Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warning: censored material ahead.

I was terribly excited the other day to be told that my blog is banned in Myanmar. Slightly less excited by the fact that ALL blogs are banned in Myanmar, but nevertheless, I feel that I have achieved something. If I were a songwriter, I’d probably have an instant hit on my hands.

As Jerry has left the building for a while I have taken it upon myself to get rid of as many noisy, pooping domestic fowl as I can before his return. I am hoping that his memory will be impaired with time and he won’t notice their absence. I figure if I teach the last remaining chicken to walk in circles around the house all day, he’ll count that one 50 times and be happy. (the savvy ones amongst you may have guessed where he is and why I feel I can write such things with impunity)

I am also piling down That Rocky Road (fundraising) with my hobnail boots on. You may have seen my pleas for dosh on the website & Facebook– you may also have seen the fabulous total so far of $1,115US - already 10% of the cost of the new aviary. You guys are fantastic, gracias!! I have to put my money where my mouth is now as the birds should start arriving soon: there is no way I can have the rehab guys near that lot – they’ll be singing The Messiah before the week’s out. Yellow-heads really are barmy.

Talking of crazy things, Barton Creek Outpost have kindly donated a blue-head called Buzz. This guy is literally barking and will probably get on well swapping stories with the yellow-heads. He makes me realise that we are going to need two new aviaries, so that gentlemen like Buzz don’t end up teaching the babies rude words before I can knock the habit out of him. That rocky road suddenly just got a lot longer.

If you follow my “other blog” you’ll know that the recent releases are doing well - except for the other night when one became the victim of a possum attack. I hate those things, they are nasty critters. It’s not like we don’t have enough chickens for them to snack out on. I’ve got a sniff of a possum trap, so I’ll be dropping him off in your backyard as soon as I can catch the darn thing. It must be the ‘season’ as I had a friend bring her red lored in the last throes of life following an attack, and someone else brought in a wild pionus that will probably not make it either. All very sad. I guess every creature has a purpose and is precious bah blah, but I have a really hard time with possums. And slugs. And gophers. And fire ants. And those wasps that lay their eggs in live stuff. And very slightly with killer whales, although they are beautiful. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dusting off the Soapbox

It's been one of those weeks - you can only rub a person up the wrong way so much before the spleen requires venting. Aren't you lucky to be in the firing line!

The Belmopan Humane Society are having a valentine fundraiser this coming weekend, so I've been spending far too much time brushing up my DTP skills (sorry - is that an outdated phrase these days? Talking to parrots all day doesn't exactly keep you at the cutting edge of modern lingo)

It's a sad fact that too many of these funds raised are spent in putting dogs and cats "out of their misery" and far too few on rescue and re-homing. By the time these animals become apparent to us, it's often too late. Belize undoubtedly suffers from the 'humans first, animals hardly ever' syndrome of a lot of countries with limited resources. Allowing a dog to die on it's chain in the back yard is not uncommon, and kicking an animal out on the streets when it's nearly dead is even less uncommon: saves the trouble of dealing with the corpse. Animals are cheap to obtain and cheap to run: one family wondered why their dog was nearly dead until our Chairman pointed out that raw vegetable waste really wasn't really enough to sustain a dog. Even then, I'm not sure they got the concept of spending money on food specifically for their walking burglar alarm.

Anyway, the reason why I work with the humane society is not that I am particularly active in the dog and cat department, but given this fuzzy line of pet/wild animal status that parrots tend to straddle I work toward the same goals as they do: appropriate and adequate care leads to a better quality of life, therefore extended lifespan, therefore reduced turnover of replacement animals. With a side helping of encouraging interaction with your pet: oh yes, dogs can be caged and ignored just as much as parrots. On top of all the problems Belizean dogs may encounter, some of our younger citizens, impressed by TV borne gang-bling and prison-pants have allowed the creeping cancer of dog fighting to enter their world, with all the guts and glory that go with it. That is a very tough nut to crack indeed and needs a far bigger hammer than we have at our disposal. (Did I use enough cliches there, do you think?)

The web counter tells me that very few Belizeans read this blog compared to US residents, and I don't blame them. I sound like I'm on their case the whole time - which I probably am. But if you look at British history, we were bear & badger baiting, and cock & dog fighting with the best of them, but we moved on. I'm sure the pit-bull and terrier breeders in Merrie Olde England were kicking and screaming as their livelihood went down the pan, but they undoubtedly found something else to do - like beating up on old ladies, probably.

In much the same way, Belize will eventually have to move on (I call it moving on, others may call it damnable interference and a loss of cultural identity). This is no longer a world of isolation and ignorance, and countries like Belize that rely on tourism to boost their economy cannot afford to ignore aforementioned damnable interference, particularly when it's directed at something as visible as the state of their domestic/captive animals. Tourists really don't care if they have to drive through potholes or pee in the bushes - they probably find it quite quaint for a week or two. But show them a starving dog chained up in a yard, or a baby monkey who's mother was shot so her offspring could spend its life on a chain, or a croc dragged off and killed because the locals would not stop feeding it to raise a dollar, then they really take offense - and they vote with their feet.

On the bright side of humane education, and largely thanks to the tireless efforts of long-standing Humane Society members throughout the country, we are starting to see kids take to the concept of 'walking your dog' and 'training your dog'. We are seeing an increase in the purchase of good quality dog chow and of visits to the vet for shots. We get positive feedback from TV interviews with board members and we rejoice when movies like Marley & Me become blockbusters: it's what's missing for Belizean children. I don't care if putting human emotions into an animal is not the 'right thing to do', where children are concerned - it works. My friend has an excellent programme and is desperate for educators to champion her cause throughout Belize. Check out her page and give it a go!

Cultivating an attitude of active compassion amongst the vast majority of the population starts with domestic animals, and hopefully leads to respect for all living creatures, wild or domestic and once you have such a majority attitude, those that abuse or neglect will be shamed and bullied into changing their ways. Until then, it's like that 70's slogan: "Apathy Rules - and I don't give a sh*t.

PS I have to apologise for my sweeping generalisations. I've always done it. I can't help it - it's a compulsion. I don't really mean 'most' or 'all' but... well, more like: "quite a lot". Generally speaking, that is.