My Greek kitty crew

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Indeed, they are people too!


Thank you for the great comments about animals offering their service to us. I'm currently reading a book (yes, a Christmas present) by Rupert Sheldrake called "Dogs that know when their owners are coming home - and other unexplained powers of animals". So far I've read 65 pages and thus far I've learnt nothing that I didn't already know. Anyone who has a close proximity with their pet or pets will know exactly the same, that yes, they do know when you're coming home. No need to measure or provide scientific evidence. Well, there's a bit more than 200 pages to go and I'm certain there's some interesting facts and test cases about 'animals that comfort and heal' and 'animals sensing earthquakes' (to mention a few chapter headings). 

Your responses made me think about my own experience with cats - and they have a remarkable sense of when you're in pain and need pain relief. Not only will they seek out the exact spot of your pain, but they will often 'milk' vigorously and purr intensely at the same time. On top of it they seem in a complete state of bliss whilst they are in this 'state of service' - almost as if they feel more fulfilled for being able to help. It's quite beautiful, just as it is with any animal relieving your stresses, sadness or pain.

I came across this writing about a cats healing purr... you might know about it, but it is very interesting. And here's just a few extracts:

"We've always intuitively felt that a cat somehow knows when we're not feeling well and even where it hurts. Got a headache and a cat just seems to wrap around your head. A stomachache and a cat can't seem to get off your abdomen. And purrs and purrs and purrs!
It was always believed that a cat's purr was relaxing or stress reducing and that that led to any number of healthful benefits. While that may be so, science has shown that the cat's purr is much more than just relaxing. Remember that it's not just the sound of purring that's important but more the tremor or vibration it produces.

Interestingly, science has known for many years that vibrations at specific levels or frequencies cause healing changes in the body. They can, for example, induce bone growth and regeneration. Bone fractures heal faster and weakened bones begin to strengthen and rebuild.

Also, in the higher frequency ranges, the production of the body's own natural anti-inflammatory compounds increases thereby reducing joint pain and swelling. There is further evidence of muscle, tendon and ligament repair within these frequency ranges as well."

Photo from

Monday, December 28, 2009

Animals offering their service to us


Well, I don't know about you, but service dogs (or service animals in general) just gets my heart. They are so faithful, devotional and gentle and their intelligence is breathtaking.

Imagine... service dogs can be used to help police find criminals, sniff out drugs and explosives. Some dogs assist people who are blind, deaf or have trouble getting around. And you're proably familiar with dogs telling when their owner is about to have a seizure (humans with epilepsy). They signal their owner to lie down and be calm.

Then there's “therapy dogs.” These dogs are family pets with special training. They are trained to go into public buildings and comfort people in need (such as libraries) whilst other therapy dogs go into places such as hospitals and nursing homes. When the dogs visit the patients, the patients are cheered up. They enjoy cuddling the dogs, and look forward to their visits. The dogs help to brighten their day. Therapy dogs can improve people’s health as well. Studies show that when people pet animals, their blood pressure and heart rates go down. They are calmer, and their mood improves.

I think we could all call our pets both "service and therapy" dogs and cats, or whatever other pet you might have. Don't they just fill our lives with such joy and delight. Just the fact that they put up with our shortcomings  - and love us just the same - must be good for the health alone. Hopefully we're considered good "service and therapy" humans to them!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Care across borders


These little bunnies, about 6 days old, were attacked by a dog and orphaned. Two out of the litter of five did not survive, and these three were not doing very well.

Noah is a non-releasable, one-legged homing pigeon that we have here in rehab. Noah kept going over to the bunny cage and looking in.... even sleeping in front of the door to the cage.

Then, 2 days ago, I only counted 2 bunnies in the cage, so I hurriedly picked Noah up from the front of the cage so I could look inside. And to my surprise...there was the tiny bunny...under Noah's wing...sound asleep! The bunny had crawled through the cage....preferring a featherbed, no doubt.

Now, they are all together, and the bunnies are doing GREAT. When the bunnies scoot underneath Noah's feathers, he extends his wings out to surround them..and they snuggle. When one of them moves and they start sticking out here and there, he gently pushes them back under him with his beak!!!!!

Source A.L.F.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The distinct pleasure


Some years back when I volounteered at a local cat shelter, I had the distinct pleasure of taking the Christmas shift which no one volounteered to do. Some people might just have done the basics and rushed back for their own Christmas celebration, but frankly, apart from my own family I couldn't have been in better or more darling company. Apart from the several unwanted and abandorned cats there was also an entire caravan full of kittens in isolation due to them all having the flu. And what do you do when you have a caravan full of tiny little kittens that have just gotten seperated from their moms and siblings, frigthened and in unknown surroundings? Well, you want to take them all home! If you've forgotten just how utterly irresistible they are, take a look at these pictures of just one Greek kitten. I'm telling ya... you're defenseless and want to put them all in your pocket. They were all flocking around me and one in particular litteraly crawled under my woolen sweater looking for closeness and comfort, so I just sat with it for ages calming it from shivering. There were albsolutely no thoughts of going back home for Christmas celebrations and I completely lost track of time. If it hadn't been for my own family wanting my company for Christmas I could happily have stayed on.

So here's to sparing a thought for all those darling animals sat out there in shelters waiting for a new and loving home. May they all quickly find a safe home and the best of human company.

All images from Roeselien Raimond's fabulous photostream.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can they suffer?


The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" 
but rather, "Can they suffer?" 

̴ Jeremy Bentham 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Returning the good fortune


Another hero has made it to this site and this time it is the story of remarkable Ginny, a Schnauzer/Siberian-Husky mix, who impacted the lives of hundreds of homeless CATS and captured the hearts of all who knew her.

Here's just an extract from Ginny's Fanclub:

Adopted from a shelter by her life-long caretaker, Philip Gonzalez, Ginny returned her good fortune by rescuing as many as 900 lost and homeless cats during her lifetime. More than just a canine oddity, Ginny’s caretaker maintains that her heroic antics were based on an inherent love for cats, a love that was enthusiastically returned by her grateful feline friends.

Ginny was only a youngster when she made her first feline rescue – a litter of five tiny kittens that were trapped inside a pipe. Although her caretaker first considered Ginny’s find a mere coincidence, she would prove him wrong by the countless cat rescues she made throughout her lifetime. Ignoring even the most dangerous of circumstances, Ginny was known to rescue cats and kittens from not only pipes but also from dumpsters, glass-laden containers and even a glove compartment or two. Ginny’s story is made all the more poignant by the fact that she had once experienced her own dire circumstances, abandoned and locked in a closet with her puppies for a week before she was rescued and taken to the shelter where Gonzalez found her.

According to her caretaker, Ginny’s love and desire to save those in need was not confined to her feline friends. On the contrary, Ginny demonstrated on at least one occasion that she was prepared to rescue humans as well. Recognizing that a blind man’s life was in peril when he attempted to step off a curb into busy traffic, Ginny jumped off the curb before him, barking incessantly until he turned back to safety. Such was the character and life of one of the most extraordinary, and now unforgettable, dogs – Ginny.

Photo above: Ginny and one of her happy rescuees!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Enlighten the existence of animals


How do you "dispense" your presence as a human?

After writing the posts about St. Francis of Assisi and St. Modestos I wondered what it was about their presence that attracted animals. It is said about them both that they were enlightened and I believe that it is exactly this enlightenment that they shared and enhanced the lives of animals with.

I thought about the phrase 'to carry oneself with presence' and just found this description on the website of an emergency service where they talk about 'command presence': "Command presence is essentially presenting yourself as someone in authority, trusted and respected. This is partially done through the message conveyed by how you LOOK, how you CARRY YOURSELF, how you ACT, and how you SPEAK"... and to portray "I am in charge of this situation."

Well, what a great description but the question then arises doesn't it, how do you look, carry yourself, act and speak?? What are you an authority of? Are you trusted and respected? Are you in charge of the situation? It is clear that we all have a presence, whether it is strong and radiant or dull and dismal and we all know that our surroundings (humans and animals alike) respond to us accordingly.

This naturally applies to us as humans throughout, but just to bring it back to dealing with animals, then it is obvious that Jane Goodall has something in her presence that attracts animals. It is said that Steve Irwin had it. Animals just gathered around him. It is clear that those saints had it. As I've written about in an earlier post, I believe humans have both a soul and a spirit and that animals only have a soul. It is therefore our responsibility to enhance and enlighten the existence of animals.

Those that mistreat animals are known to live petty and miserable lives and it always comes down to how we portray ourselves to ourselves first of all, but what a marvellous thought that we have this great responsiblity and dominion over animals... if we learn how to dispense it well.

This gorgeous photo is from Tanakawho's photostream.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Full house

Proper Christmas weather has arrived and it's thick snow outside. That means that the birds has been extra busy all day and the bird feeder house has been bustling with visitors. Here's a shot to share the atmosphere with you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A prized possession


In my country there's this expression "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree trunk" - and the story behind this picture is really a point in case.

When my mother passed away a few years ago and we went through all her possessions, it really wasn't a difficult divide at all. All I really wanted was a few "worthless" items like the above - a cutting from an old magazine, which my mother had pasted to the wall in her creative den. I cherish this old scrap of paper, because I just think the artist has captured something so soft, tender, fuzzy and warm between the boy and his cat (just like I imagine the ultimate relationship between a child and a pet). And then because I love the fact that my mum and I obviously had a love of similar things. I know some people wouldn't want to be linkened to their mother at all, but where certain qualities are concerned, I'm so happy that the apple didn't fall far from the tree trunk. We shared a love of animals and simple things and that makes this a most prized possession.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sublime and mysterious gifts


So... back to the inspiration from the other day. I got this email from what I consider to be 'great warrior friends' at Friends of Animals in Athens. They work to save the homeless, sick and mistreated dogs and cats living in Athens. The email was to announce a Greek Othodox blessing of the animals in the month of December. Each pet - or stuffed animal for those children without furry friends - is blessed with holy water and the special prayer of St. Modestos. Well, it's a lovely idea... but what about on a daily basis?

It is said that Greek Orthodox churches around the world celebrate St. Modestos throughout the month of December. Saint Modestos (early predecessor of Francis of Asissi) is the patron saint of animals in the Orthodox Church and it is said that he had a great affection for animals—he saw them as sublime and mysterious gifts from God. Often he would bless the livestock of the faithful, praying for their health and survival, and glorying in the vastness and beauty of all God made. In fact, he has been known for centuries as a patron saint of domestic animals.

Well, if it's about celebrating the life of Saint Modestos, then how about celebrating it on a daily basis? No, I don't mean by people dragging their animals along to the church each day, but by being the living example of this kind of greatness (or great kindness). If you've ever travelled in Greece (or if you live there) I'm sure you'll agree that they could do with a whole lot of celebrating St. Modestos!

Sacred trust


It's late a night and being so fortunate to live next to a forrest I just heard the call and response between two screech-owls. I know for sure that there's also both foxes and lovely deers in the forrest too and just a few hundred yards from here there's a beautiful lake with ducks, swans and herons. Just up the road there's a castle church and in the middle of this serene night stillness and the sound of the owls, there was also just the atmospheric sound of the church bells.

It's almost as if, just for a moment, one could forget about the whole 'global warming climate conference circus' that's going on just 25 miles down the road. It seems that some of the issues it comes down to is 'which country should be allowed to go on an pollute for longer because other nations has done it for longer than they have'! Like my husband so rightly said... when did it ever become acceptable to pollute the planet?

I believe that many things should be held in sacred trust in humans about the opportunities which we've been given. Maybe this question should be put on the climate conference agenda:

Is the planet here for us, or are we here for the planet?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The patron saint of animals


Hmmm... got an email today that inspired different little researches. It's also inspired several little blogs, but here's just one story I wanted to share for today. I believe it could serve as a great story as to how humans and animals should really interact. It's a story about the great saint Francis of Assisi and here it comes:

A legend tells that in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, there was a wolf "terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals". Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though the saint pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at the feet of St. Francis. "Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil...", said Francis. "All these people accuse you and curse you... But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people". Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger”, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly, and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis, ever the lover of animals, even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. It is also said that Francis, to show the townspeople that they would not be harmed, blessed the wolf.

Monday, December 7, 2009

All it takes to decompress...


- is 17 seconds. Watch this and  I'm sure you'll have to agree!

It  made news headlines a few days ago. Enjoy!!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

To pluck an eagle feather

For days now I've been trying to find an exquisite reference from a shaman describing his journey of becoming a medicine man. I simply can't seem to find the reference, but he described that one of the skills he had to learn to become a shaman, was to be still enough that an eagle would let him pick a feather from it. Imagine what kind of inner stillness that would require. That is just an utterly awesome thought.

Found this reference for the significance of an eagle feather in Native American culture:

In Native American culture, the Eagle feather is one of the most sacred possessions one can maintain.  Eagle feathers were given out extremely sparingly for acts of valor and bravery, and the warrior that desired to wear them bore the burden of proof of his valorous exploits to gain permission from the Elders to actually wear the feather.  It was given as a sign of ultimate respect.  A warrior was more willing to lose his tepee and his horse rather than lose his Eagle feather which would bring disgrace in the eyes of the Tribe.

If you possess an Eagle feather, (which interestingly, is illegal without a federal permit, apparently no matter how you obtain it), it is required that you, out of reverence,  build a “home” for it to keep it safe.  It should not be soiled, abused or allowed to be around any type of drugs or alcohol.  It is the duty of the bearer of an Eagle feather to maintain the sacredness of that feather at all times.

It was believed the the Eagle feather immediately commanded the attention of the Great Spirit, as the Eagle was the messenger that could carry the prayers of the people directly to Father Sky.  Once the Eagle had delivered the messages of the people the Eagle would return with wisdom or visions from the Great Spirit that would direct the people on their path.

Could that kind of reverence for an eagle feather have something to do with how the eagle feather might have been obtained in the first place?

Care to try it??

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank you!

At the beginning of this year I sat out to write a diary. I wanted to try and keep a record of every day and thougth it would be interesting to look back at what really had seemed important to me. I valiantly tried to write every day, but to be perfectly honest it felt like hard work to keep up with it. Until I came across a blog called "Record the day". It's got absolutely nothing to do with animals - actually it's about someone being passionate about fashion. But it suddenly hit home what my diary should be about... it had to be about what I felt passionate about. Obviously!! My paper diary lasted until the 22nd of February... the day I started this blog. The last entry reads "Have decided to create a blog about animals" and then I'd put down a whole long list of stories and quotes that I wanted to write about. That was the  most important thing - it suddenly flowed out of me with ease! It didn't matter to me whether anyone read it or not, because I did it for the sake of all those lovely feelings that moves through me when I'm in some kind of close proximity with animals. But... then a magic thing began to happen. A person here and a person there became a 'follower' of the blog which has been a source of such inspiration to keep going. So here's to you... whether you've just briefly stopped by or whether you're a regular. Thank you! You've got no idea how much it means to me that you would take the time to stop by and share this sweet passion of mine.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A philosophical thought

It's going to be one of those philosophical posts again...

Are you one of those people that felt the pain in the core of your bones when you saw Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" - I mean that particular bit in the documentary where an animation shows a polar bear swimming in vain in the search for some ice to stand on and it becomes evident that it will drown because there is no ice to stand or live on?

I just read an article about two polar bear cubs dying in a zoo. It was a curious incident because they had been suckling and seemed to be doing fine, but suddenly on the second day they both became weak and had to be removed from the mother. They received intensive treament but died a few hours later. The only reason they could find for what had happened was that the mother bear had indeed suckled her cubs... but she hadn't been generating any milk.

I get kind of "the state of the planet" philosophical about these kinds of incidents. Just like it's a well known fact that any animal mother won't tend to a weakling in a litter (she might even try to suffocate it or push it out of a nest or den because she knows it won't make it)... I wondered about the polar bear with her cubs. Are polar bears developing an instinct that polar bear habitats are rapidly disappearing and therefore KNOW that there is no future for polar bears??

Yes, it's a rather disturbing thought. But just like when monkeys in one part of the world figured out how to wash sweet potatoes which made them eatable, monkeys in other parts of the world started doing the same (obviously without having had any kind of physical contact). Do animals have this kind of psychic ability, where they can 'relate messages' to each other? I happen to think that animals are uncorrupted. They simply and cleanly do what an animals are meant to do. Therefore I believe they have some of these abilites which I'm sure humans once possessed.

Could it possibly be that polars bears are relaying the message to each other that there won't be any polar bear habitat in the future???