If people and God are more important than animals, why train animals?

by Andrea Elizabeth

The answer I can most confidently give, but is not probably the first, is therapy. Such as when normal human relations aren’t working out so well. There are a couple of equine therapy centers around me that I’ve heard give injured people a sense of control, whether it’s ptsd, physical handicap, or other emotional issue. This is not necessarily to say all animal involved training is done by injured people. Well, in a sense everyone’s injured. Animals used to be employed for physical work, perhaps this is their new job. As physical human and animal work decreases, perhaps emotional stress increases without the outlet. We are created to move.

Regarding control. Used to be, we didn’t attribute much of an emotional life to animals. I’ve heard Black Beauty was a break-through in attributing emotional pain to animals in response to abuse and separation. While animals may not be as anthropomorphic as they are in Disney movies, studies have shown that animals are very much affected by their treatment and have long memories. So with the previous understanding, control was a one-way street from higher life form to lower life form. This traditional view also translated in family and social human hierarchies such as husbands over wives, women over children, etc. though I’m sure that is not the only way things were. It’s just the rule that was passed down, not necessarily always the actual way it worked out.

Nowadays cooperation is more in vogue where you have comprehensive discussions, and ,while the alpha may ratify a solution or course of action, the effects and happiness of the lowers is compassionately considered. Watch Buck, the original horse whisperer, or Cesar Milan’s dog training shows for what is now considered the proper, persuasive approach. The human alphas are still the ones in control, however.

One show on military ptsd equine therapy I saw talked about what it meant for the soldier that the horse wanted to listen to him and do what he asked. I’m not sure why that’s such a breakthrough if the issue is control. If the horse had to be intimidated to obey it wasn’t as therapeutic, even if he had the same outcome. Animals are capable of love, and this is what many people positively respond to. I wonder if soldiers who believe in their mission and feel well-directed from their superiors suffer as much from ptsd. Maybe they suffer because they are put in dangerous situations where it is up to them to survive: the ones who charge ahead of the safe zone. There’s probably different types. I think many just don’t feel supported, and to have a horse willingly support you is very nice.

For some, human relations for some reason do not make a person feel supported. Having an animal cooperate and show affection feels more safe than humans who for some reason don’t seem to know how to deal with damaged(?) people to the same effect. Maybe it’s because society is so deluded and damaged, and the sensitive ones who need things to be more natural are the only healthy ones.

I’m a pagan

by Andrea Elizabeth

because I love dogs and nature. I elected to stay home from Church today because I believe Circe needs me. She was getting bolder and bolder till I left her for 7 hours Thursday while I went to far away Denton to Liturgy, Church cleaning and fiddle group for Rebecca. When I texted my son, who was home, to let Circe out on a leash, he said it was too late and she had made 3 messes near the front door. She hadn’t done that all week. And, I found out when I got home, since he didn’t trust her, he tied her to a tree and left her in the back yard. By the time I got there she had dug under the deck barrier and her choke collar was pulled very tight. When she saw me she nervously came out half way but wouldn’t continue till I unhooked the leash, even though I had pulled her some slack. She was a lot more nervous after that, though she would follow me and the dogs a little ways from the house. She bounded a bit Friday and was more attracted to our deep woods section where she can disappear. She waited longer to come to me when I called as well, but at least she came. Since she wont come to this son, not her owner, I told him that if he’ll sit on the porch with the door open in the morning, she would follow our other dogs out and do her business. He’d just have to watch her and call them all in afterwards. His other mistake was having the other dogs outside while she was inside alone. I should have given him more direction before I left. My bad.

So, while Liturgy was going on, I cross-stitched and listened to St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel on Audible.com, which my husband had downloaded and recommended. I feel that there are such extreme views in the Church. Either you’re a total ascetic, creation is contemptible and only spiritual contemplation on God is good (St. John), or you’re a liberal who thinks that gay sex is good because they love each other’s createdness. It is very hard to find balance. I don’t believe creation is bad or that it cannot be loved. There is a difference between selfish, exploitive love and selfless appreciatory love. And to the other side, there is a difference between selfless appreciatory love and indulging in inordinate desire. What should be emphasized is obedience to God’s commands and will concerning what to do with one’s time. There is a time to devote oneself in action and affection, and a time to withdraw to pray. Hopefully one can develop prayer while with others. One should love God more than creation, but not despise it as he doesn’t. He assumed created flesh so thus it is hallowed.

This dichotomy is why I believe some people carelessly exploit contemptible nature, or forsake the Church and say they feel closer to God in nature. I do think one can love nature too much and not give God His due. Normally one should abstain from nature and go to Church on Sunday mornings. One should sometimes abstain from hiking with their dog and cook dinner for their kids who are either too busy or disinclined to hike. Finding the right balance is very much the struggle, and I believe discerned by learning to walk in the Spirit.

Hanging out on the porch

by Andrea Elizabeth


Rehabilitating Circe

by Andrea Elizabeth

Circe is a psychologically complex possibly Whippet/German Shepherd mixed brindle colored, elegant dog. She was put on the urgent list at the shelter for extreme shyness. My son and I were looking for a companion for his dog who is left alone a lot while he is at work. Circe, then “Juniper”, is a medium to large dog and had to be carried to the greeting pen. She was very gentle, but cowered next to the fence. I could not coax her away from it, so I just sat with her and hugged her, which she did not resist. The only budge she gave was to lean against me a little while also leaning on the fence. In her favor was very steady, intelligent eye-contact.

Finally after I gave up, she was willing to walk back towards her pen following loosely on the leash, but when I detoured before getting there, she determinedly went behind an air conditioner and had to be carried back to her pen by a shelter worker. A bit skeptical, I went ahead and thought we could give her a shot. Another reason was that the spot on the fence she chose in the greeting pen was right in front of a domineering German Shepherd’s kennel, separated by a sidewalk. I could tell she liked his alpha male protectiveness. My son’s other dog, Loki, is a male alpha husky/Pyrenees mix.

After her neutering surgery I took her home for a couple of days till my son was off work and could meet her and possibly take her home. Looking back I think some of her reticence at my house was due to being in pain. She cheerfully greeted my two female smaller dogs when I put her down, and she followed them into the living room under her own steam. I put a dog bed there, and that’s where she camped the rest of the evening and night. The next day she followed them onto the porch, loosely on the leash, and to the grass to pee. I thought she’d like to be tethered there, and mistakenly left her and went inside. About 20 minutes later I found her empty harness next to our deck. I was afraid she’d run off, but a flashlight revealed she was just beyond arm’s length in the 9″ high clearance under the deck. I blocked off all the other exits with firewood and tried to entice her with food to come out. She didn’t budge for 6 hours. Finally, after placing several heavy 5 foot high pen sections around the one opening, since she wouldn’t come to the entrance to be caught, I called one of my dogs, Cassie, into the pen where Circe could see, hoping she would want to rejoin the pack. I praised and pet Cassie for following me, and that’s when Circe, with a cry of pain, squeezed out of the narrow opening and came to me to be pet and praised. Wow. Such a relief. This was after I had desperately ordered a dog-catcher pole and noose that would take a week to come in. It was that or take apart the deck. I had also tried flooding her out with a water hose, but she went to a high spot and let herself get wet.

Anyway, I didn’t leave her unattended in our unfenced back yard after that, but kept with her on a leash which she cooperated with if my dogs lead the way. My dogs have radio collars and 1.5 acres bordered by an electrified underground wire makes the collar first beep then shocks them if they cross it. The collars are expensive and it takes a couple of weeks to gently train dogs on it. The next day Loki and my son came over and the two big dogs were very happy nudging each other and playing a little bit. Circe was the initiator of most of it. My son took her home and she was very happy with him and Loki, but not so much with being in a pen while he is at work, evidenced by shredding the dog bed she had loved at my house and sometimes peeing on his bed.

After about a month, this week I am dog-sitting to give them all a break and let her get out more. Monday morning I held her on the long 25′ tether, and she loved bounding after my dogs. Her whippet body can really cover a lot of ground. Later that day, since she is so shy about venturing out by herself, I took the leash off. At first she stayed on the porch, but then when my dogs got excited and ran after something, she forgot herself and let herself go with them. Once she even went past them over their border. Afraid she’d keep going I nervously called her back, and she came! I put her short leash back on her hoping that dragging behind her, it would caution her a little, and allow her to be caught if need be. Since then, leash-less, she mostly stays on the porch or with my dogs, outrunning them easily till they stop, then mostly she stops. I have had to call her back a few times. This is why I wont leave her out by herself. She loves our quiet, spacious yard. She needs to visit often to get her energy out and to stretch her long legs. Loki could use it too, but he’s much more independent and does heedlessly run off. Maybe he could be put on a long leash with a running human to keep up with the other dogs when he visits.


by Andrea Elizabeth

And then it gets worse.

Lord help us

by Andrea Elizabeth

I really wish the choice wasn’t between soft racism/bigotry and WWIII/baby killing. I say soft because I don’t see hate behind his comments. Shallow, simplistic, overly and exaggeratedly defensive, yes. Sadistic, premeditated pleasure in causing certain groups pain, no.

My plodding through yielded a payoff

by Andrea Elizabeth

“he didn’t even plan his books, as complex as some of them were. Plotting them, he said, would take out all the fun. He claimed that for him, writing a book was like finding a brilliantly colored string in the grass and following it to see where it might lead. Sometimes the string broke and left you with nothing. But sometimes—if you were lucky, if you were brave, if you persevered—it brought you to a treasure. And the treasure was never the money you got for the book; the treasure was the book.”

Excerpt From: King, Stephen. “Lisey’s Story.” Scribner. iBooks. 
You’re welcome

I am so 19th C Existentialist

by Andrea Elizabeth

in that Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky are so self-conscious! I am 6 chapters into Notes from the Underground, and he’s describing how I can talk myself out of everything. Except for not voting for Hillary. He’s blaming it on consciousness. I saw a meme on Facebook that said that combo 1/2 empty / 1/2 full people are relativists, and that realists are “it’s just a glass of water”. No, that is not mathematically correct as I explained last month.

It’s interesting, as he says it is to his supposed gentlemen audience, that it’s about feeling ashamed. Could it be that two of our most respected thinkers were so because they had a pathologically guilty conscience? They claim to be realists. The Notes narrator cannot fully feel anything, so he used to put on an act of imitating acting on feelings that he doesn’t have. His are negative actions, like pretending to be frustrated with others, that he performs out of spite. What if one does loving acts out of spite as well? To heap coals of fire on an enemies head, and it just so happens that everyone is his, the most loving acting person’s, enemy. Are people who see their own feelings and actions thusly, realists, relativists, or deviants? This is not to say that such a person believes everyone’s actions and feelings are tainted in this way, but he believes the pure actors are not as conscious. Consciousness destroys love. Or the illusion of love?

I’ll not totally criticize love beyond saying that much of it is nostalgic (not in the Russian ‘homesickness’ sense), sentimental, and self-indulgent.

I do not trust love, but this does not make me innactive, as it does the man in Notes. I believe there is real, self-sacrificial, and true love, even if I don’t have it and even if my motives also are tainted with spite. It is better to pretend and heap coals than to be innactive, imnsho.

why it’s not hopeless

by Andrea Elizabeth

The most popular reaction to the debates and this year’s candidates is that they’re both horrible. Finally people have given up the idea of a utopian glorious leader. This is the year of the inglorious. Perhaps previous politicians, like the Wizard of Oz, have been better at hiding their ingloriousness. What will happen now that the curtain has been removed? Maybe small communities will step up and take care of their own lives? That is if they don’t give up, plug into virtual reality, and float away into nihilistic gnosticism.

racism or cultural preservation

by Andrea Elizabeth

I don’t think there’s a clear answer to this question. The right tends to defend Western European values and culture, the left tends to call this racist. There is much to criticize in western culture, but there is much to praise as well. This is probably true of most if not all cultures. The west tends to be viewed as the biggest and the strongest, so it invites closer scrutiny and criticism. Additionally, great power brings great responsibility, as the latest Avengers movie, Captain America, Civil War, explores. This is probably the reason racism is charged more vehemently against white people than other people. When an elephant steps on you, it hurts worse.

One reaction is to hate elephants. This is popular enough among those whose gardens get ruined. Self-hatred is a human phenomenon.

Another reaction is to be impressed and awed. This is why there is such British and American (especially) influence elsewhere.

It is all very complicated. “Minority” culture in America is very mixed. On one hand, from the western-European American point of view, other culture’s uniqueness is appreciated in a boutique, eclectic sort of way that we all want to preserve. On another, they have assimilated for many reasons. Convenience, attractedness, and pressure, which includes force. It seems once infiltration has occurred, the less powerful culture’s preservation then becomes almost gratuitous.* Having compelling alternatives changes preservation to an act of will in addition to what is natural. Epi-genetics can’t be erased, but new information is quickly absorbed into it.

Feelings of nationalism are also passed down genetically and environmentally. “Feelings” seems too malleable, unless one believes them to be actual entities that can’t be wished away. Feelings can be somewhat ignored and not acted on, however, especially if one is ashamed, or made to be ashamed of them. Cultural bonds is probably a better term.

The percentage of white ethnicity in America is diminishing, so the elephant has to be more careful now. The push-back isn’t just from minority groups though. It’s also from white people who are so quick and shrill in their racist-accusing rhetoric, which could be either politically motivated, or perhaps heart-felt.

I heard the Good Morning America today anchors all agree that racial, meaning black/white, tensions have never been this high. They were covering the recent police shootings and protests. Observing from my armchair, I am dissatisfied with the coverage. The black accusers seem too quick to dismiss the shootings as hate crimes. The white dismiss-ers of this charge ignore that the trigger finger could have been too quick to fire. However, I do not see an acknowledgment of this as an admission of guilt, as the cop-defenders seem to. This thinking is too black and white. In many cases, it seems the cops are genuinely afraid of lack of complicity, especially in black people who are challenging their authority. Fear can lead to rashness and over-compensation. Some of the cases however do seem racially motivated in a disrespectful way. But there also seems to be an “I dare you” kind of stance in some of the black people. It’s almost baiting to make the cops look bad in the news. If this is an element, I do not think it is helpful for Obama and Hillary to take sides. I feel they are exacerbating the tension and therefore causing the incidents to escalate.

*guerrillas and underdogs can counter this, but I’ll not evaluate this at this time. Not out of fear of giving other cultures the power to topple “white supremacy”, but because the whole point is that we don’t want to erase people’s cultural identity, even white people’s. But what if white culture became gratuitous? This seems almost like revenge. We’re going to make you know what it’s like. My first reaction is that modern education and developments did come from the white people and to use them against us (I don’t think one should be ashamed to say “us” or “them” or “other”) is cheating. I say “modern” because I recognize that the Chinese invented gunpowder, and ancient Arabic culture developed mathematics and science, and that Ethiopia was quite advanced at one time. I don’t think our advancements makes us superior though. I’m somewhat of a Luddite and lover of the primitive as a purer way of life. But if domination is the bad-side of western culture, and it’s only seen as worse because it could dominate more people than less-powerful cultures do (and they do have what is now considered abusive dominations in their societal structures) then to use our more powerful, in the technological sense, tools against us is revenge.

No, the solution is peace, not more might makes right.