Archive for July, 2009

posted by Michel on Jul 27

In my previous post about our newly adopted friend, Jackie our Jack Russell Terrier, I hinted at a possible scenario that might have happened to him and his former family: that they were too busy with other things and there was simply no more room for the little guy. This reminded me of a VERY MOVING story that I read on a Dutch Border Collie web site. The author is unknown, but he or she is most definitely a person who understands these sort of situations. I translated the story myself so please excuse any misinterpretation or omissions, but I think you will get the message anyway. [see update below]

Better go get some hankies right now, just in case …

How could you?

When I was a puppy, I amused you with my funny games and I used to make you laugh. You called me “your baby” and despite shoes getting chewed on beyond recognition and the odd murder of a pillowcase, I became your best friend. When I was naughty you shook your finger at me and said “How could you?”, but then you gave in to my charms and rolled me on my back to scratch my belly. My pottytraining took a little longer than expected because you were very busy, but we both worked on it so hard. I remember nudging up to you with my nose at night and that I used to listen to your best kept secrets and wildest dreams and I simply couldn’t imagine a better life. We took long walks and ran through the park, took rides in your car and stopped along the way for an ice cream (I only got the biscuit because icecream is bad for dogs you used to say) and I took long naps behind the window in the sun and waited for you to come home at the end of a long day.

Gradually you spent more time on your work and your career and more time on finding a human partner. I waited for you patiently, comforted you when you were hurt or disappointed, never blamed you for making the wrong decision and joyfully jumped about the house when you returned home. And then you fell in love. She – now your wife – unfortunately was not what you might call a “dog-person”. Still, I welcomed her into our home, tried to give her affection and obeyed her. I was happy because you were.

Then the human babies arrived and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pink skin, their peculiar smell and wanted to mother them too. Only you and her were worried that I would hurt them and too often I was banished to another room, or even the bench. Ohh I longed to love them so much but instead became a prisoner of love.

As they grew up, I became their friend. They hung on to my fur as they pulled themselves up onto their tiny wobbly legs, they stuck fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and kissed me on the nose. I loved them and I loved their touch – as yours were now so seldom – and I would have gladly sacrificed my life for them if the need ever would have arisen. I secretly hid in their beds and listened to their worries and dreams as we awaited the sound of your car on the driveway.

There was a time that, when others asked if you had a dog, you would proudly pull a photo of me from your wallet and told fascinating stories about me. Later on, you anwered simply “Yes” and changed the subject. I became “just” a dog instead of “your” dog and every penny spent on me was one too many.

Now you have a career-opportunity in another town and you and your family will move to an appartment where dogs are not allowed. You made the right decision for your family, but once there was a time when I was the only family you had. I was happy and excited about that car trip we took, until we stopped at the animal shelter. The smell was of dogs and cats, and of fear and hopeless longing for companionship. As you filled out the forms you said that you were sure that they would find me a loving home. They shrugged their shoulders and looked you in the eye. They already knew the hard truth that befalls a middle aged dog, even one with papers.

You had to tear the tiny fingers of your son from my collar while he screamed “Daddy, NO! Don’t let them take my dog!”. And I was very worried for him and about everything you were teaching him about friendship, loyalty, love and responsibility and about respect for all living creatures. As a farewall you patted me on the head one more time as you avoided my empty glare. You refused politely to take my collar and leash home as you had to meet a deadline … so did I now.

After you left, the two friendly ladies commented that you had known for months about the move and that you had done nothing to find me a good home. They shook their heads in disbelief and said “How could you?”.

Here at the shelter they give us all the care and attention they possibly can. They feed us, of course, but I haven’t been hungry for days now. At first I’d run to the gate as fast as I could, hoping it was you, that you had changed your mind. Perhaps this was just an horrific dream. Or I hoped that some compassionate soul would come to rescue me. When I finally realised that I simply couldn’t compete with those pretty puppies that were clowning around for attention but had no idea what fate was awaiting them, I retreated to the back of my cage and waited for what was to come.

I could hear her footsteps as she came to collect me at the end of the day and I quietly walked back with her to a seperate room. A strangely quiet room. She put me on the table and rubbed my ears, saying that I needn’t worry. My heart was pounding in anticipation but I also felt a certain relief. The prisoner of love had reached the end of her days. Because it is my nature, I felt sorry for the lady. I could sense her burden was heavy, just like I always used to sense the same in you. Gently she placed a rope around my front paw as a tear was rolling down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way as I had always done with you when you needed comforting, all those years ago. With great skill she put the needle in my vein. When I felt the sting and the cool liquid spreading through my body, I lay down sleepy, looked her in the eye and whispered “How could you?”.

Perhaps she understood my dog-language because she said “I am so, oh so sorry”.  She held me close and explained quietly that it was her job to make sure I would go to a far better world, where I would never be ignored, abused or left behind again. A place of light and love, so very different from this earthly existence. With the last bit of energy I had left I tried to tell her with a last wag of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. I was thinking of YOU, my sweet master. I will always think of you and wait for you alone. May everyone in your life reward you with the same loyalty …..

Original web site author’s note:

If there were tears in your eyes when reading “How could you?”, just like with me as I wrote it, it is because this story is a compilation of stories of millions of animals that are dying in shelters all over the world.

Everone is allowed to spread this story for non-commercial puposes.

Please use it to educate people, on web sites, in newsletters and on notice boards everywhere. Tell people that taking a pet into your home is an important decision, that animals deserve our love and care, that – if necessary – finding another good home for your animal is your own responsibility and that every shelter or animal welfare organisation can help and advise you, and that ALL life matters. Please do your utmost to avoid animals being killed because they are “not wanted”.

Update: I noticed that elsewhere on the Border Collie site that the story is attributed to Jim Willis who wrote it in 1999. See his site for the original version …

This will NEVER happen to our Tessa or Jackie!

This will NEVER happen to our Tessa or Jackie!

posted by Michel on Jul 23

Ok, I admit: guilty as charged! We simply couldn’t resist the sweet look on this little guy’s face. But being rational sort of people, there had to be some good reasons to adopt a second dog. So we started thinking. Company for the aging Tessa so that she would be stimulated a little. The chance to practise my recently acquired dog training skills. Give another somewhat older animal a good home. Well, these seemed like pretty convincing reasons at the time. Then came the doubts. But what about our 5 cats? Would they accept the newcomer? Max, the tomcat that was found wandering around the horse riding club that I frequent, is not exactly known for his kindness towards canines. His attitude became apparent when he scratched poor old Tessa over the eye and we had to treat her eye for weeks with a special ointment. Thank God that all turned out well. And how about our trips to the Philippines? It’s a doddle to find a good spot for our ever good and easy Tessa, but how about the new guy. Anyway, after having walked him a few times, tested him with a cat in the shelter where he was staying at the time, and test-driving him for a day in our home (where he didn’t chase the cats!), the decision was made. So here he is, Jackie!! He’s a Jack Russell Terrier that will turn 9 this August. How do I know his age? read on!

Jackie, our latest adoptee

Jackie, our latest adoptee

As nearly always, there’s more to the story. In the shelter (that shall remain nameless) they had told me that although he was chipped, they couldn’t trace his owner because the phone number listed to his chip was never answered or didn’t even work. Hence, after two weeks in the shelter, he formally became their “property” (I hate that concept) and thus available for adoption. So, after taking the little chap home, I wanted te re-register the chip to my name. Here in the Netherlands, there are a number of databases of these chips but fortunately there’s one web site that unites them all. I tapped in Jackie’s number (we were still calling him “Neo” at that time by the way) on the web site’s form and hey presto, a couple of mobile phone numbers AND the name “Jackie” popped up on the screen. “Hmmm, two numbers”, I thought, well it probably wouldn’t hurt to just try them, what the heck!

The first number was already BINGO! Here’s the conversation:

Me: “Hi there, this is Michel. I’m a volunteer for an animal shelter. I have here on the couch right next to me a Jack Russell Terrier …”
Lady: “That must be Jackie!”
Me: “Jackie. [as I said that name, Jackie's head turned towards me immediately, so I knew right away that was his real name] Yes, that’s the name the chip is registered with. So why didn’t you pick him up from the shelter or tried to find him some other way. He was there for 2 full weeks!”
Lady: “Well, he’s run away from home so many times, we decided that if he wanted to go, he should go. And he’s always come back so far.”
Me (astonished): “But, but, have you any idea where they found him?”
Lady: “Nope”
Me: “He was wandering around in a Metro train all by himself!!!”
Lady: “That’s not all that surprising really. One day we had to pick him up all the way from Schiedam.” (some 15km away from where she said she lives).
Me: “Well ok, but he’s officially mine now, so what do you want to do?”
Lady: “Well errrr, to be quite honest we had already started to say our goodbye and with two small children I guess he didn’t get all the attention that he needs here.”
Me: “I can imagine that is why he kept running off. He was probably in search of a bit of entertainment.”
Lady: “Yes, well we do miss him of course. We had him since he was a puppy. But you might as well keep him then, he seems better off with you” …

After that we chatted a bit more about his age, habits etc. and then I politely terminated the conversation. Imagine that eh! Looking after such a nice little fellow for 9 (!!!) years since he was a puppy and then simply lose interest … How often do you think this sort of stuff happens? I can picture the scenario right now. A guy gets a dog because he feels lonely. Then he meets a nice young lady and they get married. Too young still to have kids they wait for a few years, but as soon as kids (almost inevitably) arrive, there’s no more room for their little pal. How sad!!!

Admittedly, the shelter should have done their homework a bit better. If I can find a phone number that works first time, so should they. Having said that, perhaps the rightful owners would have picked him up and he would have felt compelled to run off again after a while. Perhaps he would have ended up in a far worse situation in that case, who knows?

Fortunately, Jackie has found a nice new home now. He’s turned out to be very playful for his age and he’s an incredibly cheerful animal. So far, he’s learned to respect the cats, ESPECIALLY Max ;-) and he’s been friendly towards Tessa who indeed has livened up. Welcome home Jackie!

Tessa and Jackie

Neressa, Tessa and Jackie on the beach

posted by Michel on Jul 14

Dogs LOVE running! They run all their lives almost from the moment they’re born. To them it’s second nature and a great way to exercise and have some fun all at once. And they’re no strangers to that competitive feeling either. So why would we want to stop greyhounds doing what they do best and what they seem to enjoy?

Here’s why:

Discarded after a tough life and faithful service

Yes, you saw that right: these are discarded greyhounds! They might have broken a limb or simply became too old, so their loving owner decided to dispose of them. And these might even be considered the lucky ones since they appear to have suffered a relative quick death. Most of them aren’t that lucky. They are kicked out on the streets where starvation and disease awaits them, thrown from moving cars or simply tortured to death.

Why? The answer is surprisingly simple: GREED!!!

I am not at all opposed to dogs having a bit of a run. After all they were born to hunt on sight and give chase after prey and as I said before, they love it. I’m opposed to the greyhound racing INDUSTRY since I know for a fact that they refuse to look after their dogs as soon as they stop being a good investment. Here are a few considerations:

One in how many greyhound puppies will turn into a real “winner”? One in, say, 500 perhaps? What do you think will happen to the 499 others? Adoption? Not likely! That’s way too much work for a busy greyhound racing owner. The greyhound racing industry in e.g. Australia produces well over 25,000 puppies each year.

A greyhound’s racing career lasts no more than 2 to 3 years, so that an astounding number of perfectly healthy, but “economically useless” dogs must be disposed of every year.

The “winners” are not to be envied either mind you! They never have a moment’s peace, they’re kept in small cages and are never allowed to walk free. After all, the “investment” must be protected at all cost. Inevitably, the moment comes that these former winners will be disposed of too after a tough life on and off the racing track.

Are you getting the picture yet? The greed that drives both owners and gamblers is a brutal killer. People without remorse aiming to make a quick buck over the backs of these loving creatures is what makes greyhound racing so inhumane. As long as the industry cannot guarantee 100% that the dogs will be treated properly, we shouldn’t allow it!

Are these happy dogs?

Personally, I thinks it’s incredibly sad that we, as the human race, are unable to get a grip on the shady side of humanity to prevent them from hurting another, exceedingly loving, species for the love of money, simple greed. Oh man, I truly resent that. We all have to make a living, but this is simply unacceptable.

In the Philippines, there’s been a lot of debate lately whether or not to allow greyhound racing. The Philippine Star has featured an article on the matter which includes the letters of two animal welfare organisations to the Philippines’ Senate. You can read the article here. PETA, PAWS, AWC and many more animal welfare groups are staging protests. We can only hope the politicians will take notice and not give in to the gambling industry. It is very obvious that there’s already enough animal suffering there (cock fighting, diminishing forests available to wildlife, just to name a few) so we most certainly don’t want any more of it.

Fortunately, more and more people are beginning to realise that the criminals running this pitiful, inhumane show must be stopped. In 6 U.S. states and in South Africa, grayhound racing is already banned. In Australia, this informative web site shows exactly what goes on in the industry and what extremely loveable creatures greyhounds really are. The RSPCA (U.K.) relased a full report in PDF format. It deals with the fate that awaits greyhounds, whippets, spanish galgos, cross-breeds and many more in Wales and around the U.K. Go check out these links please.

This is how it should be!

This is how it should be!

Come on folks, let’s make sure these villains get what they deserve instead of getting rich!!!