Tell them stories! Also: vegan experts needed, VegListings, and shopping vegan on etsy.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Emma loves her Papa

Emma loves her papa!
CC image via flickr user Vegan Flower (Molly!).
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Hey there lovely people! I have a homework assignment for the dog people in the audience. Don’t worry, it’s short and kind of sweet and won’t distract from your holiday festivities. Dr. Frank McMillan at Best Friends Animal Society is studying human-nonhuman bonding and, as part of his background research, is soliciting stories of love and devotion from those who share their lives with dogs. How do you know that your dog friend loves you? The answer can be short or long-form, simple or multifaceted. Just TELL HIM STORIES! (Always quote His Dark Materials. ALWAYS!)

Here’s the call for submissions, which appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Best Friends magazine:

BEST FRIENDS NEEDS YOUR HELP

If you have a dog who expresses love toward you, we would like to hear your story.

In a very special new study, we are looking in-depth at the emotions of bonding and affection – love – shown by dogs toward their human companions. For background research, we would like to collect stories of dogs’ expressions of love. The story could be about a single incident of your dog’s show of love and devotion, or the ways your dog demonstrates love within your overall relationship. It could simply be an answer to the question: How do you know your dog loves you? If you would like to share your story, please email it to Dr. Frank McMillan at dr.frank@bestfriends.org.

You may recall that I’ve written about Dr. McMillan’s research previously in this here space; see, e.g. Scientists, Poets, Changemakers and Heroes (Volunteer Opportunities & Action Alerts). (Wow, has it been two years already?) Participating in vegan-friendly research projects such as this is an awesome and fun way to contribute to science. And easy, too!

Dr. McMillan posts notices of current research opportunities in Best Friends magazine, which comes “free” with a $25 donation to Best Friends. (We made a donation in Ozzy’s name for their annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony.) In the future, I’ll try to relay new notices as quickly as possible, for those who don’t get the magazine. Forgetting is easy, since a) I tend to let my subscription lapse and b) the notices are somewhat inconspicuous and easy to miss! But I’ll do better, I promise. This stuff is important, yo!

While we’re doing the bulletin board thing, joyful vegan goddess Colleen Patrick-Goudreau recently posted this notice on her FB page:

Call for vegan experts: I’m building a directory of everything from vegan wellness practitioners (chiropractors, acupuncturists, dietitians, naturopaths, nutritionists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, massage therapists, veterinarians) to vegan cooking class instructor and chefs. Wherever you are, if you are vegan and fall into any of the first categories, please email lisa@compassionatecooks.com so we can include you. If you teach cooking classes or have a catering company or are a personal chef, please email colleendavis@compassionatecooks.com. We need the city and state your in, your name, and your website! PLEASE PASS IT ON!

Also, VegListings is a newish directory for vegetarian and vegan businesses; it might come in handy for shoppers as well as business owners, especially with the holidays fast approaching! In the past I’ve put together social justice-themed buying guides; this year, I briefly considered compiling a list of vegan shops on etsy (love me some etsy!) – and then I stumbled upon the Vegan Etsy Team page, making my idea seem redundant.

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…and I hope you will too!

So go, browse, buy (if you can). If not, maybe you’ll be inspired to give gifts crafted by your own two hands this holiday season. It’s fun!

(Image via Herbivore, by way of Vegan Etsy.)

Update, 4/9/12: Due to a recent negative experience on the site, I’m afraid that I can no longer recommend etsy to my friends, family, and readers (and ESPECIALLY not for expensive and/or custom orders!). While the majority of transactions do go smoothly, don’t expect any help from etsy’s customer service on those rare occasions when you have a problem with a seller. Seriously, they were a nightmare to work with – worse even than the seller who never delivered on my custom order, even after six months of haggling.

That said, I still love and support the many vegan storefronts on etsy, and will continue patronizing those that have a presence elsewhere on the web.

Scientists, Poets, Changemakers and Heroes (Volunteer Opportunities & Action Alerts)

Monday, October 26th, 2009

There are several “actionable items” – not quite action alerts, but rather opportunities for participation, if that makes sense – I’ve been meaning to share, but just haven’t had the time to blog about in depth. Rather than neglect these projects altogether, here’s a handy-dandy roundup. Please scan through each item and help out where you can; these virtual volunteer opportunities are perfect for activists who have more extra time than they do money!

1. Science

It really chaps my rotund hide when speciesists claim that animal advocates are “anti-science.” Being all diverse and stuff, I’m sure the animal rights and welfare movements are home to a fair share of science-averse humans, but for the most part, we’re hardly anti-science. On the contrary: many of us harness the power of scientific research to demonstrate that veganism is a healthier alternative to “meat” and dairy consumption; that nonhuman animals can experience complex thoughts and emotions; that our exploitation of nonhumans animals is both unnecessary and harmful; etc., etc., etc. (you get the idea). On the whole, I don’t think we’re any more anti-science than our omni counterparts.

Personally, I love science; once upon a time, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, specializing in anthrozoology and world vegan (then vegetarian, but wev) domination. I still peruse research articles and scientific journals (of a social nature) on occasion, just for the fun of it. No, it’s not science per se that I take issue with. Rather, I object to the imprisonment, torture, killing and exploitation of sentient, non-consenting animals, usually for redundant and frivolous research.

So I’ve become increasingly interested in “vegan” science, particularly in supporting such endeavors whenever possible. For example, I would love to donate my body to science when I die. The thought of spending my “afterlife” rotting away on a body farm somewhere brings a smile to my face; doubly so if my remains can save a nonhuman animal from being birthed, tortured and killed in the name of science. Oooh, Dr. Brennan, pick me, pick me!

Anyhow, when I saw an ad for research volunteers in the latest issue of Best Friends magazine, I immediately fired off an email to Dr. Frank McMillan to see how I might help. He pointed me to five open surveys, all of which are related to studies he’s conducting at Best Friends (as described here):

Dr. Franklin McMillan has been the director of well-being studies at Best Friends since October 2007. As director of well-being studies, Dr. Frank assesses and studies the mental health and emotional well-being of animals who have endured hardship, adversity and psychological trauma. Through these studies, he hopes to learn what the effects of trauma are – the psychological injuries and scars – and how best to treat them in order to restore to these animals a life of enjoyment rather than one of fear and emotional distress.

He is currently conducting such studies on cats from the Great Kitty Rescue in Pahrump, Nevada – an institutionalized hoarding situation – and the fighting dogs taken from the estate of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

(More below the fold…)