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Are We Humanising Animals? An Animal Lover's Perspective

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I often hear people complain that some animal lovers are "humanising animals". I agree to some extent. Some people don't let their dogs be dogs. They don't let them run and roll on the grass or socialise with other dogs, or they treat them like a human baby rather than a member of their own species with their own particular needs. In the case of wild animals , they assign the wrong meaning to their expressions, like when they think dolphins or monkeys are smiling (they don't smile like we do). But I've come to realise these people's definition of humanisation differs from mine most of the time. What they call humanising, I call treating   animals with the care and respect they deserve. And so they will get offended at the suggestion that members of other species have emotions as if emotions were exclusively human. They will get offended at the sight of a sick dog enjoying walks inside a pram as if being sick meant life is over for them. They will get offen

Every Life Counts: I Rescued A Double-Positive Cat

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I saw him during one of my walks. I was going in one direction and, suddenly, for no reason at all, I changed course and there he was. Whether it was fate or pure chance, when he looked at me and meowed, I simply couldn't look away. He was in very bad condition. Too thin, covered in dirt, fleas and flea eggs; a thread of drool hanging from his mouth, which was missing quite a few teeth. He was extremely friendly and kept asking for cuddles. He had clearly been domesticated but everything indicated he had been on his own for a long time. I had to make a plan. The next day, I bought a cat carrier and canned food to try to catch him. All the neighbours in the area watched as I encouraged him to step inside the carrier with the help of some food. "Why are you trying to catch him?", a woman asked. "He's sick." "I know", I said. "That's why." "You want to cure him?" "I'm going to try." She thought he had a tumour an

An Ode to Secondhand Clothes

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I touch this new garment  — new in my hands but not really new, new some time ago in someone else's hands, someone I never knew, someone I'll never know. I touch this new, old garment and the fabric smiles at me. It wants to be worn. It's meant to dress someone instead of being dumped in a landfill or turned into ashes as the smoke rises to the sky. Yes, you're with me now. I carefully step into it, covering my skin, adjusting it in the right places. Its scent welcomes me. It's not the impersonal smell that new clothes are branded with at each store. It's the kind of smell that makes me think of soap and perfume and the person who wore this before me, the person who decided to give it up for someone else to wear. It looks brand new but it still has her essence. I feel the history of it: the body it dressed before me, the emotions it sustained as it held that body, the places it went to, the things it saw. I start to wonder. Did it travel? Was it surrounded by f

Turning to Passion to Overcome Comparison

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I was seventeen when I saw one of my favourite post-rock bands live for the first time. Before the concert, I had only listened to one of their albums but it was an album I played over and over, immersed in a trance, almost possessed by it. I remember walking around the apartment with headphones on, melting with the walls as the sounds turned my body into something fluid, something no longer finite, something that became one with everything around me. I was ravenous for this music, feeding off it day and night. I used to call these obsessive episodes "Godspeed Fever", for the name of the band was Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I was lucky to share this passion with my brother. Our seats were high in the beautiful theatre. The band was far but we could see everything from there: them, their instruments, the screen that played mesmerising images, the rest of the audience... and the magic that unfolded like waves rolling over each of us. Music

Doors Close Until the Right Door Opens

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A month ago, I wrote about my impending move and all the challenges I've faced in the last nine months. I wrote about disappointment. I wrote about how little control we have over our own lives and how we simply must keep going even when everything seems to play against us. Today, a month later... I'm writing about miracles. As I type these words, a white butterfly flies around me. Sparrows and bees fill the silence. The grass is green, the sky is blue, the flowers are pink and purple and a lemon tree says hi behind the wall in front of me. I'm sitting in a garden. I'm sitting in my garden. A stone house with a pink facade stands to my right. This is my new home. Just when I had given up. Just when I was looking for apartments because I couldn't find any houses. Just when everything seemed hopeless and impossible... This. This miracle. Three hours away from my previous home, further northwest than I'd ever been. This. Everything I wanted and more.  Many things

When Life Disappoints, Just Keep Going

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Vertigo. That's the first word that pops up in my head when I sit down to define how I feel right now. In my mind's eye, I see James Stewart climbing a ladder in Hitchcock's universe. I won't fall, I know I won't fall, but the ground seems so far away. Is this the right metaphor to describe what relocating feels like? I know it is for me. Nine months ago, my partner and I moved to this town knowing we'd have to leave ten months later. Now, a month away from that end date, our world is spinning. We had a vision when we came here but the reality didn't match that vision. We thought we would find a little house with a little garden. We thought the lower costs here would help us save. We thought we'd have the peace and quiet we had been craving for so long after living in the big city for many years. What we found instead was a temporary apartment with higher costs and a lower income than we expected. We did find quiet but not as much peace as we hoped for

When Our Bodies Endure

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I lie down and my body and the surface underneath become one, flesh and fabric intertwined. Too tired for verticality. Three weeks ago something invaded my body, something whose name I still can't recall despite having been told twice, despite having repeated it myself so I would remember, as if tasting the word would help retain it. All I know is this is not unusual. Bodies are invaded all the time. When you're alive, everyone and everything wants a piece of you. Life attracts life. Songs from another world play in my head as my body attempts to get rid of this foreign entity. It fights and fights, sending waves of sharp pain on top of a layer of dull pain. The invader travels through my body. It's strange to imagine this microscopic organism exploring the life I contain. I heard our bodies hold more bacterial cells than human cells. What does that make us? More home than human? I find beauty in that thought, our cells dancing with all these other cells. Isn't that tru