Monday, 31 December 2012

Natural fireworks

#newyearseve and I spend it once more looking out for animals. Like so many who care about them, we worry about the impact fireworks have on their specialised hearing.

So I sit and contemplate. Why? I get that it is a celebration and am all for celebrating. Do we really have to satisfy that instant gratification requirement so spectacularly? Is there no better way? Is it about having a bigger blast or louder bang in some sort of competitive adversarial conflict? Is it a sign of our fast paced attention deficit times that these minor frivolities take on such importance? Why?
Here's hoping for a year where a sunset will once again be sufficient to thrill us. Where we will find the time to enjoy the magnificent beauty all around us at every chance we are afforded the honour!!
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Have a quiet peaceful New Years party! Please

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Beam me up Scotty. I want to go home!!

I am a vegetarian.  My brother is a hunter.  Our whole family gets together at Christmas.  Imagine the debates over the Christmas dinner.

 

Our family would all call ourselves conservationists.  According to any activists, we would be judged differently.  I work with captive marine animals.  My brother promotes killing animals for a living.

During our Christmas gathering this year, my brother and I had an earnest debate.  He spoke of how he had been caught up in a rhino hunting debate where he had defended the action.  I was appalled at the thought.  He defended his position saying that the amount of money achieved in this type of activity goes directly towards conservation.  Money that is seriously required.  He mentioned that the deaths of these hunted animals were ethically achieved.  He then showed me a picture of an ex Ms Mississippi standing over a Zebra corpse, rifle on hand.  Her trophy picture of her hunt in Africa.  I was totally overwhelmed at the image.  Wondered how anyone could pose next to an animal they had killed and feel any sense of pride.  Once again, my brother defended the gun-happy beauty queen, mentioning that single-handedly, through her hunting in South Africa she has contributed significantly to conservation activities. 

Sadly, on some level, he is right.  We no longer live in a perfect world. 

What a sad day this is where we have to look at the financial implications of any actions in order to make a judgement call.  Acceptable losses – a term that was coined when governments and kings sent young men to fight a war.  When did we get to the point where we were able to make compromises based on taking lives.

 

I sometimes feel like I don’t belong on this planet.  There is not a bone in my body that has the capacity to look an animal in the eye and pull the trigger.  Let alone an animal that is endangered.  I always assumed that we all felt this way at an essential level.  Perhaps not.  This thought makes me even sadder.

 

And the realistic side of me tells me to wake up.  Who am I to point fingers.  I have chosen to work in a captive scenario when I don’t really believe this should exist either.  This is my “modern day imperfect world” compromise.  Because I know how we manage to change the attitudes of people out there through our exhibitions.  I am fortunate to love the animals in my care and interact with them daily.  Many wish they had my job. 

 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pig under the fan

It is officially the middle of summer. And Cleopatra the pig in our family confirms this. Trespassing in the lounge to be cooled by the ceiling fan. Got to love this clever girl!!
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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Memories being recorded

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Cell phone memories.

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Surrounded by elephants

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Unconditional wonder!

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Elephants and Rhino

So fortunate. Within an hour. An elephant first. We were on a game drive and he walked passed the back of the open back safari vehicle. He stopped next to me. His eye level with mine and took a good sniff with his trunk then ambled on. Wow!! Then moments later a rhino walked passed our vehicle. Tears fell. For the people who are unable to appreciate the total splendour of these animals because they are blinded by financial greed and desperation. I am so grateful I have the honour and capacity to love them simply for what they are. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Memory of a lifetime. I feel totally blessed.
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Friday, 14 December 2012

Everyone's a miracle

This is Dee. She is over 30 years old which is old for a penguin. She has outlived a mates and had an affair with a couple of toy boys. She is Mrs Personality. Seems able to work out who is confident and who is scared around her. She takes no nonsense from people. And yet when you treat her right she is very loving. She is a persuader. Has that little look in the tilt of her head that gets people to fall in love with her.
Every animal I have ever met has a personality. A different character from everyone else. Even snakes and fish and insects. Even cows and chickens. Imagine if everyone took time to reflect on this. There would be a lot more respect for roadkill, "pests", and in the meat and hunting and even conservation of parks.
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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

HERO FOR PENGUIN PROMISES

I love it when people do something amazing. Pushing their own physical
boundaries as well as doing this to improve something on our planet. I have
a hero in mind as I write this blog...

To raise awareness for Penguin Promises, one of the Oceanographic Research
Institute's staff members, Desmond Hayes has just cycled from Port Elizabeth
to Cape Town. The distance is a total of 760 kilometres and he did it over
7 days. He noted that it was 56 hours of actual riding time in the saddle.
What makes this feat even more remarkable is that Desmond had a serious
mountain bike accident in March 2012. He broke the ball off the top of his
femur, and this had to be pinned and plated back into place. Desmond is 59
years in age, but the doctor says the youngest 25 year old he ever met. In
spite of his recent injury, he donned the Penguin Promises flag and set off
to spread awareness for the penguins.

He mentions - "I was amazed at the awareness people have of the penguin
plight. The kids naturally all received a Penguin Promise bangle after
telling me anything they know about a Penguin. Just wish I had more of them.
Unfortunately I do not take too kindly to pics of myself but the last pic is
taken at where I finished. (Please note the admiration from the girls.....)
Glad I did it other than for myself.

Whooop whoop Desmond!!! You rock and we are so proud. The penguins thank
you!!!!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Right and wrong



Is there such a thing. Activists campaign against animals in captivity. Noble. Except in more and more cases those same animals are pretty much extinct in the wild. Less than 500 tigers out there. Probably more in zoos. And this alone cannot be justification for zoos to exist. Standards for keeping animals.  Did you know there are no Internationally accepted standards. Different cultures have different belief systems around animals and their influence on their governments works to define the standards.  Also, sometimes efforts to look after animals, in rehabilitaion and for education, are so desperate that third world zoos exist to try and make that difference.  A first world judge will arrive and campaign against the bad conditions and neglect to look at the context. Standards for one are not the same as standards for another. Should they be? Can they be? Who is the expert? The natural world is so messed up. Can we afford to be purists. Will rules and regulations work or will they cripple efforts and overwhelm our natural ability to see right from wrong.  We can all feel that if we let ourselves.
I am a mother of two teenage sons.  They are working hard at asserting their independence. They push their boundaries and want to be responsible for their own actions.  The more I try and control them the less productive the situation.  Is this what legislation is doing?  If we had faith in all humanity is it possible that things would be better in our world.  Because people would take personal responsibility rather than be victims waiting for the 'government' to fix it.  Right from wrong.  The more we try and enforce and define it, the more lost we become in our personal power.


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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

what is a pest?

Some hunt dolphins.  For them, they are classified pests I imagine.  Justification would be that they eat the food that the fishermen are targetting.  In South Africa our tourist industry classifies sharks as pests and actively fishes them out of the sea - indiscriminantly too, killing many other marine creatures at the same time.

Interesting for me that while working in the animal industry, where we all clearly care about wild creatures, I am still called to 'save' people from cockroaches.  Have seen same people walking through a critter exhibition area exclaiming in wonder at little creepy crawlies.  It is clear that we are socialised to like some animals and dislike or fear others - not a good result for our planet.

So what is a pest.  Some would argue that it is something that is somewhere it does not belong - implying that human beings have the territorial rights over every place on our planet.  Others would argue that pests are dirty and should be eradicated.   Most 'pests' are not actually dirty - they are simply feeding off what dirty lazy humans have left behind.

Insecticide advertisments freak me out.  Little cartoon characters and then they are dead.  True 'doom' and gloom.  Does nobody else notice that these are selling 'death'.
I must be a pansy.  Over-sensitive.  I pray I am not alone.  I wonder if the only 'pests' are the people.

Monday, 19 November 2012

order your Christmas presents

If you would like to order 'Touching Animal Souls' for Christmas gifts, you
can do so. Visit kimaglobalbooks.com. You can also order it on Amazon or
Kalahari.
Merry Christmas!!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Everything has to do with animals and the planet

So this weekend I loaded the kids into the car on Saturday, drove 500 kilometres and went to watch Linkin Park in Joburg. The concert was awesome. Raw passion and true mastery of delivering that passion. Thank you Linkin Park and my sons for being seen with their mother at a rock concert.

What does this have to do with Touching Animal Souls. Two things.

One. I spend a lot of time doing eco depression. Wondering what I can do better for the planet and feeling guilty about being human because we are damaging to mother earth. Life however is not worth living if we don't have fun. And this weekend I did just that. When we have fun we remeber why we care.

Two. Watching artists give 100 percent on stage is inspirational. When I was younger I watched musicians enviously wanting to meet them and know their power. Yesterday I just appreciated their talent and understood that they were ordinary people sharing their truth without apology. If we want to touch people or animals lives, this is the way we have to live. To just keep giving with joy and humble truth.
Rock on!!
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Friday, 9 November 2012

Love is forever

Without sounding like a hallmark card. and I probably don't. Because in truth I am pissed off. May be one of the four stages of grief? Or just pure disillusionment. Zorro is a feral cat. We taught him to allow us to touch him. We neutered him and fed him and in return he marked his territory and kept other cats away. Yesterday after missing him for a few days we found his body. Sweet beautiful handsome special soul. Miss you. And wish I could be sure we did our best for you. At some level I know we did. At another ego grief stricken level I wonder if I should have done more. Mmmm. Just remember him with love.
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Friday, 26 October 2012

thank you Bayworld

thank you Robyn And your amazing team! I truly enjoyed doing training with all of you this week.  Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

a beautiful rat in my kitchen

there is a rat in my kitchen. still. All the food is stored in bottles. Last week we found his 'wife and kids' and gently wrapped them up with a lunch box and relocated them in a safe place in the bush. Big boy hubby remains.  What to do.  What is the right thing to do?  He is a majestic healthy boy.  poison is not an option.  Not right for the ecosystem.  I will not use a trap.  So I imagine we share the kitchen.  Jist ensure he does not get a harem.  One rat is enough!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

body on the line

Penguin Promises is something very dear to my heart. I was inspired to
assist to birth this campaign three years ago, and am so excited that this
International African Penguin Day - this Saturday just gone by, there were
facilities all over South Africa promoting it, and achieving promises from
people.
Focus on what is good!!!
Yesterday I put my body on the line with a number of other cyclists and
cycled for Penguin Promises. Again, thank you to all those who donned the
colours and did what needs doing for this special bird, and our environment.
An update. The latest census says that we have lost nearly 3000 penguins in
the last year.
So, tell everyone - do something to help...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sunday, 7 October 2012

thank you SAFM

Thank you to Nancy and all at SAFM for the opportunity to chat about 'Touching Animal Souls'. Much appreciated!!
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Amazing animal trainers

From a distance, as we cycled towards this picture, I thought we were approaching some farm hands herding some goats. The pack of dogs was a pleasant surprise. The entire pack waited on the side of the road till the men said it was safe to cross. Amazing to watch the gentlemen work with the hounds with very little fuss. This occurred in the rural valley of a 1000 hills. Respect!! So much still to learn.
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Monday, 1 October 2012

Sad as a human

Wish I could understand. And so pleased I don't. Imagine lifting a gun to a rhino. Seeing its eye. Its magnificence. All that it represents. And being ok with yourself to take the shot for money. For many this may be an act one takes in desperation. Sadly many more participate for greed. That corruption is a part of this is overwhelming. I drove home tonight and was so aware of all the lights. All the humans. The enormous impact we are having on our planet. With no regard for the need for a balanced measured heartfelt approach to life that is required to secure not only the rhinos existence, but also our own. We all have the capacity to love. To tread lightly. And the fact that none of us do this with 100 percent conviction means that we cannot judge those that lift the guns. So hard to be human
Let's pray that we learn this rhino lesson in good time. So that these dark eyed angels live for many generations on our planet.
Let love find a way. Please. I dream of a time I can be proud to be a human among creatures great and small.
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Saturday, 29 September 2012

If you in Durban lend a flipper

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Thank you SAFM

Listen out to SAFM tomorrow around 3pm for an interview on my book. Thank you to them for their support of my book and animal welfare.
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Sunday, 23 September 2012

A cat called Mommy

She is a feral cat. We have been feeding her for six years. We have sterilized her too. She lived in one of the staff members homes during that time too. In all that time she has never let us stroke her. Often we thought she wanted to be loved because she used to watch the other two resident cats being stroked and looked longingly on. Then eventually the day came. She started rubbing one of the staff members legs. And learned to like it overnight. Now its like she cannot get enough.
She plays the 'eye game' really nicely. When you look at her and narrow your eyes she does the same in return. Non-threatening eyes.

Love you Mommy
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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Precious time!! Coming home.

People often speak of time flying faster than it ever has before. Possibly because there are more and more distractions. We rush so we can find time to ourselves then fill that time with things that take our mind off time. And then wonder where the time went. When last did you do nothing? Just sit and not even talk. Relate truly with life around you. And enjoy that stop gap of real present moments. My favourite gaps are sitting on the floor with my dogs. Or in the paddock with the horses. Animals seem to bring us back to ourselves. Back home!!
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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Love is...

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Outside the kitchen window

I looked up and there he was. Looking through the flower bed. A beautiful picture and another moment where gratitude for knowing this angel overwhelms me. And reminds me to keep coming back to this feeling. Particularly in those despairing moments when I forget. I don't know how anyone lives without animals and manages to find reason and sense in their existence. Thank you Gandalph and all the others.
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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Friends and family


I have the most amazing family.  Here is my dad, and my boys, Kai and Zac.  And of course, Gambit in the middle.  Moments of gratitude are one after the other.  When the going gets tough, it feels tough.  Then when the going is smooth again, the gratitude grows!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Whiskey and me

My first love. No. Not the boy. The dog. There are not many pics of me without him. Beautiful boy.

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Good company

Went to visit a friend. She was not there. Wintry sun in her garden and her cat, Trick kept me company in the warm sun while we waited for her. He is such a charmer.
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Like this message. Stolen from a friends status update. Tx Matty

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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Draco and rules

Like the plumber who does great work on site but fails miserably to maintain his home's waterworks, I am often critisized for being the animal trainer at work who has badly behaved animals at home.   I have some justification here:-)
Draco is a very bright dog.  One of five dogs with whom we share our home.  He is enormously agile and jumps over gates and fences to get where he wants to go.  He also fits in very well to the social hierachy of people and dogs.  He is not the dominant dog, yet he has aligned himself perfectly with her, so does not end up at the mercy of any of the pack.  Draco taught me that it is much better when you are sharing a space with others to come to a working plan for everyone, rather than spend your life trying to control the situation.  That is work.  Rather have some ground rules that enable an effective living arrangement.  Forst question.  Why do we have dogs?  Because we love their company.  On this premose we build our relationship.

I considered training my dogs formally, and have taught them a few tricks.  With regard to their general management, however, we have reached some common ground which works for all of us.  I understand natural dog behavior which has enabled me to keep some semblance of order that works for me - and yes, this does not always work for my guests.  Will explain shortly.
The basic rules which we humans in our family apply are as follows
-don't ask the dogs to do something unless you are prepared to insist that they listen.  Empty asking creates bad manners. 
-we are the leaders in the home.  We always enter through doorways first.  When we ask you to move of a chair in which we wish to sit, you will listen.
-if the dogs create a barking fuss or rush out of the gate or get involved in an altercation, we will not raise our voices and charge around joining in the "frenzied party".  We will remain the leaders and calmly take charge of the situation.

These rules are in place to keep the dogs feeling secure in relationship with us.  So they know their "place". So they know they are looked after.  They are not their for domination purposes.

But yes, if you visit, you will experience them as unruly.  Because they are allowed on the couches.  They have free rein of the house.  They sleep on our beds cuddled up to us.  They are as much at home in our home as we are.  So if you are going to visit, come prepared.  don't wear white.  They will want to say hello and this will entail a muddy or dusty snout sniffing your legs.  When you are in our lounge, they will want to be a part of the conversation so will probably hop onto your lap at some point and ask for an ear rub.  And if you are staying overnight, be prepared for a cold snout to lift your duvet and snuggle up to you.

We don't really like the word 'pet'.  We prefer - 'family member' or at the very least, 'friend'.  And it is their home too that you will be visiting.  Also shared with some cats, horses, geese, ducks and a pig.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Horses chocolate snacks

Middle of winter. Dry. No green grass at home. So we take the horses for a walk down the road then lie around for an hour while they snack on the green grass on the verge. Must be a real treat for them. Usually late afternoon while the winter sun is just saying cheers. Lazy beautiful treat for us too. Times like this that life is truly good. Simple pleasures.
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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Friday, 27 July 2012

Kalahari.

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Can technology, mysticism and the natural world co-exist?

A vedic master Maharishi said that it is in human nature to progress. Seems our idea of progress has been coloured by propaganda. Marketing insurance and medical aid schemes. Lounge suites and mini yogurt snacks. Vitamins and hair spray. We think progress is about keeping up with the Joneses. Time to revisit our priorities. Wouldn't it be amazing if harmony and peace were the goal of progress. Rather than beating the competitor. We salute strength if it wins an olympic medal. And turn our noses up at the "hippie" who has forsaken modern trends to live sustainably.
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book review

 

Thank you to William K.Baker, Jr – the Director of Panthera Research for this book review!!

 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

pure beings

we are on this planet to experiece ourselves relative to others. if there were only human beings here we would spend a lot of time experiencing our ego selves. in conflict. in love. in judgement.  Because we are ego-bound beings, we need to be reminded about the purity of unconditional life. That is where we are fortunate to have our natural world and animals.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Celebrating Higgins

A beautiful soul who loved life. Brought huge happiness and shared life lessons.
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Sunday, 15 July 2012

For the first time...



Recognising the splendour of the planet through innocent eyes renews ones awe at the beauty that is our world. Sipho is a nineteen year old man who grew up in Swaziland. He saw the ocean for the first tim a few months ago. He had no idea what lived beneath the waves till he visited uShaka aquarium. His delight and excitement at the life was exhilarating to watch. A great reminder to care and never take any of it for granted. For me it also cemented how lucky I am to work for my organisation. Thank you thank you thank you.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Judgement is a funny thing

I am not religious however some parables in different faiths do resonate with me. When Jesus said that whomever had not "sinned" could throw the first stone at a "sinner" - brings relativity into the picture.
We are quick to judge those who we feel are "wrong". I am a vegetarian and simply cannot relate to how one can look into the eyes of an animal and then kill it and eat it. I am often the butt end of jokes for my apparent quirkiness. So where this aspect of my life is concerned, I have learned to live on my own "planet" experiencing my own feelings and leaving others to experience theirs. Realising that each of us lives by our own value systems. And they are all different. What is wrong and right for you is not the same for me. And here we find the reason for wars and politics.

Yesterday I was in an altercation when I judged a woman who was - as I saw it, very rude to a mother who, while in a bank queue was trying to placate her crying baby. When the mother went to discreetly, cover herself with a blanket and breastfeed her infant, the woman yelled at her that she should not bring a baby to the bank and that what she was about to do was offensive. I jumped to yell back at the rude woman, telling her to back off and was supported by the rest of the busy bank line. This simply exacerbated the situation. The woman yelled louder and louder and continued to rant and rave long after we all had given up and resorted to quietly watching her.

Two thoughts here. When we yell we create fuel and defensive reactions for someone's fire. And the object of the concern - the distressed baby - was quickly forgotten in the argument - weird. How we have forgotten that the only question we ever need ask when in any situation is - 'what would love do?'.

All our rules and regulations can never work. Because we all are different. John Niven in his novel 'The Second Coming' postulated that there was actually always only one commandment, not 10. And it was "BE NICE". Clear and kind. That is what love would do.
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Friday, 22 June 2012

Chocolate is addictive

His name is Chocolate. An old gentleman that stole his way into my heart. Given up by his previous owner he became part of our family. Handsome gentleman. He is getting on and although always a fit and active soul his aches and pains are starting to take their toll. His spirit remains strong. I wish I could take his pain away and let his spirit stay true to the intentions of his heart. I am so grateful to this man for all the energy he brings to me. For his gentle nature and willing eyes. For his smile every morning and dignified presence. He continues to bring love to our home. His part in our family is a special one. Loving angel. Thank you Chocolate. For choosing us. We are so privileged.
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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Beautiful family in my back yard

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Home in the sunshine

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While tending Gandalph during colic. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I am grateful to have Cleo my pig nuzzling my nikes while I type. Friend.
I am grateful Gandalph looking fairly good today. Relief.
I am grateful for the physical labour. Good to feel body working.
I am grateful for a day outside with horses, ducks, dogs, pig, geese and cat. Friends.
I am grateful for Caryls professional help with Gandalph. Whew.
I am grateful for my Dad's guidance and love with Gandalph. Whew
I am grateful for all thoughts that were trampled out of my head today by the beautiful animals who are my home. Feel love.
I am grateful for the afternoon winter sun making the day beautiful and the animals magical. Blessed.
I am grateful to Leanne for holding me in her thoughts and matching my phone calls during this day. Friend.
I am grateful to all at work for being there so I can focus on Gandalph getting better. Holding the fort and my responsibilities.
I am grateful for Darryl keeping watch from his sleeping bag in the stable last night and still working today. Team work.
I am grateful for the strolls to the green grass with Gandalph today. Friend.
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Friday, 8 June 2012

stay aware of the good you wish to do - we need each other!

there are more and more species being added to the endangered list all the time. Shocking statistcs leave use stupified. In the true sense of the word. There are many people who care.  However the fear us animal  people feel in the face of loosing our beloved creatures creates debilitating ego.  We all go off in different directions FIGHTING a cause and diluting our efforts by not working together.  Sometimes this even provides opportunities for some unscrupulous among us to make cash out of environmental causes, loosing the essence and hope for success along the way.