My dog Zack died today.
Zack was just eight years old and like all your dogs are to you (I am sure), he was very special to me.
I am not writing this story to make you all miserable with me.
Heavens knows if you love your animals you are either going through this too, have gone through this, or WILL go through this. All true animal lovers know and recognize this awful pain.
The point of my story today is to showcase some issues in our society that so desperately need to be fixed…and why I believe in Best Friends/PIUTW and their mission. Above all, I truly believe that THIS organization can accomplish the goals they lay out in their master plan.
So now let me tell you about my sweet dog, Zack. First off, his name was Zachoroy. ZackOrRoy. That is because when he came to me, his name was Damien. We looked at him and KNEW that had to go. You see, Zack was a Rottweiler and Damien was the name of the vicious, Satan-possessed Rottweiler in The Omen. So we knew the name could not stay and we looked at him and he was very goofy and silly looking and we just could not decide between Roy and Zach and so ZackOrRoy was created.
So Zackaroy came to me as a result of a call from my good friend Anjie. Anjie is an animal control officer in Massachusetts. At the time, the shelters there, at least in her area, put down all Akitas, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers within 72 hours of their coming into the shelter if not claimed.
These breeds are vicious after all.
Can’t be trusted with people.
Most of them attack their owners or viciously bite someone at some point in their life.
Right? Oh PUHLEASE. Just stop it.
How absurd is this? How many dogs have gone to their deaths because of this STUPID, yes STUPID misconception? Why don’t we put to death or at LEAST PUNISH people that CREATE these very stereotypes by training dogs to do what they think is fun. Michael Vick is just one case of this type of abuse. Better that he get punished than the dogs he ‘created” in my opinion.
So here we are. All over the country, breed specific laws are being developed and implemented and good people go and testify that these stereotypes are just not so and some judge somewhere that possibly never owned a dog in his or her life is making the decision that it must be right to ban certain types of dogs. Why not just ban certain types of PEOPLE?
So that is the first problem I bring up about the problems with our society and dogs. Breed specific laws. Stereotypes of sweet dogs. Banning them.
Best Friends regularly fights this and even testifies in courts to try to help stop these awful laws.
Well, so back to Zack. So Zack spent his 72 hours at the shelter and my friend Anjie desperately tried to find his owners, working late into the night and making call after call and finally, she did it. YES, she DID it! She traced them from a rabies tag left on the Zack – ahem – Damien – and went to their house with Zack and said – “THANK GOODNESS I FOUND YOU! HERE IS YOUR WONDERFUL DOG ALL SAFE AND SOUND!”…and they hemmed and they hawed and they admitted they were on their way to the shelter to ABANDON…I mean…err “donate” their wonderful dog to the shelter because they didn’t want him any more, when he suddenly LEAPED out of the window while they were driving and they could not find him.
In fact, later it was discovered that they actually tossed him out of the car while it was still moving and he chased the car for as long as he could see it and longer still.
OK, so that brings me to the next problem with animals in our society. The “throw-away” mentality. These same people would not think to shove their kid out of a car, would they? Well. Maybe they would. Still….how can people think animals can just be tossed out like garbage. The fact that he ran after them until he was too exhausted to go further and collapsed on the side of the road…does that testify at ALL to the fact that animals have feelings and emotions? That he may have loved them and been confused as to what was happening?
Do people just not believe that dogs or cats or animals have any feelings at all? Why have we made it ok in a society to accept dogs at shelters so easily? Why don’t we give people a little more of a hard time? Maybe we are afraid they will then do something TO the animal and it’s better that they bring them to us, but I’d sure love to say things like “Why are you abandoning the animal that loves you and that at one point in time you accepted responsibility for?” “How do you think he is going to feel in this cement run, all alone all night on the cold floor when he is used to his own bed and the company of your voices and the smell of you cooking dinner?” Have you stopped at ALL to think how he is going to feel about this? How much more difficult it will be for him to trust the NEXT person that he may be LUCKY enough to meet and may take him home? Have you thought about what happens if he can’t or if this shelter or that shelter is full? If younger and prettier puppies come in, what this shelter will do to YOUR dog? Have you thought this through? Do you care? What kind of person are you that this is so easy for you?
That is what I would like to do. My staff keeps me away from people that want to dump their animals.
We had one woman want to “exchange” her black cat for a cream colored one because she had navy blue carpet and now she had beige and the black cat shedding was marring the look of her room. Could she just exchange this cat for a cream colored one?
Another guy dumped off this gorgeous red irish setter because he was moving across the country and he would just “get another dog” when he got there.
Why do these people think that one animal is replaceable with another? Do they truly not realize that their dog or cat is attached to them..or that the animal might not do well in a shelter environment? Did she stop to think that her cat would be put in a room with 40 others and might HATE that? Or that it might never get adopted and live in the shelter forever?
Did that guy think he could just get another dog? Oh what fun? What of THIS one that he had for SIX YEARS?? Was he not attached? I look at my dogs and I think…how is that possible? How could someone live with, interact with, and care for an animal for six years and then have no problem just dropping it off and going on their way? I can’t understand it.
One of BF plans is to educate. Start with the kids. Teach them about animals. How they have emotions and feelings just like us. Try to make a difference. Can we? Can they? I hope so. I believe so.
So here we are with Zack.
A breed that is vicious.
Let’s go on, shall we?
Let me talk about muzzles. Zack always had mysterious hair growth on his nose. I could never figure it out. It sort of turned the other way. Then I saw a dog with a muzzle on one day and the hair was bent that exact same way. I thought oh my goodness. What would it take, how long would he have been in one to make his hair STAY that way permanently?
Zack is the sweetest, friendliest dog. He is TDI certified. I took him to children’s classrooms and old age homes. He was the most gentle dog I have ever known. Why would they muzzle him? And LEAVE it on him? Ohhh. I understand. You see…Zack had a LICKING “problem”. He was VERY affectionate. You HAD to turn your head when hugging him or he would simply lick you to death. During all his cancer treatments, some very painful, he would just lick the doctors and nurses until they were belly laughing. He’d have the whole room laughing as they tried to do procedures on him. He didn’t care. He loved people. People loved him. He was very sweet. Why would people MUZZLE such a dog? My goodness.
This is part three of what I want to talk about. How can people be cruel to animals? How can you look into those innocent, trusting eyes and harm an animal? So many people do. How? Why? I can’t even imagine. I once saw a guy kicking his dog. Not viciously, but kicking it, as entertainment. I went biserk on him. How can people watch dog fights? How can they starve and hurt animals? How? Here I am begging for just one more day with my dog and millions of people throw them away, abandon them, put them down or harm them.
What is the difference between us and them? What is it? I have spent many hours wondering what it is. Would getting them as children help? Teaching them about animals? Bringing them to shelters like ours and showing them when they are young? Will it help? I hope so. It’ll be the next phase of Best Friends and PIUTW. Education. Helping. Teaching. A mission of love and respect. Maybe we can make a difference. We need all of you to do it. Your donations. Your volunteering, your love and your support.
Zack was a great dog.
He filled my heart with tremendous joy each day.
He was a great, the BEST, trail dog ever.
I suffer so much at his loss and I think about all those just like him that are still being abandoned and dumped and mistreated.
Thank god for all of you who reach out and bring them into your homes. Who teach your kids how to interact with them. That click the DONATE NOW buttons on websites like this. That come down on your days off and walk dogs, or clean litter pans or help staff clean up. Thank goodness for all of you … and me… that have a Zack in you home. That love these dogs and show THEM that not all people are out to hurt them.James Herriot said that dog lovers will have many great dogs in their lifetime but if they are lucky they will be blessed with one TRULY EXCEPTIONAL dog. Rest easy sweet boy.
You take my heart with you.
Days won’t ever be the same without you…but because of you, I’ll continue to do this and continue to look at other throw-aways and KNOW their potential and their ability to love.
You taught me a lot of lessons.
I am going to go now and try to teach others.