Timeless Spirit Logo ARTICLE

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Pets"
Volume 4 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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What A Tangled Web We Weave
by Amanda Bugeaud

I'd like to talk about the inter-connective web we're all a part of. I've always understood that everyone I come into contact with affects my life and I take something from every situation, as does everyone in this web. Even situations, which were terrible or upsetting at the time, I reflect upon later and I learn. I'm slowly coming to understand the grandeur of this statement and how big the web is.

When Aleesha asked me to write an article about pets I was ecstatic. Aleesha and I met through pets in a round about way. She and I are both pet lovers, more like pet fiends in actuality. We share a love of the home aquaria hobby in particular. It's more a lifestyle really. Fish, and the fish hobby have allowed me to understand a lot about life.

Now here's the part where it seems I go off on a small tangent about fish, but it's important, and (mostly) relative information I promise.

A lot of people think, "I want a fish tank!" and go out and buy a fish tank along with some fishies to stick in it. They get home, fill 'er up, turn on the filter and put the fish in - presto! Many of these fish will die within a month. The fish who do live are tough little muggers, and every so often, the owner of the tank might take out the contents of the aquarium and clean them very well, but this does more harm than good.

An aquarium should be set up and run for about a month to establish a "cycle" before more fish are put in. You need fish to create the cycle, so choose a hardy fish like Danios for this undertaking! For the sake of your bleeding eyes I won't go into great detail about the cycle of a fish tank, so as not to bore you, but I do need to explain the main idea for this rant to make any sense.

The aquarium goes through a three-stage cycle: The first week, a spike in Nitrate; the second week, a spike in Nitrite; and the third week (usually around the time the fish die), a spike in Ammonia. This needs to happen for a bacteria culture to grow in the tank because the bacteria are imperative in breaking down waste. When the tank is cleaned entirely its bacteria are wiped out and a new cycle must begin. Therefore; it's best to clean a tank through partial water changes and gravel vacuuming.

After the cycle is complete the readings of these toxins (which are produced by waste) level out and the tank is a beautifully cycled healthy environment. That's the beginning, you must then provide appropriate filtration and territory, and find fish who will get along together.

I think often of the world as a giant aquarium. Overpopulated, by many humans who are producing so much waste - the world's cycle has been disrupted. When a tank is overpopulated or there is too much waste, you need to increase the filtration, or get a bigger tank (more water). The ocean is expanding at a stupendous rate by melting glaciers caused by global warming caused by… us. The ocean is a giant filter, expanding itself to accommodate overpopulation and pollution. The world is out of cycle and trying to fix itself to save the fish. Save the fish people! (We're the fish.)

I wanted to talk about aquariums to help demonstrate the intricate web I've been talking about, and also maybe somewhere I've saved a fish, which is one of my favourite things to do.

A fish tank is like a great team; a lot of elements need to work together in order for everything to run smoothly. As I write this article I'm looking at my fish, who are watching me type. And I realize what a huge part of my life they are. My husband and my daughter (who have to put up with me because we all live in the same house ha ha) know me like no one else does - they experience the "happy, sad, angry, sarcastic, everything" me. And so do all my pets, as I experience all their emotions as well. As I mentioned earlier I believe every person and experience enters one's life for a reason. I think of all the people I've known who have affected my life and understand how as many pets (if not more) have affected my life equally.

I grew up on a farm and inherited my love of animals from my mother. She taught me to respect and love animals, as they are, just like us in different skins. The farm, much like an aquarium, is a perfectly cycled unit. When it's running well, everyone is fed, warm, happy, and interconnected in this giant web of life.

Living on a farm allowed me to understand birth, life, love and death first hand. I have so many memories of animals on the farm, as over the years, so many have touched my life so greatly. I arrived home from school one day to find my mom with a cow up the chute (a small pen, about the size of a cow for those who don't know), and a calf on the ground. The cow had delivered her calf and began to prolapse.

"Get washed up!" my mom yelled, "I need your help!"

I dropped my school bag, rolled up my sleeves and washed my hands and arms in the pail of disinfectant my mother had prepared.

"She won't stop pushing." my mom explained, "The vet should be here within the hour but I don't know if she'll make it that long…"

My mother worked hard to keep the cow's exposed uterus clean and covered to prevent infection; keeping slight pressure so that the cow didn't push out her uterus entirely and bleed to death. I could hear the cow grunting as she pushed and pushed; unable to stop, not understanding she was killing herself.

I went around the front of the chute. "Amanda stay away from her head! She's upset enough and she's liable to take a poke at you!" my mom warned. But I looked into the cow's eyes and saw the confusion and pain and anger. I crouched down in front of her and started to stroke her face, gently talking to comfort her. She was not one of the more tame cows in our herd; I'm not even sure how mom got her in from the field by herself, but as I petted her nose and talked calmly to her, telling her to stop pushing - that we were helping, her breathing eased and her eyes relaxed. "Whatever you're doing kid, keep it up," my mom said, "She's stopped pushing."

I stayed with her until the vet got there to carefully clean and replace her uterus. I ran to the house to get the needle and stitches for the vet to sew her back up; then I got some hay for the cow and we carried her bewildered calf into the holding pen she recovered in. The procedure went well and the cow and calf recovered nicely. It touches me how I was able to help her and comfort her.

My mother had a dog, a miniature dachshund named Earnest, who had more personality and great layers to his persona than most people I know. In addition to this, the dog had a great understanding of the English language, comprehending most of what we said.

My favourite memory of him was coming home from school one day, to a quiet house. Very unusual, no "Hey kiddo!" from my mom, no barking from Earnest.

"Anybody home?" I called. My mom's truck was outside so I was sure she was home.

"We're in the living room." my mom called curtly. I walked into the living room and realized there was great tension in the air. My mom was sitting in a chair watching T.V. with her arms crossed. Had she and Dad had a fight? Had she found out about something I'd done? I slowly walked forward and noticed Earnest, sitting on the couch across the room looking out the window (and only out the window) he didn't even look at me as I entered. "What's going on" I asked. "Earnest and I are not speaking to each other" my mom replied.

I don't remember what the issue was now, and it's not important, probably something about a treat not delivered or some poop on the floor. And as I sat at the table and began my homework, I thought of how most of my friends probably didn't come home to find their mother and dog "not speaking". The situation carried on for some time, until finally Earnest sighed, hopped off the couch, slowly walked over to my mom and licked her hand. "Ohh I love you Earn" my mom said as she picked him up and hugged him.

I could go on and on with farm stories - things I've seen and learned. Animals have taught me great lessons. Pets have always been members of the family in my house. As I mentioned, my mom was a huge part of that, she's the most compassionate and caring woman I know. In fact most of my farm stories include my mom.

I love animals so much and I'm so thankful for each and every one of them who have come into my life. They have a heart that pumps like mine, a liver which filters like mine, a brain that thinks - maybe not quite like mine - but, you get the point. We are all made of the same material. Just fragile little beating, breathing, beings moving about this web of life together, affecting each other like dominos. One of my mom's favourite sayings is, "What a tangled web we weave." Suddenly that quote speaks volumes to me.

Amanda Bugeaud is an Associate Editor and reviewer here at Timeless Spirit Magazine.

A farm girl born and raised: Amanda loves animals, she enjoys laughing, appreciating nature, tending her beloved fishes and loving her family. She lives with her best friend/husband Steve, and together they raise their amazing daughter - living, loving, learning.

Please feel free to contact Amanda via email.

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