Allison's Book Bag

For a long time, I have been looking for a book that talks about how God views animals in light of the Bible. God’s Creatures by Susan Bulanda is it. In her quick-to-read book of just over 100 pages, Bulanda covers such a broad range of issues such as why God created animals, can they think, do they communicate, should we eat them, and will there be animals in heaven. For each of these topics, Bulanda doesn’t provide mere wishful thinking, but instead provides scriptures to back up her views.

Sometimes I wonder if I should focus more on helping people, and whether God directs people into the animal field. Bulanda addresses this concern in her chapter on God Cares for Animals. She points out many ways that God shows his love such as the fact he created them, purposefully saved ones from the flood, gave them skills to survive, and teaches people how they should animals. She also directly answers the question: “Has God put the desire to care for animals into the hearts of many people?”

Another reason I’ve been looking for such a book is because of the debate over whether animals are sentient beings or able to perceive and think. While I have my opinions as a pet owner, I want as a Christian to know the Bible specifically says. Bulanda dedicates many chapters to this issue. I appreciate her balanced view; she includes both accounts of scientific research and references to scripture. She also addresses the controversial topic of whether there are animal communicators or psychics who can talk to animals and whether we should be vegetarian. With regards to the latter, I thank Bulanda for limiting her coverage to one chapter. There are many issues related to Christians and animal welfare, but most books that I encounter focus exclusively on vegetarianism.

Anyone who has been a pet owner has no doubt experienced the heartache of loss. When my Lucy cat died in 2013, I found myself needing to know whether animals would go to heaven. Given that there are several books on the topic, I’m guessing that others have a similar need. But I don’t want an author to simply say, of course pets will be in heaven, just to make me and everyone else feel good. Bulanda’s concluding chapter deals with this sensitive question in a forthright manner. She presents a wealth of scriptures that hint at answers, while admitting that the Bible doesn’t directly talk about tell us.

In God’s Creatures, Bulanda draws on her lifelong passion in Biblical scholarship with her certification as an animal behavior consultant to write an informative guide to a Biblical View of Animals. For anyone who wants to do their own research beyond her short book, she also provides a notes page and a list of resources.

In December 2013, my husband and I adopted a one-year-old tortoiseshell from Hearts United for Animals. Cinder has taught us so much about cats that it seemed proper for her to have her own advice column.

QUESTION: How does one clip a cat’s nails?

Meow! Meow! After I got adopted, I felt so happy to have a new home. I also felt so grateful to my new owners. In that first week, I wanted to check out my new home and to thank my new family—both at the same time.

I tried to knead the scratchy carpet, the way I used to knead on my mom when I was just a kitten. But my claws got caught in the loops of carpet fibers. I tugged to free my nail. Then tried again to knead. But I got stuck again.

Never mind, I figured, I’ll just climb on my owners. Except this time my claws got hooked on the man’s jacket. He gently worked my claws free. I thought maybe I should just stop, so that I didn’t upset my new owners. But I couldn’t! I just felt so excited! But then my nails got hooked into the lady’s jeans.

When she put me down, I retreated to my bed. All I wanted to do was show my appreciation, but instead I felt as if I were making a mess of everything. I took a nap to figure out what to do.

When my owners woke me, they surprised me by making a fuss over my paws. I wanted to do whatever they wanted. But I also kind of felt embarrassed. Was there something wrong with me? Why were they checking out my paws?

Eventually, I found out that they were just helping me. once I got used to having my paws touched, they trimmed my nails. After that, I had a lot of fun scratching things over the next few weeks without getting stuck!

Here is how to clip a cat’s nails:

  • Most cats are nervous of having their paws touched the first time. To help us adjust to the experience, pet our paws while simultaneously petting us in our favorite spots. Sweeten the deal by rewarding us with treats for letting you handle our paws.
  • Once we’ll let you rest your hand on our paws without pulling away, this means we’re comfortable. Now you can start to hold and massage our paws.
  • Eventually, you should be able to gently apply pressure to our paws, which will push out individual claws. When you look at an extended claw, you’ll see a pinkish area close to the toe. This area is called the quick. Be careful not to trim our nails too close to the quick because it’s painful and we’ll bleed. You should clip off only the sharp point.
  • Use a pair of nail clippers specifically designed for cat claws.
  • A good time for nail trimming is after we’ve eaten, when we’re feeling sleepy and content.
  • Please remember to keep reassuring and rewarding us. We like to know we’ve done well!
nail, before

cat nail before being clipped

nail, after

cat nail after being clipped

In my next column, I’ll tell you about my next adventure. Please keep watch for it!

SixWordSaturday

Becoming an advocate for cats everywhere

In the two years that I’ve been involved with Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, not only have I have been writing a few articles a week on a regular basis but my duties have increased. Switching jobs during that time made me realize that I can’t keep up that pace! This led to the decision to become more focused in my efforts. Namely, I decided to become an advocate for cats.

One way I do this is to mostly write about cats. I’ve tried to increase awareness of how amazing they are as pets, how we can enrich their lives, and how we can help homeless cats. Most weeks I feature a cat trio story at Allison’s Book Bag, and you can read my articles about enriching the lives of cats at An Enriched Cat is a Happy Cat and Can Cats Be Trained?

I’ve also tried to put into practice my own messages, by training my cats. Each of my cats being helped with their own specific needs: I’m teaching Cinder to become less guarded about food, Bootsie to be more accepting of crates and strollers, and Rainy to show more patience about most everything. I’m also introducing all three to fun activities such as agility and obedience. Rainy has been doing the agility for months now, and is ready to go public with her skills. That is, she will be once I help her get used to facing all kinds of new situations. I’ll write about our attempts in upcoming posts. In training my cats, I’ve also discovered that my bond with my own cats has been deepened.

Another way I’m trying to become an advocate is through building a network of cat contacts. I share posts from cat rescuers and tell their stories at Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. I’m starting to connect with local shelters to determine their needs and what support can be given them. And I’m helping part of a group that helps community cats to live better lives.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?

Gene Lune Yang, the 2017 National Ambassador for Children’s Literature picked the platform “Reading Without Walls”. As part of it, he challenges readers to:

  1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
  2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
  3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun.

With these criteria in mind, I’ve started posting roundups once a month on the theme of diversity. This is my third post highlighting picture books about the immigration experience.

We Came to America, written by Faith Ringgold, is dedicated to all the children who have come to America. A refrain emphasize that the children were of different colors, races, and religions. The rest of the text tells readers that the children came by boat and by airplane, and were from every country in the world. Once they arrived in America, they brought their own songs, dances, art, stories, and fashion. A final scene depicts a gathering of diverse children paired with the moral: We are ALL Americans, Just the same.” The text is simple, reminding readers that United States has a multifaceted lineage. My favorite part is the illustrations. Places and faiths are never named in the text. Rather, Americans’ global origins are portrayed through the artwork. Each vibrant two-page spread has a vibrant backdrop, providing contrast for the parade of bold patterns and styles of various traditional attire from across the world.

Their Great Gift by John Coy, with photographs by Wing Young Huie, tells the story of immigrants whose courage and sacrifice provided hope in a new land to their children. The immigrants came from far away to land of plenty. Their journey was difficult. And when they arrived, they faced even more hardships. No one understand what it cost them to move to a new country, work long hours, and shift between languages and customs. There was much about this picture book that I liked. The text is easy to read. One line made me think of my step-mom who came from the Philippines. To this day, she sends from her earnings to her siblings and relatives in her home country. The switch in the narrative from talking about the parents to the children is particularly poignant. Now the young ones are in America, all with their own stories. One line made me think of how rich of a heritage I have from my dad. All of us, wherever our roots, would do well to do the best with the lives our parents gave to us. The end pages include “arrival stories” from the author and the photographer, which are just as touching as the book’s narrative.

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen contains two parallel stories. The first is of a family who decides to move to America. The dad says that life will be better across the ocean. There will be no more burning of houses, killing of family livestock, and taking sons into the army without permission. But to have this better life, the family must give up their home, their names, their language, and everything familiar to them. They must also endure long train rides and filthy packed boats. The second story is of M. Edouard de Laboulaye, who lives in France, and wants to celebrate America’s birthday in a big way. He decides to build a memorial to their independence, a monument that we now know as the Statue of Liberty. The nonfiction text serves as both a lovely account of Yolen’s parents’ immigration experiences and of the origins of Liberty’s journey. I’d recommend it for older readers due to the demanding style. The narrative is presented as stanzas even though it does not read as poetry. In addition, the vocabulary is complex. The end pages provide a little more background to both stories, along with details about Yolen’s research.

Stick up for what you know is right. This land was made for you and me.—Woody Guthrie

This Land is Your Land is a picturesque version of the famous folk song by Woody Guthrie. Although I am Canadian, this song has long been a favorite of mine. It’s also of late become a protest song for those who support immigration, and so seemed appropriate to include in a round-up of books about immigration. The detailed paintings by Kathy Jakobsen burst with color and invite readers on a lively journey across the United States. In several multi-paneled spreads, Guthrie is shown carrying his guitar from landmark to landmark and coast to coast. Some of the spreads are also bordered with geometric corners that contain hand-lettered snippets of Guthrie lyrics and quotes. The end pages contain a tribute by Pete Seeger, who played with Guthrie, and an illustrated biography of Guthrie. The musical score and lyrics to the song are also provided. A real keepsake!

Yang concludes his “Reading Without Walls” challenge by encouraging readers to take a photo of themselves and their books and post to social media. In doing so, he says, readers will inspire others. Will you join me over the next year in reading books that take you outside your comfort zone?

 

In December 2013, my husband and I adopted a one-year-old tortoiseshell from Hearts United for Animals. Cinder has taught us so much about cats that it seemed proper for her to have her own advice column.

QUESTION: How should one introduce a new cat to their home?

Ah, I remember my first day with my new owners. Even in that one room to which they initially restricted me, there was so much to see. There were so many objects to sniff! There were so many places to climb! I needed to bound here and there, everywhere.

When my owners left me alone and closed the door behind them, I felt kind of weird. It was so quiet. At the shelter, I had been in a room with 20 other cats. I loved my new place. I hated my new place. I didn’t know what I think.

My owners returned with food. I gobbled it up. I had to finish before another cat tried to take it. Then I remembered there were no other cats.

I felt grateful for my new owners giving me a place of my own. I head-butted my owners and sniffed them. But I also missed having cats around to play with. It was so quiet! I could hear my own purr.

The way I felt is the same as any cat will feel in a new home. Here are some things you can do to help us adjust:

  • Put us initially in a small confined area by ourselves.
  • Furnish the area with necessities: food dish, water dish, and litter box.
  • Initially, continue feeding us the same brand of food that we were given at the shelter/rescue we came from. Gradually, shift to a new brand of food, if desired.
  • Let us approach you. We’ll be nervous for a while. Let us adjust to you at our own pace. Give us alone time. We need time to adjust to our new situation.

In my next column, I’ll tell you about my next adventure. Please keep watch for it!

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

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Spring Reviews

Almost a year after I announced that it was time to take a step back from this blog, Allison's Book Bag is still here. I'm slowly working back up to weekly reviews again. Each week, there will be one under any of these categories: Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, religious books, or diversity books. Some will come in the form of single reviews and others in the form of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean
  • The Distance Between Us by Reya Grande
  • Hearts of Fire from The Voice of Matyrs

Categories

Archives

Cat Writers’ Association
Artists Helping Animals

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