The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

Every pet I’ve had has changed my life. One of my dogs sports a collar that says “Who rescued who?” When I manage to get past my overwhelming desire to instruct the manufacturers of said collar on the proper use of “whom,” I can then focus on the fact that that’s a very good question, indeed. My pets mean the world to me. It’s only fair that there’s one day a year that helps to bring awareness to the fact that we can change our pet’s lives, too. And you don’t need to restrict your actions to just this day.

Naturally, the best way to change an animal’s life is to rescue or foster one. Because so many people don’t spay or neuter their pets, we have created a stray animal problem that’s overwhelming. Those poor dogs and cats that are left out on the streets suffer an existence that is miserable, violent and short. We can prevent that, one pet at a time. And please consider adopting older pets. They need love, too.

You can also volunteer at a pet shelter, or donate food or money to one. Shelters are even thrilled to get your extra towels. (Don’t we all have too many towels?) They go through a lot of those. If you can’t give them your time, they also appreciate toys.

If you know of a pet that’s being abused, report it to the local authorities. That’s a fantastic way to make a difference. Every pet deserves to have room to move, access to water and decent food, and shelter from the heat or cold. Also, get your pets examined by a vet on a periodic basis. They can often identify health issues and head them off at the pass before they become chronic.

Feed your pet healthy food, not that Walmart Ol’ Roy stuff, or anything similar that. There’s no nutritional value in that product. You don’t have to buy the high end, hard to obtain, super expensive stuff, but read the labels and compare ingredients. Also, keep people food to a minimum. Most pets only get fat because their owners don’t give them proper portions or the right kind of food. Overfeeding is abuse, even if you mean well.

Make your pet’s life a little less boring. Get your cat a new toy. Give your dog more attention. Take him on a walk to somewhere he has never been. The animals under your care deserve quality of life just as much as you do.

If you have rescued pets, tell their stories far and wide. Here are mine.

My dachshund, Quagmire, was found roaming the streets of Olympia, starving and terrified. He was also not neutered, and showing obvious signs of neglect. The notches in his ears, shown below, are evidence of a poor diet with not enough fish oil or water. That caused the edges of his ears to dry out and crack off. We suspect he was in a puppy mill, outlived his usefulness, and was dumped on the street like so much garbage. Now he’s my best friend and biggest supporter. He can get really worked up around strangers, and he hates it when people make big gestures with their hands. Only he knows what he’s been through. But for the most part, he sticks to us like glue and is the best cuddler on the planet.

We call our other dog Nelly for good reason. She is very nervous. She was horribly abused. It took a long time to gain her trust, and we still work to earn it every day. She is scared of loud noises and sudden movements. She often goes to another room to sleep by herself, and will leave if you enter. But when she is in the mood to be loved on, she soaks it up like a thirsty traveler who has found an oasis in the desert. She is by far the sweetest dog I have ever known. I wish she could be convinced that it’s okay to play with toys. We let her do her thing and define her own comfort zone. When she invites me into that zone, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

Sharing your rescue stories often encourages others to do the same. Also, let people know that mixed breeds can often be healthier because they don’t have the issues that come with inbreeding, and they are just as loving as purebreds. Educate friends and family about the horrors of puppy mills. That cute purebred that you purchased from Romania could very well have been the product of a very abused mother who has spent her entire existence in a small cage, up to her chest in feces. And the long travel to get to your country was probably extremely traumatic for the puppy. Please adopt from a local shelter, folks. There are plenty of dogs to go around.

So today’s the day to remind yourself (as if you need to be reminded) that it’s important to give your pet all the love you have to give, and then some. My babies, pictured below, say “Woof!”

Now is the perfect time to stay at home, cuddle with your pet, and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

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