Living more with less

The campus at the International Christian School for the Deaf in Rio Bravo. The campus was self-sustainig - and with a reverse osmosis well, blessed with the cleanest, most delicious water on the planet. In the nearby village? Not quite so fortunate.

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...]

Bloodhounds, the most feared dogs on earth?

The text of the article

I was at my alma mater St. John Fisher College yesterday for a day long conference on Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Scattered around the room where actual issues of Douglass' newspapers. I love history, and am always fascinated by the way the past mirrors the present. I'll talk more about abolition later this week, but today I just wanted to share an animal-related thought that jumped out at me as I read the stories from the 1850s.In one of the papers - and my stupid camera phone took such … [Read more...]

Indigo, Orphan pups and a gift of Mercy – a heartwarming dog rescue tale

Living up to her name, Mercy accepts The Orphans and offers them a chance at survival. (photo courtesy Pitty Love Rescue)

Here in Rochester, NY we're fortunate to have a wonderful animal group, Pitty Love Rescue, that does remarkable work rescuing, rehabing and rehoming pit bulls and pit mixes. They, along with other great groups in our area, are advocates for responsible dog ownership and a well-trained dog community. There are sad stories - puppy mills, overcrowded shelters, abandoned dogs. Working in the inner city, and especially with such a misunderstood breed, can really take its toll on volunteers.So I ju … [Read more...]

Can dogs be introverted or extroverted?

Scout, Bandit and Bailey - can you tell by looking at them which is the introvert and which is the extrovert? Can a dog even be an introvert or extrovert?

Not long ago, I did a post reflecting on Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking," musing on how I'm an introvert and what that means in my life. I got a lot of feedback from other introverts who were happy to have someone speak up on their behalf.Then my editor asked me an interesting question: can animals be introverted or extroverted?Cain addresses that issue very briefly in the book, citing research done on guppies in an attempt to unders … [Read more...]

Confessions of a non-recovering introvert

Quiet book image

I’m an introvert. When I said it to friends a few times over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten responses like, “You? You’re so talkative” or “I remember you as so outgoing” but almost always, “You’re not an introvert.”Really? How would you know?You probably base your idea of who I am on what you see on the outside, without knowing what’s going on inside of me most of the time. Sure, I can put together a party and play the happy hostess. But inside, I’m usually freaking out, because I … [Read more...]

We Are Not Alone – a quick visit to the Planetarium

The giant 3D model of the moon; the light passes over it every minute to show the phases. There's a little stepstool underneath so children can reach up to touch the moon. To a schoolchild, it can be aweinspiring.

I had a meeting today and I was running early, so I made a completely spontaneous stop at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. I really can't tell you why I stopped, just that spur of the moment decision when you're driving one way and then suddenly find yourself sitting in the parking lot of some place you hadn't intended to go. I didn't know when the shows happened or what the shows even are nowadays. But it turns out that you can wander around the displays at the Planetarium for free, playin … [Read more...]


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