There are more more cat owners in America than ever before and it's easy to understand why. A cat is an easier animal to care for-- independent and self sufficient. For me, I melt when I look at a dog. I'm just a sucker when it comes to a dog and they know it. I've often thought that's why over the years I've had so many strays show up at my door. At some point I must have rolled out the red carpet and lit up the sign: free food, room and board available, easy hours, medical benefits, apply within. And oh what sad stories they sometimes brought with them!
The saddest yet most heartwarming dog story I have is Tucker, a beautiful black male full blood cocker spaniel. I first met Tucker when he resided behind my mother's house in a small pen that he had turned into mud. He had an air conditioner housing for a house, which was not dry. The mud had caked into the fur of his front legs so firmly that he could not bend his knees. The rest of his coat was so matted he had seeds and other plant material burrowing into his skin. His then owners fed him poorly and gave him little or no attention. He cried frequently at night, keeping my mother awake. She did her best to feed him and give him some attention but he would not be consoled.
Tucker had been brought home from a pet store, given away because he had a minor problem with one of his eyes which is common to cocker spaniels. Ignored and abused, neither my mother nor myself could take it anymore. I agreed to take Tucker home, clean him up and find him a home if she could convince the owners to give him up. We actually discussed stealing him in the night if they wouldn't let him go, but my Mom wore 'em down!
Tucker resisted our determined efforts to relieve him of his almost plaster-like casts on his front legs but never offered to bite us, or for that matter, offered up a determined growl. After a thorough bathing and grooming it was off to the vet for a checkup. He was pronounced in good health and unbeknown to us, he had turned on the charm. He knew he had a good thing and decided he would adopt us. Tucker proved to be the most loving and gentle animal I have ever had the opportunity to share time with. Relieved of his sorrow, he immediately turned from sad to happy, downtrodden to playful; the cruelty all forgotten and forgiven.
Tucker is only one of many sad sad stories of abused pets here in America and there's really no need for it! If you want to make a statement about animal abuse this year, attend The Knox County Humane Society Doggie Jog the morning of August 28th at Hawthorne Centre. Last years jog yielded almost $11,000-- most of which went to spay and neuter programs. It's a fun time with lots of positive upbeat people concerned about the welfare of unwanted dogs and cats. Of course, enter and jog with your dog if you have one. If you have young children bring them along. For more information call the humane society at 342-1275.
A final note, for all the pet owners out there that have ''dumped'' their pet out of a car thinking they'll get a home in the country, I'd like you to know the years I lived in the country were my busiest times of trying to catch strays that felt abandoned and then fearful of humans. They had broken pelvis bones, internal injuries, suffered starvation, many were shot by the farmers for raiding their chicken coupe. What would you do if you were cold, hungry and alone? Our pets deserve more; let us not be remembered by our cruelty to animals.
Till next time, Rebecca.