Vegans, Paleo & the Polarization of Animal Welfare Non-Profits

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Grandma, me and a new born goat in the country. My favorite place.

Some people are going vegan, some people are going paleo, some people aren’t having kids (to ‘save’ the planet), some people are ex-vegans, some organizations say being vegan is the only way to be congruent with the values of ‘animal rights’ and some people don’t agree on what exactly being vegan actually means.

Some people won’t donate to certain organizations because that organization has a ‘vegan agenda’ and some people won’t donate because the non-profit is NOT promoting a ‘vegan agenda’.

Hold on, I’m going to tell you how this relates to birth control and compost and religion and women’s rights and elections and cynicism and baby goats and conferences for animal lovers.

When I began a greeting card line about animals in need, I did not recognize the polarization that was happening in the world of animal welfare non-profits. Namely, the definition of what it means to be an ‘animal advocate’. Personal diet, health, geography, culture and socioeconomic class all enter as values of congruence in animal rights and a sustainable earth.

I’m surrounded by a wide diversity of business people, retailers and those working in animal welfare (both non-profit and private). Much effort has gone into my own personal health as well as a business that blends caring and being aware about animals in one’s community without being overly ‘preachy’.

I conceived of Species Spectrum as a way to connect all kinds of people and animals, but more importantly, to relate to diverse cultures of people. I cannot better the world if I condemn people or find myself in a group that only shares my precise value system. Which brings me to the alienation I felt attending a conference for ‘animal welfare professionals’.

Last August, I attended the NM Humane Conference, sponsored by Animal Humane in Albuquerque. This conference, in sync with the ‘Foodforthought’ campaign, offered strictly vegan food during the two day event. While some people were vegan, others whispered that they were not. Many of the 200 attendees come from rural parts of the state. One quietly divulged to me that she was not vegan and mentioned she later left the conference to ‘eat a hamburger’.

The goal of the NM Humane Conference is purportedly to improve animal shelter operations, but to me it felt more like a silent debate in vegan morality than how to place difficult dogs in the economically challenged state of New Mexico. There was a lot of talk of ‘effective outreach’ to communities ‘different from ourselves’. That (to me) means to focus on just getting New Mexico residents to care for their animals before we introduce a strict ‘plant-based’ diet to all attendees.

Heck, I’m the target audience! I’m a white woman with a college education who has always had spayed/neutered shelter pets and I can’t relate to many animal welfare advocates!

Over plain bagels with corn syrup infused jelly packets, I thought about how farm animal manure helps grows plants vegans eat. I thought about GMO corn. I thought of  how even the Dali Lama eats meat and food expert Michael Pollan openly eats meat on some occasions. Lisa Ling eats meat, even after visiting a slaughter house on the behalf of Oprah (Let’s remember not everyone in the world has access to Wholefoods). I thought about how many people could really grow their own food ‘crop’ or ‘animal’ and sustain themselves without a grocery store.

I thought about almond milk and how mono-crop farming of almonds is hurting the honey bee population because they need many flower varieties to thrive. A long time ago I watched the documentary, Queen of the Sun. Small animals like bees make a big difference in our ability to eat. All people and cultures are inherently entwined with the lives of animals.

In a two day conference, it is a lofty goal to tout the ‘benefits’ of an animal free diet alongside practical strategies for residents of NM to retain their animals and keep them responsibly. I left the conference disappointed. I even wrote and mailed a letter (suggesting vegetarian being a more accessible benchmark) to the President on the board of Animal Humane and did not receive a reply, not even a “Thanks for your feedback, but we’re sticking with vegan”.

I’m sure veganism works for some people, but it does not work for me. And it’s not because I wasn’t ‘doing it right’. As a teenager, I spent three years as a vegetarian while I explained to meat eating relatives why I wouldn’t eat fish either. Recently, I spent several hours as a vegan. Taste buds are not my factor in determining why I eat meat today. It has more to do with birth control and the effects of what a copper IUD (purportedly non-hormonal) did to my body (add in hypoglycemia and adrenal fatigue).

I’ve learned much about copper toxicity and the correlation to low zinc levels for a multitude of unexplained aliments. Look this up. It’s not anecdotal. I care about animals and women having access to safe birth control. I care about so many things. Having said that the health ratio of copper to zinc in the body is 1:8 in favor of zinc.

The greatest sources of zinc without copper is animal protein, namely oysters and red meat. My health has improved eating cows. And I’ve been friends with real cows. Bella and Bullseye the Longhorn and another cow my Uncle had we called ‘Gentle as a Dog’.

When I start my day with eggs my body works better. When I eat meat, I am thinking about the animal. Like food expert, Michael Pollan, I choose locally sourced grass fed meat and I’m aware of what life I’m eating.

When I start my day with spoonfuls of golden flax seeds, oranges and a bowl of quinoa oatmeal, my body still shakes even without any coffee, and I’m not suffering from drug withdrawal. All I can guarantee is that quinoa, soy, wheat, fruit, corn syrup, tofu, oatmeal and granola or toast and peanut butter, or toast and almond butter or toast and cashew butter gives me the squirts.

Either way, vegetarian/vegan diets are high in copper.

Call me a barbarian or a paleo, or a troll, or a hypocrite. My great uncle was a Texas cattle rancher. I enjoy reading Modern Farmer and articles about homesteading. I consume some animal products. I think Heifer International is a worthy cause. Of course, I’m against factory farms. I love farm chores and I adore being around farm animals. I’ve tried vegetarianism, off the grid living and cooking for my dogs (but I won’t make them vegan). I’ve also worked in zoo kitchens cutting up smaller animals for larger predators. Clearly, I recognize, I’m not a lion and have cognition to consider what I eat.

It’s good people are thinking about what they eat and how they eat as well as all the connections that extend beyond the simple act of eating. It’s good that many non-profits look to alleviate suffering in the world and that many of us do care about the lives of animals. But I have a problem telling everyone else they must ‘go vegan’ to benefit the earth and their health. Preaching the benefits of veganism is dangerous as some ex-vegans reveal their experiences. Some people (like myself) do eat meat, not because we love the taste, but because of the benefits animal protein provides our body. I don’t have hypoglycemia when I eat meat, eggs and plain full fat yogurt.

I’m disturbed to see many animal welfare organizations adopting vegan policies because it is fracturing the world of animal advocates to an extreme degree. Add in that the majority of people dropping animals off at a shelter probably aren’t vegan.

Also observe smaller shelters/rescue groups with finite resources that aren’t able to tackle the morality of veganism or the existentialism of each person’s footprint while they try to place a dozen 2 year old unwanted pit bulls. Wondering if it’s a sin to eat an omelet while working manual labor cleaning a shelter are both worthy thoughts and actions. I also consider living overseas and watching kids standing hungry in the street.

Vegetarian is one thing most people can wrap their head around and maybe even try. Or maybe that person decides to try being a ‘reductionist’ (that is one eating less meat). However, to suggest that the majority of ‘true’ animal lovers will demonstrate their loyalty by adopting a vegan diet is unrealistic.

I learned from Reddit to never argue with a vegan because there is an answer for every possible scenario even if The Vegan Society can’t define precisely just what is ‘practical and possible’. When branding a movement, it’s best to have a tangible definition without subjective words like ‘practical’ and ‘possible’. With the current definition, there’s always another possible scenario, another question, another exception or inclusion, subject to opinion.

In what has become the polarized nature (pun intended) of animal welfare, I just wanted to tell you why I’m not vegan. I’m an alienated animal lover just not evolved enough for plant-based protein. But at least I’m thinking about the honey bees and how they can’t survive on one kind of flower. Maybe I can plant some flowers. There is something small everyone can do to benefit animals, themselves and the planet, regardless of species. It doesn’t have to be vegan.

 

 

TALK LESS & TEACH YOUR DOG MORE

Disclaimer: Hey, it’s America and any information you deem worthy here is applied at your own discretion. If you are new to dogs or have a dog you are unsure about please consult with a professional dog trainer before applying these concepts. These points have helped me with the many dogs in my life, so I am sharing from my personal experience.

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Our connection to dogs is one of the most extraordinary cross species bonds that exist. The biggest difference is that we talk things out and dogs use body language, but we love talking to our dogs! So it may come as a bit of a shock that me—a loquacious individual is telling you that by talking less, you can become a more effective dog leader.

I highly recommend reading Patricia McConnell’s book ‘The Other End of the Leash: Why we do what we do Around Dogs. As someone that has worked with many dogs and knows a lot about them, I STILL found her insights very useful.

Here are a few highlights:

1). TURN TO THE SIDE WHEN MEETING A NEW DOG
Dog people make a lot of jokes about butt sniffing, but this inherently dog greeting behavior IS polite canine behavior. Dogs find the way humans greet one another threatening. Look at this from a dog’s perspective. Humans make eye contact and greet each other face to face. We shake hands. This is polite for humans, but a challenge to dogs. Dogs greet from the side to show other dogs they are simply saying a polite ‘Hello!’ and that they are not “Going Medieval” as my Dad likes to say.

In the cross species world of dog people and dog parks, you have probably seen people unknowingly greet new dogs by standing in front of the dog and tilting forward to say ‘Hello’. This makes since to us, but not dogs. Often we are speaking in a happy voice while extending our hand, “Hi cutie!!!”

Most well socialized dogs can handle our ineptness at understanding how dogs communicate. For some dogs, this human logic of standing straight in front and tilting forward can be a little freaky.

This advice has been helpful with one of my now elder shelter dogs. For his entire life, this basic human body posture has been a challenge for him. What helps him is simply turning to the side and sometimes (if your human greeter is willing and able!) having them squat in conjunction with the turn to the side.

This is truly one of the most helpful ways I have learned to interact with new dogs in my life, especially when photographing them. When meeting new dogs it’s extraordinary how much quicker they relate to me simply by turning to the side and squatting. I let them come to me.

2). SAY THE COMMAND ONCE
Let’s begin with SIT. When you ask your dog to perform the command sit, say it ONCE and mean it. How many times have you or someone you know done this:

“Sit Shelly. Shelly Sit. Sit. Can you sit Shelly? Can you sit for mummy?”

It’s NOT a question. If it’s a new dog, say it once and help your pup succeed. Often just a look, or a hand signal or even stepping toward your dog can effectively cause him to sit without saying it. He is reading your body language. Even if you don’t consciously use a hand signal, I notice my dogs know what I mean just by how I stand.

3). STEP INTO YOUR DOG’S SPACE
This is an easy way to show your leadership without words. Claiming space by making your dog back up is an effective way to show you are a confident leader to be respected. When the UPS truck pulls up, I step toward my big dog with hand signals and say, “Go to your bed”. He knows I am taking care of the situation and his job as receptionist is done.

4). USE YOUR ELBOW NOT YOUR HANDS This is for begging dogs at the table or those times when your dog (or dogs) are crowding your space. When a dog is being a nuisance rather than telling them to bug off USE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE INSTEAD – TAKE YOUR ELBOW OUT AND TURN YOUR BODY AWAY. This was great advice in McConnell’s book! It works!

As she states in her book, when you use your hand, you are effectively sending the message that you want to play. Think of your hand as a paw. Dogs initiate play by slapping their paw on the shoulder of another dog and doing a play bow. Your elbow communicates more than being verbal and says, “I’m not interested”.

5). CATCH YOUR DOG BEING GOOD. This is also a great way to teach your dog to come when called. If he shows up next to you, praise him. Never ask him to come if you can’t enforce it. Never call your dog to you to tell him he’s done something wrong. It should always be a positive experience. When you catch your dog being good, you help shape him into a great canine citizen. If he’s one his bed just hanging out, “Hey, good boy.”

This one is a little more advanced, but it’s a good thing when your dog looks at you (This is different than begging at the table). Praise him. Your dog is paying attention and that makes him a lot easier to train! (Of course, if it’s a border collie, he’ll be looking at you constantly, that’s what they do and perhaps part of the reason they are so trainable).

5). THE COUCH & BED Yes, you can still be a good dog leader even if you let your dog on the couch, but start off right. Don’t let your dogs take liberties by jumping on the couch or bed at their leisure. YOU MAKE this decision. Ask them to sit and wait a few moments and then let them. This is one of those latent side affects where you show your dog you are a good leader and that chaos is unacceptable. Just by enforcing this rule you will get more respect and it will affect your dog’s perception of you positively. “Hey, I guess she means that sit thing before jumping up on the couch!, Look, I’m sitting and waiting patiently!”

6). HUMANS AND THEIR ‘AMPING’ IT UP “Are you Ready to Rock?!” THING
When we use our voice—as Cesar Milan points out, with often amp up our dogs, like before a walk. Cesar did a great stand up act on this exact topic of how us humans get ready for a walk with our dog. Too often, we build up a lot of suspense!

“You wanna go for a walk!? Yea! Let’s go for a walk!” Why not just pick up the leash and quietly escort your dog out for the walk without saying anything? Sometimes we just love seeing our dogs go crazy being happy! But if you’re training a new pup, or especially a large breed dog, you want to get out of the house without it being a hyped up dance!

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OLD DOGS: WHEN THE RULES DON’T COUNT
When dogs get old, I cut them a lot of slack. We currently live with exclusively geriatric dogs. With our immortal terrier, I confess to humming the Indiana Jones theme song while making his dog breakfast, just to watch him spin around the kitchen. Yes, I amp him up and I’ve SKILLYFULLY turned the Indiana Jone’s theme Song into a perfectly tuned Pavlovian response.

You gotta love your old dogs! They are great nappers, easy to live with and frequently you’ve shared years of history together! What more could you ask for in a best friend!?

Please check out Patricia McConnell’s book! It’s been a few years since I read it, but these points have stuck with me!! I hope they help you too!

In Memory of JUNE, our shelter adopted blue heeler (August 24, 2003 – July 18, 2015), we love you always and had 12 amazing years together! Prepping to pass the torch to a new heeler!

Ask “Why Dogs Become Dangerous?” Before Writing Policies on ‘Dangerous Dogs’

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A pup in foster care awaits her forever home.

Under the law, Dogs (and other pets) are legally defined as property. ‘Property’ is typically defined as an inanimate object, not a living thing.

By defining dogs as an equal ‘property’ to household ‘things’ means that a dog often must endure dire conditions before the law can intervene. A dog placed into a dangerous environment is far more likely to become dangerous than a socialized, well cared for animal.

Food. Water. Shelter. A dog with such basics is not considered to be in ‘danger’ because according to law his survival needs are being met. While one dog may react differently than another based on the exact same stressful conditions, any animal behaviorist or individual that has dog experience can attest to definable conditions that correlate to a dog becoming ‘dangerous’. Keeping a dog tethered and kept without basic socialization are probably two of the biggest contributors to ‘dangerous dogs’.

We must examine what commonalities ‘dangerous dogs’ share. One progressive ordinance implemented in the city of Albuquerque is a zero tolerance policy for chaining or otherwise tethering dogs. Dogs that are tied up are more at risk to display aggression because they recognize their vulnerability in being unable to get away from a potential threat. Such dogs are not necessarily inherently aggressive, but the act of trying a dog is a big one in contributing to dogs being defined as a ‘dangerous dog’.

‘Dangerous Dog’ policies fail community. The reason being that the law does not ask a critical first question, “Why do dogs become dangerous?” and “What policies can be enacted to minimize the risk of a dog becoming dangerous in the first place?”.

In my state, New Mexico, there are no existing regulations for ‘commercial breeders’. This means a surplus of puppies are easily available without regard to the kind of homes they will have, or how many times they may be ‘re-homed’.

While we cannot regulate, nor legally define morality, communities can and should ask why an issue exists in the first place before addressing treatment.

As long as dogs are legally defined as mere property, there is an inherent disconnect. On one hand dogs are equal to any inanimate object. On the other, their behavior is being regulated.

Cities take the time to define what constitutes a dangerous dog without regard to examining the conditions that create a dog as defined under law as a ‘dangerous dog’.

By regulating commercial breeders (i.e, puppy mills and backyard breeders) communities can take one step forward is curbing the massive surplus of unwanted, abandoned and neglected dogs in their state.

As long as dogs are defined as property, dogs will continue to experience conditions that cause dangerous behaviors. It also places more burdens on animal shelters to find resources to rehabilitate dogs and homes for difficult to place dogs.

We need the law to see dogs as more than property in order to begin the paradigm shift of how dogs are seen in our communities across America. While no law can completely eliminate all ‘dangerous dogs’ or all ‘animal abuse’, such a progressive measure has incredible potential to alleviate the root cause of what causes dogs to become ‘dangerous’.

Let us not confuse idealism with an objective effort to identify the root cause that makes a reactive policy necessary.

As an individual who has worked with many shelter/rescue dogs and witnessed the wholehearted efforts of those working in animal welfare, it is obvious that policies need to empower our community to do more for dogs.

Every person already working to help dogs in need is making a contribution to a kinder world for dogs and all animals. Even if you only help one dog or introduce one person to a new way of thinking about dogs, you have made a difference. All of us must meet the challenge in being more effective stewards to the dogs in our communities.

Next up: How can we change the bad rap of the word ‘activist’?!

SpeciesSpectrum.com
Placing Rescue Animals in the Spotlight
We are an animal photography image bank, greeting card line, creator of good cause campaigns and outreach consultant based in Albuquerque, NM

HOW TO MAKE CRAIGSLIST WORK FOR PETS

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Dear Craig & Craigconnects,

Utilizing your mission for Craigconnects, I want to offer a concept for reducing the number of unwanted pets passing through animal shelters and Craigslist.

Here’s the Problem:

Craigslist has become a mecca for backyard and puppy mill dogs. These dogs aren’t cheap, most selling for several hundred each. It’s not your fault people misuse that whole term ‘re-home’. But, here’s a SIMPLE strategy that could make a world of positive impact:

In your effort to make the world better for animals make Craigslist work for animals by charging a fee for puppy listings under Craigslist > Community > Pets category listings.

Use the fees paid by those who advertise their puppies on Craigslist to support breed rescue and local shelters. In fact, make backyard breeders KNOW how the small fee is used and LET them keep advertising. The point is to make every listing a benefit to animals.

This can be your greatest impact on the world of animals because Craigslist is now truly the epicenter in the USA for advertising the surplus of puppies and quick buck folks.

Help me make this happen.

Thank You,

Jessica McKay Gilmore
speciesspectrum.com

HOW JURASSIC WORLD’S MOCKERY COULD FORCE SEA WORLD TO DROWN IT’S OUTDATED ENTERTAINMENT PARADIGM

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I motion for genetically modified dinosaurs to eat the Blackstone bigwigs of Sea World.

More seriously, this summer’s revisit to dinosaur man eating hell could be a boon for helping more people realize how ridiculous Sea World’s entertainment platform has always been. Even those who boohoo supporters of Blackfish will probably go see Jurassic World.

Here’s where where box office hits merge with cause (pardon, the ‘cultural media studies’ vibe). All the voices of the Sea World debate are featured in Jurassic World (although it was a shock that women’s tan pumps are still in vogue).

There’s corporate PR full tilt Claire, “People want more teeth and genetically modified dinos are the wave of future entertainment”. There’s the ‘Dino Whisperer’, Owen, “These animals trust me and they have feelings. Don’t eat me Blue!”. There’s Hoskins, “I’m training these raptors for Military Combat and world domination”. There’s Dr. Henry Wu, “All dinosaurs are genetically modified, this embryo is part Monsanto and named after the company”.  There’s Masrani, “You people are up to no good, but I die in a helicopter crash before I can make a difference”.

There’s Barry, “Owen knows best and I know what these animals are capable of, but I am powerless…the woman in the tan pumps makes the decisions”. There’s the stereotypical out to lunch brothers, Gray and Zach. Gray says, “Mommy and Daddy aren’t getting divorced, are they? Hey, that Mega Marine Dino just splashed me! I’m happy again!” Big Brother Zach says, “I totally didn’t want to hang out with you, but now that we bonded over Mega Marine Dino, I’ll always be your brother”.

Suck up the pending divorce Gray and Zach, this is going to take some Animal Rights Activism. Had the boys arrived on Dino Island to free the Dinosaurs, I guess that would have been a completely different movie; one that some would label ‘propaganda’. But for those who believe Blackfish is ‘propaganda’, could we not look at Jurassic World in that very same way? The film does make a complete mockery of that whole ‘Shamu Sea World Splash’ thing. Or are man eating mega dinosaurs enough of a distraction to say the film is purely entertainment?

Jurassic World may be one up from the third sequel where Sam Neil plays a pushover and William H. Macy can’t find that annoying son lost in the jungle. As a mainstream voice immersed in the world of pure air conditioned hot summer entertainment, Jurassic World offers talking points on the morals of animal entertainment and captivity. We can of course dance around that moral circle all night and not reach common ground. Yet, Jurassic World has in affect, raised the question that perhaps being splashed by a magnificent animal in an arena has in fact run it’s course. Just as Claire’s tan pump heels were extremely out of date, so is the paradigm of Sea World entertainment.

These are the “Days of Our Lives” and Orca whales belong in the oceans, not in theme parks. More and more of us are waking up to this. Even Blue the Raptor is on the front lines, “Ocean sanctuary for Tilikum, Lolita, Morgan and all the others!”.

Pet Selfie, Nepotism Dog on Being an Entrepreneur

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This is Mason. He “looks cute” but that is not the same as embodying the quality of ‘cuteness’. Mason has been given many opportunities in this life without really trying. He is the guy that works in the mysterious sector of a large company called, ‘Human Resources’. (No offense if you work in Human Resources). He is the guy that the other employees talk about at the water cooler. “How did he get the job?” “Why is he still here?” And more importantly, “Why did HE get the promotion?”

There’s one answer: Nepotism. He is neither qualified or a delightful being to work with. He has food aggression, skin warts on his back and an overwhelmingly grouchy disposition. In one word he is best described as “Glitchy”.

Once I dropped something on my big toe. Jumping around in pain he immediately took offense and bit my foot; the same foot that had just been crushed by a heavy inanimate object.

So why is Mason still at the top of his game? Because he had a connection.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, The Tipping Point that it is the ‘soft connections’ that make our lives grow.  This is how we network. This is how we get the job (unless cousin Mason is in line).

In addition, Mason asks for what he wants repeatedly. If it’s 5:55pm he does his ‘I’m hungry dance’. This means crushing up his kibble with a dedicated coffee grinder and dousing it in chicken broth.

Asking repeatedly leads to success. As an entrepreneur, I know this is true by fierce practice. Cold calls no longer make me sweat. You must ask people several times. The first time you do the ‘I’m hungry dance’ no one notices.

Well, Species Spectrum is hungry for more retailers, reps, distributors, fans and and we’re heading west. Arizona, California, West Coast etc. Here is our current store locator map.
Help us grow it by sharing Nepotism Dog.

Mason is even featured on a Species Spectrum greeting card representing rescue terriers everywhere. Buy his Pet Selfie.

Go Mason! Thanks for sharing!

-Jes

speciesspectrum.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day, the Card for Mom: Mongoose Mama

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Orphan baby mongoose get a lot of care on their way back to the wild. 

Species Spectrum is all about quirky greeting cards and even more it’s about meeting real animals and hearing their stories. For Mother’s Day meet Mongoose Mama.

Mongoose aren’t exactly endangered, but when their colonies are in populated areas people like to relocate them (Similar to Prairie Dogs).

CROW, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Durban South Africa has helped relocate quite a number of mongooses (yes, mongooses, not mongeese).

Mother's Day Mongoose Card

This surrogate mother mongoose was rejected from her colony (girls can be so mean to each other sometimes!) so she was placed with a new crop of orphan baby mongooses.

This is my favorite Species Spectrum card for Mother’s day. Your mother will love the sentiment and even though mongoose can be ferocious like these guys in this video

…They sure are cute! Happy Mothers Day 🙂

– speciesspectrum.com

 

 

 

 

 

Why Chickens are Good for the (Local) Economy

highs-cafe-comfortTEXAS HILL COUNTRY GEMS: HIGH’S CAFE & STORE, COMFORT, TEXAS
(The owner has 21 hens). The best cafe for miles around with fantastic food, it’s a community meeting place, hang out and unique place to shop. 

The Peach BasketTEXAS HILL COUNTRY GEMS: THE PEACH BASKET, FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS (They sell organic chicken feed because many of their shoppers have chickens at home). It’s a local, indie, one stop grocery store with excellent customer service.

When looking for a place to live or a store to carry Species Spectrum, I’m finding out that people who like chickens are good for local business. I wonder if it’s a useful question for market research because it seems that the more I think of stores that carry my line, I’m pretty sure just about all of them like chickens!

There’s a conspiracy against chickens in some first world HOA’s. While innocent single female chickens are disenfranchised, in other places, chickens are the heart of local business. Urban farming is taking root. Have you seen Modern Farmer Magazine?

chickens-belong             Get your chickens belong sticker here! 

HENS WELCOME!

 

 

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On a recent trip to Texas, I handed out my ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker spreading the gospel of the HOA determined to exclude chickens from the semi-rural community. People laugh because it seems ridiculous that this non-threatening bird is at the center of a community lawsuit.

People have noticed the ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker on my car and the only response I’ve gotten is, “Right On!”.

Hating chickens just doesn’t feel healthy. Liking chickens is good for the soul and the economy. Look at creative business around you. You will see that where independent, socially conscious, local businesses thrive that chickens are in the background.

Caring about chickens says something about you. It says you use re-usaeable grocery bags. You are free range. You probably buy kale in large quantities. You probably have at least one adopted shelter pet. You read. You might even drive a Subaru (with bumper stickers). You like being outside. You go to the farmers market. You sign petitions for animals. You have a sense of humor. You like buying independent  products and will buy Species Spectrum greeting cards over mainstream brands. Thank You.

Chickens build more than community. They are a sign of a socially conscious thinking and innovative, thriving small business. These people want to make a difference. That’s where I want to be. Thanks to these stores and others for carrying Species Spectrum and putting us on the map in Texas!

Interested in having chickens? Learn more  about them here.
Just wondering, have you considered a rescue chicken?

– Jes McKay Gilmore, speciesspectrum.com

On Getting A Dog (Not) “Just Like the Last One”

getting a dog                       Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
                       Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic. 
                       If you haven’t visited speciesspectrum.com, please check us out! 

As a species we have a desire for familiarity and sameness. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s fine when that familiarity means ordering fast food on another continent or a trip down memory lane when we hear a certain song. However, it’s a different thing when we expect our future pets to be clones of our last pets (Unless cloning is your thing).

Recently I overheard a conversation of two women discussing a friend’s search for another dog. It was obvious the friend’s beloved dog had gone to what pet lovers term ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One said to the other, “They want to get a dog just like the last dog so they’re going to the same breeder and hopefully…” Just then the conversation drifted out of my ears’ reach.

“Get one just like the last one”; That is the phrase that stuck with me. We don’t say this about ex-lovers, just our dogs. In fact we hope that next fish is the total opposite of that idiot we previously dated. We love the familiar (and the new, once it is familiar). We are creatures of habit. In my cuisine experience, this means I almost always order enchiladas when I get Mexican food. When it comes to dogs, some people get hooked on a certain breed of dog. You know the parents that ‘Have always had Springer Spaniels’. We put bumper stickers on our cars (especially Subaru owners), that tell the world our type of dog is the best. It’s a Eureka! moment. “Chihuahuas Rule”. “Border Collies Rule”. “Labrador’s Rule”. Okay, I love Australian Cattle Dogs and English Mastiffs. There I said it. We also now praise mutts, with” They’re one of a kind” sentiments. This is the truth of every dog, mutts and ‘pure-breds’ alike.

I ended up with a very cool (neurotic) eighty pound mutt (healthy as ever with his mutt genetics) and pushing age twelve this year. He has never been anything like the bomb proof golden retriever I had before.

Once while walking dogs at my local Humane Society, a woman approached me through the fence facing the parking lot. She asked me, “Do you have any small, male dogs available or adoption?”. She then held up her small Sihi-tzu girl dog. “I’m looking for a male dog to breed with her so she can have puppies just like her”. The woman went on, “I want her to have puppies because I would be devastated without ‘Missy'” (random dog name).

I kindly explained to the woman how our shelter dogs were neutered. She genuinely thought adopting a male dog to breed with her dog was the solution to her concerns. I waxed on about dog breeding being very expensive (when done right) and to maybe consider adopting another dog with similar breed heritage as her beloved ‘Missy’.

Some of us really are ‘big dog people’, or ‘labrador people’ or some version of ‘small dog people’. Aside from Labradors and maybe Golden Retrievers, it’s very difficult and dare I say impossible to get another dog just like our last dog. Part of the reason for the popularity of Labradors and Goldens is that predictable, happy-go-lucky-fetch-retrieve-lovable-family-dog thing they have nailed into their DNA. Yet, even all Labradors aren’t the same. Some will go through guide dog training and just not have the personality to be a service dog. They might still, however, make an excellent therapy dog.

Dog genetics are the most manipulated in the world. The percentage of difference that separates the hundreds of dog breeds in the world are minuscule.

I write this on an informal leadership training spree with my boyfriend’s mother’s recently adopted Chihuahua. At first I wished she’d chosen an older, easy-going A-list, golden retriever from a rescue (you know, like my last dog). Instead she brought home a ten-year old Chihuahua. This week Lilly has gone almost everywhere with me. I’m not used to working with such a tiny dog and more accustomed to a bigger, burly dog on the other end of the leash. Yet, in a week’s time, I’ve come to enjoy training and hanging out with a Chihuahua–a breed that stumbled into my life.

Our desire to “Get another dog just like the last dog” reminds me of a book I read, “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert writes about why we are not the best predictors of our own happiness. This is why we may THINK we want another dog just like the last dog, even if a different dog will be perfect for us. But like friends, no friend is exactly the same as another friend, yet they are both great friends. It is the same with dogs, even if they are the same breed. We may have many dogs in our lifetime and some we will describe years later as ‘the best dog ever’. We assume we won’t feel so sad if we can go get another dog just like the last one. In making this assumption, we might miss out on the next best dog looking for us. Keep your mind and heart open to who your next dog or pet may be. Please consider a shelter or rescue dog and good luck in finding your new best friend!

Jes McKay Gilmore

– speciesspectrum.com

Speciesspectrum.com publishes modern greeting cards for every occasion. Every Species Spectrum design begins with a photograph of a rescue animal. We photograph both wild and domestic animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that would otherwise not be seen by the public.
Our goal is to provoke awareness and thus increased responsibility toward how we view animals in society and the wild. Giving back to small organizations helping animals is the beginning. Please shop our site. Thank you for sharing Species Spectrum greeting cards.

 

Dispelling the Myth of Shelter Dogs – We are Adoptable!

Can you adopt us?

Can you adopt us? Wilbur & Ranger Contact APA Las Cruces, NM

Wilbur Chihuahua & Ranger Chiweenie are currently looking for a home! Right now, today! They are excellent examples of shelter dogs with everything going for them, except they have no family to call their own. 

Last week I met up with APA (ACTion Program for Animals) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. All of the dogs you see are looking for their forever home. Shelter Dogs Available for Adoption, Las Cruces, NM

We often hear the numbers associated with animal rescue. What is left untold are the many stories of the animals passing through animal shelters. People are at times surprised to hear that the wonderful dog they just met was once on his last day at the animal shelter. Many are in fact truly adoptable, still smiling, playing and loving life.

Shawna has been looking for a home since May.

ADOPT NEW MEXICO BROWN DOG!!! Shawna has been looking for a home since May, 2013. CLICK HERE 

Shelter dogs are NOT always riddled with dysfunction. Sometimes they need a little guidance just like any dog. Sometimes they are the easiest dog to live with you could have ever imagined!

I spent a Saturday morning photographing some of these available dogs looking for their forever home.
Photographing dogs sounds simple. Get out a yummy treat, make a chicken clucking sound for the endearingly cute dog heat tilt. Snap. Done. Instead I ended up with a whole group of dogs, large and small, all racing around a big backyard.

Adopt Jesse

Wilbur, Ranger, Duke, Shawna, Jesse and Tempura are just a small sampling of the dogs passing through the local area animal shelter each week. There’s no way I can photograph every good dog that ends up homeless.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

While one neighbor is fostering several dogs, another neighbor has yet one more litter of unwanted Chihuahua puppies. This is a community problem. Let’s stop it. Here’s how you can help:

1. ADOPT. DONATE. EDUCATE. VOLUNTEER. FOSTER  in your community.

2. SUPPORT legislation that seeks to end puppy mills.

2. ENCOURAGE people considering a particular breed to look into breed specific rescue.

3. GET a cool shelter dog! Do you know his story? Tell people.

4. TRAIN your dog to be the best canine citizen he can be. Make him a COOL former shelter dog.

5. BEST DOG TRAINING ADVICE: A tired dog is a good dog 🙂

6. PET FRIENDLY: If you’re a landlord, work to make it possible for renters to have a pet.

7. SPAY/NEUTER your PET. There are many low cost options available. Sometimes it’s even FREE.

adopt-a-lab-new-mexico

WANNA ADOPT DUKE?
Even pure bred dogs end up at the shelter like Duke, the perfect black labrador! 

Meet Duke, a beautiful, sweet pure bred black labrador. He worships the tennis ball and joyful retrieving. While there are many wonderful breed specific rescue groups, they don’t always have room for another dog. Duke was lucky to land in the care of ACTion Program for Animals, Las Cruces, NM.

Tempura, sharpei for adoption

                      Tempura, a pure bred shar-pei. 

Species Spectrum seeks to personalize the public’s association with rescue and to acknowledge the dedicated individuals and small non-profits working tirelessly to ensure that more dogs, cats and other pets find their forever home.

Please consider adding a shelter dog(s) to your family. Thank you if you already have a shelter dog, cat or other pet. Check speciesspectrum.com  again soon because a few of these wonderful dogs will be featured in our upcoming greeting cards!

-Jes McKay Gilmore

speciesspectrum.com