to make their sweet goodies was harvested by child slaves.I wondered if the people filling their shopping baskets knew that 42% of the world's cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, where children … [Read more...]

Meggie the lost dog comes home – nine months after she disappeared

For nine months, dog lovers in and around Rochester, NY kept tabs on Meggie the missing sheltie. This week, Meggie came home!

On July 1, 2012, while her owners, Jennie Lloyd and Connie Gates, were away on a trip to London, Meggie the sheltie escaped from the dogsitter and has been on the run ever since.Yesterday, Meggie came home.It was a long nine months. Her owners have made desperate pleas to the public for information. They put up fliers around town, posted information on Craigslist, and contacted animals shelters and veterinarian offices and police offices. They kept in contact with rescue groups and mail c … [Read more...]

Some thoughts on modern slavery – refuse to do nothing but don’t be overwhelmed trying to do everything

refuse to do nothing cover

As I write, I'm sitting in a cafe in a small village that, in our area, was one of the last legs on the Underground Railroad. So it's fitting that I'm writing about slavery and reflecting on the book "Refuse To Do Nothing", by  Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim.Modern day slavery. Human trafficking. The buying, selling, bondage, abuse and forced servitude of human beings.Does it come as a surprise to you that there are slaves in the world today? Would you be surprised to know that the … [Read more...]


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