Cats … with thumbs…

Thinking Big And Small About The Winona Fire by Emilio DeGrazia

Thinking Big And Small About The Winona Fire by Emilio DeGrazia

There have been so many recent floods and fires that medieval philosophers––those who believed that fire, water, earth and air were the only four “elements”––must be in their heavens and hells wondering if fire and water are at war with earth and air. Wars here and there––those who sponsor them––can share the blame for some of the fires, and it’s apparent that the wildfires devastating parts of the American landscape result more from human misdeeds than from any tendency nature has to destroy itself. We can’t help wondering what causes things to burn. Though in Greek the word for “fire” is puros, also the root of our English word for “pure,” fire seems the most devilish of the four medieval elements.

When things go up in smoke people begin looking for things, often in the smoke itself. When the World Trade Towers came crashing down on 9-11 some saw Satan in the cloud of smoke rising from the scene. Though many of these same people believe that a loving God is in control of everything on earth, no one is said to have seen the face or hand of God in the smoke.

When a fire recently destroyed the Islamic Center in the heart of downtown Winona, the smoke hovered in the air above the town like sad thoughts. The fire leveled not only the Islamic Center but seriously damaged shops and offices that represent much that is good about the town––a coffee shop named Blooming Grounds, a gift shop named Pretty Things, a kid’s shop named Pipe Dream Toys, a sporting goods store called Sole Sport, a law office, and offices for Integrative Health Care and Outreach and Emergency Services organizations. A sex shop on the same block selling eros-enhancing artifacts seems to have escaped serious damage.

Some dark thoughts, so big and airy they no doubt had holes in them, also were lurking in the smoke moiling over the scene. Was the fire the work of Satan or God? Did some fanatical Christian want to do Muslims in, did Muslims conspire to destroy their own Center in order to make Christians look bad, or was the fire some sort of divine revenge for having a sex shop in the middle of town? Some Christian groups and officials at the Islamic Center had been opposed to having the sex shop on the same block, but learned to live with it when the decision came down that the shop’s right to exist was protected by law. Continue reading

Dogtown… by Rachel Mankowitz

I want to live at Dogtown

Posted on August 18, 2013 by rachelmankowitz

There was a show on the National Geographic channel a few years ago set at an Animal Sanctuary in Utah called Best Friends. They have separate enclosures for birds and cats and rabbits and horses and pigs, and the section for dogs is called Dogtown.

The show focused on their work with last chance dogs, and how they try to give them better lives. Each dog has a team of veterinarians and groomers and trainers and volunteers looking out for them, and coming up with creative ideas for how to help them with problems other shelters couldnt solve. So a half-blind, ten year old dog, who couldnt walk on a leash, had people brainstorming ways to help him live his best possible life. And, if they couldnt find him a forever home, he would always have a home at the sanctuary.

Dogtown represents the kind of safety net I wish we all had, pets and humans alike, because the volunteers and groomers and vets and trainers at Dogtown seemed to be infused with a level of compassion and persistence you dont find in regular life. The problem is that most shelters are not Dogtown. Some have the compassion, but not the skill, or they have the volunteers, but not the money, or the space.

The shelter where we got Butterfly subsidizes her medical care, and sends buses to pick up dogs from puppy mills all the time, but they have no mandate to train the dogs, or help them overcome social deficits. Their goal is to send the dogs out to new homes as soon as possible.

See more at http://rachelmankowitz.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/i-want-to-live-at-dogtown/