Wednesday, 9 April 2014

EU member countries, animal welfare and stray dogs

i follow several animal welfare organisations and individuals on Twitter.  I am becoming increasingly sickened by the way we as a species treat the rest of the creatures who inhabit this planet - this planet, not our planet, but one that we should share. 

The cruelty of animals kept in captivity for our entertainment, food chain, medical research and the cosmetic industry is hard to stomach.  Even worse is the random cruelty dished out to some animals - just because they are there.  Two of the EU's newer members, Bulgaria and Romania, are waging a war on stray dogs.  It is a war the dogs cannot win and do not even understand is going on.  Only when they become the victim do they even know how hated they are - just for existing.  They are dogs, they are not going to see the way their species are treated and pack up and leave these countries.  The reason that the stray population is so high there is down to lack of care, poverty, poor welfare education, former oppressive regimes which didn't allow people space to keep pets etc.  Rather than neuter and try and rehome, regional governments launch initiatives encouraging officials and the public to treat these poor dogs in a manner so cruel it is virtually incomprehensible.

Many caring individuals are doing their best to help the dogs, but there are so many strays they cannot help them all.  In some cases the dogs are being stolen from animal shelters by officials and vigilantes bent on torturing and murdering them.  Those that are kept safe are then in need of homes - and foster homes / adoption homes are sought throughout Europe.  They endure journeys of thousands of miles to be brought to safety in the UK.  The transformation in these poor animals is amazing.  Their capacity to love even after they have been starved, maltreated and abandoned is a credit to their species - and the fact that they have suffered at our hands is yet another shame on ours.  

I feel helpless and powerless.  Going forward I will attempt to contribute to funds to bring these dogs to safety.  In the long-term though the EU must take a stronger line with its member states and insist that animals are treated humanely by all member states.  Yesterday I wrote to several of my MEPs asking them if they would support this by entreating the EU to act.  

To her great credit, Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP, replied to me within 24 hours.  Her reply was informative and insightful.  She has kindly allowed me to reproduce the letter in full - both letters can be found here.   The office of Green MEP Keith Taylor replied a week later, his reply is here

It is not a subject that I know much about, as is obvious from my letter to the MEPs, I just felt that I had to do something.  The photographic evidence posted on Twitter and other sites is so horrific I find it hard to look.  I carry those images around in my head - one particular image of a dog nailed by its paws to two trees, it's poor mouth open - clearly howling in agony.  If I do nothing, I feel that I condone this.  I know there is more I must do, I just don't know where to start. But I will do something, although at the moment this may be limited to trying to highlight the cruelty and donating to assist dogs being brought to safety.  

The more people who contact our representatives about this, the better chance we have of being heeded.  You can write to your MEPs online via

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Viv's theory of relativity

This post is about self-image - not about my family.  My family is now so large that it is more of an army than an actual family, as my cousin Amy often points out - we even embrace the military theme by indulging in the odd war, but I shall save the family (and the wars) for another blog, or maybe for a novel.

Over the past week or so, my weight loss has become much more noticeable.  I am on Day 51 and have lost 16 pounds so far.  The first few pounds go quite quickly, which always gives you a bit of a boost, but you don't really see much change.  For the next ten pounds, progress seems slow, but it is there, just underneath the surface.  I read a blog last week (can't remember which one or I would link it) about how many people give up diets at this stage because they aren't seeing or feeling the results, but they need to have faith in the benefits of eating less and exercising more and must keep going.  I have failed dozens of diets - at least 3 a year, so have much sympathy.  I don't know why this one is working, I am just grateful that it is.

For the moment I am over the 'not much happening' phase and can see and feel definite results.  I am one pound away from a 10% loss.  I measured much of my body at the beginning of the diet and subsequent measuring has shown how much I have lost.  My clothes fit better, I feel better and, very rare  for me, I look at myself in the mirror and am actually happy with what I see.

This is what I find odd.  8 years ago, had I looked in the mirror and seen me weighing what I weigh today, I would have wept.  In fact at less than I do now, there were many times when I did look at me and weep.  My  view of this weight on the way up was disgust.  On the way down, I seem far less repugnant.  I am still overweight, I still have a BMI approaching obesity, I know I could lose another 20 pounds at least, but I don't see what I would have seen a few years ago - Jabba the Hutt, I see a reasonably  attractive woman with a few extra pounds.

I am sure I feel so positive now because my negative radar has had so many years of picking up every tiny fault in my appearance and magnifying it a thousand times.  The bathrooms at work have huge full-length mirrors, every time I walked in there I would notice how my clothes tented out around my hips, the lack of waist, bulging stomach, fat face.  Because I zoomed in on them automatically, I notice the changes quite keenly.  I hope to hold on the positive self-image and the confidence - whatever the outcome of the diet is.