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Question and Answer Time.


Dear Beautiful People,

I love questions and appreciate the opportunity to answer to the best of my ability. Here are questions from Shea Brennan and my answers follow. If anyone else has questions please feel free to ask away.

Shea Brennan

My name is Shea and your book inspired me to do my eighth grade research project on the controversial topic of “the unethical treatment of animals in entertainment”. These are the questions I would ask you if you would accept an interview with me, either by email or phone.

What do you think constitutes mistreatment of animals?
What do have to say, in general, of the unethical treatment of animals entertainment?
Do you believe that mistreatment is happening in entertainment?
What happened to animals when they are not in use?
What happened to animals while they were used in television, movies, etc.?

Please let me know if you would be willing to help inform me about this issue. Thank you for your consideration.
~Shea

My Response:

Answers are in Bold under your question.

  1. What  do you think constitutes mistreatment of animals?

Not loving the animal.

Not understanding an animals natural behavior.

Not being patient with an animal.

Not respecting the animal.

Starving an animal.

Not playing with the animal and getting it out everyday.

Beating the animal.

Breaking it’s spirit.

Yelling at the animal.

Scaring the animal.

Not keeping the animals home clean everyday.

I can go on, but I think this will give you an idea of how I feel.
2. What do have to say, in general, of the unethical treatment of animals entertainment?

First you are assuming here that all animals are treated unethically in the animal entertainment business and that is a huge falsehood. It is organizations like P.E.T.A that spread the lies and have hurt many people and animals and have torn loving families apart. P.E.T.A. has hurt and killed more animals than any trainer in the entertainment community. With that said, why would an animal handler want to hurt their animal? Animals are highly valued.

Yes, as in anything human, there are those horrible individuals who have hurt an animal on purpose and for no reason, and I do believe they should be hung by their genitals.

Just like parents who abuse their children.

Tangent here:

Is what the general public does not understand is the strength ratio of an animal and a human, and that would take a greater conversation to explain. One example, if you see a handler smack an elephant who weighs 4 to 6 tons, the human weighing 185lbs, and the trainer is trying to get the elephant back in line so it doesn’t get hurt walking on a nail, (the trainer may have seen in the last-minute) The general public would just see a human hitting an elephant for no reason and call it abuse! Where really they were trying to save the elephant from getting hurt. A human smack feels like a fly landing on them.

Captive born and bred animals need to keep their brains active, need to have contact with their human parents as children do, or they shrivel up and that is the real abuse, i.e animals in zoo’s that are never let out of their quarters.

Animals raised in captivity raised with “affection training” are proven to be happier and healthier. They have never had the life that animals in the wild have, so one must do everything in their power to give them a great life in captivity, but the animals themselves don’t miss it! More activists have tried to release captive born and bred animals out in to the wild thinking they were doing a good thing, only to see that animal killed within days as it has no idea how to survive. The animal is terrified.

I guess to I would need to see your interpretation of unethical behaviour in order to elaborate more in the specific area of interest you have.

3. Do you believe that mistreatment is happening in entertainment?

I believe that there are some individuals whom have abused animals, but I do not think it is as vast as the animal activists would have the general public believe it is.
4. What happened to animals when they are not in use?

This is a very broad question, if by “in use” you mean working then I can tell you that many trainers retire their animals to their property to live out their life in a happy, relaxed environment. I cannot speak for all but if you want specifics then I need you to please narrow down your spectrum of interest to a more specific point.


5. What happened to animals while they were used in television, movies, etc.?

Again this is a wide open question. Are you interested in knowing the capacity in which the animals worked, lived, mode of transport, training, diet, or possible abuse? In my family abuse was not tolerated nor encouraged, our animals were family to us, and we had and maintained the utmost mutual respect and understanding capable between trainers and animals.

Animals on location live in temporary stationary homes, these vary depending on the animal and its individual needs and the duration of the work. Diet is consistent during work hours as constructed by the trainer to provide the animal with all essential needs. When animals are not working they are kept at home in their preferred, safe, healthy and optimum environment.

I think your questions are good ones, but as I am not an animal abuser nor do I believe in it, my world and the way I was brought up is very different then what you may understand based on information you have heard about or experienced yourself. IF you have more questions based on my answers please send them.

Hope this helps.

Ralph HelferBooks FB page


Ralph Helfer (Dad) and me. xxx

Hello Beautiful People.  We are trying to get all our FB friends and their Friends to take a look at us and ‘LIKE’ on our FB Wall. We are trying to educate people on the importance of the human and animal ‘positive’ relationships. Love to hear what you have to say. We would love to encourage you to ask us questions and enjoy all our pictures we have been adding.

We appreciate your support in this endeavour.

Huge Hugs to everyone.

http://www.facebook.com/RalphHelferBooks

Learning Lessons


Dear Beautiful People,

Apologies for the long break in my blogging. It has been a year of learning, losing and recreating.

Bullet pointing this time:

  1. My eldest daughter Tiva married the love of her life (Eddie) after graduating with distinction and making the Deans list, from Rhodes University.
  2. My darling friend and house lady Joyce lost her daughter to bacterial meningitis.
  3. My once friend Dawn, is no longer a part of my life.
  4. My Mum passed.
  5. Rian moved to Australia to continue university.
  6. Savanah my youngest continued her Gap year and then went to work in the South of France.

These are just a few of the major things that I will mention, there was more and it kicked my bottom to say the least, but all better now.

My AMAZING Mum passed away in March of this year! She had moved back to Kenya to be with her Grandchildren and me. We were led to believe she would be around for at least another two to three years, but unfortunately it was just under four months.

When my Mum and I knew her time was nearing I called her Doctor to come check on her (Yes, wonderful Kenyan Doctors still do house calls). He walked in to my Mum’s room and said “Hi, Toni how are you today?” In perfect clarity, and with her continuous humor she replied, “Hi, finally are you here to ‘put me down’ ?” with a wicked little smile on her face. Of course I cracked up and the sweet Doctor was dumb struck, I quickly explained our animal background to him and he got the joke, even giggled himself and replied “No, Dear.”

When I knew Mum only had a few days left I sent out a message to all her friends and family from around the world and asked them if there were any “Good Byes” they would like to send and assured them I would read her each one. The response was overwhelming. I never expected hundreds of emails; with such heart felt concern, love, blessing, and wonderful stories about them and her. Between my daughters and I we managed to read each and every one. It was a transcending experience for us all, and my Mum heard and loved each one.

Soon after, all my daughters left home one by one to go out into the world and I was left at home completely alone for the first time after 23 years! This was not fun; I started to talk to the animals more then normal, I am sure I looked like a crazy person. I became a couch potato and dove in to all the DVD’s I could muster, it was glorious for a week, then my darling house lady, and friend (Joyce) became concerned. “Tana, we need food for the house honey.” I sent her to do the shop! Something she had never done before and she was not amused, but afraid of the crazy woman on the couch with dogs and a cat sitting with her, I am sure taking on the task of a shop was much more plausible then getting my depressed bottom out of the sitting room let alone the house. I did arise from my couch aka throne a couple of days later and went on the next shop with Joyce, and we had a wonderful time and even took some extra time to grab lunch and enjoy being out.

Although this has been a trying year I always try to take the positive from it, not easy to do right away, but I always succeed. As I was raised that way, these words echo in my head from my parents, “Tana, turn nervous energy into Exciting energy,” “Don’t mourn a natural death, as it is just a rebirth into a new life,” “Appreciate the time you have had with people and animals as they all come and go in and out of lives, let them go.” With these words, which I hold close, some people feel I come across cold and uncaring, but it is the exact opposite. I am so loving and caring that it would hurt me to think any other way, so I have embraced these beliefs so that I can always move forward in a positive way.

My daughter Rian has started her own Blog called LoquaciousRambling at: http://loquaciousrambling.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/the-helfer-club-5/ When you have a moment take a look, she is an amazing writer, like her Nana (Toni Ringo Helfer Law).  Rian also started a new Facebook page called Ralph HelferBooks at: http://www.facebook.com/RalphHelferBooks please note if you write in the search Ralph Helfer it will appear and it has the ZAMBA book cover as the Wall picture. I am also excited about this FB page as it will give people a chance to do Q&A with us about the history of our family working with and living with the amazing animals that we were blessed to have as a part of our lives.

Huge Hugs,

XXX

 

 


Hello Beautiful People,

Last night was amazing, to say the least! I got out of camp and saw this beautiful male leopard.

Leopard at Cottars 1920's

I was sitting in my office at work and heard a very low deep voice (Doug) over the radio, “Charlie Mike, Charlie Mike (that would be me! Camp Manager) I am looking at the largest Leopard I have ever seen!”

Tana,”Doug where are you?”

Doug: “4×4″

Tana: “Will you wait for me? I am coming now”

Doug:  “Hurry!”

Tana: “I will do my best! Guests just arrived and pilot staying the night as he can’t fly out, let me sort everything”

In the mean time, Rian and Tom (our volunteer) were introducing new guests in to camp. I practically tripped over the tent flap while getting to the new guests, to ask them if they wouldnt mind if we all jump back in the vehicle and go see this huge leopard. They are very excited about this news and say that they would love to go! Rian, Tom and I jumped into the vehicle with the guests and shot off, literally into the sunset, with William a guide behind the wheel.

We had just had a huge rain storm, so rivers were a bit high and the mud was thick, but that didnt stop William from driving at an amazing and yet safe, speed to get us there just in time, as the sun was going down, to see this handsome leopard!

I love moments like these.

xxx

http://www.cottars.com/1920_camp.php

 


Sorry for the long silence! I have decided to post little updates in order to stay in communication. I am working in an amazing camp called “Cottars 1920’s camp” as the Camp Manager (Relief).

A quick explanation: Many Maasia are the Askaris (security Guards) in Camps.

I love the Maasai. I was explaining in a meeting (today) that I need them to report to me before they leave the camp. I explained “What would you do if the appointed young boy watching your cattle left the cattle unattended?” They sat up and said with huge concern “WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?” they understood my point when I said “PLEASE think of us as your cattle,” They all laughed.

Hope everyone is well. xxx

 


I know it has been ages since I last wrote a story, I do apologize. For those of you who are not friends with me on Facebook, you would need to know that I have been flat out working for Nairobi Tented Camp as the Operations Manager, opening their camp from the end of last September. It has been amazing and such a beautiful camp, for those of you who would like to take a look, please visit our website. www.nairobitentedcamp.com

Now story time!

My daughters, Dawn and her son Ryan as well as a family friend, Keri, rented out a house on the beautiful Kenyan coast this holiday. A lavish two story, Zanzibar-ian with a huge swimming pool, surrounded with lush trees and foliage. The perfect place for a holiday as well as for some unsuspecting humor!

We had been lying out, then went out and drank ourselves silly till all hours of the night. Just letting loose and decompressing from a very busy year of University work, camp work and A- level exam work. On one very special night all of us were sitting outside, swimming, laughing and dancing to great music. Another family friend by the name of Hugo had come over to join us. Now Hugo is one of the funniest young men in our lives, he is a very handsome young man, tall with blue eyes, dark hair and is extremely brainy with a confidence that leaves him no time for the macho aspect of teenage boy life.

We had all gotten up and were dancing underneath the stars, laughing so hard that I had to hold my stomach more than a few times. We only had the soft outside lights by the main door. I had turned to see Hugo walking out of the door and gently throw something on to the makeshift dance floor on our verandah, as I was looking at was being tossed, I heard him call out “Cockroach!” I was so curious I went to look at the massive 2 inch cockroach, when I head Keri scream out (I think more from not hearing what he said, only seeing something coming her way) and then I started to laugh again, I turned to look at Hugo to ask where he found it when I saw him bent over on the steps holding his stomach in what I thought was massive laughter.

I then saw Rian standing next to him, laughing too and trying to get out the words “Are… you….. OK?” I walked over to him and was laughing with him, I thought. Only to find out that when he screamed out “COCKROACH” he was standing too close to my terminator, Rian. Now, everyone knows you NEVER try to scare Rian unless you are at least out of her reach. Hugo, who knows this, but had a temporary memory lapse as he was so caught up in trying to scare the girls.

When I took a second look at Hugo, I realized although he was laughing, it was with great pain! “Hugo, are you ok honey” I asked. Grunting a bit he got out the words “Noooo” “What happened?” all the poor boy could get out was “Rrrriiiiiaaan.”  I started to laugh harder and tried to help him up! “Rian, what did you do to huggy Bear?” “I hit him, he screamed right behind me, you know me Mum you cant scare me like that, I always hit first and asked questions last.” Hugo managed to cough out, “It…was…not…worth…it.” I was gone with laughter, at this point so was everyone else, even Hugo. He was fine….

I walked over to the cockroach as, yes I even love cockroaches. Made sure it was out of the way and watched it as it scrambled over to the bushes.

The next Day, Dawn, Rian, Keri and I had driven up to Malindi for the day. After finishing all of our running around we were back in the car heading back to Watamu, when from out of no where I hear Dawn yell out “Cock…” and then complete silence. Keri was sitting next to her and I turned around and got whiplash looking out the window trying to see the ‘cockerel? Or the other thing? To see nothing! I asked Dawn “Where? What exactly am I looking for?” I see Dawn slowly pulling her hand in through the window and shyly says, “A Cockroach was on me, but I remembered what happened to Hugo when he yelled out cockroach, so stopped half way.” Laughter broke out throughout the car.

Huge Hugs to EVERYONE xxx

Children and P.T.S.D.


Hello Beautiful People! I am sorry I have been silent for the last month, there have been a few things I have been thinking about and one of them was something that happened to me when I was a little girl, to be precise 8 years and 68 days old.

This story is not like my others, but I felt it was important to share for others that may have experienced a similar trauma or may know someone who has.  It is my intention to use my story to help others understand a bit about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D).

When I was 8, I was invited to my best friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. Her name is Jo and to this day she remains my longest and closest friend, anyone who knows us knows we call each other ‘sisters,’ we love each other dearly and have been in each others lives for 43 years. I love her with all my heart and this story that the two of us share will never be completely forgotten, yet we have rarely spoken of it since.

I was dropped off at Jo’s new house, her Mother had remarried and Jo was staying with her mom this weekend. It was a beautiful summer’s day in August in Southern California and I was so excited to be seeing Jo.

I was the first kid to arrive and was very interested to see where she was living. I walked in and said hello to everyone. Jo asked if I wanted to go out back and play until the rest of the kids arrived. Of course this sounded like great fun, as I started to walk towards the plate glass sliding doors I saw two full grown Saint Bernard dogs. I stopped and looked for Jo’s step dad (lets call him Doug), as I knew they didn’t belong to Jo and I had never met these dogs before.

I asked Doug, “Are your dogs ok with children?”

“Of course they are”

“Is there anything I should know about them? Or anything I shouldn’t do around them?”

“No, Tana, they are fine the older one grew up with my kids and the other is just about a year and half.”

Now, remember most kids don’t know to ask these questions, but because of how I was brought up with animals I was trained to always ask and be aware of any one’s animals as they didn’t know me.

Jo and I walked outside and went straight over to a table that had a few of her presents on it, obviously from the family, and she had permission to open some. One of the presents was the bubbles in a bottle, the one where it has a plastic loop on the end of a stick and you dip it and then blow and amazing bubbles appear and float up in to the air, they always mesmerized me.

Jo and I had blown a few times and were laughing and giggling, jumping up trying to burst them. Jo turned to me and said, “Dunk it and run around the pool.” She had this big smile and her eyes were full of happiness. I said, “Okay.”

The Saint Bernards were off to the side and walking around, they hadn’t even paid any attention to us; they were more concerned about finding a cool place to lie down.

I dunked the stick in the canister and held the stick up high in the air, I remember looking at the blue sky as the liquid slowly started to drip down the stick and on to my hand; I started to run before it all dripped down. I was laughing and calling out to Jo to watch me.

My life changed forever in this one innocent moment.

“Jo, look.” I started to make my first corner of the pool and was turning left when I heard them. I knew I couldn’t stop. The dogs were growling and barking and in full chase of me, it was not a playful gallop, their strides were determined. I started to run faster and Jo yelled, “Jump in the pool, Tana! Jump!” She knew what was happening she saw the dogs and she knew.

I chose not to jump into the pool, because I thought if they jumped in they would drown me. I had seen a gate around at the side of the house and I knew I could make it. My heart was going so fast it felt like a blur, no longer a gentle thump. I threw down my little stick and reached up for the gate lock, only to see a pad lock. I just went in to pure instinct mode from that moment on. I dropped to the ground, tucked my legs into my chest and grabbed the back of my neck. I knew I had to protect all vital organs. I held on for dear life, I knew what was coming.

Everything went quite and then the growls were no longer in the distance they were right on top of me. One grabbed my back and the other my arm, they were ripping my flesh and pulling in different directions.

A minimum weight of 350 pounds combined of dogs attacking 50 pounds of me, I was a scrawny child, but strong for my size. I felt one of dogs teeth bite down on my arm by my elbow and pull me towards her, at the same time I felt the other bite down on my back as he tried to pull me towards himself and away from the other dog, I felt my flesh rip away from my body and he bit down again this time hire up on my back, trying to get a better grip. I felt their nails digging into my body as they both tried to find their traction to win the award.

Throughout this attack I never let go of my neck or let my legs dangle I kept my body tight and compacted as possible, I remember later thinking I must have looked like a pill bug.

For one slight instant I thought this would be over soon, someone would come and pull them off and help me. But no one came to help, no one. I knew I was on my own and had to think. I had to wait till it stopped or maybe I would be given a moment to escape.

I didn’t feel any pain in the moment; I believe that was the shock of it all. I started to hear voices in the background over the deep growls, but it was faint. I don’t know how long I was being bit or torn, but as I listened to the dogs the moment I had been waiting for came.

The older of the two dogs got possessive over my body and turned on the younger one. They started to fight each other and that was when I heard Doug’s voice from the veranda, he was yelling at me at this point in time, “Tana, get up and walk to me!” I stood up, didn’t look at the dogs and walked over to Doug. He walked me into the house. Jo’s mom was quick to have towels on me and putting pressure on my open wounds, my back was the worse for wear.

I looked up and asked, “Why didn’t anyone come to help me?” She looked at me and said, “I was in the house honey.” I looked at her new husband and he turned and walked away.

In that moment my 8 year old self knew I could never trust anyone to step in and help me, I would always have to help myself. Maybe I wasn’t worth it? Maybe they were too weak? Maybe they were just too scared? I would never know.

When we were at the hospital Jackie, Jo’s mom, held me by her side while we waited for my mom to arrive. I remember seeing my mom walking with a fast gait down the hall looking for me. She couldn’t believe I was still in the waiting room and went to speak to the nearest nurse to get me treated.

Now, I can’t remember if it was later that day or the next day, but when I left the hospital I was told by my mom that I had to go by Jo’s house to talk to Animal Control. I knew who they were, we all did. Those were the bad men with the trucks that took dogs and cats off the street and then took them to the pound to be killed. Again remember I was eight!

I asked why I had to talk to them, Mom said they had to ask me questions only I could answer.

We pulled up in front of the house and they were already there parked and waiting for me. I remember being very stiff, all my muscles hurt and the stitches were tight. I rolled down my window and this very nice man walked over to the car window on my side. He leaned down and introduced himself. I asked him what he wanted from me.

“Tana, I heard what happened and it is my job to judge if these dogs are safe for this family to have or if I need to put them down.”  I knew what that meant. My reaction was strong, “It was not the dogs’ fault! I asked if they were safe and Doug said they were. He is the one that should be put down, he is the one that got me hurt and he is the one who didn’t help me!” He leaned back when he heard my reaction and took a breath, then said, “Wow, I guess you thought about this?”

“Don’t you hurt those dogs, talk to him and make sure he puts them away when strangers come to visit! Okay?”

“Ok, Tana, you just saved the dogs lives” and he walked away.

I am telling this story for a couple reasons:

One – to protect your animals and friends. Put your animals in their own area if you are going to have children running around, as you never know what may trigger an attack. Always better to be safe then sorry. Humans must remember, always remember just because you love animals and/or like them, it does not mean that they love you or like you, we must all respect this truth and not take it personally. If you don’t have a place to put your dogs then stay close by and watch them interacting with the guest, do your best to stay close until you feel everyone is acquainted. Protect your animal; let people know to keep an eye on their children so that the children don’t provoke the animal in any way. Children don’t always know the proper way to treat animals… then again many adults don’t either. People also don’t always know how the family animals are being treated, so it works both ways. By no means am I  implying that animals can’t be trusted and always locked up, I am simply trying to give small samples of how to judge a situation and try to protect all involved.

I never was afraid of dogs, nervous of St Bernards for a bit, but I worked through that in a couple of weeks time as my dear friend Jimmy lived across the street and he had, what? Two St. Bernards! But they had always been loving and kind to all the neighbourhood children. I knew it was not the dogs’ fault, they were acting of their own instincts, I will never know exactly what I did to trigger it, but that is ok, it just happened and I accepted that.

I know 99.9% of all animal attacks are due to human error, and that is what you accept when you choose to have them in your lives.

Two – P.T.S.D. – I never knew I had symptoms of P.T.S.D. from this attack. For one it wasn’t a word when I was 8, we had heard words like ‘shell shocked’ and ‘combat fatigue,’ but I was raised to believe you just got over it. Also it wasn’t so much the attack as the complete disbelief that no one stepped in to help me.

There are many internet sites that will help people understand the symptoms of P.T.S.D. I am not attaching any as none were about me 100% and everyone processes things differently, but there may be a site there to help yourself or others you know who do need help.

When I was young my father didn’t believe on dwelling on the negative and you never felt anxiety, as that was only excitement. It was all energy and your choice how you viewed it and channeled it. I will be calling my dad after I post this blog! LOL.

The scar on my back is the remains of the claw marks and bites! At one point it looked like a huge dog’s paw print, really a great scar though. I say this with humour, because as a child growing up with stunt men we all used to compare our scars with one another and tell the stories about them. To some this will seem crazy, but to us they were our marks of survival.

xxx

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