Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

No exceptions to cosmetics animal testing ban: top EU court

Yahoo – AFP, September 21, 2016

The European Court of Justice said EU law bars any cosmetic product containing
 ingredients which have been tested on animals, wherever that may occur (AFP
Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU's top court on Wednesday ruled that there can be no exceptions to a ban on animal testing by cosmetics manufacturers in the bloc.

The case arose in Britain after three companies sought to market cosmetics that were developed for sale in China and Japan using animal tests outside the European Union.

The European Court of Justice said EU law bars any cosmetic product containing ingredients which have been tested on animals, wherever that may occur.

"The Court states next that EU law makes no distinction depending on where the animal testing was carried out," the Luxembourg-based ECJ said in a statement.

The law aims to promote the use of alternative methods to meet consumer safety standards and that "objective would be seriously compromised if the prohibitions... could be circumvented by carrying out the animal testing in third countries," it said.

The European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients (EFCI), which brought the case, had argued that the companies did not break the law since the animal testing had been carried out to comply with regulations in third countries.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dutch fur farm ban must go back to court, advocate general says

DutchNews, September 19, 2016

A legal case in which the Dutch fur farmers association took on the state to have an impending ban overturned must be heard again, the advocate general said on Monday. 

The appeal court which upheld the ban on fur farming last year did not take the financial impact on individual fur farmers sufficiently into account, Paul Vlas said in his recommendations. The advice of the advocate general is not binding but generally accepted by the Supreme Court. 

The ban on fur farming was introduced in the Netherlands in 2013 and included an 11-year changeover period. In 2014 a lower court  found in favour of fur farmers who are furious at being ordered to shut down their companies without compensation. 

The state appealed against that ruling and last year the appeal court said the new legislation does take the interest of fur farmers sufficiently into account because of the 11-year changeover period.

Financial damage

However, the advocate general said on Monday the appeal court ‘wrongly limited its reasoning to the question of whether the changeover period would limit the damage to fur farmers in general’. 

The Supreme Court will publish its ruling in December. 

The Netherlands has some 160 fur farms producing five million pelts a year. The sector employs some 1,400 people. The Netherlands is the third biggest fur farming nation in the world behind Denmark and China.

Related Article:


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Legal eagles recruited to take down drones after successful police trial

DutchNews, September 12, 2016

Photo: politie.nl 
The Netherlands has become the first country to recruit police eagles to take out drones in mid-flight following a successful trial. 

Police began training the birds of prey in January, despite concerns from some animal welfare experts that the exercise could damage their claws. A spokesman told NRC there had been no injuries so far but protective gear could be introduced.

‘A common or garden drone has no impact on the claws of a bird of prey, but very large drones with powerful motors could cause lacerations,’ he said. ‘We are currently looking at protective measures such as a sort of clawed shoe for the birds’ feet.’ 

‘A lot of drones have perished [during the exercise],’ he added. 

The move is in response to concerns about the growing risk of drones being flown in unauthorised airspace, such as close to an airport, or interfering with other aircraft such as rescue helicopters. 

The birds which were trained in the trial are owned by a private company, but police will now recruit their own flying squad for active service.

‘Police have purchased four month-old American sea eagle chicks. From next summer they will go out hunting drones,’ the spokesman said.



Related Article:

Eagles v drones: Dutch police to take on rogue aircraft with flying squad



Monday, September 12, 2016

World governments urge end to domestic ivory markets

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, September 11, 2016

After fierce debate, including opposition from Namibia and Japan, a motion was 
adopted at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to urge closure of all 
domestic ivory markets (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Miami (AFP) - In a bid to stop the killing of elephants for their tusks, world governments voted at a major conservation conference to urge the closure of all domestic ivory markets.

After fierce debate -- including opposition from governments like Namibia and Japan -- the motion was adopted on the final day of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, a 10-day meeting that drew 9,000 people to Honolulu, Hawaii this month.

"Today's vote by IUCN members is the first time that a major international body has called on every country in the world to close its legal markets for elephant ivory," said Andrew Wetzler, deputy chief program officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"It's truly a landmark moment, and a victory for elephants that will hopefully be repeated later this month at the next meeting of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg."

Although the motion is non-binding, it "urges the governments of countries with domestic ivory markets to take all necessary legislative and regulatory efforts to close them," according to the IUCN.

Experts say that domestic ivory markets help fuel poaching by allowing traffickers a cover for their illegal imports and exports.

The United States and China, among the biggest consumers of ivory, have already agreed to enact near-total bans on their domestic markets.

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) rangers prepare a pyre in preparation for a burning 
of tonnes of ivory, rhino-horn and other confiscated wildlife trophies (AFP Photo/
Tony Karumba)

At the IUCN meeting, Japan and Namibia -- which also have thriving domestic ivory markets -- sought to soften the language of the motion by making 20 different amendments, but those efforts were rejected.

"The global conservation community is stepping up," said Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristian Samper.

"No more domestic ivory sales. Elephants have had enough of the ivory trade and so has the world."

Poaching persists

CITES banned the international commercial trade in African elephant ivory in 1989.

But illegal poaching of endangered elephants for their tusks persists at dangerous levels, according to research released at the start of the September 1-10 conference, the largest of its kind in the conservation community.

Savanna elephants have declined at a rate of 27,000 -- or eight percent -- per year, with a total of 144,000 lost in less than a decade, said the findings.

Poaching hotspots identified include Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania, where "staggering population declines" were found, said the study funded by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen.

The US and China, among the biggest consumers of ivory, have already agreed
to enact near-total bans on their domestic markets (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Other populations face "local extinction" in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Cameroon and southwest Zambia.

Wildlife groups hailed the IUCN move and called for more action at the CITES talks in Johannesburg later this month.

"There, we remain hopeful the delegates will be emboldened by the IUCN vote to adopt a resolution submitted by African governments that also calls for closure of domestic ivory markets," said Samper.

"The shutting down of domestic ivory markets will send a clear signal to traffickers and organized criminal syndicates that ivory is worthless and will no longer support their criminal activities causing security problems in local communities and wiping out wildlife."

Related Article:


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Three arrested with suitcases full of reptiles at Schipol

DutchNews, September 6, 2016

One of the suitcases. Photo: NVWA.nl 
Three Spanish nationals have been arrested at Schiphol airport after customs officials found 259 reptiles stuffed into four suitcases they were carrying. 

The haul included snakes, lizards and tortoises, 10 of which had died during the journey. If they had been traded on the open market, the reptiles would have had a value of some €80,000, officials said. 

The three men were on their way from Mexico to Spain when they were stopped at Schiphol. Many of the reptiles in their bags were protected species, including 14 chucawallas, a lizard found only on the Mexican island of San Esteban. 

Last month, a German man was arrested at Schiphol airport after customs officials found dozens of snakes, lizards and other reptiles hidden in his suitcase. 

The man was on his way from South Africa to Germany to sell the animals at a reptile fair. Some 40 reptiles were stuffed in a plastic box in the suitcase and several had not survived the journey. 

And at the end of August, police and customs officers  seized a record haul of illegal animal products, including swordfish horns, mounted crocodiles and coral from five storage units in North Brabant, together with €500,000 in cash and gold.

Related Article:


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stray dogs find shelter in battered Gaza

Yahoo – AFP, Adel Zaanoun, September 4, 2016

A Palestinian volunteer trains a stray dog at the Al-Soulala Association for
Protection, Rehabilitation and Training, dog shelter in central Gaza Strip (AFP
Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - In an impoverished and war-battered territory suffering food shortages and a scarcity of jobs, Saeed al-Ar knew it was a tall order opening a dog shelter in Gaza.

The Palestinian coastal enclave crammed with 1.9 million people has been devastated by three wars against Israel since 2008, and it remains under blockade by the Jewish state and Egypt.

The fate of hundreds of stray dogs outside towns or near the Israeli security fence have been anything but a priority.

"How can we create a shelter for strays when we need shelter ourselves?" is the typical view, as expressed by a 27-year-old unemployed Gazan, Jasser al-Sheikh.

"We must first feed our children and find jobs for thousands of unemployed graduates."

But Ar, a 45-year-old father of seven, has taken it upon himself to intervene, spending his own money to rescue the strays.

Last month, he opened the territory's first dog sanctuary in a relatively well-off suburb south of Gaza City.

His Al-Soulala Association for Protection, Rehabilitation and Training covers 2,700 square metres (29,000 square feet), complete with kennels which currently house around 75 former strays.

Saeed al-Ar used his own money to set up the Al-Soulala Association for 
Protection, Rehabilitation and Training, dog shelter in central Gaza Strip (AFP
Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Behind beige tarpaulin on a vast sandy expanse, dogs are fed and given training to run and jump obstacles.

"This is the first kennel in Palestine that supports stray dogs and domesticates them," Ar told AFP.

He used to run a police unit for dogs specialising in the detection of explosives and drugs, and admits that canines have always been his passion.

When the Islamist movement Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, Ar found himself out of a job. But he still collects a salary and now dedicates all his time to the dogs.

Shot or poisoned

In the predominantly Muslim territory, religious authorities consider dogs to be unclean or impure.

Some Gazans even shoot at stray dogs that approach their children or orchards, while others find them scary and blame them for accidents.

The authorities lack the resources even if they were inclined to intervene.

In the past they even tried to poison strays, but stopped the culling over concerns that it was also dangerous to humans, a municipal official said on condition of anonymity.

The kennel aims to catch stray dogs, provide veterinary services and help domesticate them.

Since its opening, the kennel has attracted a growing number of visitors, many of them children. Some have asked to adopt a pet, a trend picking up in Gaza.

The phone rings constantly with people reporting strays in their neighbourhood.

In such cases, search teams are sent out, said Mohammed al-Hindi, 24, a recently graduated nurse and one of 25 volunteer helpers.

Every morning, the volunteers tour participating restaurants and stores to collect leftover meat and chicken for the dogs, in a sign of changing attitudes in Gaza.

But Ar said he has already spent $35,000 and cannot make ends meet on his own much longer.

The centre needs $5,000 a month to function properly, said Ar, who has launched an online appeal to animal protection groups and lovers across the world.

"We have to get help because at the moment we are doing this with our own money."

On a brighter note, he said local authorities have promised him a larger plot of land. He dreams of a giant kennel, "with a dog food factory and a veterinary clinic for all stray animals".

Friday, September 2, 2016

Study sounds alarm for Africa's slow-breeding forest elephants

Yahoo – AFP, August 31, 2016

The population of Central Africa's forest elephants has been decimated by illegal
hunting, with an estimated 65 percent decline between 2002 and 2013, researchers
say (AFP Photo/Laudes Martial Mbon)

Paris (AFP) - Even without poachers, Central Africa's forest elephants would need almost a century to get their numbers back up to 2002 levels, said a study Wednesday that pried into the elusive creatures' slow-breeding ways.

The population had been decimated by illegal hunting, with an estimated 65 percent decline between 2002 and 2013, said researchers.

Roaming the tropical forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo, the tusker sub-species is thought to have numbered about one to two million at its peak, study co-author George Wittemyer of Colorado State University told AFP.

In 1993, the rough estimate was 500,000, and in 2013 some 100,000.

"The forest populations are reproducing now, though at a very slow rate," Wittemyer said by email.

"The problem is that poaching is removing individuals at a rate that either drives the population to decline or negates any increases due to births."

Forest elephants are smaller than savannah elephants -- the other, much better studied, African sub-species.

Their ears are more oval-shaped, while their tusks are straighter and point downward, according to environmental group WWF.

Targeted by poachers for their meat and ivory-bearing tusks, the forest elephant is categorised as "vulnerable", which means "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild," the WWF website says.

African forest elephant (AFP Photo/Laurence Chu)

Wittemyer and a team analysed data obtained from decades-long, on-sight monitoring of the births and deaths of elephants at Dzanga Bai, a park in Central African Republic.

90 years to recover

In what is claimed to be the first-ever study of forest elephant demography, they concluded the creature was a much slower breeder than its open-air cousin.

Female forest elephants only start reproducing after the age of 20, and give birth once every five to six years, the team observed.

Their cousins from the savannah, by comparison, typically start breeding at 12 and produce a calf every three to four years.

"Their reported low birth rates mean that it will take forest elephants at least 90 years to recover" from poaching losses, the researchers said in a statement.

The data suggested that what are considered sustainable levels of trade in forest elephant ivory, were calculated on the basis of overestimated population growth rates, they added.

This should be kept in mind when ivory trade limits are next debated, said the team -- crucially at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species which opens in Johannesburg on September 24.

Forest elephants are crucial for their environment, and many tree species rely on the giants to disperse their seeds. The trees, in turn, absorb climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lizard skins, swordfish horns and two tonnes of coral recovered in police raid

DutchNews, August 29, 2016

Picture: Dutch police. 
Police and customs officers have seized a record haul of illegal animal products, including swordfish horns, mounted crocodiles and coral. 

Altogether two tonnes of coral, as well as snake and lizard skins and ivory from protected species, were recovered from five storage units in North Brabant, together with €500,000 in cash and gold. 

A spokesman for Rotterdam police said researchers spent three days categorising the collection, which was characterised by a ‘bizarre range and diversity’. 

The trail to the illegal depot began after a routine check at Rotterdam harbour uncovered 345 kilos of coral contained in 15 packing cases on a container ship from China. 

The owner of the company where the items were stored, a 53-year-old man, is under investigation but police said no arrests have been made.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rare elephant with 'sabre-tooth' tusks found in Malaysia

Yahoo – AFP, August 12, 2016

An elephant with downturned tusks pictured at a palm oil plantation in the Malaysian
state of Sabah on Borneo island, in a picture released on August 11, 2016 by the
 Sabah Wildlife Department (AFP Photo)

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - A rare pygmy elephant with tusks growing downwards instead of up to give it a look like a sabre-toothed tiger has been found in Malaysia, a wildlife official told AFP on Friday.

The unusual looking animal was found by a team of wildlife experts at a palm oil planation in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island on Thursday.

"It is very rare," said Sabah Wildlife Department's assistant director Sen Nathan.

"We're not exactly sure why the tusks are like that but it could be a congenital defect or maybe because of inbreeding."

A similar elephant was caught on camera a few years ago and in 2015 in Sabah, Nathan said.

The wildlife department plans to send the animal to an elephant sanctuary in Sabah on Saturday until a suitable area in the wild is found where it could be released with a tracking device attached.

"The tusks resemble the prehistoric sabre-tooth tiger, but of course, they are not related," said Andrew Sebastian, co-founder of the Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia.

"It could make wildlife watching in Sabah more interesting."

But Sebastian warned that the rare elephant's reversed tusks might create some problems when it comes to jostling with other elephants.

A study done a decade ago showed there were about 2,000 elephants in Sabah. Wildlife officials said a new study will be conducted soon.

The biggest threat to elephants in Sabah was not poaching, but loss of habitat due to modernisation and an increase in the human population, said Nathan.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Orangutan Infant Found Abandoned in C. Kalimantan

Jakarta Globe, Norjani & Ratri M. Siniwi, August 05, 2016

A baby orangutan held by a resident of West Kalimantan's Kubu Raya district, in
this October 2015 file photo. (Antara Photo/Jessica Helena Wuysang)

Jakarta. An infant Bornean orangutan was found abandoned in a rubber plantation in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, on Thursday morning (04/08).

"At sunset [last night], I heard what sounded like someone wailing, which turned out to be the orangutan. It was sitting in a rubber tree in my plantation. Then this morning I saw that there was no mother, and I took it to Sampit and reported it [to the authorities]," local resident Martono said, as reported by state-run news agency Antara.

The Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) went to Martono's house to examine the infant, and established that it is an 18-month-old female. Infant orangutans are completely dependent on their mothers for the first two years of their lives.

"An orangutan mother would never leave her child. We cannot conclude whether the mother was killed, but what is clear is that the infant has been rescued,"Sampit BKSDA post commander Muriansyah said.

According to Martono, it was his first time seeing an orangutan in the area, as most of the trees in his rubber plantation have burned down, making it hard for the animals to survive and find food. He said he pitied the infant as she looked malnourished, and suspected that she was starving.

"I was scared that the baby [orangutan] would die [from hunger]; I reported it so the officials could save her. I gave her a banana, but she only ate a little of it," Martono said.

The infant has been taken to the BKSDA regional office at Pangkalan Bun in West Kotawaringin district. According to the officials, orangutans can take up to two years of rehabilitation before they are ready to be released into their natural habitat.

The Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in Central Kalimantan claims that this is the 10th orangutan reported by Sampit residents so far this year.

The Bornean orangutan is a cousin of the Sumatran orangutan, both of which have been listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of critically endangered animals, due to population loss driven by hunting and habitat degradation.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Horseback library serves Indonesia's remote readers

Yahoo – AFP, Nick Perry, July 15, 2016

Children sort through books on a shelf hanging from Luna the horse in Serang,
Indonesia's main island of Java (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Astride his white mare, a wide-brimmed hat shielding his eyes, Ridwan Sururi looks more cowboy than librarian as he winds towards the hilltop village, his horse Luna saddled with books.

Their arrival sends ripples of excitement through Serang, a quiet hamlet fringed by rice fields and a volcano on Indonesia's main island of Java.

"The horse library!" children shriek, sprinting towards the mosque where Luna is tethered. Slung over her saddle are two handmade wooden boxes filled with books.

Ridwan Sururi, who runs a mobile library
 on horseback, selects books for villagers
to read in Serang (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
For many there, this unique mobile library is their only link to books. There is no traditional library nearby, and stores are miles away in big cities. It's a problem for villages across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

Sururi, a 43-year-old professional horse groomer, devised a unique way to encourage reading in his district.

Armed with Luna, one of several horses under his care, and about 100 books donated from a friend, Sururi began road-testing his novel mobile library in early 2015, unsure if it would succeed.

It was a huge hit. In no time, the father of four was fielding requests from schools and villages further afield, eager crowds greeting him on arrival.

"The kids are always waiting for my horse and I," Sururi told AFP.

"Sometimes they even form a queue, waiting a very long time just to borrow a book."

Broadening horizons

In Serang, enthusiastic youngsters flick through picture books, young adult titles and even some classics in English.

Some shyly pet Luna while waiting their turn to browse. Sururi believes the gentle nature of his six-year-old mare helps attract children, and pique an early interest in the books.

For many in Serang, this unique mobile library is their only link to books 
(AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

"The horse makes me happy," said 10-year-old Arif, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, before settling in to read a book titled "Wild Animals".

But it's not just children discovering a love for reading via this charitable community library.

Adults are almost just as enthusiastic, many pausing work and emerging from their homes as Sururi and Luna pass through the narrow lanes of one village.

Seventeen-year-old Warianti, perusing titles alongside her elderly mothers, said villagers of all ages benefited from Sururi's visits, as most did not have time to source books elsewhere.

"The horse library helps increase the knowledge of local women through reading," she told AFP.

Adult literacy rates in Indonesia have climbed steadily in recent years, reaching nearly 96 percent in 2013, according to data from the ministry of education.

But some provinces remain far behind others. Central Java, where Sururi makes his rounds, is lagging in the bottom third nationwide.

Nearly five percent -- or close to one million -- adults in this mainly rural province remain illiterate. Sururi is aware of this, growing up in Central Java without access to a great deal of books.

But the altruistic stable hand never underestimated the importance of reading, leading to his free-of-charge mobile book loaning service.

"That's the aim of the horse library, so that everyone can broaden their horizons, gain knowledge, become more intelligent," he said.

Sense of pride

Outside his simple home, Sururi has cleared an area where he dreams of building a permanent library, one stocked with many books and -- perhaps one day -- a computer.

Nearly 5% -- or close to one million -- adults in mainly rural Central Java
province remain illiterate (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

But for now, everything is done by hand. The spines of all books are clearly labelled with a code for identification, and he keeps meticulous records so books are returned on time.

Like a conventional library, books can be borrowed free of charge but cannot be loaned forever.

In Serang, Sururi checks his notebook and tells one boy he needs to first return an outstanding title before loaning another. The young student sprints off home, returning a short while later clutching the forgotten item, relieved to see his pick of choice remains untouched on the shelf.

Once the flurry of borrowing is over, the children settle down in small circles, bearing their new books with pride as Sururi packs up for another week.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of dozens of children reading aloud, older pupils helping their younger friends with difficult words or phrases.

"When I see kids chasing my horse I feel so proud," Sururi said.

"I feel like I'm needed, and that's hugely satisfying."


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Orlando: When words fail, dogs can ease the pain

Yahoo – AFP, Thomas Urbain, June 16, 2016

A group of young women pet a therapy dog near a memorial for the victims of the
Pulse Nightclub shooting, June 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Orlando (AFP) - When mourners filed in to a prayer vigil in Orlando this week, they hit a friendly roadblock: a team of golden retrievers sent to help soothe a community in shock with their calm, reassuring presence.

As people knelt down to pet and nuzzle the gentle creatures, burying their hands in their soft yellow coat -- many breathed more easily, taking a moment to forget the horror gripping their city.

In the wake of the Pulse club massacre that left 49 dead and 53 injured, a pack of therapy dogs were flown from Illinois to the Florida city to offer comfort to traumatized victims and their families.

On Wednesday night the dozen golden retrievers were stationed outside Trinity Downtown church.

Shelby Gerber, a bubbly young girl who attended the vigil, lives right near the crime scene.

"My anxiety level is pretty high right now," she said. "Sometimes you are too overwhelmed to say anything."

"I didn't realize how much it really was nice to sit after service and just pet them for an endless amount of time. It just alleviates the pressure off your chest."

For nearly a decade -- ever since a February 2008 shooting stunned Northern Illinois University -- so-called "comfort dogs" have become a familiar sight in the aftermath of major tragedies throughout the United States.

The Illinois team have become famous on social media for the therapy they provide: Phoebe, for one, has her own Twitter account.

'Scared to leave house'

In Orlando the dogs, accompanied by 20 volunteer handlers, were visiting three hospitals treating patients wounded in the Pulse attack.

As well as visiting survivors the dogs have consoled emergency caregivers, paramedics and doctors, as well as many families of victims and Pulse staff members.

"People will talk to us and ask if we can visit a family," said Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, the group that sponsors the dogs' work.

Melissa Soto cuddles with a therapy dog near a memorial for the victims of the 
Pulse Nightclub shooting, at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, June 14, 
2016 in Orlando, Florida (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

"There's some individuals that lost somebody and they're just scared to go out of their house. So we're going to bring comfort dogs to them."

"Dogs show unconditional love," Hetzner said. "They don't take notes or keep track of wrongs."

The "comfort dogs" owned by the Lutheran Church are distinct from those managed by the Therapy Dogs International program, which brings together about 25,000 dogs volunteered by their owners to provide therapy without special training.

Hetzner's dogs belong to the parish and are subject to training with multiple handlers that sometimes lasts over a year.

He said the training includes teaching the golden retrievers -- a breed known as gentle and affectionate -- not to bite, lick or bark while providing therapy.

'Comfort rugs'

Jennifer Blackwood, who also came to the Orlando vigil, was comforted to see her three daughters fussing over the dogs outside.

"There's a lot that has happened over the last week," she said. I have three kids so that's been a lot of discussion. Hard growing up talks."

Hetzner explains the dogs are taught to lie down like "comfort rugs."

It may seem trivial, but for the traumatized, the simple gesture of petting them can have surprising benefits.

"People feel more relaxed when they have a comfortable dog they can pet," he said. "They calm down, their heart rate goes down, actually, and they're more willing to talk."

Hetzner originally conceived of the idea after a mission to New Orleans in the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As he worked on the search-and-rescue effort, he noticed the "tremendous bond" those his team rescued had with their pets.

"People would die rather than part with their pet."

The Lutheran church program funds itself with donations, and owns about 120 Golden Retrievers in 23 states.

Three dogs from the organization still reside at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 young children and six staff in December 2012.




Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.