By Edith Morgan
Didn’t last week invigorate us all? The wild gyrations of the temperature kept us all on our toes, and we had a great topic for small talk, as speculation as to what weather we might have next fills in the blank spaces in conversation.
But there is plenty else to discuss: Worcester is in for some more great changes, in addition to all the new buildings, streets, trails, park improvements, plantings and other projects taking place in all parts of our city.
Two great decisions face us: the selection of a new superintendent of our schools and replacing Steve O’Neill, former head of the WRTA. Even if we do not have children in school and do not use public transportation, the domains of these two critical institutions in our city touch us all, even if indirectly.
And of course there is the primary election on March 1 – and preparing for “the BIG ONE” – the presidential election in November. All these decisions are “heavy duty” stuff – requiring deep thought and research, and we will need some relief from these heavy duties.
So, let’s think SPRING!
I know: spring is really three months or more away, but so much of the pleasure of enjoying it lies in anticipation! Looking forward to that first crocus pushing up through the ground and going out at the first sign of warmth to see if anything else has survived the winter.
During the cold months, I have been in the habit of pushing seeds and bulbs into the ground around my houseplants, quickly forgetting what I buried where. So, about this time of year, shoots are raising their heads, in unexpected places, enjoying the warmth and increasing amount of sunshine indoors as the days grow slowly longer. And every time we eat an avocado, I save the great oblong pit and in a fit of eternal optimism save it and try to get it to propagate. Avocado pits are very deceptive: They will remain dormant for months and then suddenly develop a root first, split and send out a straight shoot into the air, very quickly. And turning into an impressive sapling in what seems like no time at all.
This is also the time when all the catalogs arrive, and even though I am on a 70 X 70 foot lot, mostly occupied by my house, I still start out with high hopes every spring and try to whittle away at the grass more and more each year to make room for gardening.
The catalogs are crammed full of eye-dazzling photos and mouth-watering pictures and ideas for growing things in so many ways, there is scarcely any home that cannot accommodate SOME kind of growing thing.
Remember the “Victory Gardens” of World War II? It was patriotic to grow things in every nook and cranny and almost every American tried some kind of gardening. Would this not be a great time to bring back that idea? The Regional Environmental Council (REC) does such a great job of helping Worcester neighborhoods. REC staff and volunteers teach young people to grow, plant and produce their own food. We should all help and follow their example.
By Rosalie Tirella
I was shooting for the stars: a purebred German Shepherd (gorgeous! majestic!) puppy (trainable, no bad habits/baggage) – a rescue (fixed, vaccinated, relatively inexpensive compared to a GSD pup from a breeder) who looked like the Old Injun Fighter’s vicious German Shepherd, Sparky (my dog would be the squirrely love tunnel back into the heart of the ex-beau I WILL NEVER EVER GET OVER) but acted like Rin Tin Tin (brave, loyal, serious, smart – just the ticket for my rough, crime-ridden Worcester inner-city neighborhood) ….but some how, like it always happens with me in life, love and dogs … I ended up with the POLAR OPPOSITE of my expectations! I ended up with Lilac!
A jingly jangly, wicked smart (plott?)hound-collie-shepherd-(coon?)hound mutt from Tennessee who runs circles around this old lady’s heart! She’s ALL Star American athlete while my other dog, 7-year-old Husky-mix Jett, and I wallow in middle age. She is strong and sure-footed while Jett and I sometimes miss a beat and stumble during our afternoon walks. She is silly and high-spirited – Jett and I are more serious, wise … philosophical.
She is spring. Jett and I are autumn.
She climbs trees! That’s the coon hound in her! Have you ever seen a dog pursuing a squirrel so relentlessly, so “doggedly” that she chases it right up the tree and climbs into the tree after it? It’s a wild sight! Lilac, just 9 months old, but three times as strong as Jett, with all her muscular grace bounding up to the tree, then her paws “running up” the tree trunk, four paws off the ground … and she’s all ecstasy, all fearlessness, no distracting thoughts, despite my yells of COME LILAC! COME! as she clambers up that tree trunk, in the most insane, ungainly way! Beautiful!
I have never hung out with such a natural hunter. My first dog, Grace, was a greyhound mix, and her prey drive was sky-high. But all she could do was run amazingly fast after rabbits, squirrels and deer (yes, Grace was a deer hunter!). But she didn’t like to swim – she would stop short in a pond or stream once the water reached her chest. But Lilac is super aquatic! She doggy paddles in various and sundry bodies of water with childlike abandon! Did I mention she can swim, run, climb, hop! hop! as in all four of her paws go off the ground in Tigger-like joyfulness, leap, scamper, lope and bound in pursuit of prey? She does all this with magnificent ease and sometimes grace, with a compact strength that’s overwhelmed me, once knocked me to the ground, left me squirming and crying in pain with a sprained ankle … watching Lilac glide on by, a loose, canine smile spread across her long face, her tongue lolling merrily, as if to say: See ya later, Mommy!
LILAC!!!! I yell as the college kids are lifting me up and gingerly placing me in my car … LILAC!! I scream in agony. But I do not – will not – leave the field until a tuckered-out, panting, chest-heaving Lilac finally notices me from a great distance, finally heeds the call and comes racing back to me, bounding into the car, splattering me and Jett (he never leaves my side these days) with mud and fetid water (Lilac took the scenic route and swam in the little pond) making us all one unholy mess!
Once home, I am busy wrapping my ankle with an ace bandage and popping Advil like PEZ, Jett is sitting on my bed, visibly upset (we had such a nice routine when it was just we two! he seems to say to me), Lilac is sleeping on a mat on the hardwood floor, sleeping a heavy sleep punctuated with sighs and deep moans, as if still chasing that damned squirrel in a dream. …or maybe it’s a wily raccoon in her home state of Tennessee. She is all wet and smelly from her jaunt over fields, through woods, under water, but I want her on the bed with Jett, I want her to feel his equal, build her self-confidence. I go to the linen drawer and pull out an old sheet, fold it in half and spread it over the foot of my bed. LILAC! UP! LILAC! UP! I say to my little athlete, tapping the bed with my the palm of my hand. Lilac rouses, sits up and stretches all the way back, yawning, like a little bathing beauty. She looks so pretty and soft – even with muddy underbelly and paw pads. Then she lopes over to my bed and with the slightest effort (like the true athlete she is) is lying next to Jett, curled up in a ball, in two seconds. Lilac plops down and plops down hard whenever she goes to rest. She never merely lies down. This makes her seem more raw-boned and “country” to me! Which I love! But her long tail always looks slightly feathery and oh so elegant!
We are home.
Jett is annoyed.
I am in pain. I will go to urgent care tomorrow – my ankle has swelled up to grape-fruit size and is KILLING me. I’ll have it x-rayed. Could it be broken?
But Princess Lilac, the little abused puppy who was dumped outside the Animal Control building in a Worcester County town … pretty, dreamy Lilac with limpid brown eyes and white feathery chest … pretty, sensitive Lilac who was kept caged in a too small puppy crate for hours at a time and S-T-R-T-C-H-E-D O-U-T on floor, mat, bed when I first brought her home, pretty collie Lilac who seems to read my mind when I am lonely and comes up to me and plops down hard against my side and rests her head on my chest or stomach and makes me feel warm, safe and, yes, loved, pretty not-so-little-any-more Lilac who drops her wet, chewed up doggy toys in my face when I’m lying on the sofa and talking on the phone with a friend (she does this to grab my attention), the lovely Lilac who takes Jett’s leash in her mouth and tries to lead him where she wants to go, smart Lilac who carries her empty water bowl to my bed and flicks it onto the comforter as if to say: FILL ‘ER UP! PRONTO! I’M THIRSTY, MA! has totally, absolutely won my heart.
… What German Shepherd puppy?????
CLICK HERE to learn more and get involved! Remember: McDonald’s is backing this initiative – and they say they will NOT be upping the price of their Egg McMuffins, etc. if it becomes law.
If McDonald’s, as un-radical a company as they come, can get behind this COMMON SENSE initiative, you can too!
Please! Continue to visit citizensforfarmanimals.com … to learn of new volunteer opportunities, progress made, etc!
THANK YOU! – Rose T.
At Clark University: A social entrepreneur’s approach to
hunger and wasted food
Former president of Trader Joe’s to present Clark U President’s Lecture
Social entrepreneur Doug Rauch will speak at Clark University at 4 p.m., on Thursday, February 18, in Razzo Hall in the Traina Center for the Arts, 92 Downing St.
Part of the President’s Lecture Series at Clark University, “A Social Entrepreneur’s Approach to Hunger and Wasted Food,” is free and open to the public.
Rauch is founder and president of the Daily Table, an innovative retail concept designed to bring affordable nutrition to the food insecure in our cities through using the excess, wholesome food that would otherwise be wasted by growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
It offers “grab-n-go” meals, freshly prepared on-site, as well as a variety of healthy grocery items (produce, dairy, bakery, etc.) at prices that meet or beat less nutritious food costs.
Rauch spent 31 years with Trader Joe’s Company, the last 14 years as its president, helping grow the business from a small, nine-store chain in Southern California to a nationally acclaimed retail success story with more than 340 stores in 30 states.
He developed their prized buying philosophy, created their unique private label food program, and wrote and executed the business plan for expanding Trader Joe’s nationally. He retired from the company in 2008.
Rauch is also CEO of Conscious Capitalism Inc.; a Trustee at Olin College of Engineering; on the Board of Overseers at WBUR; and serves on the board of several for-profit and nonprofit companies.
Rauch received his Executive M.B.A. from the Peter Drucker School of Management at Claremont University, where he won several honorary awards including the Early Career Outstanding Entrepreneur Award from Peter Drucker. Rauch was also a recent Fellow at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, where Daily Table was hatched.
By Dr. Frances Cheng
In the wake of multiple high-profile cancer-related deaths – including those of the vice president’s son Beau Biden, David Bowie, rock musician Lemmy Kilmister, Alan Rickman, and Celine Dion’s husband, René Angélil – President Barack Obama has established a White House task force on cancer, headed by Joe Biden, to “put ourselves on a path to achieve in just five years research and treatment gains that otherwise might take a decade or more.”
The president’s commitment is welcome news to cancer patients and their families, but if we’re serious about achieving this vision, we must abandon ineffective tests on animals, which have hobbled cancer research since the War on Cancer was declared nearly half a century ago.
Almost 20 years ago, former National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Dr. Richard Klausner stated, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades — and it simply didn’t work in humans.”
But tragically, researchers did not change course. We still don’t have effective treatments for many forms of cancer, and the mortality rate remains high. This lack of results has not been for lack of funds: The NCI had a research budget of more than $2 billion in 2014. Where have these resources gone?
About half of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) $31 billion budget funds cruel — and often bizarre — experiments on animals that we’ve known for decades don’t lead to cures for humans. For instance, in federally funded experiments at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, monkeys’ testes were irradiated, and some of their testicular cells were then injected into mice whose testes had also been blasted with radiation.
At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, tumors grown in genetically modified mice were implanted in the brains of fish in a project funded by NIH. And in recent prostate cancer experiments at Colorado State University and North Carolina State University, dogs’ genitals were exposed to powerful radiation in an attempt to induce erectile dysfunction, which it did in some.
The dogs were then sexually manipulated in order to measure the functioning of the genitals and were then killed and dissected. Many of the dogs were killed just because of the highly toxic effects of the radiation.
A recent paper by researchers at McMaster University examined the failure of cancer experiments on animals to apply to humans, concluding, “The power of the animal models to predict clinical efficacy is a matter of dispute due to weaknesses in faithfully mirroring the extremely complex process of human carcinogenesis. The vast majority of agents that are found to be successful in animal models do not pan out in human trials.”
Indeed, about 95 percent of experimental drugs deemed safe and effective in tests on animals fail in human trials because they don’t work or turn out to be dangerous. Cancer drugs have the highest failure rate of all disease categories, and the few that are ultimately approved often have marginal effectiveness and harmful side effects with symptoms arguably worse than the disease itself.
Both cancer patients and animals in laboratories are suffering while animal experimenters continue to throw public and private resources at a misguided and irrelevant research paradigm that has never worked and never will.
Thankfully, in its recently released five-year plan, NIH acknowledged that “animal models often fail to provide good ways to mimic disease or predict how drugs will work in humans, resulting in much wasted time and money while patients wait for therapies” and committed to a greater investment in “technologies that will be better than animal models.” These include three-dimensional cancer models – made from human cells – that can be used to test experimental drugs and high-tech miniature lungs- and other organs-on-chips that replicate fully functioning body systems, mimic human diseases, and allow researchers to test treatments more efficiently and effectively than by artificially inducing illnesses in animals of the wrong species.
This technology is available and in use now, and adopting it more extensively will save millions of lives—both human and nonhuman.
To win the war on cancer, it’s time to give tests on animals a dishonorable discharge.
Dr. Frances Cheng, a senior research associate with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has a Ph.D. in physiology.
There are many ways in which you can be a wildlife lifesaver, especially during winter. Please share these valuable tips with neighbors and friends so that the birds, mice, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals whose habitats intersect with ours can be protected from harm:
Cap your chimney. When birds sit on top of a chimney for warmth, they can be overcome by fumes, which can cause them to fall in and die.
Never use smoke or fire to drive animals out of chimneys. This will almost certainly kill young animals who are not physically able to leave on their own. Once animals have left, seal all points of entry with a foam sealant or hardware cloth. This must be done in the fall or winter to keep immobile babies—born in warmer months—from becoming trapped! If you accidentally seal an animal inside, reopen the hole and allow him or her to leave.
Repair and seal attic openings. If raccoons have already taken up residence in unwanted areas, evict them by placing ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs into the affected areas (animals can’t stand the smell and will leave).
Make your property “undesirable.” (Note: Bird feeders and fish ponds are direct invitations.) Put out garbage only on the day that it will be picked up, and keep it in tightly sealed containers. Also, feed companion animals indoors, and if you do place any food outside, be sure to remove it when the animals are finished eating.
Deny mice and rats access to food in your home. This is the best way to discourage them from taking up residence. Seal holes and cracks that are larger than ¼-inch wide, and store all food in airtight, rodent-proof containers. If you think you have a little visitor, immediately place peppermint oil–soaked cotton balls and rags throughout infested areas.
Keep all garbage in tightly sealed, chew-proof containers.
Rinse out tin cans, put the tops inside so that they can’t slice a tongue, and crush the open end of the cans as flat as possible.
Cut open empty cardboard and plastic containers so that squirrels and other small animals can’t get their faces or heads trapped in them. We have seen so many animals with their heads caught in containers—it would break your heart.
Cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds.
Place stickers on your windows to prevent birds from flying into them.
Although they are equipped with fur and feathers, dogs, cats, birds and other animals can still suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold temperatures mean extra hardship for “backyard” dogs, who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care.
When the temperatures nosedive and you start piling on the layers, it’s also important to remember your wild neighbors. Wild animals burn extra calories during the winter months to stay warm, and they may have a difficult time finding drinking water. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do this winter to help take care of all your furry friends!
Take animals inside. Puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, are particularly susceptible to the elements. Short-haired animals will also benefit from warm sweaters or coats.
Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors. In cold weather, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started. (To help prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine.) Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground.
Increase animals’ food rations in cold weather. In cold weather, animals burn more calories to keep warm. Also, be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can rob them of vital nutrients.
Keep an eye out for strays. Take unidentified animals inside until you can find their guardians, or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water, and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding), and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.
Clean off your dogs’ or cats’ legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make animals sick if they are ingested while the animals are cleaning themselves.
When you see dogs left outdoors, provide them with proper shelter. Doghouses should be made of wood (metal is a poor insulator) and positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house several inches off the ground, and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for bedding (rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze).
Buy nontoxic antifreeze made with propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol, which can kill animals even in small doses. Safe brands include Sierra and Prestone Lowtox. Animals are attracted to antifreeze for its sweetness, so clean up spills quickly, and buy brands with the bittering agent denatonium benzoate.
Provide a source of water for wildlife, who may have a difficult time finding drinking water during winter months. Break the ice at least twice a day.
Give wildlife a boost. While it’s best to provide natural sources of food and shelter for birds by planting flowers and trees that produce seeds and berries, birds may need an extra boost during the winter, when they are burning extra calories to keep warm. Use a blend of seeds that includes oiled sunflower seeds, which are high in calories. Remember to stop the feeding when the weather warms up.
An artificial food source causes wild animals to congregate in unnaturally large numbers in areas where they may be welcomed by some, but not others, and it can also make them easy targets for predators. Eventually, they may lose their ability to forage for food on their own entirely.
By Alisa Mullins
His name is Freddie. Two weeks ago, he was just a number — one of the 30 million anonymous cows slaughtered for their flesh and skin in the U.S. every year. Today, he’s a poster cow for eating vegan.
Freddie became famous when he made a break for it while being unloaded from a truck at a slaughterhouse in Queens, New York, and bolted down a busy street. He was quickly rounded up by police and returned to the slaughterhouse. But by then, his story had gone viral and captured the public’s imagination. New York musician Ramona Montañez expressed the sentiments of many with her tweet: “Let the cow live!”
The cow—technically a steer—did live, thanks to Mike Stura, founder of Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue in New Jersey, who drove to the slaughterhouse and waited outside all night in his truck to make sure he was there first thing in the morning when workers arrived. His patience paid off: The slaughterhouse owner agreed to spare the young steer.
“It’s nice if one lives once in a while,” said Stura.
Freddie had been earmarked for a family who was planning to use his flesh for a “special event,” and another cow will probably be killed in Freddie’s place—unless the family decides to serve only vegan food at its big do.
Sound unlikely? Perhaps, but it’s almost certain that many of the millions of people who heard Freddie’s story are looking at their T-bones and hamburgers in a new light. That steak used to be a someone—someone who didn’t want to die.
We don’t like to give much thought to the billions of animals killed for food every year. It’s easier to pretend that they don’t suffer when the killing goes on behind closed doors, far away from our kitchen tables, where we can’t see the terror in their eyes or hear their screams of protest. We don’t like to think about their slaughter: how they are shot in the head with a captive-bolt pistol, are shackled by a hind leg and hoisted up in the air, have their throats slit, and are eviscerated and dismembered—all while fully conscious if the captive-bolt gun happens to be off the mark, as it often is on high-speed automated slaughter lines that kill 19,000 animals every minute.
But when we’re brought face to face with our “dinner,” as people in Queens were, most of us realize that this animal is not a walking entrée—he’s an individual who has feelings, just as our dogs and cats do … just as we do.
People who’ve never met a cow like Freddie in person often pretend that cows are stupid, because that makes them feel better about eating them. But cows aren’t stupid. They’re known for their problem-solving capabilities, as well as for being gentle, inquisitive, sociable, amiable and trusting. If their trust in us is misplaced, that reflects badly on us, not them.
Maybe the humans who insist—all evidence to the contrary—that eating meat doesn’t hurt animals (or the planet or our health) are the slow-witted ones. In her book, Do Unto Animals, author Tracey Stewart writes movingly about hearing mother cows on a dairy farm crying for their calves, who’d been taken away to be sold for veal. “Sometimes you have to listen a little harder to understand what an animal is trying to say,” she writes. “And sometimes they are saying it so loudly it’s hard to imagine people don’t hear.”