Saturday, June 29, 2013

Animal Camp (Book Review)

Adorable Amelia
I recently finished a book that had me laughing, crying and ultimately wanting to make a difference in the lives of our animal friends. The book is "Animal Camp: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope, and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary."
A collection of heartwarming and sometimes devastating tales of just a few of the over 2,500 animals who have called Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) home, this book is a must-read for animal lovers. If you have ever wondered whether animals share the feelings and emotions we humans have, just read the story of Barbie the broiler hen and her love interest, Rambo the sheep.

Rambo, who has now passed away
Rambo came to CAS a violent sheep. With his massive horns, he was a significant threat. With care and attention, Rambo became the unofficial leader of a flock of disparate animals, helping staff to round up escaped animals and alerting them when the cows got out. The chapter called "The Audacity of Love" details the love triangle surrounding Rambo. While Hannah the sheep claims Rambo for herself, newcomer Barbie the hen has other plans. She naps next to Rambo and sometimes climbs on his back. Rambo, in return, massages her gently with the tip of his horn. Eventually the jealous Hannah retaliates and then, finally, retreats, leaving the two friends to their new relationship.

Handsome Atlas
"Animal Camp" was written by CAS founder Kathy Stevens, who is also a blogger on farm animal issues for the Huffington Post. Her latest post is "Patriotism: The #1 Reason to Eat a Veggie Dog on July 4th."

"In the ways that truly matter, we are all the same," says Kathy. "When people realize that I'm saying that a chicken is the same as I am, a few look at me like I'm either on serious medication - or need to be. But come on! Let's use chickens as an example. Just like humans, they have nervous, circulatory, respiratory, skeletal and reproductive systems. Why is it such a stretch to believe they have emotional lives?" She points out that chickens try to avoid pain and seek out friendships with certain individuals while avoiding others.

My copy of "Animal Camp" and Jolene, my beagle mix, who is rarely far from my side. "Animal Camp" asks the question, "What makes farm animals so different from our companion animals?"

Kathy is a former high school English teacher who bought a farm in ruins in Saugerties, New  York and turned it into a haven for abused farm animals. Although the farm rescues many lost and mistreated animals, Kathy points out that it's just a drop in the bucket. By eliminating animals products from the diet, each one of us can save thousands of animals in our lifetimes.

This new edition of "Animal Camp" has been updated, revised and expanded. Buy the book here. Or, check out The Homestead Guesthouse at CAS where you can stay in one of three lovely rooms and get a good, long look at all the animals. I think it would make an amazing vacation spot!

*I was provided with a book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


  1. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is great place that does wonderful work.I live really close to it as well.

    1. That's great that you live close! I would love to go there some time.

      Have you been?