young girl sits in front of City Market, with what was obviously,
the last puppy of the litter. This small, black, wavy haired
puppy with classic big feet, a lab mix of some sort, sat with
the little girl patiently waiting for a good home. I couldnt
help but pet the puppy, and in doing so, talked to the young
girl about what kind of dog the puppys mom (her familys
dog) is. I couldnt help but wonder in what kind of home
this puppy would actually find himself. When she told me her
family was thinking about letting their dog have another litter,
I couldnt help but blurt out, Oh, you dont
want to do that do you? There are already so many puppies
and dogs that dont have homes and cant get homes.
How are more puppies going to find homes? I know I added
a few more comments, but I dont remember what they were.
I hadnt thought about how these comments might effect
her, but she seemed to really be considering what I had just
said. Hopefully, she may have tried to pass on just one of
those thoughts to her parents, and maybe, just maybe, if dogs
are really lucky, they would decide to spay the family dog
and not give the world another litter of puppies that may
not have happy homecomings.
According to the Humane Society of The
United States, 4 to 6 million dogs and cats are euthanised
in Americas animal shelters each year because they are
not wanted by anyone, anywhere. Too many companion animals
competing for too few good homes is the most obvious consequence
of uncontrolled breeding; however, there are other equally
tragic problems that result from pet overpopulation. The transformation
of some animal shelters into warehouses or cheap
sources of animals for use in biomedical experimentation,
the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our
society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer
when they are forced to euthanise one animal after another
are just a few of the consequences of our societys carelessness.
Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled
when cute and abandoned when they become inconvenient. Such
disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.
Consider the fact that in six short years one female dog and
her offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies. In seven
years one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.
said, it behooves us to revisit the commitment we enter into
when we consider owning a companion animal, and how animals
never consider such a thing as commitment; they
just love us unconditionally, no matter what. Given this holiday
season, remembering what lifts our spirits, I have gathered
a few local short stories with a lot of heart, about our animal
Pam Walston recalls an incident that happened
on her way back from a dog show in the Phoenix area. Driving
through the desert, she pulled off at a turn out where there
were two large trash barrels. Pam stopped to check on her
dogs in the back of the van, empty food bowls, and check water
dishes. She didnt think much about the pile of rags
and other trash that was strewn around the base of the trash
barrels. She just wanted to empty some food bowls, and get
rid of some trash. As Pam neared the barrels, one of the rags
in the pile lifted its head; and it took everything that little
puppy could muster, to be able to do so. This little dishwater
blond puppy was skin and bones. She could hardly stand, or
lift her head. Smaller than a miniature poodle, full of fleas
and ticks, this puppy had been someone elses trash and
was hanging on to every last thread of life, just in case
someone like Pam might come along. Pam, of course, snatched
up that little puppy and took her to the back of the van,
where she put two of her own dogs in one carrier, so that
this puppy could have a comfortable, safe space. Every so
often, Pam would pull off to the side of the road to feed
and water the puppy.
As Pam nursed this little dog back to health,
her true coat color came forth. She was a beautiful reddish-brown
with one black spot on her back hip that trailed down her
leg. Pam said it looked like someone had spilled ink on her,
and it dribbled down her back leg.
After spaying the dog, Pam found this puppy
a home with a helicopter pilot. Due to her small size, she
was his constant daily companion in the helicopter, and had
found the love and care she was worthy of having, thanks to
The Dog and Cat Clinic of Moab has its
own Florence Nightingale. Though Hesper, Lou Goslin or Dr.
Goslin may immediately spring to mind, it is Buckeye that
attends to the Clinics sick patients in his own wise
manner. Buckeye is the stray Siamese-mix that was brought
into the clinic by someone who found him in the City Market
parking lot. Lou says they waited the standard three days
and then, well...he just ended up staying and became the classic
clinic live-in cat.
It seems Buckeye has been grateful ever
since, and shows it by tending to the other sick dogs (yes,
dogs) and cats that come into the clinic.
One client, a retired gentleman, took his
puppy out everyday for a run or walk out on one of the many
trails available in Moab. This particular day, the puppy took
off after something that tickled its fancy. After hours of
frantic searching, the gentleman found his dog only because
she had dragged herself onto the trail. The dog needed surgery,
and through this surgery, a bruised liver was revealed as
well. Lou said they figured the puppy must have fallen off
a ledge to have bruised her liver.
Enter Buckeye, the hand-holding moral support for the sick
and injured dogs and cats. Buckeye would leap onto the table
and crouch next to this bruised puppy, as she was given her
fluids to watch over her. Buckeye stayed in the cage with
the puppy at the height of its illness, until the puppy recuperated,
and luckily, with Buckeyes attentiveness, the puppy
Buckeye also sits on top of the cage of
the next animal in surgery, be it cat or dog, waiting for
the animal to be placed in the cage for recovery. Lou says,
most of the time Buckeye crawls in the cage with the animal
and just curls up next to it without preference for dogs or
cats. Buckeye has a sense of helping other animals in dire
straits, by offering his calming presence and watchful concern.
Maybe because of his own precarious experience, he knows what
is necessary for well being. Whatever the reason, it is with
great wisdom that Lou says, We let him in with the really
sick, and recovering animals, because he seems to be able
to give them something we cant.
On a lighter note, Randy Zimmerman remembers
the stranded cat on top of the telephone pole. Youve
heard of cats stranded in trees, waiting for the fire departments
rescue. This poor cat was stuck high up on a telephone pole
with no obvious way to get down, short of learning how to
fly. The utility company was called. Men were in place, and
the basket and ladder were raised, all to save this unfortunate
cat from its risky predicament. As the attempt was made to
retrieve the cat from the pole, low and behold, the cat was
part flying squirrel. It bolted off the pole, all fours
outstretched, falling at least 30 feet, and hit the ground
running. Just a couple of days later, the owners called and
said the cat had come home totally without a scratch. Purring
and happy to be home, this was one lucky cat, hopefully, with
eight lives left.
may not spring to mind when you think of the words affectionate
companion animals, but I have owned chickens myself
and they are more than meets the eye. In their awkward innocence
they are more entertaining than a lot of humans I have met.
They run to greet you whenever you come outside. They are
fun, keep the bug population down in the yard, and when raised
from chicks, quite enjoy being petted. With that introduction,
Sharon Sidwell recounts the memory of her grandfathers
Banty hen (miniature chicken). This little black Banty was
grandpas favorite and she held a soft spot in grandpas
heart. He would go to the door and cluck at her to invite
her into the house. Once inside, she was quite content to
perch on the back of the recliner and watch the comings and
goings of the house. Grandpa would even sneak her a peanut.
Sharon says, she would watch us play cards at the table,
peering at us with one eye and her head cocked. She would
cluck softly and make other chicken sounds.
What really sticks out in Sharons mind was when she
was about nine years old. Sharon spent a lot of time at her
grandpas and sometimes slept on the couch. During an
illness Sharon had, this little Banty hen would spend her
time around Sharon. She seemed to know Sharon was ill and
instead of perching on the recliner, as was her habit, she
perched on the back of the couch where Sharon was convalescing.
She would cluck and coo and make those little chicken noises.
It was very comforting, said Sharon. Is it any
wonder where the term Mother Hen comes from?
My own experience came during a time when I was pet sitting
for my nieces 42 animals in Washington. She lives in
a remote area, its 10 miles to the main road, and because
shes a vet-tech, her home has turned into a mini shelter,
although some of those 42 animals account for goats, chickens,
ducks, and rabbits. One day while engaged in the feeding rounds,
a stray kitten wandered into the yard. Given her size, I thought
she was only about six months old. Shed accompany me
around the yard while I tended to the chickens, ducks, and
goats. When I picked her up, she was as light as air and though
I put food and water out, she never ate very much. Little
did I know that she was so emaciated, she couldnt eat,
and ended up in a diabetic coma because of her condition.
I came home one day to a drooling, sprawled out cat, that
was unable to move. When I called the vet, he told me that
it sounded like she was dying, but to bring her in anyway.
As I drove like a mad racer to the clinic, I would stroke
her head and make her groan to keep her two back feet out
of deaths door since it seemed the front two were already
through. I promised her that if she made it through this ordeal,
she would always, always have a home with me. It has been
about a year now, and I am amazed at the level of trust and
love she shows around the dogs and other cat. This, without
the kind of therapy I would have surely needed having been
through what she had.
In the spirit of this holiday season, if you or a friend want
to get a puppy or kitten, adopt one from a local shelter or
humane society where there is always a wonderful selection
of mixed breed and purebred dogs and cats who are just waiting
for good homes and loving owners. Roughly 1 out of every 4
animals in shelters nationwide is purebred. Every time people
adopt an animal from a shelter, they save one more dog or
cat from a tragic fate. Think carefully about the responsi
bility you are about to take on and make sure its something
you can do for the rest of the animals life.
In closing, I would like to reprint the Dogs Prayer
that was e-mailed to me from my niece.