Pet Newz

May all beings everywhere be happy and free

Hello, friends.

I wanted to check in and see how you’re doing, how you’re holding up.

How are your pets?

Because nothing makes sense right now, you might live somewhere that’s pretending to be back to “normal” or you might live somewhere still under quarantine.

Maybe protests wind past your front door or sit-ins fill your town square.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you’re well.

I hope your pets are well, too. I keep reading stories about pets suffering from the stress of all this–sudden schedule changes, and then more sudden schedule changes, an intensity of emotion and anxiety among their humans, and so on.

Here’s where I’m struggling:

(OK, TBH, this is one place I’m struggling. Two tiny children for several months without breaks? Plus John being home all the time. Plus trying to squeeze in work. Plus the heavy emotional burden of all that’s happening in the world. Plus blah blah blah. Your story is likely the same. I’m just really, really tired.)

I’m struggling to reconcile my belief in the absolute good of humanity, my faith that people are inherently good but sometimes do less-than-good things out of fear… I’m struggling to reconcile that against what is actually happening in the world.

I’ve spent more than a decade working in the animal world, which means I’ve seen over and over again the horrors that can happen to animals at the hands of people. But, I’ve also seen over and over again the strength and kindness and generosity of strangers the world over who band together to save animals of all stripes, sometimes with their bare hands and sometimes with their wallets, and sometimes with their social channels. Always, those actions restore my faith in humanity.

And yet, here we are.

I find myself questioning that previously-unshakable belief because I’m seeing some of those very same people–the people who contort themselves to find transport for a dog they’ve never clapped eyes on; the people who empty their bank accounts and fill their homes, their time, and their lives with rescuing and fostering; the people who share their social channels to help shelters and adoptable animals–the very same people who seem so filled with love and compassion pouring anger and hate onto other animal welfare organizations, dog trainers, retailers.

The comments: “Get back to dog training.” “Well, I’m not buying my cat’s food from YOU anymore.” “You just lost a follower.” “You just lost a donor.” “Stay in your lane.”

Stay in your lane.

The implication: I am only comfortable with you speaking about this one single topic. I don’t want to know who you are as a person or the depths of your heart. I just want the information I need from you and nothing else. Anything else? Keep quiet.

That’s not been sitting well with me, and it’s the single reason why I haven’t been able to post anything here in a long while. I have stuff to share. I have posts about dogs and cats and kids. Dog training. Animal behavior. Health and wellness. Pet products. I’ll return to this content soon. But first.

None of it feels right or authentic to me or to this space at this moment.

My lane is compassion. For all beings. Kindness (even when it’s really freaking hard). Love.

I think often of this Sanskrit mantra: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

I’m not perfect, not even close, but I try to get within spitting distance most of the time. So, please be clear, in case there was ever any doubt:

In this space, we believe Black lives matter, that all beings deserve to be happy and free, that our actions–no matter how big or how small–impact others every single day. We wear face masks when we shop. We support BIPOC-owned business. We teach our girls that the world is a better place because of its diversity.

It amazes me that anyone could possibly take issue with any of that.

In the animal community, it shocks me. This world is built on caring for and having compassion for others. Heck, we ALL fight with everything we’ve got for breeds that are discriminated against.

Yet, I’ve seen some of the angriest, ugliest comments on some of the welfare organizations’ social profiles and on the threads of famous dog trainers and veterinarians. How can that be?

I can’t begin to guess, but what I can do is welcome you, welcome your pets, welcome your families and your friends into this space where kindness and compassion rule.

So, what’s next?

Well, I know that I’m digging into my commitment to anti-racism. I’m reading and listening to Black voices, something I’ve always striven to do but am doubling down. (Three books I purchased: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, and Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson.)

I’m also deep into researching the role animal welfare plays in systemic racism, why POC aren’t included or represented in the animal welfare industry, which is dominated by white women. It’s a lot to unpack, so bear with me if it’s a while before you see a post.

Finally, I’m adding every single one of these Black voices in the pet industry to my reading and following lists.

As for this website, we will continue to hold space for healthy, friendly, open debate about all kinds of topics, but we will not debate how our fellow humans deserve to be treated. Our bottom line, and I’ll reiterate:

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash