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Top Ten Reasons I Love Luinigh

I love my boy. I love everything he does which includes, in no special order:
1. Trying to sleep on top of me some time in the middle of the night every night
2. Doing the conga across the room every time I stand and he thinks I'm about to dance
3. His childlike fascination with what gets flushed down the toilet
4. His stealing the shirt I wore during the day and holding it in his mouth for an hour until he falls asleep
5. His bathroom escort service -- he has to run in ahead of me and touch with his nose whatever fixture I'm about to use, take a few steps back, and guide me in
6. His insistence at the dog park that every human being naturally wants to meet him
7. His never snapping at the macaw who tries to maim him
8. His making everything in life a game but being perfectly obedient when he needs to
9. His insistence on throwing stuffed animals into the bathtub full of water and when I don't respond, his balancing them on my shoulder, stepping back, and waiting for me to do somet…

Selectively Sacred Lives: The Ethics of Institutional and Commercial Animal Use

Selectively Sacred
The Ethics of Institutional and Commercial Animal Use

Lisa Shaw

Presented to Dr. Bryan Froehle St. Thomas University 12/8/10





Observing:
The treatment of commercially and industrially used animals, held against their will and acted upon by human beings who wield power under the banner of biblically assigned dominion has perpetuated a society in which nearly all of us by virtue of our surface innocence are in fact complicit in their suffering by our blind consumption of products. Who has never taken a pharmaceutical drug to combat a physical condition? What woman has never used mascara? How many of us have indulge with delight in a Thanksgiving feast of tofurkey? In the past 25 years the public has been made more aware of our speciesism, negligence, and abuse of animals who are bred and held captive to serve human need by radical organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, who often go to extremes and wind up inadvertently declaring war even on th…

The Spiritual Lives of Animals

A few months ago my friend Geoffrey sent me a link to an MSNBC report highlighting new academic research indicating that animals have a spiritual side. One hypothesis it offered was the fact that in human beings, the spiritual center lies in the "most primitive part of the brain" so it would be likely that animals, being more primitive creatures than we are, share that primitive spot.

As pleased as I am to see the scientific world corroborate what shamans and metaphysicians have known through experience for thousands of years, I would disagree that animals are primitive. I would say primal, not primitive.

We used to cling to this concept in a human development context as well; as knowledge and technology have propelled us further into the electronic, industrial, and later cyber ages in the last few hundred years, our culture mislabeled as primitive indigenous peoples without the high powered gadgets and mass production. Does simplicity dictate primitiveness or does it free us …

Home is Where the Dog Is

In the past ten years I have been teaching The Wizard of Oz to my college LIT students, sometimes three classes per semester, two or three semesters a year, and in recent years,instead of paying attention to the film itself (a film whose dialogue is etched in my memory), I pay more attention to student reactions and responses. Once Dorothy hooks up with her companions along the yellow brick road (a symbol of the third chakra, our core self), we see that each character is not searching for an object like a heart or a brain but is searching for an integral part of himself: chakra he thinks he is missing. Of course we know that no chakras are missing; they just have not been activated in the characters' consciousness. This pretty much parallels the way we live our lives in a mundane world polluted by noise that keeps us from our spiritual selves. Who leads us to our spiritual selves in this film? The same creature who leads all us sharing this blog: Toto, the dog. He is th…

Splinters

I’m thinking of a splinter, how a minute foreign object embedded in a finger or foot can cause enough discomfort to slow or completely halt our normal flow of activity, its size disproportionate to the rest of our bodies. So it is with a tiny pebble in a shoe or microscopic remnant of the roast beef between two teeth or a sticky burr stabbing the dog’s pad. At first we feel a little tic or snag…and then either its effect grows or our awareness of it sharpens, becoming extra-focused until the pain exaggerates and what we feel is no longer our finger anymore but the splinter itself. We once loved sliding our hand down the banister that bore the splinter. We relished the walk on the wooded path that yielded the pebble…and that roast beef tasted scrumptious the first time around.

I meditated on Sunday, asking for clarity and cleansing. When we rid ourselves of that which causes discomfort, like pulling a splinter, we endure an acute, temporary pain. I once had to euthanize a dog, a standar…

Crying, Compassion, and Divinity

I've spent the past two or three months working in bereavement support groups observing and learning as part of a Hospice practicum and even after completing the "Loss and Healing" certificate from St. Thomas University, I am still profoundly moved during each session. When I first began confronting death and dying issues in class, whether it was through films or guest speakers (like representatives of Compassionate Friends, a grief support group for parents who have lost children), I couldn't contain my tears and would ask my professors, who are grief counselors and therapists, "Will I ever stop crying?" and they assured me that eventually I would. Well, it's been about five years, and I am still asking that question. My own father, now facing life threatening illness, laughs at me, "I think you should find a different line of work," but a couple of the tearfully grieving octagenarian widowers in my support group say otherwise. "It's…

Teaching the Bird to Meditate

When people ask what it's like living with a macaw I tell them that no one -- no reading, no research, no professional with experience driven advice -- could have prepared me for such a companion animal. It's like living with a clever and manipulative five year old. Yes, he screams all the time, especially when I talk on the phone,which reduces his me time. Yes, he makes a mess, shredding everything from W-2 forms to thrice-replaced vertical blinds to the wooden headboard and footboard on my bed. And yes, he decorates my clothing with abstract poop designs at the most inopportune times and in the most undetected places (often when I arrive at work, people ask me about the unusual embroidery between my shoulder blades). Oh, Yes, he's smart. Full of joy and laughter, he not only threads together words to create grammatially correct sentences but actually composes music as both melody maker and lyricist. But nothing could have prepared me for a bird's level of compassion…

Just a Little After 11: Sandy Loree

"The song ends; the voices quaver away with a rich and dying fall."
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying


Sandra Loree left us on January 11, 2010 shortly after 11 p.m. wresting her soul from the demon cancer that strangled her. What a brave and loving energy she remains. I am heartbroken that she struggled so long and wish that in this circumstance I did not possess such potent imagination.

Numerologically 11 is a master number. I was born on January 11th and somehow I knew she would die on that day, a bold presence in life making a bold entry to be reckoned with in the spirit realm. Two nights before she died, her daughter called me with Sandy's final request: to talk to her Irish Water Spaniel, the beloved Skylyr to tell him everything would be all right without her. I did. When Sky came through in my meditation, he did not approach me alone but with his "brother," or more accurately "house mate," Nicky, a boy who has feared me his entire life. When I first…