The Cinematic Guide to Animal Husbandry

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Of course, everyone loves animals and they are frequently depicted in movies, particularly family films. However, if you’re thinking about getting a pet, don’t use the cinema as your guide. Sometimes you may see a movie in which animals get treated in ways that would be improper in real life, Or else would mean resulting in trips to the vet, arrests in animal abuse, or the sad untimely death of Scruffy. Common examples include feeding an animal something it shouldn’t eat, keeping it in improper conditions, or handling it in a way that would cause it great distress or even damage.  This doesn’t include examples on animal mistreatment shown on purpose. With that I list how to take care of animals, according to the movies.

1. The proper way to take care of goldfish is in a goldfish bowl. (Actually, they don’t live very long in goldfish bowls. You’re better off having it live in an aquarium or an artificial pond like deep water for swimming, lights to bask under, and some form of filtration. Same goes for turtles and other aquatic species.)

2. It’s all right to pick up to pick up an animal by it’s tail. (In regards to most animals, don’t ever do this. Tails are used for balance and aren’t strong enough safely hold an animal’s weight and can cause horrifying damage to its spine. And if it’s a cat or a dog, you might want to run because they hate it. As for lizards, you might not get a hold of it for long since it has a detachable tail. The only exception to this is a mouse but only at the tail’s base.)

3. Pulling a rabbit by the ears or the scruff of its neck won’t bring it any pain. (Oh, yes, it would and may cause the rabbit to squirm or panic. And an animal panicking is never a good thing. Besides, magicians hold up rabbits by the ears because it’s painful.)

4. It’s best to buy two hamsters and have it’s habitat with elaborate chambers so they could exercise and have a buddy. (Of course, there’s the Syrian hamster who’s a loner by nature. Pair two of them of the same sex and one will eventually kill the other. A male-female pair might work but chances are it would lead to the female continuously breeding until she dies of exhaustion. Oh, and this might lead to a “Trouble with Tribbles” meets Lord of the Flies situation as far as offspring are concerned. As with elaborate hamster habitats, you’re better off with a cage since they’re a pain to clean. A single hamster will only choose two or three places for its sleeping place and larder. The rest, it will visit and use as latrines.)

5. Feeding milk to adult mammals won’t bring any harm. (Humans are the only adult mammals capable of digesting milk since it’s the only species to possess a lactose tolerant mutation. Also, this mutation is only restricted to peoples who’ve had domestic cattle longer than recorded history {mostly in Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.} Most mammals lose their ability to digest lactose after weaning and will develop digestive problems if they have too much. With animals like cats, dogs, mice, and rats, it’s best to water it down before giving it to them depending on the breed or species. Yet, it’s not 100% effective. Otherwise they could experience an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Also, yogurt, goat’s milk, cheese, and cream are less harmful to cats.)

6. It’s all right to keep a piranha tank without a lid since it won’t jump out of a tank. (When kept as pets, they are notorious for jumping out of the to their deaths. Of course, villains want their enemies to suffer.)

7. Live insects are recommended for iguanas since they’re lizards. Most lizards eat bugs. (Unlike most lizards, iguanas are herbivores so you’re better off giving it leafy greens than insects.)

8. You won’t hurt an animal giving it chocolate. (Don’t ever feed your pet chocolate! This is especially true in dogs and cats {but cats just won’t be interested since they can’t taste sugar}. Humans metabolize theobromine much more quickly and efficiently than most animals. And for most animals, it’s very toxic and potentially fatal, especially dark chocolate. Still, don’t get alarmed if Fido gets a hold of a chocolate chip cookie. It’s the baking bars you have to worry about.)

9. A cat won’t attack you if you hold it from the scruff of its neck. (As long as you support its hind legs at the same time and know what you’re doing. Doing so may upset a cat or even strangle it which may result in it injuring itself or scratches on your face.)

10. Multiple species of fish will survive harmoniously in the same aquarium. (My Uncle Kirk does this but he’s owned fish for years and knows what fish would play well with which. This may be fine with some species, but many don’t thrive well with others. Some are too aggressive to be kept with other species, others don’t have the same tank requirements. Some may be prey for other fish. Many standard-size tanks in movies contain multiple species existing harmoniously that would more likely kill one another in real life. Still, do your research.)

11. Always feed your fish standard fish food once a day. (It’s recommended to feed your fish at least 2-3 small meals daily. Still, there are many pet fish that require a specialized diet especially if their species exist in the wild. You might want to stick to goldfish for they take pellets and don’t require much taking care of {one I brought home from school lived for 4 years.})

12. No harm can come to a pufferfish puffing up since it does this to frighten predators in the wild. (True puffers do this in the wild for scaring predators, but puffing up causes severe stress to the animal and could shorten its lifespan. Also, can seriously injure itself or die doing this.)

13. Since snakes are deaf, it’s okay to be a loud around them. (Snakes can hear just not like most animals do {through their jaws}, and loud noises can cause severe stress in them so heavy metal fans shouldn’t own one.)

14. A frog slipping out a person’s hand will land safely to the ground. (Some frogs can safely land on the ground from a certain distance. However, what you’d most likely hear if drops a frog is a loud SPLAT! followed by an unstoppable cry by a traumatized small child if one’s around. As for the visual, let’s say if you felt like passing out after having to dissect a frog in high school, you don’t want to know.)

15. Always feed your snake live food. (While snakes do swallow their food live in the wild, it’s debatable whether this is humane. However, it’s generally recommended pet snakes should be fed frozen food to the benefit of both animal and owner. Feeding live food is considered dangerous to both snake and owner. On the snake’s, the live prey will still struggle to escape and can cause injury to the animal. For the owners, feeding live food can trigger the snake’s hunting instincts making it more aggressive an more likely to bite. And if the snake is venomous, chances are, you’ll be in the ER and don’t expect the anti-venom to completely restore you, which I talked about in another post. Not to mention, your pet venomous snake can kill you if presented with live food so you should probably stick to frozen there.)

16. A bloated snake is a happy snake. (This is a serious health concern which might require immediate veterinary attention. Feeding a snake too much at one time could rupture its stomach. Snakes can die from overeating. A biweekly frozen rat is plenty.)

17. You can make a carnivorous pet turn vegan or vegetarian. (This can only be pulled off on dogs and only with special supplements and close monitoring. This shouldn’t be tried with a help of a vet. Attempting this obligate carnivores that need proteins found in flesh to survive like cats and ferrets will all ensure the animal’s death by starvation, even if it eats the food. In this case, trying to get an obligate carnivorous pet to go vegan or vegetarian is animal cruelty, which will never be shown on the Sarah MacLachlan ASPCA commercials. Still, if you’re a veggie who thinks meat is murder even if it’s by housepets that are natural predators, just stick to herbivorous pets. Simple as that. At least with them, you don’t have worry about them going vegan.)

18. Tapping aquarium glass won’t hurt the fish. (Oh, yes it can! Don’t ever do this! You can easily make Sparky and Flounder eligible for a flushing sendoff this way. Sound travels faster through water and glass so while a small glass tap may not be much noise to us, it would certainly be like a sonic boom to them.)

19. Allowing a bird to eat out of your mouth won’t hurt it. (Human saliva is extremely toxic to birds. Besides, you might get pecked in return. Also, this is disgusting.)

20. Cats can survive a large dosage of sleeping pills. (This could kill people, let alone a cat.)

21. Always feed your rabbits lettuce an carrots. (A diet consisting only of these two foods could kill rabbits. Not to mention, lettuce contains a substance highly toxic to rabbits which makes feeding the vegetable like giving a person arsenic. You may want to use both in small quantities. They mostly eat hay and grass. Iceberg lettuce is not good for guinea pigs while romaine is fine while it’s considered junk food to tortoises.)

22. Always bait a mouse trap with cheese. (You’re better off baiting a mouse trap with something a mouse normally eats like grains or nuts. Cheese is too soft for them and will only eat it if starving to death. And by then, your grain supplies would already be depleted for a long time. Best to use peanut butter instead. Yet, rats are a different story when it comes to cheese and cats basically adore it.)

23. It’s perfectly fine to let goats eat garbage ranging from paper, tin cans, and other metal. (Goats may chew on a tin can but will not actually eat it. They may eat paper labels though since it’s mostly organic. Still, this was based on a misinterpetation. Anyone who’s worked with goats will tell you this is bullshit. Not to mention, the Army and a lot of landscaping businesses use goats for lawn maintenance.)

24. You can tame most wild animals and keep them as pets. (Well, only if you’ve raised them as babies. And if successful, they will only be docile around people they know. Still, except for people who work with animals, no one should ever try doing this. Those who try to tame wild animals, may end up getting attacked or possibly killed. Also, expensive to raise, takes a lot of time to housebreak, and isn’t really good for the animal. Sure a pet lion may be cool but not worth the effort.)

25. You can keep a stray wolf-dog hybrid as a house pet. (First generation wolfdogs are notoriously unpredictable and aggressive even with feral dogs. I mean there’s a legitimate reason why Balto didn’t have much socialization with dogs and humans in the first place. As a side note, the real Balto was a trained Husky {maybe even a Malamute} so the movie lied to us.)

26. You can treat any animal like a dog. (No you can’t. Horses are especially seen being treated like this in movies being taught to sit, stay, and everything.)

27. You can make friends with animals by feeding them. (Why the hell do I see signs that say Do Not Feed the Animals? I mean they have these signs for a reason! Besides, feeding them may make things worse for you or your family.)

28. Feral dogs can be trusted around small children. (For God’s sake stray dogs should never be around little kids regardless of breed. Unsocialized dogs are quite dangerous, though easier to tame than never domesticated species as long as you know what you’re doing. Remember, “the dingo ate my baby.”)

29. If you see a wild animal in distress, it’s best to help them since they will repay you. (Depends on the circumstance and on the animal. Also, depends on your expertise with animals. If you’re a park ranger, zookeeper, or vet, then be my guest. If you don’t know whether you should, just leave it be. A wounded animal can be just as hostile as a healthy one. If it’s frothing at the mouth, just don’t go there since it may mean rabies. Still, be aware results may vary.)

3o. You can get woodland creatures to be your servants and do your chores. (Sorry, Disney, but wild animals don’t work that way and are more likely to make a mess indoors.)

Thoughts of Black Friday and Its Business Practices

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One of the things I detest about the holidays is how stores turn a once sacred holiday celebrating the birth of Christ into the biggest excuse for excessive consumerism and profit. Already I’m seeing Christmas commercials on TV and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. And by this time, the only Christmas things I want to see are light up nights and school band kids practicing for Christmas concerts and parades. Also, bands practicing Christmas music in general. At least bands have a legitimate excuse to play Christmas music at this time of year. Still, once Thanksgiving rolls around, the Christmas Commercial Armageddon will be upon us and all hell will break lose.

Now in America, the Christmas season officially kicks off the Friday after Thanksgiving called Black Friday. Black Friday is said to be one of the biggest shopping days in the United States during the year and a business day when it’s all or nothing. A business not making a profit on Black Friday is one that won’t last much longer. Many Americans do their Christmas shopping on this day as well as trying to look for the best bargains for the latest gifts. And sometimes things can get pretty crazy with each store becoming as chaotic as a battle zone with every man for himself. I’m starting to wonder whether any Black Friday shoppers are among the craziest or most materialistic. I’m not trying to stereotype here since I guess every Black Friday shopper has their reasons for Christmas shopping on that day. I understand if some just want to get their shopping out of the way or can’t do it at any other time during the season. I understand those shopping on Black Friday for some last minute preparations for their family hunting trip during the weekend since deer hunting season starts that Monday in Pennsylvania. And growing up in Pennsylvania at least the start of deer hunting season gave me a day off from school. Yet, at least these people are planning to spend time with their family, even if it’s shooting Bambi. Of course, these two groups of Black Friday shoppers I have no problem with since they are pretty sane and have legitimate reasons.

Then you got your third type of Black Friday shopper who spends Thanksgiving night camping out in the parking lot of the mall or a big box store and scrambling into the place as soon as it opens at the crack of dawn. Now I may think camping in a store parking lot may be all right on a night the next Harry Potter book comes out. I’m not sure about spending Thanksgiving night in a tent at Wal Mart parking lot. I mean aren’t there plenty of other things to do on Thanksgiving night like spending time with your family. Is getting your kid the latest Xbox worth spending a cold dark night on the icy pavement? To me, lining up at 4 a.m. to shop to me seems ridiculous. To me, shopping is something you do to function or survive in a society. It’s not always fun and certainly not worth camping out at the crack of dawn for. Yet, for this group of people, shopping is a sport and Black Friday is their Super Bowl. They love the crowds, loud music, garish displays, and competitive atmosphere, all of which such shoppers see as a heaven. For me, this atmosphere is a personal hell hole since it consists of everything I hate about the holidays and why I avoid shopping on Black Friday like the plague. I can’t stand jammed packed stores filled with frenzied nuts shopping for the best deals and having fists fights break out over certain products. If I was working that day, I’d be thinking: Oh, God, please get me out of this nightmare! I can’t imagine how any retail employees ever manage to function normally with such unruly mobs creating a mess of things in their stores. Must drive anyone insane.

Of course, there have been reports of Black Friday shoppers doing strange things they wouldn’t normally do on other shopping days. There have been instances of violence in recent years ranging from unruly crowds stampeding employees, assault, shooting, stabbing, carrying weapons, and such. There have even been instances when people were killed, arrested, and rushed to the hospital. Sometimes police were called since employees couldn’t handle such ruckus. And for what? Over an Xbox? Parking Space? Seriously, I wonder how Christmas shopping can ever come to this. Maybe such shopping day simulates a customer’s insatiable desire to consume can bring out shopping rage turning your neighborhood Wal Mart into a scene from movies like Apocalypse Now, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Saving Private Ryan. Well, maybe not to that degree but pretty close. It’s said that dozens of people are injured each year by crazed crowds too eager for popular items. These range from bruises, sprained ankles, broken bones, and concussions. A good deal in a crowded store can turn the place into a mob scene with shoppers breaking into fights.

You think that retail giants would try to put a stop to this incendiary behavior but I’m so sure if you look at their business practices. And from what I see, these stores seem to encourage it since it causes such shoppers to overspend on cheap plastic crap made in China. Oh, I mean the cheaper plastic crap made in China. Retail giants have designed Black Friday in ways to put a shopper’s rational thinking out the window. Because when reason is out the window, people have a tendency to overspend and buy any kind of crap just because of a lower price tag. And if supplies are low, then customer turnout all the better. And even though Black Friday sales have been on the decline, retail giants continue to encourage such madness since it gives them publicity. Now many big stores are following Wal Mart’s suit and starting their big opening Christmas sale on Thanksgiving night. For me, such action gives me two questions. For one, who the hell shops on Thanksgiving night? And, seriously, is this all Thanksgiving is coming to? Besides, I don’t think retail workers would want to work on Thanksgiving, especially if they’ve been preparing the dinner. I mean they’re the ones losing family time to the unquenchable thirst of greed and consumer goods. And for many, Thanksgiving is one of the few days when they can sit back and relax since some retail employees work on weekends and not at good wages (except at Costco). Sure the Christmas season may be shorter than usual but sometimes I think the holiday rush seems to come earlier year after year with Christmas ads airing as early as September, which is way too soon. As far as I’m concerned, I think businesses need to clamp down on their holiday enterprising and put less emphasis on the rampant consumerism aspect. Instead, perhaps we need to see the holidays as a way of getting together with loved ones or just relax. Besides, everyone needs a holiday and you get better bargains in mid-December anyway.