The Real Reason I’m Vegan

This post is hard to write.

The things I’m going to share here have only been shared with my boyfriend, and that was after three years of dating. I tend to keep things inside, I guess. But Jason encourages me to let it out because it’s a hard weight to bear sometimes.

Let me just say that I don’t like talking about these things, and the people that were involved are good people at heart but just raised differently and in a different time. The stories I’m about to tell you weigh on my conscious almost every day, and sometimes I feel so guilty and sad about the things that have happened that it’s hard to function.

Anyway, I’ll begin — hopefully this will give you some insight as to why I am the way that I am and why I feel the way I do about animals.

During my childhood I always had a strong attraction to animals. I wanted to be around them constantly. I felt like they were my best friends and in some cases they meant more to me than my actual friends did. I used to sleep with all of my stuffed animals in my bed and when I was 7 I got my first cat, Spooky. We picked him out of a litter at my uncle’s farm. He was gray and white and just the love of my life.

He slept with me every night and never minded if I rolled over him while sleeping, or if he only had an inch of the bed. He always stayed with me.

From the time I was little, I had a strong urge to save animals in need. Several times Spooky left me dead or dying mice on my doorstep as a “present” and the first thing I would do would be to scoop them up, grab the first-aid kit and try to save them. One time my mom came home from work and saw her daughter putting a band-aid over a gash in a mouse’s stomach and flipped out. I guess I didn’t even think of the diseases they could carry, but my mom immediately thought of the germs I was bringing in. She told me not to do it again, and so I didn’t.

But whenever a dead baby rabbit appeared on our porch, I’d bury it in the yard. For the rest of the day I’d feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. Not anger towards Spooky, because it’s instinct for him..but just sadness that the animal was dead.

In high school and middle school, my friend and I used to walk to the grocery store and if I saw a stray cat, I’d bring it home. Well, those stray cats never got fixed because we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and so of course they multiplied. We couldn’t afford to feed all of them and I could sense the stress on my mother increasing.

I was 14 the first time I had to take an animal to the kill shelter. Scratch that- make it animals. Keep in mind that the strays I brought home had been with us for over a year and I’d formed bonds with each one. I knew that we were tight on money and that feeding these cats was hard, but I loved them and I felt like they loved being our pets.

One Saturday morning I woke up and could just feel something in the air. Something bad and wrong. I walked into the kitchen, my mom was in a bad mood and she looked like she had just had enough. She loves animals too, but back then she could hardly afford to keep up her own two daughters, much less a ton of cats.

She wanted to take the cats to the shelter. I had a sinking feeling in my gut, but I didn’t argue with her because I knew the strain it was putting on her financially.

(I’m trying to continue, but I just don’t want you guys to think my mom is a horrible person. She loves animals as much as I do, she just has different methods of doing things)  She looked around for something big that would carry all of the cats to the car at one time, instead of each one. The cats could tell something was going on, and they started darting out of the room we were in and hiding. They were hard to catch (and in my mind, I was glad that they were running because I thought maybe my mom would give up) and my mom was getting tired of catching them and having them jump back out of the box.

So she got a cooler. With a lid. And when I protested saying that the cats won’t be able to breathe in there, she said “Dammit, Stacey! Help me! You brought these cats home and you need to help get them out”. At that moment, I was scared of my mother because she was really angry.  I started crying and trying to get the cats into the cooler. Which was small by the way. There were about 6 large cats and once we got them in there (though most of it was her, I spent the time crying and pretending to look for them) she closed the lid all the way.

The top of the lid was bouncing up and down because the cats inside were frantic and trying to get out. I felt so much rage towards her. I screamed “You’re killing them! They’re going to die in there!” She said “No they’re not Stacey” I whipped around her to open the lid because the cats were freaking out and crying loudly and she pushed me against the wall and said “Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare do that! I’ve just spent all this time getting them in there!”

We were furious with each other. In the end, we took them to the kill shelter. She made me go with her, maybe so she wouldn’t feel as guilty…but it had a lasting affect on me.

After the cat incident, I was weary of bringing home anther animal. Instead of just bringing them home, I would ask. About a year later I asked my mom if I could bring home a free dog from the paper. She said yes, without hesitation. He was a black lab mix named “Seth”. He wasn’t allowed in the house and was left tied outside to a tree.

Seth was a great dog. He was so happy and lively. He loved to play and everyone always commented on how cute he was. After a year, my mom mentioned that we couldn’t afford to feed him anymore and that he might have a better home somewhere else.

I immediately started thinking of the cats and got very worried about Seth and his well-being. My mom said that maybe we should find him a new home, so I reluctantly agreed (because there is no arguing with my mom). Though, at the time I didn’t know “finding a new home” meant abandoning him in the woods. One day my mom said that we were going to give Seth a better chance of life with a different family, one that could give him more attention.

I knew where she was going with this, I begged her to let me stay at home. But, again, she wanted me to go with her to do her dirty work. We loaded Seth in the car and drove out into the country. I was so mad that day. So hurt and angry. I cried the entire drive and didn’t speak to my mom. I know she felt bad, but I didn’t care. We made it out to a road where there was nothing but woods on either side, my mom said “Le’ts let him out here”. I didn’t say anything.

She walked around to the car door where he was, Seth was so excited…like we were going on an adventure or something. He jumped out of the car and started sniffing around, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out like he was the happiest dog in the world. My mom hurried back in the car and started driving off.

Seth perked his ears and started chasing after our car. He chased the car for a long time before he finally gave up and just stopped and stared as we drove away in the distance. On the way home my mom bought me a magazine like that might cheer me up. It didn’t.

The reason I feel guilt everyday is because I think that I’m the one that led these animals to their deaths. I was just trying to give them a better home, off of the street. A home where they’d be loved and given attention and affection too. You’d think with the past two experiences that I would’ve stopped after Seth, but no, I didn’t.

About a year after that, I brought home (with permission) two stray puppies that I found on the railroad tracks near my house.  I named them Sierra and Casey. You can probably guess what happened with them. As if on cue, a year after getting them, my mom wanted to take them to the shelter.

And of course, she wanted me to go with. So I had to take my dogs to the person that would gas them in 7 days. At the shelter, I asked the woman if she could try to adopt them out and she told me with a hard expression “If they aren’t fixed or given shots, then they get gassed. If they are fixed and have shots, they are put on the adoption list for two weeks, after that two weeks, they get gassed.”

I started crying. The woman was unmoved. “You ready for me to take them now?” My mom said “Hand her the leashes”. So I did. I guess the third time is the charm because I never brought home stray animals after that.

For some reason, I’ve always been hypersensitive to my surroundings. I feel things in an overwhelming sort of way that I know others think is ridiculous.

When I was in high school, I started longing for a pet again. I looked through the paper for any free animals. I saw an ad that caught my eye: Moving. Can’t keep dog. Free six year old mix.

That’s how I got Trixie. I drove to the womans house and she led me to the back yard. The first time I saw Trixie, she was in a huge fenced, muddy area that was shared with a St. Bernard. Her eyes lit up and her tail starting wagging as I approached her. She had knots in her fur and hadn’t had a bath in a long time. The woman told me that they were moving to a smaller area and that they could only keep the St. Bernard. That day, I brought Trixie home with me, gave her a bath and groomed her fur.

I remember the first few months, she was so shy. She only ate at midnight when the house was dark and everyone was in bed. She would crouch down when you would go to pet her (leading me to believe that she may have been abused in her past). I loved her instantly. And I think my mom knew that there was no getting rid of this one. I was 17 and on my way out of high school. I was voicing my opinion more and more, and was already planning on getting out of the house.

I moved out when I was 19 years old. I’ve had Trixie ever since.

Driving by the kill shelter provokes strong emotions within me, as does driving down the road that we let Seth out on. I’ve always felt the need to help animals, to defend them. In my eyes, animals are the most innocent creatures on Earth, but they cannot defend against themselves.

Last week I went running on the greenway. I found a turtle with a broken shell up against a fence with a lot of flies and few birds pecking it at it. My heart sinks to my stomach and my immediate thought is “What can I do to save this animal?” I carefully touched it’s head, and it crawled back into it’s shell. I gently picked it up and walked a mile with it to the stream that was on the other side of the greenway. I put the first half of it’s body in the water and the turtle immediatley walked the rest of the way into it. I’d like to think I help him.

The week before, there was a miniature poodle just sitting on the greenway. I ran by and told myself that if he was still there when I came back, I’d try to help him. When I came back by, he started running with me. He was following my every step, so I scooped him up and spent the next two hours out there in the hot sun trying to find his home.

When we found Sophie, it was never a question of “Can we afford to take in this animal?” It was: “We’re going to help this animal. Someway, somehow, we’ll make it happen.” And though it’s costed me about $600 since April to keep her healthy, I wouldn’t change it for the world. She’s brought some much love and happiness into my life, and now I can’t imagine not having her in our fur family. I may not have hardly any savings left, but it’s been worth every penny.

Sometimes I feel so much guilt and sadness about the way animals are treated. I wake up everyday with the feeling that I can be the one to change the way things are. That I can turn our kill shelter into a sanctuary or an adoption agency. I wake up thinking it’s my duty to do these things. That it’s my responsibility to make things happen…and I want to, I want to so badly. I just have no idea where to start.

I’ve written to the president of the Humane Society, so I guess that’s a start.

I’m sorry this is so long. Jason says I need to talk about these things because keeping them inside will drive a person crazy. I can hardly talk about these things without bawling my eyes out…some of you might think it’s silly, but to each his own I guess.

If anything, I’ve learned that if I ever have children, they will know that the importance of an animals life is just as important as a humans.

I keep having this dream about a farm sanctuary. That I’m the “owner” and in my dream there is this huge cow that has a disability (it changes from dream to dream) and every day I wake up, and go out to see that cow. I pet her and give her kisses on her wet nose. Maybe one day this will come true.

Thanks for listening…I’m not sure if I feel any different after writing this. Maybe a little upset because all of those memories are back in my mind, but I hope that I’m giving my animals a great life, and I hope that I can continue to help animals everywhere in my own kind of way.

Before I go, I want to say that everyone needs to read this book:

I’m only two chapters in, but it is such a wonderful and insightful book. 

Again, thanks for reading.

I’m Back!

 

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Hello out there!

I think I’m mostly writing this for myself. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating writing the essay I have due tomorrow night!

That’s right, we’re back from the Outer Banks and school is in full swing! I’ve already had 3 tests and a number of quizzes (100’s on all!!!) B’s on one of the test, and that’s just okay to me…I’m really striving to make straight A’s this semester, so I’ll have to keep working on that!

The trip was amazing. Just what we needed Open-mouthed smile And rarely do we have a trip where the food is good every. single. night. Seriously, we took time picking and choosing places to eat and it really paid off in the end! Every meal out was followed by “Ohmygosh, this is so good!” Love that!

Before we rushed off to the Outer Banks (literally, the night before), I walked to get my diploma. Or the case my diploma goes in…I had already picked up my diploma in December, but had to wait until May to walk.

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It was a fun night. Walking felt like I was taking the final step from community college to university Smile I’m all set to start UNCC in the fall! I can’t wait! Maybe it’s because Jason is there and we will be going to the same school, or maybe it’s because it’s an actual university with a different campus life than community college.

I have to admit that every time I visit the campus I get a little overwhelmed by how big it is! I have no idea where anything is, except for the basketball stadium Winking smile

But that’s why a “student orientation” is required, I guess. <—Which I am also excited for! That’s not until August though.

As far as my fitness/running- my last post was about getting burnt out on running. And I kind of still am, I ran twice at the beach and have lessened my runs from three days a week, to two. At the end of July, I plan on picking back up on my marathon training so I will be ready when November rolls around.

Oh- what’s that you say? How’s Sophie? You’d like to see more Sophie pics?

Sure, why not Open-mouthed smile

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She’s fitting in quite nicely, I would say Smile 

She did have another health scare- another upper respiratory infection that was 10x worse than the last one. She’s on four medicines a day to keep it away for good…

Sophie is developing such a fun personality! She’s in a nibbling and playing phase, anything that moves- she will attack. She loves to play with Trixie’s tail and bat the blinds around. Sometimes she drives all of us crazy by her constant need to play, but she’s a kitten and that’s what they do!

We still love her Smile Her health has been a big stress on me (and my wallet!)…Every time she gets sick, I feel like I’m not doing a good job of taking care of her. Like it’s my fault or something…I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but sometimes I do.

I want her to have the best home possible, and I try to provide that for her.

That’s about all for now! I’ve missed blogging only a little bit. Usually I just don’t have the time! I’ve decided that I will blog when I want to, and about things that are important to me. If there’s a two week space in between posts, then that’s okay with me!

I’m trying to focus a lot on my school work and my ‘book’. <—The ‘book’ I’m writing is just for my family, it’s about my first 25 years of life, and I plan on writing a new one every 25 years Open-mouthed smile Mostly, because I’m afraid that I will forget things that have happened in my lifetime! (My mother and grandmother have really bad memory, I can start to feel mine become fuzzy a little bit!) Must nip that in the bud while I’m still young! Smile

See ya next time!