It’s Been Awhile….(The Dog Days of Writing?)

It’s been quite a bit of time since I wrote in here, and quite a long stretch since I regularly posted at all.  I’ve mentioned numerous times that the animal advocacy eats up my time, and, well….there you go.

A friend (hi, Marie!) recommended that I regularly write and post poetry based on advocacy issues.  Now, I can’t control when, if, or in what way The Muse will strike, and I want every piece to be as perfect as I can make it, especially for something so meaningful.  It’s hard not to get sing-songy and cheesy when you’re chasing after something so heart-felt, at least in my experiences.  And really hard not to force it out which, of course, makes it SOUND forced.

In previous posts I mentioned how seeing the cases of animals needing to be pulled from shelters to avoid euthanasia and petitions against abuse (which include photos), etc., batter the brain, leaving images burned in the mind’s eye.  It is in response to these images that I wrote a poem back in April in one of my writers’ groups.  We were given a prompt to use, and this prompt was “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Here is my creation:

 

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

 

Pictures of those gathered, or alone,

Beaten, abandoned, starved to bone,

With burned and scarred and ravaged hides:

A death blow thrown to my insides.

Their faces shown, which overwhelm,

Await release to another realm,

Stares unfocused, fixedly seared,

And souls that long-since disappeared.

Suffering I can’t understand,

Yet this is brought by human hand.

These inflictions: craven, disgusting,

When they were bred to be so trusting!

Relentless harm, though victims yield;

No longer shall this be concealed!

Words can’t state the horrors shown;

Of cruelties for which we must atone!

These wicked ways must be undone,

These countless pictures reduced to none.

 

Dedicated to those that fight for animal rights and welfare, and, more importantly, to the animals themselves.

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

 

I hope you like it, as I am incredibly proud of it.  I’ll admit it’s actually hard to read it myself without getting choked up.

In other news, I was the featured poet at a coffee house near me on August 3rd.  There was 2 hours of total time.  I picked 18 poems out and practiced reciting them to get it to about 30 minutes, including time to give a background on certain pieces.  That would leave plenty of time for the “open forum” after my “set” in which others could choose to share their work.

I believe it went well, but I have to admit that the group of 15-20 people there were friends or friends of the woman that set the whole thing up.  She is the same woman from one of my groups that asked me to do the “He Said/She Said” Valentine’s reading.  I’m scheduled to do another one in October, plus an open mic night 10 days later.  I will read the poem above, for sure.

Of Cruelty and Shame, of Lennox and Buck

Lately I cry and cry.  I have to admit that I’m an overly emotional person (I once had a female manager tell me I was “worse than a woman”).  Regardless of the fact that I’m given to feeling things profoundly, I’d have to say that the last 6 months or so have been exceptionally turbulent with tears.

Those that have followed my post or at least read a sampling of it before might know that my hobby is animal advocacy.  To all of you that have been to Grasping the Tale before, I apologize for the months since my last post, but it is my engagement in this second full-time, non-paying vocation that has kept me from blogging.  In fact, I haven’t really written even my poetry/lyrics with any kind of appreciable frequency.  Whichever part of the brain it is which I utilize to advocate has kept me wrapped up there so I can’t transition to the creative part.

About  the tears: it is so draining to see the animals for which I advocate suffer so much, have their innocence and dependence upon mankind be betrayed so badly.  It runs from the (unfortunately) typical cases of neglect to the worst possible scenarios.  Two cases recently have taken a toll on those of us that dwell in the “online animal kingdom”.

One is the story of Lennox, an American Bulldog/Retriever mix that was a family pet in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Lennox was seized by the Belfast City Council for violation of DDA, or Dangerous Dogs Act, which is known as BSL (or Breed Specific Legislation) in America.  The Council determined Lennox to be a Pit Bull even though he is the breed mix stated above.  Pit Bulls are banned in Belfast as per the DDA.  Despite the fact that he only resembled a pit bull and had never bitten, attacked, or even threatened anyone, Lennox was taken.  While in their custody, one member of the Belfast Council declared Lennox too dangerous to be allowed to live, even though video exists of her with Lennox stitting by her feet and at one point even licking her.  The family fought through the legal system for two years to regain their cherished family member.  After losing the last round of appeals at the end of June, the family’s legal counsel advised them to end the fight.

During this entire ordeal, the world became aware of the story, and literally hundreds of thousands of advocates were signing and posting petitions to free Lennox and return him to his home.  Later on, well-reknowned animal behavior experts such as Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell offered to take Lennox out of the country and work with this “dangerous” dog to become a well-mannered, safe member of society (which, of course, he already was).  The City Council ignored all requests.  The council declared that they would euthanize Lennox at 7:00 a.m. on July 11th.

There was a flurry of activity to add even more signatures to the petitions, and media markets all over the world ran pieces about the fight to save Lenox’s life.  Hoping that the negative publicity would move the Council even if the appeals to their human decency failed, the animal-loving world held its breath.

Lennox was killed by the council as declared on the morning of July 11th.  So many mourn this senseless and evil loss of life, and sympathize with Lennox’s family, who were denied requests to see him one last time, to be with him when he was killed, and to at least receive his collar as a relic of him.  They were told they MIGHT be given some of his ashes after he was cremated, though even that has not been provided at this point.  It has of course been theorized that Lennox was either killed while the legal battle was still going on or that he died languishing in his meager cell (pictures showed it devoid of food and water bowls and even appropriate bedding).  These are just theories, though they are highly likely scenarios.

The other dog’s account that has crippled me emotionally is that of Buck, a blind elderly dog that was released from a shelter to an individual that either let him free or negligently allowed him to escape.  After weeks of searching for Buck, his body was found in a concrete enclosure.  It has not been revealed at this point how he ended up in this cement resting place or whether he died of exposure and lack of sustenance, torturous foul play, or a mixture.  The fact that he died alone and hungry, thirsty, and without even the sight to understand his surroundings is too much.  I keep thinking that some SUBhuman beings might have even abused him to death, which is worse.

I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth being part of this world when such stories of incomprehensible pain and cruelty seem increasingly the norm….

I had written a poem for Lennox upon hearing of his official end (the grief being so great that the artistic flood gates finally broke), and will conclude this post with it.  You’ll notice the title says “Part II”, and this is because Part I was written the night before as a sort of prayer (unanswered, obviously)  for his life to be spared.  I am too drained at present to write one for Buck, though I absolutely want to do so.

For Lennox, Part II                               7/11/12

Belfast now a place of scorn

As countless hearts lie ripped and torn

For all the pleas you would not answer,

Your pride and ignorance like a cancer.

You could have picked another way

Yet bathed your hands in blood today.

You heeded none, for you thought best

To lay an innocent one to rest.

I hope your conscience one day wakes

And your hands shake in fits and quakes

When you see doings that you sought

Have not justice, but murder brought.

You’ve disgraced yourselves before the world;

In Hell’s fires your souls be curled

Around a spit and searing slow

For how you have brought Belfast low.

I can’t see why you’ve made this choice

Now countless cry in Lennox’s voice.

 

 

National Tattoo Day

June fifth is National Tattoo Day, and I was asked to write about the tattoo topic.  I had previously posted about why I got mine, so I think I’ll cover some other, broader aspects.

Tattoos, of course, have a negative connotation due to various cultures using them to mark criminals, the times criminals (or would-be criminals) marked themselves as a status symbol, and the fact that anything that breaks the norm is usually scorned.

However, in today’s world, the tattoo taboo isn’t as great.  Tattoos are actually fairly commonplace, and are seen everywhere.  Many women have them on ankles, shoulder blades, or have the infamous lower back “tramp stamp”.  Men get them on arms, legs, backs, and chests.  But why do they do this?

Well, starting with the criminal element, tattoos can mark loyalties (especially to gangs) and acts committed.  I don’t think I need to cover this realm further; I’m sure you get it.

Members of the military have gotten them to show loyalty as well, or pride in their service.  Tattoos have also been done to honor fallen comrades.  One of the coolest tattoos for military (and sailors in general) is a pair of birds.  I believe the birds are swallows.  My understanding is that when one is sent overseas, they get one swallow to mark that they arrived safely there, and get the matching piece done when they arrive home.  I think it’s an awesome tradition.

Many get representations of loved ones and pets.  And some cultures, such as the Samoans, are tattooed as a right of passage.

Of course, a lot of people in the Western World get inked because they’re trying to be cool or present a certain image, but this should not be allowed to take away from the millions of works of art created every day that have legitimate meaning, if only to the person bearing them.  And this is indeed an art form.  One apprentices before they can get a regular gig as a tattoo artist.  They have to earn their dues.  And even the finest graphic artists would have a hard time doing what they do via a vibrating needle and oft-times moving, wincing, flinching canvasses.

I realize some may think of me in a certain light because I would have to wear long sleeves and pants to cover all of mine, but every tattoo I’ve gotten had thought put into it and means something to my life.  And this is the last reason I’ll give as to why people get work done:  For many, including myself, these works of art are landmarks.  They signify where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and where we want to be.  The only one that brings me a twinge of regret is my ex-wife’s initial on my shoulder.  It happens, but I could always cover it up if I choose to do so.

I hope this was informative.  And maybe you’ll get one of your own now if you haven’t already–welcome to the establishment!

199 and Counting….

Furgii modeling her new tee

My animal advocacy page, Pet Patriotism, now has 199 followers.  Un.  Be.  Lievable.  One person shares it, and three more check it out and “like” it, and it keeps going.  It’s only been a week and a half since starting it up.  Ca-Razy.  I feel a certain pressure to keep these folks happy and interested in what I’m doing.

I admit there’s very little info which I have the knowhow to find.  I pretty much come across other postings and repost them myself.  It’s not to claim credit for it; I’m not erasing the originator’s tags on there.  It’s just that I want to keep the information flowing.  I might subscribe to a certain page that others may not.  You can’t subscribe to everyone–there’s not enough time to read it all.  If someone gets their info from me, great.  If they get it from somewhere else, great.  The point is to keep it all out there, educating more and more people and getting profiles of animals in trouble or petitions that need signing to cycle onwards to those that will help.

I don’t remember if I covered why I set this page up or not.  A friend actually messaged me asking me to “Please stop”.  It was in reference to an item I shared with a picture showing a pretty gruesome wound on a dog.  I knew when I shared it that I’d probably face opposition, but I shared anyway because every share was going to raise another dollar towards care for the dog.  I know that perhaps only three or four of my 93 or 94 friends on Facebook actually care to sign these things, can or will donate, or can spend time networking my posts.  So between reaching people that care and not pestering my friends, I set up the separate page.

I foresaw that this was going to be time-consuming, and boy I was right.  I was already spending a lot of time on Facebook and my email account as it was.  Now I’m taking the time to cross post it TO MYSELF, essentially, on my new page and sharing from there.

After the first week, I decided to take Tuesday the 6th off.  I still went in there a little, but I needed a break from the 24 hour media stream plus 40 hour work week.  Also, my own dog was being neglected regarding attention, which would not be good in general, and definitely not from someone who claims to be all about animals.

I realized that my voice was rather silent that day, but the world still turned.  And others were there filling my void.  Did I miss a petition or two?  Probably.  Did I fail to get something forwarded to someone that may have helped?  Possibly.  But I can only do so much.  There’s guilt, but there’s also reality.  I’ve made the decision that anytime I log in, I will only scroll back through four hours worth of material at most.  I used to go back all the way, even if it was ten or twelve hours, fearful something important would get by me.  I wrote in a previous post that I am a recovering addict (alcohol; two years sober), and I am left wondering if this is another form of addiction, even if it’s a meaningful one.  So I must impose limits, addiction or not.

It seems that some of the people that are informing me are doing this full time.  They are largely female, and, I believe, older, so they may be stay-at-homers with working spouses or are retirees, either of which having a great deal more time in theory.  I’m jealous.  I don’t know if they actually get paid for any of their time.  I doubt it, but if so, I’m jealous again.  Not because I want to profit, per se, but I would love to support myself this way and therefor be able to do this kind of thing all the time.

I previously mentioned reducing meat from my diet, for obvious reasons.  Well, I’ve spent the last two weeks primarily meat free.  I ate chicken three times, and that’s it.  I had already weeded lamb and pork from my diet, and beef and dairy are now gone.  Going forward, I may or may not occasionally eat chicken, eggs, and seafood.  The reason I ate chicken the three times I did was because I am getting some digestive upset from the continuous intake of fruits and vegetables.  A friend hypothesized that it could be all the live enzymes and fiber.  Going from forty years of meat, bread, pizza, and ice cream to this is tough.  So I’m throwing the chicken in there from time to time to make it a more gradual change and hopefully easier on my system.  I feel good about this.

The Tale of the Fox goes on….

Exactly why I keep doing this….

Holy Hell, Batman!

Inspired by the title of my last post, I decided to set up my own page on Facebook as an advocacy site.  Other pages that I’ve “liked” forward different petitions, articles, and such to me, so I decided to try and get my own page so I can forward things from there to others that might want to join the fight.

The title is Pet Patriotism.  I came up with this because I feel we should take pride in our pets and other Earthly creatures the same way we take pride in our nationalities.  I’m a little nervous at taking on something like this when my time is already kind of chewed up with these things and page administration is going to add to that.  But I started it, and that rock is now a’ rolling.

I reached out to someone on Facebook with whom I’ve networked asking for help, and SHE networked for me to get followers who will do the same.  I was even invited into her private group on there of others like us who have pages of our own.  Before I jumped over to WordPress to write this, I was up to 12 followers within a half hour.  Crazy!

For my logo, I chose the American flag, obviously, because I’m American, fulfilling the “Patriot” part of the title.  The lavender paw is a symbol of animal rescue and animal rights (you will often see lavender ribbons for the same).  I’m rather technologically challenged, so I went ghetto, pulling up a “googled” dog paw print, and tracing it and coloring it with a Sharpie.  I then cut it out, laid it on top of a small flag I had, and took the picture.  The background is actually the blanket on my couch.  It works, though.

Now I just have to live up to the faith the folks networking on my behalf have placed in me!

 

Photo © Jordan Alan Fox

Pet Patriotism: Nipping Animal Abuse in the Bud

As many of you know, I fight online against animal abuse.  I sign a bazillion petitions each day for different causes.  While wearisome, it is something I’m incredibly passionate about, and I’m immensely consumed by it.

So many of these petitions seek maximum legal penalty against convicted animal abusers.  Seeing all of this, and also seeing all of the spay/neuter propaganda (which I believe in as well), a new thought has come to me today.  What I’m about to propose is something radical and (currently) unconstitutional.

I propose convicted animal abusers be spayed or neutered so they can’t create any more people with their damaged mental facilities.  Some animal abusers might be genetically geared to do what they do, and some might be taught these things by their elders.  Either way, denying them procreative rights should substantially break the cycle, and would be a more than fair treatment for the suffering and possible death they’ve caused.

It’s been talked about, I’m sure, doing such medical procedures on convicted rapists, murderers, and abusers of children and others (which I think I agree with as well, especially with the former and latter).  This is just another progressive step in that line of thinking.  Maybe one the best ways to prevent animal abuse will be to limit the birth rate of animal abusers….

"Don't tread on me!"

Note: Just so you all know, I didn’t get Furgii pissed off here.  Her teeth were dry and one side of her lips got hung up on them.  I simply tucked the other side under to give her a “mad face”.  🙂

Dear Furgii,

Dear Furgii,

When I met you, I knew that you had hypothyroidism.  It wasn’t a big deal; you take a synthetic hormone that takes care of it.  What I didn’t know was that you also had epilepsy, and that I’d witness 3 of your seizures.  I knew when I met you that you also needed a good dental cleaning.  I didn’t know that the teeth were so bad that your jaw was being eroded, and you’d need to have 8 molars removed.  I also didn’t know the string of maladies that would require trips to the vet for the next 20 months.

You would break a nail completely off, and you’d have to get taken to the emergency vet after hours.  The broken nail would eventually get infected, of course.  You would at one point get profuse diarrhea for 3 days and have to go on an antibiotic. You would get kennel cough and have to go on more medicine.  You would also break a tooth, which I’m not sure I can completely explain.  That tooth also had to be completely removed.  You’re now down 9 of them.

You occasionally do something to your right hind leg, and you hold it up until whatever issue is resolved.  I always wonder if the latest incident will be the one requiring a trip into Moorestown.  You’ll develop little cysts here and there, and I’m afraid to assume they’re just cysts and we’ve seen the good doctors a few times on their account.

I knew when I met you that you would require periodic blood work to check your thyroid levels, but, unknowing of the epilepsy, not about the periodic testing to check your organs because the medicine preventing your seizures isn’t so great for the rest of your body.

I thought when I met you that I’d be getting a companion, a miracle, and that I’d love you.  On these counts, I got everything I expected, and more.  You may have come with more drama than I’d planned, and required more maintenance and expenditure than I could have ever foreseen, but I wouldn’t ever, ever give you up.  I regret nothing.  I DO love you, as unconditionally as you do in return.  I hope on some level you know that.

Love,

Daddy