The Horror of a Sick Puppy

At the veterinary practice I work for, I often hear things like: “I don’t know how you do it working with all of these cute pets all day! I could never do it when they pass away!”

My response is always about the kindness and compassion I feel working among the people who I work with; death is always difficult, but feeling surrounded with love is a great combatant to that grief.

This morning I received a call from a family with a 6-week old puppy who they were worried was dying. When the puppy arrived at our practice he was still and not breathing well. We rushed him into the treatment room and doctors immediately took action.

Tragically, he did not survive.

His fate was not in anyway whatsoever due to the team not doing everything in their power to save him. Every action that could be taken was, but this tiny baby was taken from his mama-pup too soon and his tiny body wasn’t strong enough yet to handle it.

This tragedy was not the family’s fault: This sweet family wasn’t experienced with pets. They didn’t know he was too small. They didn’t know what nutrients he needed. They fell in love with the sweet little boy and hoped to give him a long, loved life.

I’m devastated for this family. They had to tell their children their beloved puppy wouldn’t be at home when they returned after school. I am sad about the guilt the family is feeling because they didn’t know what a puppy this age needed to eat to survive because the person who sold them the puppy didn’t make sure they knew. My heart is broken for my co-workers who dropped everything to do all they could to save this baby’s life. And I’m sad for me: I can’t stop feeling for everyone involved.

A dear friend once told me to try to remember every day why I am alive; each of us is here for a reason.

In the moments I was speaking to this family, I thought of this friend and her advice. I thought of the fact that my empathetic soul is giving and welcoming. In a way that only someone with such a soul can, I was able to welcome this family to our practice and hopefully relieve some of the pain they experienced. I pray that the family – though they must feel so much guilt – can remember the words I told them about not focusing on the “should haves”. I hope they remember that a hug in just the right moment can help one share the pain of grief. I hope that they felt warmth and compassion from our practice and that when they are ready, they will welcome a new furry friend into their family.

I feel angry. I have studied animal welfare practically my whole life. In graduate school I worked on a project to prevent puppies being purchased online (which I’m fairly certain is still legal…). As part of this project I researched puppy mills and my heart broke. It wasn’t until today that I have had a first hand experience with what a puppy mill can do to a community.

All the hurt, the pain, the grief felt by this family, my co-workers, me… This was caused because someone out there wanted to increase their income by sending a puppy to an inexperienced person before the puppy was ready to be parted from his mother.

I keep imagining this person. I imagine their “kennel” as a series of cages, too small for the mama dogs, crowded together. Mama dogs artificially inseminated or forced to mate again and again. Mama dogs whose bodies ache from giving birth over and over; their bodies sore from nursing puppies, but not for long enough. Puppies torn from mama dogs before they are done drinking mama’s milk, rooting and seeking for mama. Puppies put in a truck or in the mail to arrive at a loving home with someone who may never have had a dog and maybe doesn’t understand what a puppy needs to survive – a family who has never heard of a puppy mill and the devastation a puppy mill can cause.

How many of these puppies survive their births? How many of these mama dogs long for a friendly pet, or a game of fetch, or snuggles from their puppies? How many families have the happiness of welcoming a fur-baby into their home only to have it torn away from them when the puppy doesn’t thrive? How many of these puppy mills mail another puppy to the family when this happens? Does that puppy make it? Does the family give up on having pets thinking they aren’t a fit home for a furry friend? Do the children in these families begin to believe they don’t have a safe home for a puppy?

I keep thinking about Capitalism. Capitalism and the need to buy, the need to have more, to spend more… I’m thinking about how the need to make/buy/spend causes people to do such horrendous things. This person found a way to bring in continuous income without regard for who is hurt in the process. They’ve found a way to force another living creature to create more and more babies; so many babies that if a few die here and there it doesn’t matter because there are always more on the way. All in the name of another dollar gained.

But at what expense?


Witches – Set an intention to make this a less often experienced circumstance. Adopt, don’t shop. Educate your friends and neighbors. The MSPCA offers suggestions on how to prevent puppies from being exploited for profit (edited for brevity).

#1: Do not buy pet supplies from a store that sells dogs, cats, or other animals from intensive breeding facilities or other unethical suppliers.

The key to ending dogs being bred in these conditions is to decrease consumer demand. Animals in pet shops or available over the internet often come from “puppy mills.” Animals in newspaper classified ads and sold through brokers can also come from “puppy mills”. By buying an animal from one of these venues, you support the conditions at large scale breeding facilities.

#2: Spread the word.

Educate your friends, family, and co-workers about large scale breeders and how the decision to buy an animal from a pet store supports these operations. Ask your friends to take the pledge not to support puppy mills.

#3: Write a Letter to the Editor.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper(s) to educate your entire community, and your elected officials, about the issue.

#4: Encourage legislative protections on the federal level.

Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that is charged with inspecting commercial breeding facilities, to encourage stricter enforcement and stronger laws. You may also wish to contact your U.S. Senators and Congressperson about your concerns. In Massachusetts, if you do not know who represents you, visit www.wheredoivotema.com and look for two U.S. Senators (under Statewide Office Holders) and Congressional (under District Representatives).

#5: Encourage legislative protections on the state level.

…Contact your state legislators and express your opinion and concerns regarding puppy mills and pet shops…

#6: Encourage legislative protections on the local level.

Boston, Cambridge, Stoneham, and over 320 other municipalities across the country have banned retail pet store puppy sales. Passing a local ordinance or bylaw may be less complicated and timely than trying to pass a state-wide law. While local ordinances or bylaws would only impact animals in a city or town, their reach is often far greater.

Lessons for saying goodbye from JM Barrie

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.”

~ JM Barrie,

Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up

James Matthew Barrie, a child during the Victorian Era, grew up to write one the beloved tale of Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up. As a child James’ older brother, David, died during a tragic ice skating accident. To aid his mother in her grief James – aged 6 – would wear his brother’s clothes and whistle in a similar way to the way his older brother had before his death. James and his mother found ways to grieve together, and shared the happy thought that David would remain a boy forever and never leave her.

Death, of course, is such a final goodbye, especially in such a tragic experience as losing one’s child to a traumatic, unexpected situation. Grief is hell, we all know that. But what about regular goodbyes?

I’ve never been one who is good at saying goodbye. Back in the late 2000s I worked at a large financial institution helping people give their money away to charities. The organization was moved out of state – twice – and my husband and I decided to stay here in New England (both times). It was a series of goodbye after goodbye. Most days when I knew someone was departing the office I would find my way to the kitchen for a coffee, or suddenly need a bathroom break. I don’t like the finality of goodbye. The awkward hugs, the “Let’s stay in touch” comments you aren’t sure have much meaning.

Maybe it’s my Pisces sun – flowing from situation to situation, like a fish swimming upstream and not getting too focused on what’s behind me. Maybe my empathic heart can’t stand the finality of knowing I might see someone again. Maybe everyone feels the same way and I’m way over thinking this.

I don’t know.

I met an amazing number of wonderful people working at that financial institution. Though it’s been five years since I stayed in Boston and they all moved away, I’m still friendly with many and would definitely high five them if I saw them walking down the street.

One person in particular has become a dear, dear friend. And later this month he’s moving on to another adventure out of state and I’m so fucking sad.

This friend become one of my immediate BFFs upon meeting each other. In any other circumstance our lives never would have crossed paths. We’re in different age categories, we have different lifestyles, and we DEFINITELY don’t read the same books (winky face, friend).  My heart knows I worked at that institution because the universe knew we needed each other.

I’ll never forget a day this friend was going through an extremely difficult situation and CALLED ME. I almost didn’t answer – who CALLS PEOPLE? But I did because I knew that he needed me. I sat on my bed and we talked for a long time. He reminded me what it meant to be a good friend to someone, to really help them.

We had adventures, too. Only with this particular friend would witchy, vegetarian, animal welfare activist, New Englander feel comfortable going to the State Fair of Texas. What an experience. We had deep friend cheesecake and saw a famous giant cowboy statue thing that burned down a or so year later. I sat shiva with this friend for the first time in my life when another person we both know had to say goodbye to her father. He even attended Baby Girl’s birthday party wearing a tutu because it was a mermaid/fairy/pirate party and he wouldn’t want to pass up a good theme.

This friend was also among the first I spoke to after a traumatic event in my life last fall. There was no judgement, and I knew I could share and over share and ask for help when ready. And he was there.

Today we had lunch, this friend and me. I was nervous of course – I wanted to hide in the bathroom and ignore the goodbye. But I know I would have regretted not saying goodbye. It was a quick get together – I have a tendency to always run late and had to work in the afternoon – but it was perfect. The sun was shining, the food was amazing, we went to a bookstore, and I got to hug my friend and make plans to stay in touch when he’s settled in during his next adventure.

Yes, a huge part of me feels like a giant part of my life is hoping on a plane and I’ll never see it again. But at the same time, we didn’t say goodbye. Goodbye is too final. I’ll always have this friend in my life, and can’t wait to go out and visit him for another crazy adventure in a place I’d never expected to go.

Love you, friend. I can’t wait to eat seven cakes and fourteen pancakes when you’re settled. -rk

 

New Moon in Gemini ~ Mind, Body, Spirit Reading

New Moons are a time for fresh beginnings, new starts. To celebrate this new moon, which began in Gemini and is currently in Cancer, I brewed some detoxing Dandelion Tea and pulled a 3 card, Mind, Body, Spirit tarot reading.

I have a tendency to live in the clouds – to dream and day dream without thinking through actual steps toward a goal. Sometimes it gets me into trouble ~ this reading tells me to stay focused, and not get distracted in the multitudes or choices.

I’m working on an exciting large project “behind the scenes”, and it’s coming together so beautifully. There are bumps, as there always are, but if I can stay focused on tangible results (not my day dreams) and remember to rely on my friends and loved ones all will go well.

Real Magic: Family & Friends

My beloved recently celebrated a special birthday. To celebrate, we had a tiny party at home with baby girl last week, and a fancier celebration with family and friends today.

Guests traveled from all over Massachusetts (and Maine!) to join us, and we enjoyed delicious food and wonderful company.

Whenever I’m surrounded by so much love and kindness, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude. There are so many amazing people in our life, and we are so thankful.

As we departed today’s celebration, we stopped in at a local wand shop (Yes, of course we have a wand shop here in Salem!). Baby Girl got her first wand – one handcrafted from unicorn hair and maple. All afternoon she used her wand to make magic and @mikegiannopolo and I spent a lot of time dropping things as she Expeliarmoused us.

I’ll never tell her magic isn’t real. Of course she can’t really force people to drop things. But the love we feel in life when surrounded by family and friends is magic in its own rite – and I hope she’ll grow to love and appreciate that feeling.

I hope she will always know that our actions – big and small – can have an incredible impact on those around us. I hope she’ll always want to use her charms to celebrate those around her… and that she’ll learn more spells than Expelliarmous because dropping something you’re holding over and over again can become rather monotonous.

Happy New Moon in Taurus, Witches. Enjoy your earthly pleasures, like family and friends. 🖤

Spell Recipe – Kick your coughs to the curb

If you live in New England in the winter and/or if you have an elementary school aged child at home (like me) you know germs are jerky manifesters who enjoy setting up shop and making the household cough and achy and are SO ANNOYING for months.

Since Yule my little family has had cold after cold and we’re all begging each other to stop coughing on each other’s faces. I’m definitely not anti-medication – you do you – but I do try my best to find herbal and natural remedies when they are possible and safe.

I avoided stuff like Vick’s forever, but when we welcomed a tiny germ factory – I mean tiny person into our family I realized sometimes chemicals do the trick and everyone can get some sleep.

That said, I didn’t love that the product didn’t explain all of the ingredients on the label, but it worked so I made do! I’m on a path to living a more sustainable life, so I attempted to make my own cough suppressant cream.

We tried it as a family. One of us found it perfectly helpful, one found it slightly helpful, and one said it didn’t help at all. Give it a shot and let me know if it helps you! I Reiki charged ours, but I realize that’s not something you all have – happy to help you in that regard if you’d like – Let me know.

  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 8 drops peppermint essential oil

Apply to the chest and the feet (and cover in cozy socks) right before sleeping.

Trans Rights are Human Rights

American politics are in complete chaos – still. I’ve had to deactivate my facebook. I refuse to listen to the news. My sensitive soul can’t stand the policies being put in place that harm people I love. From the theft our our nation’s public lands by hungry investors, to using military force to block refugees from finding help in the “land of the free”, to women’s rights being put at risk every day, to men saying it’s a scary time to be alive because sexual predators are being named for who they truly are.

It’s a scary time.

A number of years ago a baby was born in our family. I am so grateful to have been among the first people in the world to welcome this baby. I was able to visit at the Birth Center and hold the baby (and proceed to almost drop the baby, which my husband teases me about still to this day.). The day this child was born is a day I will never forget. I remember how I wore my hair, the shirt I wore. I recall the scent of the cozy room. The mama’s tired, but so-full-of-love face. The sweet little baby’s eyes as they sleepily began to take in the world.

A few months ago this baby – now a teenager – shared with us that he is a trans man. We’d called this baby a “she” their whole life, not realizing. When we learned the news, we welcomed this person with warm arms. We hope to be sure to help him know he’s loved. To help him know know that being you is more important than trying to be someone you aren’t to make others comfortable.

Weeks after we learned this news, the current American administration announced it would CHANGE THE DEFINITION of gender.

“The Trump administration is looking into restricting the definition of gender to be based on a person’s genitalia at birth…

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” a memo stated. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

~Peter Wade – Rolling Stone Magazine (

The American government wants to tell my loved one he can’t be who he knows he is. The American government says this child must accept a body that doesn’t feel like his own, must hide his true person from the world because it might make someone uncomfortable.

Screw that.

We can’t just sit back and do nothing, friends. We have to speak up for those we love. I know the government is corrupt. I know politicians can be assholes. I KNOW.

I know this, but we still need to vote. Here in Massachusetts we can vote Yes on 3:

“This law adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement.”

That’s it. The law would make it so that our friends, neighbors, loved ones can’t be discriminated against. If you’re a republican and want the government to get out of your way, you should support this ballot. If you’re a libertarian and believe in free will, you should support this ballot. If you’re a democrat and believe in human rights, you should support this ballot. If you’re an independent/not a party/any other category I’ve missed – you should support this ballot.

So, even if you don’t want to vote for elected persons, go and vote for this ballot measure. Leave the rest blank, no one will know. I don’t care.

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking you don’t “believe” in trans rights. You don’t think gay people should have rights. So this is for you: You most definitely know someone who is gay. Someone who is bi-sexual. Someone who is trans. They’re probably afraid to tell you because you’ve made your stance know. So, sit down and listen. 

Still think the government is such a mess you can’t support it? Think voting for this ballot isn’t enough?  I have great news for you: You can still help out.

I’ve been in touch with two local organizations supporting trans rights. You can support them financially. No cash to spare? Follow them on social media. Leave kind, loving comments. Spread the word about the incredible work they do to support our trans friends and neighbors.

ProjectOUT: Assistance, education, advocacy, & lifesaving gender-affirming services for the transgender and non-binary community. 

NAGLY: A space in Salem for LGBTQ youth on the North Shore of Massachusetts. 


Tomorrow is election day here in the States. Please vote.

Tag me @bookwitchsalem in your “I voted!” post on instagram, facebook, or twitter and be entered to win one of TWO prizes. You can choose from an animal (or human) Reiki session or a five card tarot reading. Winners randomly picked on Wednesday. #witchthevote #vote #yeson3 #transrightsarehumanrights

 

Little Free Libraries of Salem

Little Free Libraries! What a perfectly amazing concept – you read a book. You think it’s ok, but you know you will never read it again. You want to donate to the library, but they’re all stacked up (Get it? All stacked up!?) so you bring it home again.

Now what?

Well, what about a Little Free Library! These stations are set up all around our amazing city of Salem. Locations are listed below. You can place a book in for someone else to enjoy AND if you’d like, you can choose a book left by someone else to enjoy yourself! WIN/WIN.

Here are the current locations for Little Libraries in Salem!

  • Carrollton Street
  • House of the Seven Gables
  • Lappin Park
  • Lemon Street (on the Bridge Street bike path)
  • Mary Jane Lee Park
  • Oakland Street (North Salem)
  • The Ropes Mansion Garden
  • Salem Willows (corner of Columbus & Bay View) *has been taken down (temporarily?)
  • Furlong Park on Franklin Street
  • Patton Park (corner of School and Buffum Streets)
  • Linden Street near the Forest Street intersection

Definitely check out these little libraries and make a point to tell others.

Did we miss one? Has a new one been added? Let me know! BookWitchSalem@gmail.com.