a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

This one got me – ok, I admit it, most of them get me….stories of unlikely love and caring. Stories like a mother dog nursing orphaned infant squirrels, a cat befriending a mouse and carrying him around on his back, swans falling in love with sailboats, and recently, the unbelievably touching reunion of Christian the lion and the two men who rescued, then raised him in London before releasing him in his homeland.

I usually cry, then laugh, then feel a little more hopeful for the rest of the day. If you need a day like this, here’s another one for you. Two inseparable friends at an Elephant sanctuary – a stray dog and an elephant. The dog becomes paralyzed and the elephant stands vigil during his recovery, stroking him with his trunk and even rubbing his belly with one really, really big foot. See it on CBS news here.

Remember to LOVE in UNLIKELY ways.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 276 user reviews.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

As it often happens, the best intentioned logic – if not completely thought through – isn’t actually logical. I was talking to a friend, Bill O’Luanaigh, today who made me painfully aware of this fact with one critical example. Read on.

There is a lot of dead wildlife alongside the road. Is it bad timing? Bad luck? Or simply, the sad truth about our attempts to integrate automobiles and the natural world? All of the above certainly applies. BUT – and this is a big BUT – we HUGELY compound these problems when we throw apple cores, banana peels or other seemingly innocent edibles out of our car windows to biodegrade or to provide a snack for some lucky wildlife. Oops…lucky? Harldly. Think it through – I had to.

Wildlife attracted to food along roadsides or in parking lots (or in urban areas in general), are at greatly increased risk of becoming road kill (or at the very least, unhealthy, if the scraps are not animal-friendly). But keep doing the math. Vultures, birds, mice, and other scavengers are attracted to the road for a meal and likely to meet the same fate. Owls and hawks now see the mice and fly in for breakfast and….well, you get the picture. In fact, this same friend, on the Board of Directors of The Wildlife Center of Virginia, told me that currently, 80% of the owls in rehabilitation have been injured in car accidents. Wow.

So, please make and keep this New Year’s Resolution – don’t litter, period, even with food scraps. And, while we’re at it, let’s make sure our composting piles are not in an area that put wildlife at risk. My broader resolution is to always “think it through”, which leads me to other related and important considerations on this topic:

If you see an injured animal, stop if possible and please take some action to help (I keep my local wildlife rescue numbers in my cell phone). Believe me, some of the most seemingly unlikely rescues have happened simply because someone stopped. I once picked up a Beagle along the highway, drove 2 miles to the next exit and happen to see a truck driving through a plowed field nearby. The driver was looking for his lost dog – a Beagle.

If you see a dead animal, call your local authority to have it removed and help avoid the chain reaction of killing that is sure to follow. I keep that number in my phone also, so that I can give the location more accurately.

If you see a stray dog or a cat that appears to be lost, don’t assume it can make it home on it’s own – please stop to help. I keep leashes, a blanket for picking up an injured animal if necessary, and pet food in my car. The best food to keep with you is canned – it’s non-perishable, and will be more alluring to a hungry dog or cat.

For more rescue advice, visit this site at

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 256 user reviews.

Monday, November 10th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

The artist, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, believes the world needs more heroes, which is why he covered a Barcelona Beach with the likeness of Barack Obama. T.K.V. Krishnamacarya , the late Indian scholar and yoga teacher, also believes that you can overcome the obstacles in your own life by considering and modeling the lives of people you respect and admire.

Movie stars can be heroes, too. Always a slippery slope, the business of becoming, staying – and leaving -  stardom takes more than just talent. Yet, many have risen and are rising to the occassion, following not just fame, but their own hearts, heads and conscience.

Martial Artist and film action hero, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in the recent release of JCVD, portraying the rise and fall of his career. The movie was filmed in Bangkok, where Mr. Van Damme adopted seven stray dogs by the film’s completion – some of them disabled. In fact, he prolonged his stay when one of the dogs had a heart attack, sleeping with him in the clinic every night to help give him the will to live. For another, he built a “wheelchair”. The dogs have been sent to his home in Brussels.

The movie includes a 6-minute monologue in which he reflectives openly and emotionally about his life, career, dreams and failures.

He emphasizes the change in himself and the importance of personal stability. In his next film, will move on to writing, directing and producing, as well as acting. As he reclaims his career he wants to be seen as “an action character hero instead of an action star.”

Good enough for me. See you in the theatre.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 286 user reviews.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

by Tracey Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

You know that poem from my friend? Well, it’s made me think a lot about “what [we] have to do”. Wow. Makes things more simple, doesn’t it? Many people, when asking me about my green habits in my lifestyle, shake their heads in a way that presumes some sort of sacrifice or at least, terrible inconvenience. I wish I could reveal fully the ways my life, my well-being and my happiness has grown within these changes. And once you get perspective and get started, it’s simply about “knowing what I have to do”.

If you doubt these words in any way, here’s another example of people in the “know” when it comes to what is needed out there, not just in the world, but on the streets.

Rescue Ink loves and rescues animals from all kinds of abuse – much of it in the cruelest form of dog-fighting. “Rescue Ink was formed to aid in battling animal abuse and neglect, and to assist existing animal welfare agencies and animal shelters.” The heroes have a message – “ABUSERS ARE LOSERS”.

Well, the story only begins here. There are 11 members of Rescue Ink, most living in the NYC area, where they volunteer their time, effort and “presence” to help in cases – often those unaddressed (or inaccessible to) other animal groups. They specialize in getting the abuser away from the animals but will often “work with” neglect cases by building dog houses or providing cost-free vet care and neutering for owners.

The team are an unlikely crew of such dedicated animal lovers – all big, strong, and practiced in urban life, including a body-building champion, Kung Fu Master, former police detective, hot rod mechanic, firefighter and other street-friendly occupations, lifestyles and experience. Their presence is appropriately menacing when needed – they “won’t tolerate animal abuse” – but they are not vigilantes. They don’t break the law, handing over the criminal cases to the authorities when necessary.

I’m happier today, just knowing they are out there, “doing what they have to do”, as reported in this NY Times article loved looking at the photos on their site and reading all 11 bios. Take a look.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 224 user reviews.

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

There really are no coincidences. No mistakes, no accidents. This is how the journey happens, I promise. Just remember to keep your eyes, mind open.

There I was, in the woods with the dogs (again). We somehow disturbed a nest of yellowjackets – the dogs got the worst of it – those buggers burrow right into their fur. We got into a creek fairly quickly and I was pulling the stubborn bees off the dogs as fast as I could. I felt a few stings on my hands, but kept going until a bee found it’s way down the back of my jeans  – eek – sorry, girls, you’re on your own now! We finally outran the swarm and collapsed on the grass near the house.

BEE STING REMEDY: Within about 15 minutes, I was able to give the homeopathic remedy, Apis Mellifica, and a dose of baking soda dissolved in milk to all of us. (It works great if you can act fast!). Ayla’s eye swelled but went down again within 30 minutes of dosage and, as for me, I barely knew I was stung after an hour (I normally react to all bee stings with long-lasting pain and swelling). Moral of the story? Keep these remedies on hand, especially in the Fall, when some bees become more aggressive. But, the story has really only begun…

At this point, I realized I had thrown the leashes somewhere in the woods. I bravely returned to the scene of the crime that evening, but since the leashes were leather and the color of the ground, I couldn’t locate them. This is when the unfolding began. Need leashes…but I don’t want more toxic nylon or leather…time to search for more sustainable options. Of course, Hemp! I knew they were available, but I didn’t know how much I would learn and be inspired by the company which offered me the most simple, undyed version.

Rawganique made my day. Not just with the discovery of their many good for people and the planet products, but with their inspiring, hopeful and unambitious story of life and work. The founders of Rawganique, Touch Jamikorn and Klaus Wallner, former accomplished academics, set out to share information on sustainable living for humanity and the environment – and a way to live lightly and work mindfully. Living completely off-grid on Denman Island, BC, they co-founded a “human-scale” family business in 2000, replacing bad goods in the marketplace by offering products and clothing made of naturally organic and sustainable cotton, hemp and linen.

Their About Us page reads like a good book – one that leaves you hopeful and encouraged to find your own way to peace and balance in your life and in your work. They don’t take all the credit for finding their way to success, health and wholeness, but share the names and ideas of those who have guided and inspired them along the way. After all, this is how it works.

Watching. Listening. Sharing. Growing. Healing. All from a few bee stings~

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 224 user reviews.

Friday, September 26th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Got ivy, honeysuckle, poisen ivy, kudzu or other invasives taking over your yard? Call Goat Patrol – the fastest, most efficient and most sustainable landscaping team available. This discovery has made me smile all day – sustainable landscaping at it’s best! What I’ve learned so far from The Goat Patrol:

Nature’s landscape architects, goats can clear invasive growth from any area in record time and with skillfull precision. Born to munch, goats graze up to 8 – 12 hours per day, quietly moving around an area to find their favorite edibles. Goats are also non-toxic and won’t threaten the water supply.

Business school graduate, entrepreneur, land and animal lover, Alix Bowman, owns and operates Goat Patrol in NC, which includes a hungry team of superhero ruminants. Alix and her team get the job done without gasoline emissions, noise pollution from machinery or weedwackers, herbicides – or coffee breaks!

Alix and her team have an affordable and enjoyable working system which begins with a free estimate of your landscaping needs. Appropriate for large or small areas, the costs cover 3 simple steps – installation of portable fencing, grazing time and transportation of the herd. Fencing is set up to specification, the goats and supervising goatherd arrive the next day. The herd heads home each night, returning until the job is done.

I’m looking foward to bringing the Goat Patrol to our co-housing community to clean things up soon. Visit to meet the team – a herd of munchers with personality and charm!

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 270 user reviews.

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Tao, the young deer, died yesterday, in the loving care of her rescuers and  other fawns at the sanctuary. I am wistfully sad and believe more than ever that her name was not any kind of “tribute” to me for finding her, but a reminder that this is “The Way”. Thank you all for sharing the experience with me and sending love.

Kindra, Director at NC-Claws, sent these consoling and wise words:

“One thing I always have to tell people is that my job as a rehabber is to help animals along to the next phase of their life. The hardest part of this job is that sometimes that next phase is not life as we know it. Thankfully, I do not believe that animals have the fear of death – or even feel that it is not just an extension of life – as humans do. To them, it is just another way of being.

This excerpt from Animal Medicine Cards by David Carson  –

“Deer teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings… Like the dappling of the Fawn’s coat, both the light and the dark may be loved to create gentleness and safety for those who are seeking peace.”

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 251 user reviews.

Friday, July 25th, 2008

This morning, I received this update from the rescue:

Hi Tracey,
I wanted to give you a real quick update on how the fawn is doing.  We kept her with us until this evening.  She’s really too big to be inside and really didn’t care for being inside, but we felt that her condition warranted watching.  Given the head trauma, she was “nodding off” often and that worried me.
Today she began staying awake more and more, so we decided the best thing for her was to be with her own kind and breathing fresh air.  So we took her to the pen with the other babies.  She is by far the largest we have!  It took her a while, but after several long drinks and a big rub down by me, and then a total deer bath from her new friends, she was doing well.  She is up and around.  Not fast, mind you, I’m sure she’s achy from the car accident, but up and around none the less.
For her age, she is very trusting of us, which, for now, is a good thing.  We are still treating her eyes and several other wounds, and it sure helps to have her put her head in my lap to do this!
So, for now, her prognosis is good.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your life to help this beautiful girl!  She deserves every chance she can get to live wild and free!!!

Thank you,
Kindra D. Mammone
Executive Director, CLAWS, Inc.
Donations needed.  We are a non profit organization funded solely by donations.  Please help.  All funds go directly to the animals.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 187 user reviews.

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