Tag Archives: animals

The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: The Break-In

I didn’t know who or what decided the weather, but around here, when it got cold, it was cold, and I felt pity for anyone who didn’t have the option of retreating into the relative warmth of a dorm building.

Mostly, I felt bad for Polyhymnia, as her ongoing attempts to break into the building only got more desperate on days like today.  She’d spent the last hour or so attempting to climb the fire escape, and the windowsill I was sitting on gave me the perfect view. It wasn’t going well.

“She still at it?” Calliope asked. She had given up on watching  Polyhymnia fall and was now digging through the accumulated food in the small room. Why the humans piled up perfectly good food with random stuff and locked it all up in a small room was beyond my understanding, but I appreciated the ease of access.

“Yep. She’s trying to use a little tree to lean over onto the metal platform. It’s not really working,” I said.

“Poor Polly,” Calliope said. “I wish there was a way we could help her out.”

“How? She can’t fit through the holes we use to get in and out,” I said. I like Calliope, but sometimes I think she’s a little too nice for her own good. Maybe it’s a mouse thing?

“I know, Tals, but what if we could get the humans to open a door for her? Or maybe prop one open!” Calliope said. I sighed.

“Cali, I love you, but that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” I said. “You know how the humans get when they spot us, we’d never pull something like that off. And even if we did, they’d spot Polly in an instant. What if she got hurt?”

Calliope sighed. “I know, but I hate seeing her struggle like this.”

Just as she spoke there was a crash outside, followed by a human screaming. I looked back out the window to see that the little tree Polyhymnia had been using had been uprooted, and had crashed into the building. There was now a human screaming and pointing at Polyhymnia while another human chased her away with a broom.

“I think she’s giving up now,” I said, watching her walk off.

“We should bring her something to cheer her up,” Calliope said. “I think I smell some pizza in here. The humans never try to stop us when we drag that around.”

“Sure, let’s do it,” I said, hopping down from the window to help Calliope look.

The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: The Starbucks Run

The upside of living on a college campus is that students tend to leave food everywhere. Sometimes they’ll even just give you food, if you do something funny for them.

The downside though is that they never give you the food you want. Ask for the hot dog, and you get part of the bun. Just one piece of pepperoni? They’ll give you a glob of cheese. Trying to get some of that divine smelling chicken? Hope you like pickles, cause that’s probably what you’ll get instead!

Personally, I don’t like trying to get food from humans. It’s a lot of effort for very little reward, and I always run the risk of being met with screams when I let them see me. Also, it only works outside (students hate finding a rat in the dorm rooms,  found that one out the hard way).

Calliope, however, loves getting humans to give up food, and as I am her best friend, she drags me out with her occasionally, and since today was the first time in months it had been warm enough for students to actually go outside, we left the relative comfort of the dorm room to make the journey to the campus Starbucks.

Calliope bounded up to the patio to beg for scraps, immediately getting a reaction from the humans. I decided to hang back, since Calliope was way better at this sort of thing.

“Awww, what a cute little mouse!”

“Ew! Rebecca, it probably has rabies!”

“Oh, don’t be mean, Kaitlyn. I’ll bet she’s just hungry.” The human was already pulling at whatever food item she had on the table. “Are you hungry, cutie?”

“Yes! Very! Give me your food, human!”

“Just listen to those happy squeaks!” The human cooed again and then tossed down some kind of bread. “There you go! Enjoy!”

Calliope grabbed the bread and returned to the bush I was hiding under. “Check it out, Thalia! It’s got something really yummy smelling on it!”

The bread did smell good, but it was still only bread. “Great work, Calliope!”

“Are you gonna try and get something, Tals?”

“I’m not sure they’d give me anything,” I said.

“So steal it.”

Calliope squeaked and practically jumped ten inches into the air at the unexpected voice, but I’d seen our new companion approaching from around the side of the building.

“Hey Polyhymnia,” I said, giving the raccoon my best smile.

“Polly! You scared me!” Calliope said, recovering from her fright. “And what do you mean steal?”

Polyhymnia grinned, letting her mischievous nature shine through. “Watch and learn, Cali.”

Polyhymnia crept towards the patio, keeping out of sight whenever she could.  She was only a few feet away from the humans Calliope had begged from when she pounced, hissing and baring her teeth.

The humans screamed, dropped their food and drinks, and then ran away. “This is why you don’t feed wild animals, Rebecca!”

Polyhymnia dragged her bounty off the patio, and Calliope and I rushed to help her.

“Woah! You got so much food!” Calliope said, investigating a sweet smelling bread.

“Not just food!” Polyhymnia said, nosing at the cups. “This human drink is amazing! And these ones are cold, so no burns!”

“What is it though?” I sniffed at the white drink; it smelled sweet.

“I dunno. But you should try it!” Polyhymnia said, trying to pry the lid off of the cup she’d grabbed. The liquid in her cup was brown. I slipped my head into the opening at the top of my cup, and gave the mysterious drink a taste.


“Ian! Check out that crazy rat!” Kyle pointed towards the edge of the patio, where a rat was going nuts after having gotten into someone’s coffee.

“Dude! We gotta get that on film; we can put it on Tik Tok!” Kyle said, already pulling out his phone. “You go, coffee rat!”


Having a pet makes you a better person

If you follow me on any social media, you know I’m obsessed with my dog. Besides the (obvious) fact that she’s incredibly cute, I obsess over my dog because of who she makes me as a person.

Ever since I adopted my dog Roxy in October, my outlook on life has become extremely positive — it’s impossible to be sad when your dog is so happy. I also keep her in mind when I think of my future plans, which motivates me so much more to chase the things I want. I often imagine myself living on a beach with Roxy frolicking in the sand and chasing seagulls. For some reason, having her by my side makes it much easier to picture myself where I want to be.

Having Roxy also makes me want to do better because she deserves the best. Dogs have enormous hearts and love their owners so unconditionally. I don’t think I could ever express how much I appreciate that unconditional love. In exchange for that unbreakable bond between my dog and I, I feel the need to work hard so she can have nice things like a big, fluffy bed and all the toys she could ever need.

Radford student, Janie Maitland, with her dog.

Dogs also force you to live in the moment. There have been times where I’ve sat with Roxy and she’s taken her paw and knocked my phone out of my hand, forcing me to pet her. I began to realize after the 10th or 11th time that I was missing out on life because I was constantly plugged into my phone. Technology is great, but it should never take over your life to the point that you miss out on moments with your loved ones.

Dogs need constant exercise, so having a dog has forced me to get more exercise as well. Roxy and I often take long walks all the way around campus, which I never would have done walking by myself. She also loves to wrestle and play, which makes for a pretty rigorous exercise. Before I adopted Roxy, my weight would fluctuate from 125 to 140 lbs almost constantly. Now that I’m getting more regular exercise, my weight remains at around 133 lbs. I also have to be able to keep up with her so I’m more in shape than I’ve ever been in the past.

There’s something very zen about a sleeping dog on your lap that makes you slow down and appreciate the little things in life. One of my greatest joys in life is simply seeing my dog happy. When I take her to Claytor Lake and she’s allowed to run free, the big smile on her face as she runs about melts my heart.

Adopting a pet has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself because it forces you to work and play all at once. I don’t understand how anyone could be unhappy when there’s a sweet dog around. Having a dog may seem like a lot of responsibility, and it is to an extent. However, having a pet is a relatively inexpensive investment that changes you for life.

Don’t have time for a pet? Think again

Many people argue that college kids shouldn’t have pets because they take up time, effort, and resources. While I agree that many college kids are much too busy or don’t have the resources to properly care for an animal, I don’t believe that is the case for most college kids.

Having a dog does take some extra time, but not everyone can have the perfect home for a dog where he or she will be spoiled and given a perfect environment. Most people have many other obligations that they would have to balance with a pet, but that’s okay.

Thousands of animals are put to death every year because they couldn’t find a home. Animal shelters are extremely over-crowded and no-kill shelters can be very hard to come by. Because of this, I don’t think you have to fit a tight list of criteria to be a pet parent. Sometimes I see billboards encouraging adults to adopt children. These boards often say that “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” I think this saying should also apply to pet parents.

It takes love and care to be a good pet owner. Graphic by Katie Gibson
It takes love and care to be a good pet owner. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Having a dog or a cat is like having a child in some ways–but for the most part, dogs and cats are much less high-maintenance. Dogs can easily be left to roam the house while you’re at work. It’s not only illegal but obviously unethical to leave a baby free to “roam” the house while you’re in class or at work.

College kids may not have the most ideal situations for a pet, but who does? College students are much more flexible in their schedules than other adults are. I get to spend quite a bit of time at home with my dog, even though I have a full class schedule and a part-time job. With training, dogs learn that their owners aren’t going to be gone all day and find ways to entertain themselves with toys or naps.

Whether you have a full-time job or a full-time class schedule, chances are you may not think you have time for a pet. However, I believe you can make it work if you want to. There are so many wonderful pets out there waiting for homes, and in my opinion having to wait for their owner to get off work is a much better situation than being in a shelter with little human contact. It’s also most certainly better than being put to sleep just because someone was told they won’t be a good enough pet owner.

Forest of Wolves

Brightly dying leaves scatter the damp ground

Drying Red painted on the greenest moss

Bare trees weep from the caress of the wind

The suns cold rays scattered by reaching branches

Small animals scurrying in the under brush


A single rabbit emerges

It’s coat matching the decaying ground

Raised ears

Twitching noise

Searching for the fruit of life

While avoiding the Shadow of Death


Large yellow eyes appear in the distance



Eyes lock

Fur rises

Life holds it’s breath



The rabbit bolts

Taking the path of the Wind

Over fallen trees

Through pricking bushes

Trying to stay in the light


Yellow eyes

Never losing sight

Large Paws

Slamming into the impressionable dirt

A coat darker than midnight

Casting shadows on its prey


The running stops

The sounds of struggling ceases

Rewards are reaped


Dying leaves

Crying Trees

Silent animals

All watching

Fresh Red

Painting the green canvas














Netflix expects us to binge-watch, BoJack Horseman

America sure loves to binge. It’s not as if we like our alcohol more than the rest of the world, we just have a binge drinking problem.

It’s not that we like food more than the rest of the world, (we’re actually one of the most wasteful) we just have a binge eating problem.

It’s not that America has a problem with food, alcohol, or anything else; we just have a binging problem. Looking to capitalize on a social construct, Netflix has created “Netflix Original” series’ that enable the viewers to binge watch shows that have been created around the concept of binging.

BoJack in the opening theme. Graphic from Youtube
BoJack in the opening theme. Graphic from Youtube

BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy and is also a “Netflix Original” series. With an arching plotline that picks up right where it left off in each new episode, it’s clear the show was made with binge-watching in mind.

The main character, BoJack, is a narcissistic, washed up sitcom actor from the 90’s. Imagine a self-consumed Bob Saget. The comedic value of his personality derives from BoJack being a horse. Of course, a horse would think he’s the best thing since sliced bread.

BoJack’s agent is a cat and is appropriately named, Princess Carolyn. Princess has a mild temper and keeps a scratching post on her desk. It’s important to note that she is BoJack’s ex-girlfriend. But of course the writers named the cat Princess.

The animated comedy is built around archetypes more than anything else.

When BoJack decides to write a memoir, he contacts Penguins Publishing Company, which is run by penguins, of course.

When BoJack decides he needs a ghost writer, who does he get? A hipster, human named Diane Nguyen of course!

When BoJack falls in love with Diane, he discovers that she’s dating rival actor, Mr. Peanutbutter. But of course, what could Mr. Peanutbutter be other than an all-lovable Golden Retriever?

I think you get the idea, just match archetypes with animals. Unsurprisingly, this idea wears off pretty quickly.

Netflix, I’m not accusing you of being lazy because I did thoroughly enjoy this show. I just wish you hadn’t been so obvious. Do you think of your audience as sheep? Maybe you do, considering you target the collegiate demographic. Netflix, you give college students a break from their sometimes (often) stressful lives, they expect more from you than this.

For whatever reason, BoJack Horseman feels like a cheap attempt to get me to binge-watch a mediocre show.

Rescue a dog and they’ll rescue you

I recently made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It was something I decided to do to benefit my mental and physical health. It’s something that’s going to take a lot of responsibility and dedication, but I’m ready for it. This week, I decided to adopt a dog.

Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom. I’ve already gotten a lot of discouragement from family and friends and as I write this, I don’t even have my dog yet! I’m well-aware of the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. I realize this dog isn’t going to be like my pet rat that I can leave in a cage all day, feed, and give minimal attention (only because she doesn’t seem to like people too much).

The reason I wanted a shelter dog is that they seem to know that you’ve saved them, and  show a wild amount of gratitude. My brother and his wife adopted a beagle named Copper. Copper is the sweetest, most loyal, and thankful dog ever. You can see the love and thankfulness in his eyes.

When I announced to my friends and family that I wanted to get a dog to help me cope with my anxiety, many of them asked if I was getting a puppy. I love puppies very much but I decided to look for a dog who was a little bit older. Puppies are cute, but they’re also very needy. They also don’t give me quite the warm-fuzzy feeling that shelter dogs do. There’s something so specifically special about a dog who’s been through so much.helter dogs often have wounds that we can’t see as a result of being abandoned by their previous owner. Although these issues may be a burden for some owners, I see it as an opportunity to help the dog heal their wounds, while also helping me heal mine.

Animals are very intuitive creatures. They know when their owners are sick, sad, happy or just need some extra puppy kisses. A friend of mine recently got a puppy and after spending some time sick in the bathroom, she got into bed and her puppy laid his head on her stomach. When I was a kid and  I was sad our dog, Heidi, would always come sit by me. I remember crying while sitting on my porch, with Heidi just sitting by me, letting me hug and pet her.

There’s very little research on what it is that makes dogs so therapeutic. However, people suffering from depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders reap many benefits from owning a dog or cat. Whether it’s the increase in exercise that dogs come with, or just having a dog to pet, there are undeniable benefits. I’m very excited to see where this journey with this dog takes me. Hopefully, I’ll see some of the benefits that are so common among those who opt for an emotional support animal.

“Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom.”

My UGGly obsession

UGG boots aren’t the prettiest of footwear. They’re bulky, they kind of make your feet look like elephant feet, and they’re well…UGGly. They’ve gotten a lot of crap, especially in the last couple of years. I remember hearing comments every now and then from hipsters, mostly, about how hideous they were when I was in high school. When I got to college, the hate for UGG boots got a lot more intense.

UGG boots are nowhere near cute, but they’re comfy! If you want to feel like you’re wearing slippers, but still feel slightly adult while going to class, UGG boots are for you. Not only are they comfy, but they’re very warm during the winter. Sheepskin, the material UGG’s are made out of, is a special material that regulates your body temperature. In other words, you could wear them any time of year and they won’t get too hot or too cold.

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“They’re bulky, they kind of make your feet look like elephant feet, and they’re well…UGGly.” Photo by: Danielle Johnson

I’ve noticed that through years of wear and tear with my UGGs, they’ve never gotten stinky like my leather boots sometimes do. This is probably because the material UGGs are made out of “breathes” so moisture doesn’t get trapped in them. Granted, if you wear your UGGs in really damp conditions, they will get ruined and start to smell. But I’ve worn mine in 3 feet of snow, and they still look and feel brand new.

UGGs are really expensive, which is one of the big downsides to them. However, if you’re looking to invest in a pair of really comfortable winter boots that will last for years, UGGs are a great investment. I would definitely recommend getting the care kit for UGGs that includes a spray that really waterproofs them. I never bought one, and mine still look barely worn, but if you just want that extra security, go for it.

Of course, PETA has gotten onto UGGs accusing them of animal cruelty. I bought my UGGs before these accusations, so I can sleep at night. But honestly, PETA isn’t the most honest of organizations. In many cases, the videos PETA (and other organizations) uses are from black market slaughter houses where, in many cases, the animals aren’t being used as meat. UGG specifically uses sheepskin from meat processing companies that would otherwise be discarded. One article written by an employee of the meat industry explained that sheepskin has become more expensive due to the popularity of UGGs. Companies are competing to get the sheepskin from meat companies that would just discard it.

Whatever your opinion is of UGGs, whether you think they’re ugly or not, they’re here to stay. I know I’ve never even thought that my UGGs were cute, but they’re comfy and practical and that’s what matters most to me. One of the biggest issues I’ve had in recent years when shopping for clothes is that many times you have to sacrifice practicality for cute clothes, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. Although my UGGs were expensive, they’ve proven to be durable and trusty, which is more than I can say for a lot of my clothes.

College can be RUFF

Many college students crave the attention and affection that can be generated from friendly canines, while their schools make it difficult to own and care for one.

Most dormitories and on-campus residential halls only allow pets such as fish, while banning dogs, cats, hamsters and most other animals. This could be due to the fact that hall residents could have complications relating to allergies, noise, and filth. It could also be detrimental to the animal to live in a condition where they could be among hazards with little space to roam.

“From a financial aspect, college students typically do not have enough money to afford a dog and all of its fees and needs on top of spending their money on school, textbooks, rent, groceries and more.”

Some students living in off-campus housing are denied the opportunity to house a pet as well, given the threat of large fines and sometimes eviction. Many rental companies require their residents to sign a lease agreeing to no-pet policies. Others require a high-priced fee be paid for each animal being housed within the residence. There’s also a chance of a pet causing major damages, which would yield yet another fee. Yard space is also an issue since off-campus college housing is usually in the form of apartment complexes; the doggies don’t have much room to play.

Although there are many college students who are responsible enough to own and care for a dog, there are also many that neglect to care for their dog in a proper manner.

From a financial aspect, college students typically do not have enough money to afford a dog and all of its fees and needs on top of spending their money on school, textbooks, rent, groceries and more. With spending money to spare, some college students are unable to afford quality pet nutrition, vaccinations, procedures and veterinary appointments which can lead to serious health problems for their dog.

A lot of time must be dedicated to a pet dog. Their walks, exercise, training, eating, and appointments all must be scheduled. College students are generally under a tight schedule with classes and also add on extra-curricular activities. What does the dog do while a student is gone all day long? Unfortunately, the dog is usually crated or locked inside for long hours of the day with a lack of necessary attention.

Many don’t oppose the idea of owning a dog in college, but hope people can think of the animal before themselves. From this point of view people believe if an individual is unable to devote their affection, time, energy, and large portion of their life to their dog, then it’s unfair to the dog to be under their care; they see this as abuse.

Dogs can be a great companion and stress-reducer for students, but can also be a worrisome hassle. Make sure you can be dependable for your doggies!

Outside of Greentown: Chapter 7

I stormed off through the woods back toward home. I was furious. How did she escape me? I never knew she could perform such a seamless transportation spell. “Semantics,” I thought to myself. “I must find out what she plans for the future. I can do nothing about the past except learn from it.” I moved faster through the maze of trees. My feet barely touched the ground, and I was back on my front porch in just a few minutes. Continue reading Outside of Greentown: Chapter 7

Marine Mammal Protection Act a success

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was first signed by Richard Nixon in 1972, and since then has been helping many different marine species bounce back from what was almost sure extinction.

Such a magnificent creature. Photo from Creative Commons.

This law protects: “All marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States,” according to the Marine Mammal Center. Forty years after the law was enacted, many species that were thought to be going extinct have renewed their populations and are carrying on stronger than ever. Continue reading Marine Mammal Protection Act a success

Weekly Time Wasters: Crisps and the Obama phone

Welcome to another installment of the column that I know all of you wait around with bated breath all week for, the Weekly Time Wasters! I have nothing to say here but my editor insisted I have an introduction. I don’t mind as I now have a chance to talk to all you lovely people. So how was your day? Good? Mine too. Now that that’s over, let’s get into the good stuff and waste some time. If you like what you see leave a comment and let me know. If you stumble across something elsewhere that’s so funny that you have no choice but to share it with the world, put it in the comments. There’s a good chance it could make it into next weeks Time Waster. And now, an enjoyable 15 minutes that you will never get back. Continue reading Weekly Time Wasters: Crisps and the Obama phone

The effects of recycling

From one non-recycler to another, the documentary film Tapped, is sure to change your perspective on how not recycling affects the Earth. This movie examines recycling and how our health and world around us is affected by taking this action seriously. Everyone knows that it’s a good idea to recycle and that by recycling we can help our planet. Yet, every month there is enough aluminum thrown away to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet. This doesn’t include all of the other materials that aren’t recycled. Continue reading The effects of recycling