He Stood in the Tree, Worm in his Mouth, Looking for Babies to Feed

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The bluebird stood in the tree, a green worm in his mouth, but he had nowhere to go with it. There was no nest.

Instinct told him he had little ones to care for; so, on autopilot, he collected the worm. He held the squirming green body for long moments, hopping along the branch, looking down toward where the nest was just yesterday. Nothing.

He finally ate it himself.

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The evening before, I’d looked out my window to see what my bluebirds were up to—like I did about 100 times most days. I had never been a birder before, and probably drove my Facebook friends crazy with my requests to identify new birds I spotted around my home in the woods of rural Virginia.

“Newbies,” they’d scoff to themselves. “So annoying.”

But I’d become attached to the birds who lived in my backyard, as I became attached to all the wild animals who made their homes in the woods nearby.

I believed in their right to life, their value as members of our planet, their unique beauty, and what they could teach me about finding contentment in the moment.

I treasured them all. The phoebes who built a nest on our drain spout and were on their second batch of the summer. The bluebirds who moved into first one house and then another after successfully rearing brood #1.

So I watched them and waited, hoping to catch a glimpse of the babies leaving the nest, the parents feeding. I knew this batch was still young, not yet ready to go, but I remained fascinated and watched as only a birdie-voyeur is capable of doing.

Confusion assaulted me. Why wasn’t my birdhouse where it belonged? What was going on?

Bear.

I didn’t see it happen, but I knew it was the only explanation that made sense.

I can still envision the moment; the ease with which he reached up, cupped the small wooden house, and batted the nest to the ground, smashing the top and emptying the cubby of its fledglings.

I rushed outside, sobbing, “No, my babies!” but knew there was no hope.

Nothing there.

I desperately tried to figure out how I could fix it. How could I put it back together, bring the babies back? Was the mom dead too?

I didn’t know.

The anger and pain rushed my senses. I screamed “Fuck you, Bear, Fuck YOU!” and then fearfully eyed the bushes as the gloom of dusk eased into darkness.

I may have been enraged, but I wasn’t suicidal. If I actually attracted the bear with my verbal onslaught, I knew who would end up on the losing end of that battle.

Sobbing, I fumbled my way back inside.

I reached out to online friends for support in my grief, loss, and anger at the bear, and inevitably got that one person who feels compelled to say something incredibly insensitive like: “That’s just nature being nature.”

On what planet do people believe that’s helpful?

As a reasonably intelligent woman, I can well understand in theory that nature isn’t pretty, and that animals eat each other every single day.

But knowing that will never stop me from wanting to protect those I consider ‘family’, and grieving if something happens to these tiny beings.

The next morning, feeling empathy for my sadness, my husband climbed to the first bluebird house and cleaned the old nest out. We added more safety netting to the bottom of the tree, and removed a couple saplings that were too close to the old nest for comfort.

Then I waited to see if the parents had made it out alive.

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I saw the male.

He was perched at the bend of the destroyed pole, peering about for his lost family. Where had they gone? I watched as he flew from there to the old house, checking inside just in case, and then to a third house that had remained uninhabited.

I was helpless to fix either of our broken hearts.

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He repeated his treks from the old house to the tree limb and back multiple times, and I hated watching his compulsive behavior, suffering my own grief for the loss of his family.

I’d all but given up hope that his mate had made it out alive; I should have seen her by now. What would the male do under these circumstances? I had no idea.

But then, it happened. Something glorious.

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His mate flew up and joined him on the porch of the old nest.

She’d made it!

She made it.

More tears, but now happy ones. The bad was still there—the babies were still gone—but now there was hope for tomorrow for this gorgeous couple.

Maybe they would try again in the old house; maybe they will be back next year.

The world suddenly held room for maybes and possibilities again.

It will always be hard for me to witness “nature being nature.” I am blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a heart for the animals, and I feel each loss so very deeply.

Please, do those like me a favor. Next time we share our grief and loss over an animal we care about, don’t tell us it’s just “nature being nature.”

We know that, already, thank you.

But we love anyway.

P.S. Yes, I felt sad for the worm, too.

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of The Wrath of Dog, Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues.

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New Young Adult Novel by Author Tamira Thayne Finds Creative Ways to Highlight Dog Chaining, Cat Dissection

wrathcover-lodropAnimal activist Tamira Thayne loved to read paranormal novels, and one of her dreams was to write one herself someday.

Trouble was, although she’d spent 13 years writing about dog chaining and dog foster parenting as founder of the nonprofit organization Dogs Deserve Better, she’d never considered any kind of storyline for a novel.

But then it hit her: What if the chained dog in the story was actually a lot MORE than he appeared to be? And what if he could somehow rise up and take vengeance on those who treated him so poorly?

(I mean really, don’t all animal activists daydream about the animals rising up against those who torment them?)

And so, the idea for The Wrath of Dog was born. While Thayne plans for a three-five book series, she’s already at work on a prequel short story entitled “The King’s Tether.”

The Wrath of Dog is available now in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. A signed copy can be ordered directly from the author on our website as well.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kindle | Buy from Createspace and $1 Will be Donated to Unchained Melodies Dog Rescue

About the Book:

The hairy beast growled and lunged at Baylee, his rusted logging chain straining to break—like it did every morning she cut down his back alley.

She hadn’t dubbed him “The Wrath of Dog” for nothin’.

She’s vowed that someday she’ll free Wrath and they’ll rise up and smite his obviously nasty owner. For today, though, she just needs to get past him without dying and make it the two blocks to class before the bell rings and she has another detention headed her way.

Wrath’s plight is soon forgotten when her refusal to dissect a kitty earns her another trip to Principal Baird’s office. Things go from bad to worse, and before long she’s hearing voices in her head, decamping the school premises with a band of zombie cats, and learning that The Wrath of Dog is a lot more than she bargained for.

Next thing she knows she’s avoiding her best friend, learning she’s not quite human, and taking on an unseen enemy to save the day, her family, and just maybe two worlds in the process.

Becoming an adult sure isn’t what she thought it would be…

About the Author:

tamijewelonyxloTamira Thayne always wished she could smite a nasty dog chainer, but it seems that’s frowned upon in today’s society—so she’s writing about it instead. She settled for pioneering the anti-tethering movement in America, forming and leading the nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better for 13 years.

During her time on the front lines of animal activism and rescue she took on plenty of bad guys (often failing miserably); her swan song culminated in the purchase and transformation of Michael Vick’s dogfighting compound to a chained-dog rescue and rehabilitation center. She’s spent 878 hours chained to a doghouse on behalf of the voiceless in front of state capitol buildings nationwide, and worked with her daughter to take on a school system’s cat dissection program, garnering over 100,000 signatures against the practice.

She’s the author of Foster Doggie Insanity and Capitol in Chains, and the co-editor of Unchain My Heart and the upcoming Rescue Smiles. In 2016 she founded Who Chains You, publishing books by and for animal activists and rescuers.

The Wrath of Dog is available now in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. A signed copy can be ordered directly from the author on our website as well.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kindle | Buy from Createspace and $1 Will be Donated to Unchained Melodies Dog Rescue

Who Chains Us as Animal Advocates? What Stops You from Making Your Best Strides for the Animals?

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When one applies the “First, Do No Harm” principle to everyday life, feeling a need to extend protection to animals is a no-brainer, and should be the obligation of every human on the planet.

What is “Do No Harm”?

From Reflections on Ethics by Paul Sharkey: It is commonly believed that the principle “First, do no harm” originated with the physician’s oath and is circumscript with the practice of medicine. It did not and it is not. As a moral principle, refraining from doing harm is both much more fundamental and much more universal than that. It forms the very foundation of the moral teachings of the founders of at least two of the world’s major religions and was so central to the life and teachings of Socrates that he literally chose to die rather than transgress it. Fully understanding, appreciating and following this principle is, I believe, key to following a life which is at once, fully human, fully alive, and fully virtuous.

Unfortunately, many people in our world—including our current government—do not live by this motto, and regularly visit harm on both humans and animals without sparing it a second thought. For those who do agree with “Do No Harm” (in theory at least), the welfare of animals is not considered important enough to fall under the principle, and so they apply it solely to humans.

The result is that very few folks who are not actively involved in the animal movement outwardly agree with or support broad protective efforts on behalf of the animals. They are all too quick to brush such efforts to the side in order to advocate for the ‘important human issues’, or dismiss them out of hand.

Where does that leave animal activists and rescuers? “Chained”, and full of negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and fear.

Who Chains Animal Advocates?

Any campaign on behalf of the animals has more than its fair share of adversaries. Law enforcement and society at large actively protect animal users and abusers from every walk of life. This includes but is not limited to: dog chainers, animal food producers, animal food consumers, rodeos and circuses, and pet animal mills.

All too often any human who helps a suffering animal ends up arrested.

There are very real emotional hurdles for an animal advocate to conquer in order to take a stand for the animals. These include, but are not limited to, the following five areas:

1. Fear of Standing Up and being Physically or Mentally Attacked by Animal Abusers

When one decides to take a public stance against any form of animal use and abuse, a primal fear of death must first be mastered before an advocate can and will put him/herself on the line for others. The chances of suffering either physical or emotional abuse for taking a stand for the voiceless is at virtually 100%. People who abuse animals without a thought have no compunction about doing the same to any human who gets in their way; therefore, those who desire to advocate for animals have to first face their fears and decide to act anyway.

2. Fear of Arrest

Any activist or rescuer working on behalf of animals faces arrest if they are engaged in front line efforts. Being arrested and dragged through the court system is not only scary, but affects one’s career and life outside of animal work, one’s pocketbook, and can even end in a felony and jailtime. That’s a lot of fear to get past in order to do what anyone with a heart would consider ‘the right thing’!

3. Anger that Even though there are Cruelty Laws on the Books, these Laws Don’t Protect the Animals

Virtually every state has cruelty laws on the books that go along the lines of “every animal must have food, water, shelter.” Not only do these laws often get completely ignored, any activist or rescuer who—forced to make a life or death decision on behalf of the animal—takes it into her/his hands to provide the animal the care and nutrition they need and deserve is labeled a vigilante at best, and “worse than the worst hardened criminal” at worst. (That’s what the D.A. said about me when I rescued a dog name Doogie from deplorable conditions in PA.)

Watching the suffering of animals and feeling as though your hands are tied to do anything about it leads to 24/7 anger and stress, which takes a debilitating toll on an animal advocate’s physical and mental well-being.

4. Frustration with People who Claim to LOVE Animals, while Refusing to Lift a Finger to Help

The animal movement is hard-pressed for willing volunteers. While so many people pay lip service to loving animals, the truth is that most won’t show up for fundraisers or foster an animal, let alone stop eating them. The hypocrisy of the situation is a source of endless frustration to animal advocates; and, worse, they are forced to keep these feelings inside for fear of offending donors and potential volunteers. Pushed down inside, these negative emotions brew up a nasty cocktail of physical and mental maladies, with ailments beginning to show up more and more regularly.

5. Fear of Failure in Helping the Animals

No one likes to fail. When we do suffer a failure in helping the animals, we are hit with a double whammy showcasing our own feelings of inadequacy sandwiched with highlights of guilt and shame for letting the animals down too. Soon an advocate may give up trying because the pain of failing again is just too daunting.

Compassion Fatigue

From my book, Foster Doggie Insanity: Just what is Compassion Fatigue Syndrome, anyway? In a nutshell, it is caused by the pain of witnessing or bearing repeated trauma while caring for others (in our case, animals) and putting the care of others before ourselves. We see no end to the need and no way to make it stop. The resulting apathy, detachment, inability to express emotions, and substance abuse heads a long list of manifestations now associated with and labeled as Compassion Fatigue Syndrome.

Most on the front lines of animal rescue and activism are at danger of developing Compassion Fatigue and/or PTSD, depending on how much abuse they are taking and how much self-care they are practicing while they are going through it.

Animal Advocates Deserve Better

You all deserve better than this ending, and I’d like to see us ALL practicing self-care on a daily basis in order to prop us up, allow us to keep working in the movement, and making a difference for the animals.

When we become sidelined due to PTSD and/or Compassion Fatigue, that’s one less heart and soul in the fight to end their abuse.

And they truly are the voiceless without us.

Why I Like Tapping for Animal Advocates

I like tapping for those in the animal activist and rescue movements because it focuses on REMOVING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS that are held in the body.

Practiced daily, it can and will set you on a positive path, even when you’re embroiled in front-line pain on an everyday basis. Watch the video below to get you started, and visit the founder of Tapping, Gary Craig’s website to immerse yourself and help you work through childhood ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of healing.

Once the Negative’s Out, Bring in the Positive

While it’s essential to release that negative each and every day, it’s also essential to fill the remaining ‘hole’ with positivity! Find a way that works for you, but opening your heart chakra (picture it right where your heart is, so open that heart!) to receive good things for you and the animals is crucial. The more time you can spend each day with an open heart (even though it makes you feel vulnerable, do it anyway!) the better your life will be and the more positive responses you will draw into your life.

If you’re working hard for the animals, let me be the first to commend and thank you. Please work on your self-care each and every day, as you deserve so much better than to be embroiled in pain for advocating for those we all love.

Have a great week!

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Ms. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.

Depression in the Animal Rescue and Animal Activist Communities: 4 Steps to Getting Past the Pain to Make a Difference

Depression is rampant in 21-st century America, and especially pervasive in the animal rescue and activist movements due to constant exposure to pain and suffering on the part of our animal friends.

We are often told that depression is anger turned inward, yet in the world of animal activism and rescue, depression more adequately equates to anger meets helplessness.

Not to overstate the situation, but there is an overwhelming amount of NEED in the animal rescue and activism world. Even if you were financially-set and resource-laden, one person still could not stem the flow of animals that need places to go and daily help. 

So how does one animal-loving human—without significant financial resources—feel when accosted daily with both the overwhelming need AND anger at those who abuse animals or allow abusers to get away with it?

Helpless, hopeless, frustrated, furious…

DEPRESSED, that’s how.

And with just cause.

Unfortunately, wallowing in depression doesn’t get us anywhere—and doesn’t get the animals anywhere—so it’s in our best interest to find a way to relieve both our suffering and theirs without breaking the bank or giving up our lives. Below are four steps you can take daily if you’re one of the folks who suffer from depression due to the status of animals in our society.

(Obviously, if you’re suffering from deep depression or are having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, it’s important to reach out for emergency medical help.)

Give yourself even an hour a day with these methods and I strongly believe within a month you will be moving in a positive direction.

1. Tap to Release Negative Energy

I’m a big fan of Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), because I can do it on my own, I don’t have to work with a therapist or a facilitator, and IT WORKS for me. In fact, according to the founder of tapping, Gary Craig, there are few people he hasn’t been able to help with this method. Luckily for you (and me!), he offers a completely free course on tapping on his website at http://www.emofree.com.

Tapping works with the body’s meridians to release the pain we hold inside. Given that most of us like to pretend that the negative doesn’t exist, we tend to deny the pain and so our body continues to hold onto it, mostly on a subconscious level and within our cells. But tapping daily can bring relief from this pain and even cruise you past childhood emotional injuries that have been holding you back forever. Try it! You can do it while you’re walking the dog, driving to work, even watching TV if you’re feeling down but too desperate to make a big effort.

Tap along here with me for a sneak peak at tapping for depression, and get an idea of what all it entails (hint, it’s easy and simple!):

2. After you Tap to Release the Negative, Bring the Positive Back into Your Life

Hopefully after tapping you’re (at least temporarily) an emotional blank slate. Now is the moment to bring the positive back into your life and heart. Think of a time when you were REALLY HAPPY. During that one special moment you—without even realizing it— held your heart wide open and ready to receive good things.

This is a vulnerable place for us to be, and so we often shut that valve off in order to protect ourselves. But the more and the longer we can keep it open, the better chance we have of bringing ourselves to a more positive place.

So picture that moment, open your heart, and try to hold it open and envision yourself receiving positive events in your life for at least 60 seconds. Smile! Remember, you ARE worthy of good things, just like every other human on the planet.

3. Make a Goal for Yourself

If you were ready and willing to go for your BIG DREAM, what would that look like? Would you build an animal rescue? An animal activist organization? Would you volunteer and become more involved in the day to day world of work for the animals?

Take out your BIG DREAM. Shine it up. And sit it beside your computer. Because now you have a goal, something to work toward, and you’re not going to let depression stop you.

4. Every Day, Take One Baby Step Toward That Goal

I remember when I started Dogs Deserve Better in 2002. I knew I wanted to take a stand, but I was TERRIFIED. I promised myself I’d take five steps toward my goal before the end of the year.

But guess what? Once I got going, I was taking a step toward it every day.

You can do that too. Take one teeny tiny step toward your goal each and every day. If that means you make one phone call? Good. Do one google search on something you’re trying to understand? Great.

Feeling depressed that day and afraid of failing? Do it anyway. Make yourself take the one step.

You’ll be amazed at how you’ll feel afterward! And soon you’ll be adding up all those steps to making a REAL DIFFERENCE for the animals.

P.S. I’m in no way making light of depression, and am well-aware it’s a continual struggle for those who suffer with it. I grew up with a depressed parent, and always thought it was ‘normal’—which meant it became part of my life, too. I offer you these tips if you want to crawl out of the abyss of that kind of pain to make a difference. Sometimes having something to focus on outside of ourselves is the biggest boon we can receive. I wish you all the very best that life has to offer, and the strength to continue your path toward wellness.

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Ms. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.

Been Told You’re ‘Too Sensitive’ for Caring About the Animals? Four Challenges Sensitive People Can Overcome to Make a Difference

 

Are you an animal activist or rescuer who’s been repeatedly told you’re ‘too sensitive’ for caring about animals? You are not alone.

One of the Universe’s little ironies is that the most sensitive among us are the ones tasked with doing one of the most difficult jobs…protecting the animals.

Yet this very same sensitivity—the gift of the ability to empathize, to put ourselves into the shoes, hooves, or paws of another being—puts us at greater risk for pain, depression, and immense suffering, whether we are following through with our chosen mission or not.

There are four hurdles to be overcome in working for the animals which can prove especially challenging to the sensitive soul.

1. Overcoming the Fear of Taking Action

Sensitive folks believe they’ve come to this planet to make a difference. When that difference is scary, such as advocating for animals left out on chains, animals that end up on peoples’ plates, or animals that are used for the amusement of humans, the fear—real and imagined—is amped up accordingly.

There exists the possibility that when one stands in the face of violence against animals, jail, physical and emotional harm, or even death can result. To the sensitive soul these confrontations with amoral people loom large and menacing.

The probability of failure is high, and even when there are successes to tide you over, the greater likelihood is that there remains a continued chance of defeat in each mission you undertake. Those who are sensitive take these failures more personally, believing that it’s all their fault—and just maybe they are not good people—if they can’t succeed.

2. Overcoming Debilitating Pain for and on Behalf of The Animals

For those of us who love animals, the thought of eating them, chaining them, caging them for our amusement, and the host of other uncurbed cruelties that abound out in the ‘real’ world cause us intense emotional discomfort.

We feel this pain on behalf of the tortured souls—as if we are experiencing it AS them—AND we feel this pain on behalf of our own tormented spirits, forced to witness the cruelty and feeling helpless to stop it.

Overwhelming anguish leads to depression, avoidance of the reality we face, and—worst case scenario—suicide.

When we are in such intense agony, it is very hard to act on behalf of the animals. All we can focus on is our own suffering and how to ameliorate it.

3. Overcoming Obstacles and Putdowns by Bullies and Authorities

Sensitive people by and large don’t fend off criticism as well as their neighbors and co-workers. Because they are so easily-affected by the putdowns of others, they struggle to place the far-flung words into perspective, to realize those who are directing abuse at them are really showing themselves for what they are: bullies. To the overwhelmed thought pattern of the empath, the putdowns becomes more proof that they must somehow be defective.

They have a harder time standing up to authorities—even though their moral compass is strong—because the desire to avoid conflict and an inherent kindheartedness is a large part of who they are. As such they are often mistaken for weak by those who bulldoze all those standing in their path.

4. Overcoming Defeat and Getting Back Up to Fight Again

Once a sensitive soul is down, it becomes all too tempting to roll over and play dead. They bury themselves in depression, alcohol, pills, food, TV-watching, internet surfing, or other activities that are self-defeating and don’t forward the mission of advocating for the animals.

Everyone on the front lines needs a break from time to time. Animal advocacy is a very difficult and soul-draining process, especially for those who are empathetic enough to fight on behalf of the animals.

There also comes a time in every activist or rescuer’s career when her front line days are over, she’s served her time, and she can then be of service to the cause as a mentor to others.

Ascertaining at which point on the spectrum the sensitive soul currently sits is an ongoing process, but overcoming a sense of defeat enough to stand and fight another day is a highly-commendable—and possible—goal.

Exactly How Does the Sensitive Soul Overcome These and Other Obstacles to Animal Activism?

Sometimes the most sensitive among us are surprisingly inept at inner reflection and strength-building. Most have suffered intense childhood wounding by their families of origin, and carry this pain into adulthood, mistakenly assuming they are stuck dragging it after them for life.

But our very ability to look deep, to release old, stuck issues, can make the difference in overcoming the obstacles and creating a new reality for ourselves.

Often a childhood fraught with animal abuse brings about the very desire to make a difference for the animals as adults, and letting go of the pain and blame from childhood will go a long way toward giving us the strength to stand tall for those we are now tasked with protecting.

There are a myriad of ways to let go, and there is no wrong way as long as it works for you. Just start exploring the infinite possibilities. I recommend reading “The Four Agreements” if you haven’t already done so, and take its lessons to heart. The agreements are simple yet profound, and the book is short and perfect for multiple readings—as you’ll find it easy to forget what you’ve learned and fall back into childhood patterns.

I’ve become a fan of and use tapping, aka EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), for myself and my clients, as a solid means by which to free negative emotions and build a strong inner core through drawing the positive into your life.

To teach yourself tapping (one of the reasons I love it is that you can totally teach it to yourself), visit the founder’s website and go through the lessons. You won’t regret it. http://www.emofree.com.

Below is a video to get the sensitive souls among us started in overcoming obstacles today. Tap along and you’ll start releasing a little of that pain and negativity within the first 15 minutes!

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Mr. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.