My squishy-faced boy
When my brain finally explodes (and I have every reason to believe it will), it won't be motherhood that causes it. Hell, I don't even raise my voice until after I've picked up the same mateless shoe off the floor for the hundredth time. It won't be the fact that no one seems to understand the difference between the words "lose" and "loose." It won't even be the fact that Nickelback persists in recording music even though every word, every note is an affront to humanity in general and to good taste in particular. Nay, my mental collapse shall likely be caused by our collective treatment of our non-human friends, they who have every bit as much a right to exist on this sagging planet as we do. One more animal abuse news story might just send me over the edge. Actually, maybe one almost did, because I caught this story yesterday about a donkey being strapped to a parasail. Just when you thought that the sadists of the world had already come up with every possible way to make quadrupeds miserable, eh?
As you'll recall, I've spent the last ten years donating my spare time to rescue work. Specifically, I work with Boxers. Our rescue organization has saved nearly 700 dogs to date. As any rescue or shelter volunteer will tell you, acting on behalf of animals in need is not heroic work. You don't have time to beat your chest and announce to the world how awesome you are. You don't stop to celebrate all the animals you've helped, because you know it is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. You just keep your head down and keep going, one dog (cat, horse, whatever) at a time. Right now, my focus is on finding my foster dog a home. Not just any home - the right home. I find something to love about every single dog I foster and I must do right by each one. It is a process I have repeated over and over again for the last decade or so.
Most of the dogs we see in rescue are not outright abuse cases. We did receive three dogs seized by the sheriff last week. They were being used for breeding and there was also a dead dog on the premises. We had to euthanize one of the dogs for (extreme) aggression, but the other two are doing well. Over the years we've taken in a couple of starvation cases, an embedded collar case, and a few other pooches in distress. The vast majority, however, have simply been victims of circumstance. Perfectly nice dogs (NOT damaged goods!) displaced by new babies, not taken along to the new house (situated in that mysterious town that does not seem to allow pets), or sometimes simply, "I have no time for him." Sure, some surrender reasons strike me as being more valid than others, but it is not my place to judge.
It is, of course, the true abuse cases that make the news, if only for a fleeting moment. I can deal with the day to day neglect, because my fellow volunteers and I can make those dogs better, treat them like one of our own, and then find them a new family that will cherish them. We can handle that. Rather, it is the knowledge of vast suffering, often taking place behind closed doors that weighs so heavily. Did you see the video a few months ago of the guy kicking a small dog inside an elevator? If you're lucky, you missed it. But that is the sort of thing that goes on every day, everywhere.
The only thing that brings me any solace at all is that, slowly but surely, the legal system is taking animal abuse and neglect more seriously. Although the story has faded from the news now, I have not forgotten about the torture of dairy cows at Conklin Farms in Ohio (you can Google it if you have a very strong stomach). One of the key abusers is facing animal cruelty charges and I can only hope he will be convicted of something. To be sure, most convictions still result in small penalties - usually a cash fine. Few seem to do any jail time at all. However, I have faith that it may get better, that justice will be done.
In the mean time, I'll keep plugging away, doing what I can. When my heart finally breaks for good, I only hope the doggies remember that I really did try.