Animal advocate, Tracey Stewart, is living my dream life. Sure, the former vet tech, graphic designer, Huffington Post writer, and founder of Moomah magazine has an exciting and impressive resume. And yeah, she’s married to former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. But her partnership with Farm Sanctuary is the envy piece de resistance. Mrs. Stewart lives on a farm dedicated to helping animals with her “husband; two kids; four dogs; two pigs; one hamster; three rabbits; two guinea pigs; one parrot; and two fish—all rescues except for the kids.”
Mrs. Stewart’s passion and experience has made her an expert in all things animal, and she passes along her vast knowledge in her beautiful and charming new book, Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better. Part memoir, part field-guide, and thanks to Lisel Ashlock’s illustrations, part work of art, Do Unto Animals is filled with tips, recipes, projects, anecdotes and advice all in an effort to help our relationship with animals be as harmonious and special as they can be.
Some of my favorite Chapters include, “Dog-ese (Learn to Speak a Dog’s Language, ad Modeled by My Foster Do Mr. Fantastic)”, “Ten Reasons to Adopt an Oldie (but a Goodie)”, “The Perfect Pig Palace”, and of course, “What makes a Goat Unhappy?” But don’t take my word for it, even Jane Goodall is a fan:
“Do Unto Animals is delightful, entertaining, and hugely important. Tracey’s love for animals has led to a profound understanding of their world, and it becomes clear that the better we know this world, the better their lives will be. And this, in turn, will make our own lives more fulfilling. It is the perfect gift for all who love animals. And for those who should love them better.”
Tracey Stewart loves all animals, but she’d had an especially soft spot for dogs since she was a kid. BarkPost was lucky enough to chat with Tracey Stewart about her life on the farm:
Your family has adopted a lot of pets. I’d love to know about each and every one of them, but at the risk of turning an article into a novel, let’s focus on the pups. Can you tell me about your pack?
At this very moment we have four dogs, but this could change by the end of the day as we have some issues with saying no. Jon and I had always had Pitbulls until our Pittie, Monkey, passed away when our kids were still very young. We decided to go with a smaller breed until the kids were tall enough to get out of the way of wagging tails. Fortunately we found Barkly, our first Frenchie, at the Humane Society of New York.
A few months after bringing Barkly home we realized he needed a canine companion, and we adopted our second Frenchie, Smudge. Now everything was going along swimmingly for our happy married couple, Barkly and Smudge, until the day our family was doing a bake sale for our local animal shelter, Animal Haven. The shelter staff very shrewdly placed an adorable Pitbull puppy with 3 legs on my husband’s lap.
We named our new puppy, Lil’ Dipper. Barkly and Smudge were not especially welcoming to Dipper at first, but with time, patience and training, they not only accepted him, but came to recognize his tremendous cuddling abilities. Based on no real reason or practical thought, we then adopted our next Pitbull puppy, Scout. We told ourselves it was because our son was finally old enough to handle the responsibility of having his own dog, but we all knew it was actually because Scout was just so damn cute. Each addition to our family has certainly required a lot of extra time and care, but it’s all been worth it when we see the richness and diversity in their relationships and certainly the added benefit to the human members of family. There are lots of cuddle-buddies to go around.
How do your pups like Farm Sanctuary and all the other family pets?
Our pups are purposely oblivious to the fact that we have other animal family members. It is not lost on us that without careful management we essentially have the makings of a food chain.
Which farm animal would you say is most like dogs?
I would have to say that all farm animals are like dogs in that they all have the same desire to live, be safe, and be loved. They feel pain, grief and fear. They have complex emotional relationships with their own and other species. It is really just their size that keeps me from inviting all of them into my bed at night.
Do you feel the tide changing regarding people’s views on animals, especially farm animals?
I have to believe that the tide is changing. Everyday more and more accurate information is being revealed about the benefits to our health and our planet from eating a plant-based diet. Folks might have felt unable to have an impact on the 9 million animals slaughtered for food each year despite the fact that an individual vegan saves ninety-eight animal’s lives each year (and that’s not nothing!) but if we throw in all the other positive benefits to our own health, our children’s health and the planets health it becomes that much more sexy.