The Most Dramatic Dog Rescue Ever

I recently remembered the absolute best, most dramatic dog rescue story from work ever, and here it is, in blog form.

I was minding my own business at work, working, and then glancing at our new dog that day, a small, elderly, Scottish terrier crossed with x, y, or z. She was quiet and seemed a little sad.

My coworker materialized behind me and said, “OH MY GOD, DID YOU HEAR THE STORY OF THAT DOG?”

I said, “… no?”

So she launched into it. A woman was jogging along, as you do, when she spotted a dog dangling like Mufasa from a balcony just above her.

She stopped and called us, because the dog was too far up for her to just grab. We were sending someone out to help the dog, but obviously she wasn’t going to be able to dangle there for fifteen minutes, so, thankfully, the good Samaritan stayed. And caught the dog, when she fell just minutes after the woman hung up the phone.

She couldn’t get into the apartment to return the dog and there was no one around to help, so she brought the dog to us for the owners to pick up.

The dog was blind and deaf. When the owners arrived to pick her up, they were horrified. They hadn’t realized that she had slipped quietly out the door onto the balcony. So then she was just stuck out there, with limited senses to figure out what was even going on, and she was small enough to slip through the rails, which she did, almost falling, and it probably would have been to her death.

So, hey, if you spot someone in distress, that’s your chance, I guess, to be a complete and utter superhero. I hope that lady is having an excellent day today.


Sistah Vegan: A Review

(Image is from Wishing Well Sanctuary)

I finished Sistah Vegan this month and decided it was worth its own post so here are my very inexpert thoughts on intersectional veganism and the book that compiles some essays dealing with the topic.

sistah vegan

**Disclaimer: am white person whiting it up over here.

Prologue: The Uncomfortable Reality of Racism in Animal Rights

Here are a couple of comments I stumbled upon recently, in response to an animal advocacy group sharing an article that said Canada was badly ranked for it’s treatment of animals (unsurprising).

halal comment

The first comment is frustratingly ignorant. The SPCA can only do so much, guys, because the laws suck and need to be updated. Pay attention to who you’re voting for. The laws also require law enforcement officers who are actually interested in enforcing the laws in order to be effective. Pay attention to who isn’t doing the enforcing and give them hassle when they fail to act. Don’t break into people’s houses and steal animals and ruin animal cruelty cases that the SPCA are building up legally. Come on, now.

The second comment is, you know, racist.

It’s ignorant, too, because, really. What is the SPCA supposed to do about an industry practice that is entirely legal and defined as “not animal cruelty” and instead one of the acceptable methods of slaughter?

I should expand on the “racist” thing though because I happen to know some people IRL who would take issue with that label, annoyingly. “It can’t be racist if it’s about a religion” OK Brent, best case scenario you’re a bigot, congrats, but I’m still going to call it racism because Islamaphobia gets directed at anyone who looks vaguely brown.

Why is it a problem that people are against Halal? Well – it’s not. Halal is not a great thing where animals are concerned. It requires animals being slaughtered for food to be alert during slaughter whereas otherwise the animal would be stunned first. Personally I think it’s not the biggest difference because animals slaughtered for food tend to be at least somewhat aware of what they’re heading for before they get stunned, especially if the slaughterhouse is badly designed or not following the top guidelines, but it makes enough of a difference to the individual animals that really that sort of practice shouldn’t be allowed.

But why single out Halal? Kosher is exactly the same. Also, why single out either Halal or Kosher? Why not single out the industry standard practice of grinding up male chicks while they’re still alert? That is not done because of religious laws, just for, I don’t know, expedience, maybe. Or what about gestation crates for pig mothers, which is a practice that causes immense suffering for years on end rather than for just a split second at slaughter? How about going after gigantic quotas that lead to massive stress among the already stressed-out workers, which of course leads to physical abuse of the animals, either as a necessity for reaching quota or as an outlet for frustration?

How I deal with Halal and Kosher is that I’ve just resigned myself to being mostly silent about it, because there are, in fact, animal advocates of both the Muslim and Jewish persuasions who are having these conversations within their own communities and it isn’t my place as some rando Catholic to butt in. Why not allow them to take care of their own cultural practices, particularly these days, when their communities are under quite a bit of stress because of certain unmentionable somehow elected officials? Really, ever since September 11, 2001, it hasn’t been the opportune moment to start browbeating Muslim people about one of their cultural practices that isn’t good for animals. Especially when non-Muslim Canadians aren’t exactly lining up to tidy up our own garbage practices.

Canada has plenty of animal rights issues to tackle that are not specific to our Muslim communities. Like the seal hunt. Like all of those other meat industry standard practices I mentioned. How about the transportation of pigs for slaughter? That was kind of a big deal a while ago.

Also, Islam is in many ways a pretty animal-friendly religion. Sure, Halal requires animals to be alert for slaughter and there are the sacrificial animals during Eid, but Muslims are technically not supposed to eat pork ever (good for pigs), and a lot of their fasting rituals require them to abstain from meat for lengthy time periods each year (good for food animals in general). Christianity could learn a thing or two.

I don’t know this commenter and for all I know “Halal” was just the first thing that popped into their head when it occurred to them to email the SPCA. But probably not. I think it’s more than safe to say that this is an example of someone who probably does care about animals, but who also is upset about Muslim people existing nearby and has decided to kill two birds with one stone and join the two pet causes.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t speak up here. I seriously considered it. I think things like this hurt everyone, because first of all, it’s racist, which is never good, and then there’s the fact that there easily could be a Muslim person scrolling through these comments, and animal rights needs allies, and to have allies we need to make people feel welcome, and not make them feel like they do anywhere people enthusiastically voted for Stephen Harper and his low key Islamaphobia. Finally, it does delegitimize us a bit. People are looking for any excuse to dismiss animal rights as a thing worth discussing, and if you’re using it as a platform to be racist, you’ve basically handed them a perfect reason to stop listening forever.

The reason I didn’t speak up is sort of complicated. The first problem is that Facebook will then plaster that conversation on the walls of my friends, some of whom are my coworkers, and I didn’t want them to see me calling a stranger an Islamaphobe. And that’s basically what it would have been, because the second problem was that I couldn’t come up with anything calm and reasonable to say.

I still think the right thing to do was to think about it for a while and then post something along the lines of, “Hi there – Islam is a pretty animal-friendly religion, actually, considering the fasting and such, and there are lots of other, non-Islamic and totally legal industry practices that cause a lot of suffering to food animals, none of which the SPCA is capable of ending on its own. We need to vote smarter and put pressure on our elected officials so that they know we want animal welfare improvements. Have a LOVELY non-Muslim-hating day!”

Alas. Next time.

And that said…

The Actual Review

The book is a collection of personal essays about the broad experience of black women vegans. A lot of the essays focus on health veganism. Health veganism is cool and all but for my part, I’m not really interested in hearing about the health benefits of being vegan these days. What I actually want to hear about are the pitfalls. I’d like in depth examinations of B12 deficiencies and where to get calcium, vitamin A, omega 3s, iron, and zinc, because although I do have vague ideas about all of those things, being nutritious is really tricky and I think it can only help to be honest about how complex it is. My sister has talked about some of that before but I’d like to see more of that from vegans regularly because it’s helpful stuff. (HERE’S THE PART WHERE I UNSUBTLY SHOUT OUT TO THREE TO WRITE MORE NUTRITION STUFF.)

Health veganism, from the perspective of all of the essayists is especially beneficial for black Americans, however, and that’s where my own perspective is limited. I may not be all that excited about how useful a vegan diet can be for combating obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, but because black Americans are disproportionately more likely to die from these health problems than other races in America, it’s clearly worth more discussion.

There was also a really intriguing conversation near the end of the book between women discussing being fat, black, and vegan/vegetarian, and that was one of my favourite parts. Fellow vegans: FAT SHAMING. IS NEVER. OK. FAT SHAMING. ONLY. DOES HARM. THANKS.

Perhaps my favourite essay was “Being a Sistah at PETA” because I’m a PETA apologist. I love PETA criticism and here was some really well thought out criticism written by a former employee. She says she wanted to apply the intersectional message of a vegan diet being good for black Americans’ health considering they are more likely to face certain health problems made worse by animal consumption, but PETA wanted to focus on fur-wearing in hip hop and getting various black celebrities to be publicly anti-fur. It seems clear from this essay that their goals were really short-sighted and, like, extremely white. Outreach to any community that focuses on “what animal rights can do for you” would probably be more effective in the long run than patronizing “let’s get celebrity role models to say stuff for us and that’ll do it.” Sigh, PETA. While you may like your bad publicity and your celebrity partnerships, sometimes maybe try reaching out in a thoughtful manner. Cover your bases, is all I’m suggesting.

Finally, we arrive at “the dreaded comparison.” The biggest takeaway I got from this collection was that it’s really, really important to be thoughtful about rhetoric. Comparing animal exploitation to human atrocities is important, and probably essential, both for understanding how animal exploitation works AND for understanding how human exploitation works, but, especially if we’re white, we need to think carefully about when and why we’re doing it. Mainly, we need to not scream all day about how the meat industry is just like slavery or the Holocaust, because in doing so we may be hurting marginalized people. There are several accounts of hearing black people say they were viscerally disgusted by “meat is like slavery” rhetoric and never gave the issue more careful thought afterwards. If someone has observed throughout our culture that animals are worth far less consideration than humans, and also that their own humanity will always be up for debate because of systemic white supremacy, this sort of rhetoric will never help animals, and instead will always hurt people. If we’re doing comparison, it needs to be in specific contexts only, thoughtful, studious ones, looking at the similarities and differences between human and animal exploitation. We can still ask people to begin to value animals more and to consider their suffering when they make decisions, and we can absolutely use strong rhetoric to do so, but I think white animal rights activists especially need to take several steps back if we’re going to use human atrocities that didn’t affect our ancestors and don’t affect us currently as easy rhetorical devices, and, like, not do that.

Sistah Vegan is good reading for anyone who wants to help make the animal rights community less racist and therefore much, much better. We need to be accommodating and intersectional. It’s the only way forward.

The Saga of the Terrible St Catharines Vet

… has come to a close, for now.

To summarize, there’s this vet who was (and still is) practicing in St Catharines (a city in southern Ontario that has a really good vegan doughnut place). He is not a very good vet. His staff members took covert video footage of his particular brand of veterinary medicine, which included slamming animals, choking them, and punching them.

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario disciplined the vet by suspending him for ten months, slapping him with a fine, and are requiring that he gets retrained on how to restrain animals.

So, here’s the thing about that.

There’s already quite a lot of mistrust of veterinarians and vet medicine in general. When a doctor or an RVT takes your pet to the back to do a few procedures out of sight, pretty much their most important job is to ensure that the human client trusts them to be kind, gentle, humane. While it’s true that restraint is usually required to get procedures done safely, and that even minimal restraint can be upsetting for doting humans to see, for the most part the staff at the back are good at what they do and are doing it right because to do it wrong would go against their entire being.

Now people have seen this footage of a vet slamming animals around, and of course every time they drop off their pet for surgery or even just to get a vaccine done they’re going to worry on some level about what’s going on back there. They also know that the CVO didn’t revoke his license, which is absolutely what they should have done, if only to protect the profession. But also because, yeah, dude needs to not be practicing medicine. It’s going to be hard to convince people to trust veterinary medicine as a whole when the CVO won’t even suspend someone who is on camera punching a chihuahua.

Earlier this week this story somehow got worse, because the Crown decided to drop all sixteen charges of animal cruelty against the vet filed by the OSPCA. They decided to do this because the CVO had already investigated and disciplined the vet.

There was also something about the OSPCA officer investigating without a proper complaint being filed. The officer says he was responding to the video footage that had been released to the public and was widely viewed.

Laws are complicated, but for animal cruelty laws in Canada and Ontario specifically, it really does come down to whether you have sympathetic law enforcement on your side or not. And precedent. Precedent is key.

The crown could have pursued the animal cruelty charges. There was evidence. Crimes had clearly been committed. There are lots of precedent-setting cases of dogs and cats being struck and the abuser being found guilty of animal cruelty. And as for the CVO, well, it isn’t the CVO’s job to prosecute veterinarians for animal cruelty. That task is left to the OSPCA and cooperative prosecution. Alas.

Everything went wrong here. The CVO should have taken a more decisive stance, and law enforcement should have actually enforced laws. By not doing so, the next case of an abusive vet (and it’s coming) will be harder to prosecute, not easier. It will be harder, not easier, to obtain justice for the animals who are abused next, and it will be harder, not easier, to prevent something like this from happening again without demonstrating that there are tangible and appropriate consequences.

The vet in question and his family have received death threats, so I guess I should add that that’s never cool. The dude is garbage and he should find a job that doesn’t involve animals, or humans, really, but no death threats, thanks.

Also, his clinic is still open and people are still going there. Hint: don’t. There are vet clinics everywhere; find a new one.

Further reading on this depressing case of maximum apathy: St Kits, CBC, OSPCA.

Don’t watch the video, though. Instead, watch this.

The Most Obnoxious Scene in The Fox and the Hound

My favourite thing about these posts is that eventually Disney will come along and force Youtube to remove the videos and then there’ll just be a giant gray empty space here where the scene I’m talking about should be.

I really hate this scene.

But I also kind of love it.

I don’t know, OK?

It’s reminiscent of the “Twitterpated” scene in Bambi which is somehow both cute and also extremely uncomfortable to watch. The animators at Disney are getting away with… a lot. Let’s just say a lot. It’s because the characters are animals, so, well, fair game, I guess.

In Grade 9 science there was that infamous day we all referred to as “The Day They Made Us Watch Animal Porn.” But the animal porn we watched that day had nothing on these. I watch both of these scenes from behind my hands or just giggling uncontrollably as though I were 12 (that might be a bit of an exaggeration) (but not really).

You may say, “Um, what are you talking about, they’re cute fluffy animals falling in love and it’s sweet and 100% G-rated.” And I’ll just raise my eyebrows at you. Because no.

We can talk all day about how I’m just a huge prude or something, because honestly I do feel kind of like a prude watching these scenes. They are upsetting and somewhat thrilling to me on a very basic level of mine that I don’t fully understand. But that’s not really why I think the “Tod Meets Vixie/”Appreciate the Lady” scene is the most obnoxious one in The Fox and the Hound.

No. I kind of like the romance aspect of it, as much as I have to hide my face watching it. I like that it shows them sort of communicating nonverbally in a successful fashion – not the exaggerated harrumphing/flower picking part, that’s stupid, but the part where she gets embarrassed and he notices. I think there isn’t enough emphasis in media about paying attention to what your partner is feeling in any given moment and reacting appropriately.

But still. Here’s a list of what I don’t like:

  • why do foxes have last names though (that one is minor, I concede)
  • the peanut gallery is super obnoxious
  • “Appreciate the Lady” has to be the third or fourth worst song EVER. Apologies, Big Mama, but why didn’t they write you a better song for this part?
  • I know early Disney movies like their courtship swift and bland but wow
  • I can’t really call it bland though, not when he calls her an “empty-headed female” and two seconds later all is forgiven
  • Tod’s woes about being dumped in the woods are cured because he sees a girl fox which is stupid because Tod being dumped in the woods is perhaps the WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN A DISNEY MOVIE EVER AND THAT’S DISNEY MOVIES WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, IN WHICH PLENTY OF HORRIFIC THINGS HAPPEN, AND YET THAT IS PROBABLY THE WORST.
  • It’s one thing to do “Hakuna Matata” shortly after Mufasa’s death. That works thematically. This is just some nonsense right here.
  • You have been abandoned in the woods but it’s fine, now you can be a wild animal again even though YOU NEVER WERE A WILD ANIMAL BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN RAISED BY A HUMAN IN A HOUSE AND YOU ARE FULLY DOMESTICATED AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE WILD.

So it’s kind of cute, kind of annoying, and mostly frustrating because people need to not dump their pets in the woods. Or on the side of the road. Or like literally in a dumpster.

Also OMG don’t raise wild animals at all. It ends badly. Contact the proper organizations that will rehabilitate them responsibly.

30 Days of Avatar: Animal Rights

Week 10: Messages of Avatar Land

Day 28: Masculinity
Day 29: Animal Rights
Day 30: Feminism

First of all, shout out to the creators of Avatar for making every animal in Avatar Land a combination of two animals, except for the Earth King’s bear:


Anyway, this post is about Animal Rights, and the only logical place to start is with the Greatest Creature Ever Committed to Television, Appa, the Flying Bison.

Please familiarize yourself with Appa using this self-proclaimed “Definitive Appa Montage,” which sets tragic scenes from Appa’s Last Days to a cheerful tune in order to lessen your pain:

While Avatar is not afraid to unpack complex ethical issues, Appa’s Lost Days may be one of the most honest and upfront interpretations of such an issue in the franchise (or in any franchise). It does not hold back on making us want to cry in a bath tub forever while the horrors animals face in this world slowly wash over us until we drown in a sea of unending misery.

Seriously, it gets real.


We start this horrifying journey with the illegal exotics trade. Sandbenders rope up our favourite Flying Bison and drag him out of the desert, away from his friends, forcing him to listen to Aang’s desperate bison-whistling, unable to fly to his lifelong companion. Ugh.

These jackasses sell him to a freaking circus.


In true “Greatest Show on Earth” fashion, the trainer whips his animals (with fire), using fear to “break” them and force them to do humiliating performances dressed in ridiculous costumes. But this trainer wasn’t prepared to handle a Flying Bison – the original airbenders, this big softie has bending and evasion on his side, and he manages to escape the circus. Would that all animals could murder their trainers and fly off into the sunset, but we dream.


Next in Appa’s tragic story (seriously, more tragic than Zuko’s, am I right?) he tries to find Aang, discovers that the library sank into the desert, then attempts to take refuge in a few places before being chased off by various predators (giant wasps, giant porcupine boars, and this asshole with the fire stick). No, Avatar is not afraid to handle the question of what to do with wild animals either – what is our responsibility? Something between dressing them up in stupid costumes and chasing them out of our houses with fire, is the answer. (Duh.)


The Kyoshi warriors find him and show him kindness. Appa is hurt and scared, and they approach slowly, before gently removing the porcupine boar needles and cleaning up the sticky wasp residue from his fur. If you’ve ever attempted to rescue a wild animal or feral cat, this scene will feel familiar – the animal is scared, and ready to either run or fight for their life, and you just want to help them and have no way of explaining that.

Anyway, the Kyoshi warriors do well, until Azula and co. show up and ruin everything.


Because the writers love to make us sob uncontrollably, Appa navigates his way to the Eastern Air Temple, one of four abandoned homes of his ancestors, the air nomads and their bison, who were extinguished by the Fire Lord. Yikes. Anyway, there he meets Guru Pathik, who shows him some more kindness as well as the way back to Aang.


But as we know, this episode is a series of disasters and any good news is not to be trusted, so of course, Appa flies to Ba Sing Se, where the gaang is, and ends up being caught by Long Feng, because, of course.




So to sum up, here is what we learned in one short episode of ATLA:

  • The illegal exotics trade is Evil and pure garbage and should all die in a fire
  • Circuses are Evil and pure garbage and should all die in a fire
  • Be kind to wounded animals who cross your path, even if they do not thank you
  • Appa is and always will be the best person place or thing ever written I will fight you on this
  • three has a giant plushie Appa and it gives her life
  • I’m off topic

In other words, if you didn’t really understand why exotics trading and circuses were Evil and pure garbage and should all die in a fire, this incredible episode will take your hand and walk you through the story of Appa’s lost days with the perfect combination of nuance and pure suffering and it will make you want to cry in a bathtub forever while the horrors animals face in this world slowly wash over you until you drown in a sea of unending misery.

All screenshots from Avatar Spirit.

Yesterday was scary but my job helped, or, here, look at pictures of animals

All right. Well. If you’re like me, you’re kind of scared and you don’t know what to do, because somehow someone who has no business tying his own shoes is president and he’s surrounded by people who might actually be capital E evil, and things seem, surprisingly, a lot worse than they already did.

I don’t know what to do. But yesterday was my Friday, so I was at work, and that helped. I cater to animals’ needs at the shelter, so all day I had a purpose and I got to take care of cute things (and one really angry, mangey, bitey cute thing but that’s OK too). It wasn’t even a good day. Like I’m pretty sure one of our dogs died. Last I heard he was in intensive care not improving. So.

But still. And it’s all I’ve got to share, so here are some pictures I’ve taken over the years. Enjoy, if you can.


This one gives the best hugs.


I don’t really know why such a thing as this exists, but I’m certainly not complaining.


Making himself useful by putting his fur on all of the clean bedding, thanks partner.


I always thought it was funny when they’d sit up there together like that.


This was a gigantic bunny and was in rough shape. And there were ten of them in one (tiny) room. The morning after they arrived I was the one assigned to cleaning them all, so when I went in, not knowing what to expect, all of these GIGANTIC rabbits were all thumping, which is a sign of pure rabbit rage. It was the most intimidating thing I’ve ever experienced.


This blurry picture of these fuzzballs.


Fostering kittens is the best.


This gentle giant named Scooby really wanted to be a lap dog. It was painful.


Friendly guy.


The true purpose of kiddie pools is for puppy-whelping.


This is when a puppy is at its best: barely mobile and more or less clean. And doesn’t have teeth yet.


Those blue eyes though.


Chili’s (Chili is, unwisely, mine) twin sisters.


Romeo was at large for at least a month. This was the first day I was allowed to walk him.


It’s almost time for itty bitty season. Which is both cute and the worst thing to ever happen, ever. Kittens. Man.


She wasn’t at the shelter but she’s cute.


Paisley and Nigel, unconcerned about the decorative spiders they’re sharing space with. (She would later give him calici.)


True story: once I was too lazy to move this xpen aside to get a toy I needed to clean, so I just tried to bend myself over the gate to grab it. In my defense, I’m reasonably tall, and I didn’t want to go in there because there were eight of these and they’d converge four to a leg and bite my scrub pants. Anyway. I wasn’t tall enough, and I fell head first into the pen with them.

Luckily they were too shocked to bite my pants. Also somehow I didn’t die, or even get injured at all.


They were cute and all but I hope we don’t get more.


And we leave off with a fundraiser photoshoot that I snuck up on for a picture of my own. These guys were left in a park.

Anyway. I’ll be back at work on Sunday, and until then, this’ll have to keep me distracted.

Of course, they could start trying to impeach him, too. That would help.

I Think Movie Aliens All Look Like Animals

And it’s probably because their designs are based on animals. Shocking, I know. Observant, I am. But redundant or not, let’s look at a couple.


Have you seen Arrival yet? If not, then go and do that immediately. I put some screencaps in here from the movie that show the aliens, but the movie is really clever about hiding them even while showing them, and the build up to their reveal is really effective, so if you don’t know what they look like yet just watch the movie. Now.

Let’s start with District 9.



This is a “Prawn” from District 9. I hope never to see this movie again; it was too real, and too upsetting. Prawn are named after an animal they sort of resemble.



But I think they look a little more like beetles. Maybe cockroaches.



I’m sorry for putting a picture of a cockroach here but I honestly don’t mind them. Maybe I would if they were infesting my house, but as far as terrifying insects go they’re too big to freak me out too much. If I can see how they operate, I’m less scared.

Also if you follow the link on that image, the article you’ll find which is where the image is from talks about how to try to get people to be less afraid of and hateful towards cockroaches, they have cockroach petting sessions at a zoo in Japan. Cockroach petting sessions. I legitimately want to do that. I want to pet a cockroach. I don’t know, OK, I just do.

So the Harvesters from Independence Day, which I also hope to never see again but only because it’s silly, look like this:


So these look like a mesh of insect and see creature, just like the Prawn. Their boniness reminds me of exoskeletons, and their giant black eyes remind me both of the stupid centipede that’s wandering around inside this house at present, and of fish. And yes, I wish it was a cockroach in here with me instead.

Their faces are pretty human, though. They have nice eyebrow structure, and noses, so, OK.

Maybe this:


Arrival, though, has aliens that clearly resemble a certain type of animal.


Here they remind me of spiders, but the way they move and the way they write pretty strongly suggest squid.


Look at the glistening on that… foot? Hand? I know aliens always glisten, but so do animals who live in the ocean.

Anyway later Louise ends up behind the glass with Abbott, and sees what they actually look like. Sort of. It’s still pretty misty in there.


Yyyyup. That’s a giant squid.

As far as we ever see, they don’t have eyes or mouths. From the alien movies I’ve seen, I think this is pretty unique. Usually in movies they seem to imagine aliens as having mostly the same faculties that we do, but as Arrival is all about the major communication challenges that would arise if an alien species were to show up tomorrow, this time around they get to be a little less recognizable.


Still, they look like squid.

I find this all really interesting. I like how we use insects and sea life to imagine what it might be like to see an alien life form, as if insects and sea life aren’t familiar, fellow Earth-dwellers like us. I think in some ways these movies are confronting a couple of truths we could use periodic reminders of: we’re not really that different, us Earthlings. And we could try to understand our most bizarre roommates on this planet a little better.

(Stitch is a Koala.)

Animated Animals: The Reptile Muscle

Guess it’s Disney Day again.

I’m trying to write a thing about portrayals of animals and nature in animated films – specifically Finding Nemo and The Lion King – since Andrew Stanton gave that interview saying his reaction to the “circle of life” philosophy in Le Roi Lion was a major influence to how nature is portrayed in Trouver Nemo. I keep getting stuck, mostly because how I feel about those portrayals is tied up in how I feel about how society perceives nature in general and then I go off on huge barely-related tangents about humpback whales and I think it’s going to turn into a massive manifesto.

So for now I wrote this thing about Louis and Pascal and how they do somewhat unethical things so that their princesses can achieve their dreams without moral ensulliment. Mmhm.

Recent Disney princesses have occasionally relied on reptilian enforcement for maximum dream achievement. Let’s discuss.

Louis is the definition of non-threatening. He shows up right after truly threatening gators attack our frog heroes, but all he wants is to play his trumpet in accompaniment to Naveen’s spider webbed-branch. Actually, all he wants is to play among the great (and human) jazz musicians on the riverboats. So Louis is both non-threatening and Ariel.

“Oh I tried once.” That part is probably the funniest thing in the movie. Tiana’s “And we talk, too,” is also good, but that’s not the point.

Louis asks Mama Odie to give him a human body so that he can safely jam with the big boys, but she apparently isn’t one for simple, straight-up magical transformation and tells him he just needs to find what he needs. Which ends up simply being that he needs to be friends with some powerful and influential people who own a restaurant by the end of the film, because as we see during the finale, Tiana lets him play for her patrons.

But to get to this point, first we need non-threatening Louis to be a true American Murder Log.


You’re better off where you’re at.

The Fenner brothers probably weren’t supposed to accept another offer after agreeing to sell to Tiana, but since she hadn’t signed the papers yet it wasn’t technically illegal. I like this because it’s a lot more realistic than having them just be outright evil schemers denying Tiana her dream property. They’re just not good people, even though what they’re doing is within the law.

I mean, the above is clearly a death threat though. I’m fine with it (sometimes you have to force people to not do terrible things), but, it’s a death threat. Damn, Disney.


Worth it.

I’ve been to Florida many times and I’ve never seen an alligator in the wild. I’m mostly OK with that, because if I happen to meet one and it decides to eat me then I think I’m eaten. But it would be interesting to see one from a safe distance. They are the living dinosaurs, after all (I mean so are birds but we’re not ready as a culture to accept feathered dinosaurs yet so whatever).

I’m grateful for Princess and the Frog’s portrayal of alligators. Louis is genuinely lovable, and gators don’t get enough appreciation, which is a shame. I personally find it hard to appreciate them because they’re dangerous and they eat animals I like better than them, but despite all of that, when I found a lovely shop display of decapitated baby alligator heads in multiple souvenir shops in Florida, I was unimpressed. To say the least. When we allow ourselves to project evil onto an animal just because it’s deadly and doesn’t make cute facial expressions, we end up allowing the worst kinds of exploitation. From the footage I’ve seen, snakes and alligators in the skins industry and sharks in the fin industry are treated with excessive cruelty, and it’s almost as though the people doing it think they’re obligated to harm them with such spite because of how hated they are by random facets of human society.

Anyway that’s depressing, but the point is, I’m always up for a beautiful Disney movie creating a lovable character out of an animal that is hated and misunderstood in real life. Threatening sleazy real estate agents with death and all.


Now play Dippermouth Blues.

… Pascal commits actual murder.

Guest Blogger: Fantastic Mr Fox – A Fable for Our Times?

Good morning all, and happy Friday.

Today we bring you a guest post from one of our favourite like-minded wordpress bloggers, Animalista Untamed. Be sure to click on that link for some un-censored yet beautifully-articulated animal rights blogging goodness. We promise you’ll learn something!

Animalista was kind enough to enter our realm of analyzing children’s lit, with a fabulous animal welfare tie-in. We hope you enjoy the result as much as we did.

– erm & three

Subversive is the word for Roald Dahl. That’s what he is. His stories’allure for kids (and for us adults of a more rebellious inclination) lies in his demolition of accepted social norms with a few deft flicks of the pen. His fiction inhabits a realm that the ‘acceptable’, ‘normal’ grownup world frowns upon, but a realm we wish real life resembled and into which we can momentarily escape. That’s why kids love him. He’s the merry Lord of Misrule.

Continue reading “Guest Blogger: Fantastic Mr Fox – A Fable for Our Times?”

The Never-Ending Saga of Canada’s Terrible Animal Rights Lesgislation

This article sums up this mess going on in parliament currently.

Just to add my (erm’s) two five cents: these arguments against passing a bill, which is a bill that would only criminalize the worst animal abuse, and only when committed against pets, are kind of like that refrain we hear time and time again whenever someone’s complaining about some awful animal cruelty: “Are any of you who are complaining about this vegan? Because if not you should shut up.”

As a vegan, can I just say that anyone is allowed to be outraged by animal cruelty. Anyone. Yes, it would be lovely if that outrage were followed by even small attempts to limit meat/dairy/egg consumption, but if it isn’t, I’ll still take your outrage. We don’t live in a perfect world, everyone isn’t going vegan tomorrow. I don’t think we need to wait until we’re all eating tofu kebabs to start to chip away at the kinds of animal abuse that EVERYONE agrees are heinous. EVERYONE thinks we need harsher laws when we’re talking about abusing cats and dogs. Everyone, of course, except people listening to the animal exploitation brigade’s lobbyists.

I’m almost positive this bill, which isn’t good enough but it’s something and therefore I support it, is not going to pass. Bills like it won’t be passing anytime soon. Not in Canada, at least. But even with my defeatist attitude, I know that the lobbyists are right to be scared. The day that all animal exploitation is criminalized is coming, though it may be far away. They can fight it all they want, but they simply don’t have it in them to fight as long or as hard as we do, because it’s a 9-5 job for them. It’s our hearts and souls. And that means, we’ll win. It’ll take forever, of course, but there’s no stopping us.

Brother Bear

Iiiiiit’s  Disney copy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having watched Ice Age so unnecessarily much lately, we felt it was time to talk about one of the movies in which Disney just hits the nail on the head when it comes to deconstructing masculinity because as we discussedIce Age is pretty much exclusively about men and manages to be really weird about it.

So Brother Bear.

“The story of a boy who became a man… by becoming a bear.”

Yikes, that’s kind of clunky. And it’s the last line in the movie, so, double yikes.

We may as well get a bunch of stuff out of the way before we praise this movie, because it isn’t The Lion King. Which is to say, it has flaws. Continue reading “Brother Bear”

Rumours and Riddles: Two Types of Antisocial Cat Personalities

We have been a cat foster home since August, 2015, and in that time we have seen many good felines come and go – the most charming of which were Rumour and Riddle.

We don’t say that lightly. We have had a lot of funny, gorgeous, quirky cats in our home, but R&R win for Most Charming Kittens Ever. We think the two of them would make AMAZING protagonists for a new animated movie about a pair of orphaned kitten brothers with extra toes. (Are you listening, Disney?)


Riddle and Rumour, in the later days

R&R were our first experience with a pair of littermates, and since then, we’ve unofficially created 2 definite Cat Types, which has helped us socialize fractious cats with differing needs.

The Rumour/Riddle Pair Dynamic

Though we don’t necessarily agree with the usual assumption that every feline relationship has a “dominant” and a “submissive”, we do recognize that cat relationships are complex and impossible for humans to understand at a glance. That was why it took us weeks to realize that in this pair, Rumour was the one in charge.

The thing that threw us off is that good old inclination to assume that extroversion = confidence. Susan Cain would be so disappointed. But when we walked into the room, Rumour would burrow into the furniture and stare up at us with big, sad, scared eyes. Riddle would dance around our feet, looking for a fight and a toy and basically excited about whatever we had to offer, even if it was a blood test or liquid antibiotics.

So how do we know Rumour was in charge? First of all, he ate more. Riddle would scarf down his food while we were in the room, while Rumour slowly crept his way out of his hiding place, hesitant to come within petting reach of us. But we know from our spy cam that when we left the room, Rumour took over the eating, and guarded the bowls from his brother. You could see it in their sizes, too – the larger kitten is usually the bully.

We’ve noticed this pattern many times since. An unsocialized cat who is reserved, stays hidden, and shuts down on contact seems to be a bit of a bully to other cats, when humans are taken out of the equation. We’ve chalked this up to confidence – an insecure cat who isn’t sure he’ll be allowed to eat is more likely to get over his fear and approach the humans, the providers, in order to get an edge on his companion.

While this certainly isn’t all there is to a cat pair, and every cat pair is different, this distinction has been helpful to us in figuring out how to handle the two distinct types of fractious behaviour that these two displayed.



Lucas hiding behind the computer monitors

There are a few characteristics that lead us to believe one of our fosters is a Rumour:

  • Can be touched when cornered in a small space, such as a cage or a teeny tiny hiding spot they’ve found.
  • Excessive hissing
  • “Shutting down” on human contact – allowing you to handle them
  • Refusing to eat in the presence of humans
  • Willing to close their eyes, as long as humans aren’t in petting reach – but won’t sleep
  • Hesitant to move at all – stays in one safe spot regardless of what happens, unless flushed out by force
  • Silence
  • LOVE hiding under beds, behind couches, inside furniture, or anywhere else where reaching them is hindered

These all sound incredibly depressing. And they are. But one upside to a Rumour type is that you can actually handle them, as a result of their paralyzing fear of humanity. And as they get used to being pet, they may begin purring, and ease back on the otherwise nonstop hissing they do (though that depends on the cat).

A couple of tips if you happen to have a Rumour in your life:

  • Keep Rumours in an isolation room. You’ll lose them, otherwise. We lost the original Rumour many times in our isolation room, since he had torn open the lining of the futon and crawled inside. He also hid behind three’s Income Tax Act to great success.

We even missed him back here at first. He’s good.

  • When they are holed up, sit near them and pet their backs (their faces may be too much too soon). Back off if they become visibly distressed, but don’t go far – when they realize it’s not dangerous, their distress will very. slowly. decrease
  • If you flush a Rumour out of her hiding spot, she will panic and scramble – stay back and give her space to calm down. Allow her to find a new safe place and keep your distance. (It sounds mean, but sometimes their hiding spots are dangerous or inconvenient, and you have to relocate them!)
  • When your Rumour has his eyes trained on you, take note of what makes his ears prick and his neck crane. Whether it’s treats, regular meals, or a certain type of toy, that will be the key to easing the cat out of the safe place. If it’s food, for example, put the food down and sit a few feet away, still and quiet, not meeting his eyes. Eventually, with patience, maybe on the second or third try, he will give in to his obsession and come creeping out to get the food.
  • When the cat advances, DO NOT SCARE HER. Just stay quiet and reward her trust in you by not proving her wrong. Remember, fractious cats don’t find your voice or hands comforting. Basically, repress all instincts to love the cat and let her eat in peace.
  • Once that step is complete, begin using the cat’s motivation, whether it’s food or play, to interact with him. Play with more involved toys, or pet his back while he eats. Yes, he’ll hate it at first, but over time he will learn not to cringe quite so violently at your touch, and it will be awesome.


We recognize Riddles based on the following:

  • Unable to hide as a result of extreme curiosity – Riddles can often be found poking their heads out from under a couch to identify a sound or a smell.
  • Constantly on the move – even when they lie down, they are ready to spring into action at any given second
  • Never closing their eyes, not even to blink
  • Aggressive play, especially with distance toys at first, like throwing a ball or using a laser pointer – graduating to wand toys
  • Over time, Riddles will begin following you around and constantly being underfoot
  • Crying, trilling, howling. All brands of cat sound, other than purring. (It takes wild cats a long time to learn how to speak, so if you’ve adopted or fostered a cat who was picked up as a stray, you won’t hear them for a while)
  • Visible attempts to drag Rumours out to play with them
  • You find yourself wondering what the cat’s fur feels like because you have never, ever touched him

Missy, unable to suppress her curiosity

In general, we feel better about Riddles because they aren’t as sad and scared as Rumours. But despite their efforts to interact with humans, they are incredibly jumpy, squirmy, and practiced escape artists. While it’s easy-ish to get a Rumour to sit and endure some pets, a Riddle won’t even let you get within arm’s reach before racing around the room in a panic. And in the case of a foster cat, it’s going to be difficult to get these guys adopted, because people will HATE the fact that they can’t pet them, so it’s important to focus efforts on that.

Here are some things that have worked for us:

  • Play, a lot. Riddles love to play and will start to forget you’re scary when that blood lust is ringing in their ears (we assume). When they’re in vicious killer mode, they’ll even jump over you or brush past you to land the kill. Then they’ll look sheepish and run away, but it’s still a victory.
  • Riddles are insecure, in our experience, so they will want to be fed and will eat in front of you. Sit by them and make them endure some petting while they gorge themselves. They’ll be pissed, and they will cringe violently at your touch, but over time they’ll ease into it, especially if they have a bossy littermate looking to steal their meal
  • When you catch a Riddle with her eyes trained on your highlighter (true story) or something else you’re doing that she’s really excited about, use it to coax her near. Don’t make eye contact, just carry on, and in her entrancement she may accidentally come closer than she meant to.



Really exciting highlighting going on in Riddle’s eyeline.

  • Let them get bored, so they lie down, for once. We’ve found that they like to chill out near us, so they don’t miss anything fun, so if you sit quietly on the couch, they may even lie down next to you. Out of reach, but every step counts!
  • Hold treats in your palm (once they learn that treats are awesome. Some cats have never had them.) You’ll be surprised at the guts these cats have when a treat is on the line. Stay still and wait, and don’t give in to their sad, beggar eyes. They will eventually give up and take it from your hand, which is both really cute and an important trust step.


As both types of cat progress, they begin to meet somewhere in the middle as your standard house cat personality. Rumours begin to play more and feel more comfortable prowling the house. Riddles learn to chill out and hopefully even allow you to pet them. Towards the end of our time with the original R&R, they were out and about all the time, lazing near us and begrudgingly allowing us to pet them while they ate their meals.


Let’s just say Rumour got WORSE at hiding.

Although it’s helpful to categorize behaviours to figure out what to do when your cat is knocking photos off the wall or cowering under a towel in the corner, the most important thing to do is read their reactions and their progress to figure out how far you can push them – handling a feral domestic cat too much too soon is dangerous for both of you, and will hurt the cat’s chances at having a good domestic life. Err on the side of caution, always. The best way to make a fractious cat come around is to be patient, and give them time.

Other Rumours of ours: Lucas, Paisley, Demitri

Other Riddles of ours: Missy, Deniro


A Whale’s Tale – SeaWorld & The Humane Economy

The take-down of Sea World is a cause very near to our hearts (three owns a BOYCOTT SEAWORLD long-sleeve tee which she wears in public too often). As children we used to visit Sea World almost every year, because we, like everyone else it seems, were enchanted with the beauty of the whales, dolphins, and other creatures we saw there. Like everyone else, we had to be taught better. Humanity is drawn to these animals, and we suppose it is ‘natural’ to want to contain them and view them at all times – this is why people comment on videos of wild animals saying things like “I want one” and “literally getting one of these as a pet”. No. No. No. It is possible to love something without trapping and abusing it for life, and this is what all animal lovers need to strive for.

Sea World ending its breeding program is a big victory, but there’s a lot of work to be done. If you don’t follow Animalista Untamed, we recommend you do, if you are interested in learning more.

Animalista Untamed

Did you hear that tremendous wave of sound reverberating around the planet on Thursday March 17th? You can’t have missed it because I swear it could be heard on the moon! It was the shout of joy from the global band of animal advocates when SeaWorld finally bowed to public pressure and made the momentous announcement that they would no longer breed orcas in captivity.

On that memorable day emails were pinging into my Inbox in rapid succession from different organisations all proclaiming “Victory!” Facebook and Twitter were ablaze. This was an historic moment in animal protection, worthy of celebration. On that same day writing in his blog, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the US, called it “a game changer for our movement”. The orcas still at SeaWorld will be the last generation to suffer in confinement at their facilities.


HSUS played a prominent role in bringing SeaWorld to this…

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Disney Cats

Let’s let Walt Disney talk about cats for a little bit.

So, we have some notes:

  1. Cats were actually domesticated in the Middle East, around the place and time that the agricultural revolution happened. Dogs were domesticated long before that, as dogs were happy to tag along while people were mostly still hunter-gatherer types. Cats didn’t see the benefit to sticking around until humans started mass-storing their food, which attracted lots of cat prey.
  2. Egyptians certainly did revere the cat, but at the same time would kill them (by cervical dislocation – not the LEAST humane way, but damn, that’s cold) and mummify them to sell.
  3. Rats are not enemies of humanity. Your Friend the Rat could have told you that.
  4. Plague is carried by fleas, and is itself just a bacterium.
  5. Whiskers are used to determine where prey is when the cat is very close to it – cats have very blurry eyesight that gets worse the closer they get to something.
  6. Cats don’t kill rats that noisily?
  7. Other animals persecuted when people decided everything was a witch: goats, dogs, probably everything, but mostly old women. People are terrible.
  8. The animation in this little excerpt is very nice, displaying cats as graceful and fluid in motion as we know them to be (sometimes). Disney films featuring animated cats don’t always showcase these qualities in their characters.

Let’s take a look at some of the cats who have appeared in Disney animated features over the years, shall we?

Continue reading “Disney Cats”