8

The Animal Rights Coalition

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Chester Rabbit called the quarterly meeting of the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) to order.

Chester: Welcome everyone. We need to finish one item from our last meeting before we can move on to today’s agenda. We have to finish our discussion about how to address the human use of animal names as insults. The first thing we need to do is reopen the topic.

The animals started to talk among themselves. This item was very important to all of them and they were eager to get back to work.

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Buddy Squirrel: I move to reopen the topic.

Ralph Badger: I second the motion.

Chester: All right. How many in favor?

Paws and hands went up around the room.

Chester: How many opposed?

Dead silence.

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Chester: The motion passed. Ballou, please turn on the recorder.

Ballou Bear, whose mother was a huge movie fan, flipped the switch. It was so much easier to get started now that they could record rather than manually write down the notes. The simians had insisted on the purchase. They were tired of always being the ones to write.

Chester: The best way to start is to identify exactly what we mean by insults. Remember the rules: no talking over others, no arguing with someone’s ideas, and no intimidation. One idea per animal. If you choose to present multiple ideas, wait until after the others have had their turn.

The animals quickly lined up to speak:

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“catty/catfight” – Why is it that when two women say nasty things to each other it’s being catty? We’re not mean. But even worse, if they end up actually hitting each other, it’s a catfight? Everyone knows that most of us don’t fight, and if we do, it’s most likely the males.

“eat like a pig/act like a pig” – Where did we get the reputation that we’re sloppy and eat too much? We’re actually clean animals; we use the mud to cool off. And we don’t eat that much compared to what we weight. We’re this big because of the way we’re made, not because we eat too much.

“dog-faced/dog” – Why are we the standard for ugly? We’re just like every other species. Some of us are good looking, some not so much. But to classify all of us as ugly is just mean.

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“eat like a bird” – They say it like it’s some kind of eating disorder. We eat like we do because we have beaks. We can’t pick up a lot of food at one time. We eat all through the day; we need energy for flying.

“ugly duckling” – This insult is just rude. Why would you call someone’s child ugly? We know it’s because the baby swan didn’t look like the baby ducks, but that doesn’t mean it was really ugly.

“batty/bats in the belfry” – What makes us the standard for crazy? We fly at night, but so do owls, and they’re supposed to be wise. As far as hanging out in a belfry, it’s a good place to sleep. It’s high, it’s isolated, and the humans can’t get at us.

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“a leopard can’t change his spots” – Of course we can’t. That would be like asking them to change their skin. Why does that get connected to people who can’t change their bad habits? Our fur is not something that should be changed.

“big as a cow” – we agree with the pigs. Just because we’re made a certain way doesn’t entitle humans to use it to insult other humans. Maybe they should be more like us and just accept each other.

“badger someone” – We’re persistent and thorough. How did that get translated into a person who becomes offensive trying to make a point? It seems like they don’t even understand how any of us really are.

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The other animals all nodded in agreement.

Chester: I think that’s a good start. Now we need a few animals to draft our petition to the humans. Is anyone interested?

A bear, two gorillas, and a beaver all agreed to work on something.

Chester: Does anyone want to schedule an extra meeting for next month to decide what our next steps will be?

Douglas Gorilla: So moved.

Ballou: Second.

The motion passed.

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Next week: Do the animals think the petition is ready to go to the humans?

18

How Dogs Solved the Cat Food Crisis

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We got a very unusual call recently. It was from a human. We almost never hear from humans; most of them assume we are a foreign-language publication. A very nice lady said that some neighborhood cats were very sick. The veterinarian said that it was probably just a virus.

The lady and her friends think it is a new food that they got for their furry friends. It’s supposed to have a special additive that would improve their immune systems. It’s called “Cat Power”. She wanted to know if there was a way for us to check it out. Our editor George said we would see what we could find out.

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We put one of our best reporters, Penelope Porcine, on the case. She discovered that “Cat Power” is sent out by a large distributor in the U.S. There was no information about who actually made the food. She decided to talk to the distributor. The closest distribution center is in the middle of the state.

Penelope drove up to Livingston and found the plant. She called, but only got a recording. She tried to see someone in person (so to speak). There was only one entrance, and it was guarded by a very large German Shepherd. The German Shepherd refused to talk to her. He said he couldn’t speak pig.

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Penelope decided that we needed to find a German Shepherd of our own to help. Not having one on staff, we thought it would be best to recruit one locally. It was a small town; they might even know the guard.

We posted a notice: “Looking for a German Shepherd. Temporary assignment. Must be fluent in several animal languages. The position requires persistence and a persuasive personality. Compensation will be discussed if you are called for an interview.”

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Apparently there is a shortage of positions for German Shepherds in Livingston. We immediately received more than 20 responses. Some of them we could delete right away:

“Speak several dialects: Pekinese, Beagle, and Chow. Have trouble communicating with other species. Once I misunderstood a mynah bird and ate him.”

“Experience speaking with other animals. Would prefer it not be any animals that I might consider as toys. Especially cats or squirrels.”

“I am qualified for your position. Compensation must include both kibble and meats of my choosing.”

We interviewed three candidates. We hired a wonderful dog named Lexi. She has a gentle disposition but is a very determined manner. Lexi speaks flawless pig, cat, mouse and hedgehog as well as a variety of dog dialects.

Penelope explained the situation to Lexi, telling her that we needed to find out where the food came from. Lexi was appalled and thought that humans had to be involved. She promised to call Penelope the next day after she had spoken with the guard.

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The next day Lexi said that she needed to meet with Penelope in person to tell her what the guard had said. Penelope wondered what could be so important that it couldn’t be told over the phone.

When she arrived at the restaurant, Penelope discovered that Lexi had two other German Shepherds with her. She hoped they were friendly. Three large dogs were a little intimidating.

The dogs patrolled inside the plant. The place was full of humans, but none of them had anything to do with making the food. The cans came in huge crates that the humans opened and put on conveyor belts. At the end of the belts were trucks that delivered the “Cat Power” and other foods to the stores.

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Penelope asked if they had any idea where the food came from. One of the dogs, Brutus, said that the crates were written in Shar-Pei. Brutus said that he hoped Shar-Pei’s were only clerks and not actually involved in poisoning anyone.

Penelope thanked Brutus and his friend. She bought dinner in appreciation. They said they had never met such a nice pig. Or any pig, for that matter.

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Later Lexi told Penelope that she had done further research on Shar-Pei’s and discovered that they specialize as guard dogs in Guangzhou, in southern China. She had also learned that there were two factories that made cat food in Guangzhou, both of them owned by the same company.

To be continued

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0

The Five W’s (and H)

(Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How for you non-journalists)

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This is what happens when my brain doesn’t have enough to do:

Who decides when the orange barrels go up for a construction project? Sometimes they go up weeks before the project and sometimes they magically appear the day before. My theory is that sometimes they have nowhere else to store them.

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Who was the person responsible for the company needing to put “for external use only” on curling irons to prevent another lawsuit?

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Who decided that making robocalls from various area codes would really make a difference in the number of people who pick up? Why would I answer a call from Wichita more readily than one from Washington or the local campaign office?

What is the point of a clock in an emergency room? So a person can tell the staff exactly how long they’ve been irritated?

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What happens if I don’t feel amazing when I read a blog I’m following? Do they lose one amazing follower and gain a slug?

What would happens if you took Sominex (a sleeping pill) with two cups of coffee?

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Where do old soldiers fade away to? (Douglas MacArthur: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”)

Where did the leprechauns get gold in the first place?

Where do fruit flies come from? Ours seem to appear by spontaneous generation.

When do the cows come home? I’ve always heard it as an expression meaning some time in the future, like when pigs fly. Pigs still aren’t flying, but I think cows come home somewhat frequently. Maybe there’s some kind of hierarchy among the cows, the pigs, and hell freezing over?

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When do time travelers get a chance to wash their clothes and check email?

When do texters/tweeters have time to think about what they’re “saying”?

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Why do I always panic when I have to get a specimen for the doctor? It’s not like my kidneys and intestines are going to stop working for that one day.

Why do some people slow down to 60 mph on the freeway when they see a police car on the shoulder two lanes over? The trooper is not going to give you a ticket if you stay at the limit (70 mph).

Why can cats and small dogs push large dogs around?

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How do some of the truly reprehensible political ads get on the air? Is there someone who wants to be known as being that nasty?

How many digital pictures of someone’s child must I look at before I can claim eye fatigue?

How much time does the average shopper spend critiquing the purchases of the person ahead of them in line?

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(pictures courtesy of Google Images)