Paws for a Cause 2009

Paws_for_a_Cause.JPGI mentioned earlier this week that today would be spent celebrating Paws for a Cause 2009 with the RSPCA on 98.5 Sonshine FM.

From 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I was joined by fellow announcer Tim Long and a number of special guests broadcasting live from Perth’s Forrest Place.

We spoke to Richard Barry from the RSPCA as well as RSPCA Ambassador Jessica Bratich and Channel 10 Weather Presenter Michael Shultz. My regular Friday morning guest, Jill Bonanno, was also part of the broadcast. You can see us hamming it up in the photo in this post.

It was an honour to spend the day supporting the RSPCA and its on going work protecting, housing and healing animals in need.

You can check out the photo gallery to see a few more pictures from the day.

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Is your pet in your will?

kitten.jpgWhat responsibility do we have to our pets? Should we make provision for our pets in our wills?

I wonder how many people are aware that William Wilberforce, the British politician who led the charge on the abolition of human slavery, was also led by his Christian convictions to help found the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Just last week the Animal Law Committee of the New South Wales Young Lawyers launched a brochure titled What About Me? It’s a plain language brochure designed to help people understand the options available when preparing their wills if they want to include provision for their pets.

Pets share the lives of the majority of Australians with approximately 65% of all Australian households owning a pet. While they are beloved members of our family, how many of us have thought about what might happen if our furry family members outlive us?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed our responsibility to our pets and whether we should make provision in our wills for our furry and feathered friends.

You can hear today’s segment by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

What do you think about the place of pets in our lives? Do we place too much emphasis on animals or not enough? I’d appreciate your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

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Being watched

kangaroo.jpgOur family has been having an amazing time at the Baptist Camp in Serpentine over the past few days. Pauline and I have been camp mum and dad. Emily and James have been campers.

I left the campsite to head to work quite early this morning and as I drove towards the gate I noticed I was being watched. There was a very large kangaroo having breakfast on the sports oval.

The roo was looking directly at me. I stopped to watch him for a while. He watched me a little longer before bounding off, followed by another, smaller, kangaroo that I hadn’t spotted earlier.

I’m glad they headed off. I might have just sat and watched them for the rest of the day if they’d stayed there.

I know that they’re not suited to suburban back yards so I’ll never be able to have a kangaroo as a pet but they really are majestic animals. Being able to see roos so close to suburbia is just another reason that I love living in Australia.

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Keeping Pets in Perspective

pet.jpgI don’t think I could imagine life without pets.

I grew up surrounded by cats and we always had a dog at our place. We have a cat at the moment and my son, James, has a couple of mice.

Pets are wonderful. We hear about studies from time to time that tell us how much healthier we can be if we keep pets. They’re great for company and can increase our general sense of wellbeing. I even heard of a recent study that said kids who grow up with a dog in the house are more resistant to a number of illnesses. I really do get the whole pet thing.

On the other hand, I get concerned about the importance some people place on their pets.

Seeing the poverty that people are facing in Haiti and Dominican Republic makes coming home pretty tough. It’s hard to see the amount of money that some people spend on animals here when people not so far from us can’t afford to put food on the table for their families.

So how do we think rightly about our furry and feathered friends?

Pets are wonderful but in the end they are just pets. They are not equal to children and talking about them as such devalues human life.

Charles Colson has written an interesting article for Christianity Today titled Keeping Pets in Their Place. In the article he reminds us that it was William Wilberforce, the man who fought so hard to abolish slavery, who founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824. It is absolutely right that we treat all God’s creatures with respect (even the tasty ones) but Colson is concerned with the push to remove the distinction between animals and humans.

Christianity teaches that humans are unique in all of creation: we are conscious of our existence, aware of death, capable of works of great creativity, and the only part of creation that bears the image of God. Humans alone have eternal souls, which confers unique moral status.

Many animal-rights activists dismiss any distinctions between humans and animals as “speciesism,” which Princeton professor Peter Singer defines as “a prejudice” that favors “the interests of members of one’s own species … against those of members of other species.” If the material world is all there is, if humans are nothing more than the product of evolutionary forces, then they are essentially no different from pigs, dogs—or rats, as Ingrid Newkirk of PETA once famously said. Humans are merely the latest stage in evolutionary development.

Whether you look at it from a faith perspective or from a purely secular point of view, surely we need to maintain some kind of perspective. Animals are animals and while they are important to us and valuable in so many ways, they are not humans.

I was sent a survey this week from LinkMe which says that Australians put animals above people living with HIV/AIDS.

76% of Australians would offer their hand for voluntary work yet far more people would consider lending their time to help animals rather than people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the results of a survey conducted by leading career building and networking company

The survey of 1568 Australians revealed that whilst 13.8% of people believe people living with HIV/AIDS are in need of support, 40% of people are receptive to the plight of animals.

People recognise children as those most in need of additional services (46.6%) with sick and homeless people lagging at 23.5% and 26.1% respectively marginally ahead of people living with HIV/AIDS.

List of voluntary support for various groups:
Children (46.6%)
Animals (40%)
The elderly (36.9%)
Poor people (27%)
Disabled people (26.6%)
Homeless people (26.1%)
Sick people (23.5%)
People living with HIV/AIDS (13.8%)

Don’t you think that there’s something wrong with our priorities when we value the lives of animals above humans? At least children seem to rate higher than dogs.

So what do you think? Do we place too much emphasis on our pets? Is it morally right to lavish so much attention on our pets while the people of Haiti are literally eating dirt?

I think the song Angel by Everything But The Girl puts it well in talking about a young girl begging in the street.

And if she were a kitten
Someone would take her home
But we’ve no pity for our own kind
Our hearts are stone
Our eyes are blind

I know that pets are only one of the excesses of our society and that there are many other things we could and should sacrifice to allow us to better care for people both overseas and at home. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective on so many things when we aren’t faced with the reality of poverty every day.

Maybe we need to force ourselves to face the reality of life for people in developing countries and the poor in our own backyards, not to make ourselves feel guilty, but in order to equip ourselves to take some small but life saving steps towards serving those in need.

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Pet Names

dog.jpgOnce a month Dog Behaviour Consultant and Trainer, Kathy Kopellis McLeod, joins me during my morning radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM to talk about dog behaviour and answer questions from listeners.

We had a great time today. We took a slight detour from our regular chats and talked about the extra names we give our dogs. We weren’t talking about their real names, we were talking about the nicknames that our dogs seem to gather.

After a while, we widened the scope and started throwing in a few cat nicknames.

Dylan rang up to tell us that his dog, Nev, gets called everything from Bubby to Poop and lots more in between.

We had several other people call in and talk to us about the names their four-legged friends have acquired. The segment was a lot of fun with some very amusing ‘pet names’ for dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes.

I even told a few stories about how I’d named a couple of my pets. One was named after a fictional character created by comedian Grahame Bond, and another was named after one of the guys from the band GangGajang. Have a listen to the audio to hear the details.

What are some of the pet names that you’ve used for your pets? Are there any that you find too embarrassing to use when others are around? How did you come up with your pet’s real names and nicknames?

If you want to have a few laughs, just click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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