We should appreciate animals more

animals3  I’m not alone

Hillary Clinton and Prince William champion elephants. The National Institute of Health releases its research chimps. New York City plans an end to its carriage horses. Shark fins are banned again and again.  Will there be an end to animal cruelty?  I try to remain optimistic.animals4

animals2Animals are deserving of our respect and compassion.  For those of us fortunate enough to spend significant time around animals, we know that our relationships with animals improve us as people. If you stop to consider the positive results they produce in our overall well-being, it seems surprising that every household doesn’t own one. Animals are a part of nature that is too often overlooked despite the extensive benefits they provide for us.  Have you ever noticed that when you pet your dog or cat you feel more relaxed? The simple act of petting an animal creates a mutual physiological response in both the person and the animal, lowering the levels, blood pressure, and heart rate of both. They’re amazing creatures.animals1

Evidence now shows that some therapy dogs become so acutely attuned to people around them that they can even sense when a person is about to have a heart attack, before it actually occurs. One experienced service dog trainer explained to me that Schnauzers are known to detect the specific spot in the body where a person has cancer (McLaughlin Online). Companion animals have been used to achieve dramatic results in treating a wide range of physical and psychological conditions including: cancer, AIDS, ADHD, heart problems, and autism; as well as less severe conditions such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, loneliness, insomnia, and headaches.  That’s pretty amazing.

The below was taken from the Huffington Post – on the “Importance of Appreciating Animals”

Animals help us be better humans. Quite often, they show us how to be our best selves. Always in the moment, sticking their noses into everything (literally), they see a world that we take for granted, one we’re usually just hurriedly passing through on our way to lives we never quite reach.

ChichcutecropThe role of animals, and especially dogs, as roving ambassadors of goodwill can be seen most clearly in their role as therapy dogs. After the tragic massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, therapy dogs from all over the country were brought in to help the community, and especially the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six months later Newtown held a “Day of Thanks” to show its gratitude. The gathering was attended by 50 dogs (and many more owners and residents). One parent explained that her daughter had had a rough time after the shooting. “But when she talked about the dogs that she saw every day at school, she lit up.”


We’re talking about a movement with compassion at its core. The Dodo would not be launching if not for Izzie Lerer, its co-founder and editor-at-large. Izzie is wrapping up her doctoral studies in philosophy at Columbia, where her research focuses on animal/human relationships. Her passionate and intelligent vision of this important subject is nothing short of wanting to change the world in the way animals are treated.

Sure, there will be cute videos on The Dodo, but we’ll focus on images you won’t feel conflicted about watching — as Izzie puts it, “we’ll celebrate animals, and not just laugh at them.” We plan to explore our fierce and fraught bond with animals broadly and enthusiastically, from animal testing to the ethical eating movement. Most people are still figuring out where they stand on a lot of these issues; one of my favorite voices belongs to  Bob Comis, a pig farmer in upstate New York, who openly grapples with the ethics of what he does, once writing: “What I do is wrong, in spite of its acceptance by nearly 95% of the American population. I know it in my bones, even if I cannot yet act on it.” We’re not saying we have all the answers, by the way. But we’re committed to searching for them.

 At least it’s a start!

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