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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 1, 2005 / 20 Adar I, 5765

Starving ‘things’

By Dean P. Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When I was in fourth grade I desperately wanted a hamster. A classmate had brought one in for show and tell. I remember how I loved the way it sat in the small of my hand and crawled up one arm, around my neck (it tickled), and back down the other arm. To me it seemed the perfect pet.

After persistent asking and sworn statements of responsible feeding, watering, and cleaning, my father acquiesced. However, instead of a hamster, my father brought home two rat-looking animals he called gerbils. Apparently someone at work had a gerbil that just had a mess of babies and offered them to my dad for free.

My friends said they thought I was going to get a hamster. I told them a gerbil was sort of like a hamster. They had never heard of a gerbil before. Neither had I.

It was the 70s, and like much of America at that time, my father was tracing our family roots, something he called genecology. I named the gerbils Jeanie and Ollie.

On February 17, a Kentucky man was charged with animal cruelty when a six year old mare died of starvation after being seized by Kentucky State Police.

Even though they weren't hamsters and considered weird, second class rodents by my friends, the gerbils were singularly mine. Not my brothers', not my family's, mine. I was sole owner of these pets. Ownership is empowering. I could play with them or not play with them at my whim. There was no asking permission, no time-sharing with my two brothers, and, better yet, if one of my brothers wanted to hold the gerbils, they had to come to me to ask my permission.

Gerbils, however, are not as docile as hamsters. In fact, I learned quickly they can be quite nasty. While they were good at climbing up my arm, they would always bite my ear lobe then try to burrow in my hair.

It wasn't long before the novelty of having my own pets wore off, and soon I had to be constantly reminded to clean their cage, water and feed them.

Last week felony animal cruelty charges were filed against an Oklahoma man after allegedly starving horses on his property.

One morning I glanced at the gerbils and noticed one had an ear missing and a good sized chunk out of the other. I was scared and yelled for my parents. When's the last time you fed them? My father asked me. I said I didn't know, but it could not have been too long ago. It must have been a while, dad said, because they are starting to eat each other.

The idea of having cannibal pets was too much for me and I told my parents that I wanted them to get rid of the gerbils right away. My father told me they were my responsibility — I wanted my own pets, I swore I would take care of them — now I had to deal with them. But what could I do? I asked. You could start, my father said sternly, by feeding them.

One day about a month later, I found one of the gerbils had only half a tail, and the other lay mangled in a corner of the cage, dead. I had neglected to feed them again.

I went to my father and asked him what I should do. I did not want these things in my room any longer. He again told me of my responsibility. I suggested letting the remaining gerbil go in the nearby woods, but my father said that would be cruel. It was winter and the gerbil was weak and lacked the necessary survival skills. The what? I pleaded.

He told me I could put it out of its misery. How? Put them in a sock, he told me, with some rocks, and then throw it in the river. A few blocks from our house was an old railroad bed that lead to an abandoned trestle over the headwaters of the Great Egg Harbor River. I asked if my father would do this act for me. He shook his head. It was my pet, my responsibility.

On February 17, a California man is charged on felony animal cruelty and two misdemeanors of failure to provide for dogs and abandonment when he allegedly left them starving.

The next day, after school, I picked up the gerbil by what remained of his tail and slid it down to the toe of an old tube sock, held it under my coat, and walked along the black dirt railroad bed toward the trestle. With each squirm under my coat, I felt constricting pangs of fear or anxiety in the pit of my gut. The ten minute walk felt like forever, though before I realized it, I found myself standing in the middle of the trestle watching the river rush underneath. With a second thought, I peeked into the sock, but the image of the cute furry animal of my imagination was quickly replaced by the writhing grotesque rodent of my reality. I tied a knot in the top of the sock, held it out over the side of the trestle for a minute, and then hurled it out as far as I could into the river. When the sock hit the water, it did not sink right away like I had thought it would. Rocks. My father had mentioned rocks. I had forgotten the rocks. I watched the sock wriggling spastically as it floated farther and farther down river until I couldn't see it anymore.

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When I got home, I threw away the cage without cleaning it.

On January 27, an Illinois man received a 30 day jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to cruel treatment of an animal for failure to provide adequate food and water which caused a weanling quarter horse to die.

A Florida judge has set March 18 as the date when Terri Schiavo's husband will be allowed to remove her feeding tube, beginning her starvation process. He should instead just stuff her into the toe of an old tube sock and throw her into the nearest river.

Just don't forget the rocks.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Dean P. Johnson's columns appear in Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Hartford Courant, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San Francisco Examiner, Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, Atlantic City Press, Philadelphia Inquirer among other smaller papers. Comment by clicking here.

02/14/05: Being judged by our youthful indiscretions
01/27/05: A Trump/Knauss bridal registry — No, really!
08/10/04: Will our evolving military finally change its recruitment campaign?
08/04/04: Advertising my family
07/06/04: What we need are laws protecting us from all the dangers of cell phone smoking
06/28/04: Now, they're killing the good ol' American backyard barbeque!
04/20/04: Once again, it's TV's fault

03/31/04: My kids have been watching the news again!
03/26/04: Why are we still annoying Americans with metrics?

© 2005, Dean P. Johnson