Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Confessions of a first-time protester

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
–Martin Luther King Jr.
I have cried a lot since July 18.
What happened on that day was to blow open a side of myself I had never met. It was early; I had my coffee going, and was browsing through my email when I came upon a petition that affected me in a way no others had before. This was a petition announcing that Whole Foods, a store I revered as being top notch in every way, was carrying rabbit meat. What??? No way! I immediately emailed Whole Foods’ corporate headquarters to see if this was true, and that’s when the crying began. A “customer information specialist” from Austin replied within hours; not only was it true, but Whole Foods had been planning it for years – planning to sell the meat of animals regarded by most Americans as household pets. Needless to say, this mother of four happy house rabbits signed the petition!
Since that sad morning in July I have done a lot more than cry. First it was the unflattering video I took of myself with two of my rabbits and shared on YouTube, Facebook and Google + and soon I was engaging in verbal dialogues with total strangers. I have been a bit obsessed – even more than normal (for people who know me) – with standing up to this big corporation for what I believe is a huge mistake. I know I have gotten on the last nerve of some of my friends and even driven some away on social media, but I am a bunny mom! If a huge grocery chain suddenly began selling the meat of dogs or cats (or horses or guinea pigs…), I’m pretty sure you would come unglued too.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past several months. I am brave. I am fierce. I am capable of doing things I did not know I could do. I don’t say that with ego, but rather with immense humility. I did not know I could stand in front of a popular grocery store in the middle of the town I grew up in, by myself, holding up a protest sign. Or that the signs would multiply and get bigger – attracting even more attention to my unpopular feelings about a store so many of my friends and members of the community love. I did not know I could hear without personalizing or reacting to the comments made by consumers with differing opinions or by those who nonchalantly choose to make light. It never occurred to me that this was a fight or that I would still be standing in front of Whole Foods during the holidays.
On the flipside, I cannot possibly count all the interesting conversations I’ve had with people, the honks, waves, hugs and thanks I’ve received for being there for the rabbits or just standing up for something I believe in. Or the amazing community of rabbit moms (and dads) and activists I’ve met who’ve lifted me up and shown me that I am not alone in my thoughts or position. On one Sunday in October a man called out to me (with a smile and a wave) “David and Goliath!” This inspired me for the remainder of the day and caused spontaneous smiles at the ground in between my chats with customers.
Sometimes shoppers ask “what did Whole Foods do now?” But more frequently I hear, “Whole Foods sells rabbit?” Why do you suppose Whole Foods doesn’t advertise this new meat product? Did you know that all of Whole Foods’ rabbit comes from Iowa and that Iowa passed “ag-gag” legislation in 2012, making the reporting of farm animal cruelty a punishable crime? There is no way for Whole Foods to guarantee the way rabbits are raised, transported or killed because there is no true oversight. Does it bother you that these are domestic rabbits raised solely for their meat and that not a single one will live more than 16 weeks? Or what about the fact that they’re auto-shipped to the individual stores where there must be some pressure to sell them, demand or no demand? Even if you don’t have pets, let alone rabbits, this information should raise a red flag.
The grassroots Rabbit Advocacy Network, born out of Whole Foods’ decision to carry rabbit meat, is an extraordinary effort of some of the mightiest people I have met during this campaign. And together we fight (and sometimes cry), remaining hopeful that Whole Foods will rescind their decision to sell the flesh of our pets for $10.99 a pound.
Please, if you haven’t already, sign the petition asking Whole Foods to stop carrying rabbit meat. Thank you. If you would like to do more, check out Rabbit Advocacy Network’s website for information and scheduled events. Here's why we love rabbits.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bark in the Park

* A late summer event *

September's here. Kids are back to school, the traffic is lightening up around the beach and it's perfect weather for bicycling around town or walking your dogs. Fall is upon us. Crisp, peaceful, lovely fall.

But, wait. On Saturday, September 20, just when you thought you'd have to wait until next year for a full day of summer fun, there comes along Bark in the Park.

Load up your friends, family and your dogs, and come join us!

Saturday, September 20
10:00 - 5:00
Williams Street Park
Corner of Williams and South 16th (map)
San Jose

See you there!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A visit to City Limits Ranch

Saturday we visited City Limits Ranch, a Watsonville non-profit, for the first time. Located on an impressive piece of property that seems to extend from one edge of the valley to another with ridges on either side, it has the feel of being back in time. But, alas, that’s beautiful Santa Cruz County for you – just one more view of it.

City Limits, operated by Kerrin Hoban, Dink Evans and a host of volunteer ranch hands, was having their annual BBQ. We arrived in the evening, in time for the horse’s supper feeding, dessert and some good conversation.

Let’s start with the horses…wow. There were a lot of them. We met Avatar, a gorgeous white horse, Smoky, Mo and Chief the spotted POA pony. There was Charly, a stunning grey Arabian rescued from a Nevada feedlot, Woodrow, Lester, Gherkin and Foxy. Then there were the horses that start with T: Tinker, Tonks, Triscuit, Towanda and Tony Pony. Oh, and of course we saw Lucy the mini donkey and her friend Rocket the black-and-white mini horse. Most of the horses at City Limits Ranch are either rescues or were donated. 

The horses make the ranch’s mission possible: to provide and maintain a communal space for learned horsemanship and compassion, benefitting both people and horses now and in the future, and ultimately reducing the number of unwanted horses. The ranch routinely hosts groups of young people, teaching them life skills they can utilize long after their visit.

We watched as a group of young girls learned to feed the horses - how much hay and how many oats, and where in the stalls to lay the flakes of hay so the horses didn’t have to share if they didn’t want to. The girls were having a blast and anxiously listening to Kerrin dole out instructions.

The sun was beyond the first ridge but there was plenty of evening light. You could see deer in the distance while chickens scratched and clucked on the ranch behind us.

Later we ate cookies and cake, and chatted about life at the ranch, tractor seats and old injuries. Dogs chased balls and laughter could be heard in the hills. It was a perfect way to spend a spring evening if you ask me.

City Limits Ranch recently hosted the Santa Cruz PRIDE program and will host the Girl Scout “Brownies” on May 24. It’s truly a lovely setting and a visit well worth taking - appointments are required so plan ahead.

City Limits Ranch
102 Old Adobe Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
(831) 239-4057

Monetary donations to City Limits Ranch can be mailed to the above address. To view their wish list and see other ways you can help, click here.






City Limits Ranch is one of three nonprofit organizations The Honorable Dalmatian donates to quarterly during 2014.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's not a ghost story, it's an I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU story

Lying in bed this morning, eyes focused out the windows on the dawn behind the trees, I was missing Thunder. I had been thinking about this piece of art we commissioned and am anticipating delivery of (obviously, now received). It was April 1 last year and the artist met and photographed Thunder on what was her last day as a dog as we know one. We were at a park in Santa Cruz and it was a spectacular day, and Thunder was right there in 3D. She was not just alive but she was living – ears up, body innocently gesturing - she was making moves on another little dog in the park! How I miss her. Thunder was my baby’s girl, but she was also my girl. This morning I was feeling as blue as the dawn was pink.

When suddenly, the porch light flickered - one, two, three times in a row - just like it did last April. Wait, could that have really happened? Rafa changed the light bulb months ago even though I begged him not to. But sure enough, through my tears, it happened again. The first time the light EVER flickered was about 24 hours or so after she passed and it did so right up until the bulb was changed. It comforted me. This morning, Thunder reminded me (twice for good measure) that she will always love me and that she is right there, a thought away. 17 years is a good long time to have a pet and this morning’s happenings helped me trust even more in the connections we make with our heart.

Thunder 4/1/13