Promoting understanding
and compassion for animals

Oct

02

Cats and dogs (and us)

Posted in: Di's diaryBe the first to comment

I woke up this morning, like I do most mornings, shaped like an upside question mark. My knees curled around a soft but immovable object (Oggie) who despite having an abundance of room chooses to sleep in that spot most nights. I opened one eye slightly and turned my head a fraction to glance at the clock but that was enough for Marlee to seize the opportunity to leap onto my chest and cover me with slobbery kisses and doggy breath. The joy on his face that I had made it through the night and was still alive, ready to spend another day with him, was immense.

I was struck by the complete polar opposites of these two animals who share my bedroom and my life. Oggie on one hand, gently reminding me through his positioning that I must bend (literally) to his wishes and Marlee on the other, totally devoted to the point of obsession. I also realised that if you live with a cat you should also have a dog and visa versa. A dog to inflate your self esteem, your ego and a cat to prick that bubble when it becomes too large.

But despite their differences, I share a deep bond with both of them. They know me, and I know them and I would be a lesser person without them. Their loyalty, acceptance and devotion are unwavering. Oggie has been with me for 13 years. He has seen the arrival of my three children and the loss of my parents. He has been with me through the good times and the bad. Through lean times, illnesses and injuries. In fact he is currently playing nurse maid to little Alana who has Glandular Fever.

Oggie or "The King"

Oggie or "The King"

Marlee is my friend, confidant and protector. He would give his life for me or the children without a second thought. He expects no reward, simply being with his family is payment enough. He is cheerful, funny and tolerant. He has an unsquashable personality. He doesn’t even take it personally when we lock him in the backroom because he has decided to supplement his body odour with some fresh cow manure. He just waits, knowing that in time he will be appreciated again.

I know I am blessed to share my life with such wonderful characters but I also know I am not unique.

Many people have unique bonds with cats and/or dogs and their animals are no less special or wonderful than my own Oggie or Marlee. These animals ability to love and accept us despite our failings and weaknesses is inspirational.

So how do we, as a species replay this gift of friendship and love that is so readily bestowed upon us by cats and dogs?

Well in Asian countries, they eat them. They cram them in tiny cages and put them on display in front of restaurants. They also skin them alive, apparently because the pelt comes away easier from the flesh of a live animal. Those who aren’t condemned to these appalling fates, wander the streets, starving, frightened and alone.

While we in the west are shocked and sickened by these actions, many of us remain blissfully unaware of the cruelty inflicted on these beautiful creatures by members of our own community. People who are totally undeserving of the love of even one dog or cat take it upon themselves to breed more, selling the babies to anyone who will buy them despite the fact that 99% of these animals will never find a home. They set up businesses (puppy farms) where the animals are mere components on a factory line, perpetually pregnant and housed in atrocious conditions. They supply pet shops and they sell through newspapers and classifieds etc.  And then you have the backyard breeders who do the same but on a small scale, eager to cash in on their pedigree dog or cat and cater to the fads that arise from movies such as The Shaggy Dog, The 101 Dalmatians, Beethovin and The Buddy Movies. Currently we have Red Dog playing in cinemas which will no doubt lead to a massive oversupply of the quintessential Australian dog, the Kelpie. And let’s not forget the average family who still believes that every female dog should have a litter before they are are desexed or those people who think that  puppies or kittens are so cute they just have to have some.

This negligence results an estimated 400,000 animals passing through shelters and council pounds in Australia each year. Of these approximately 40% of dogs and 75% of cats are euthanised. How can we let this happen? How can we let people keep breeding these amazing animals with so much capacity for love, only to discard them and dump their bodies at the local tip. How can we treat them with such indifference and contempt?

Our society also uses large numbers of dogs and cats for cosmetic and pharmaceutical testing and vivisection.  One website I looked at promoting the use of animal testing stated “It is important for the public to separate the dogs and cats that we keep as pets and those that are used for animal testing.” WHY for God’s sake? They are the same, they feel the same pain and have the same fear. In one US experiment, a vivisector forced surgically manipulated dogs to run on a treadmill until they collapsed from a heart attack. The dogs were then killed, and the damage to their heart tissue was studied. I couldn’t do this to a human, a dog or a snail and I wonder what sort of person could. Sadly this example is on the lower end of the scale of perversity … many more shocking examples exist. The justification for these tests is always the same  “for the alleviation of suffering in human beings”. It is ironic though that many of our biggest killers are a product of our lifestyle and dietary choices yet it is the animals who must pay the ultimate price.  And of course in our quest for the best stain remover, toilet bowl cleaner and perfect hairspray, we submit millions of cats, dogs and other animals to excruciating tests where they are force-fed and injected with these compounds.

I swear that if there is an intelligent life form out there in space observing us and our relationships with our fellow creatures, we would be marked with a big red X and labelled barbarians and savages.

Like all animals, the gentle, the kind, the ever patient and accepting cat and dog deserves more, far more than we give them. Above all they deserve our respect and gratitude, for making the world a more tender and sensitive place.

Marlee and the ugg boot

Where are you Marlee?

 

So what can we do?

Well personally I preach desexing and I support organisations like Oscar’s Law who aim to abolish the factory farming of companion animals. I sign petitions, sometime 20 in a day. I don’t know if they do any good but it’s better than doing nothing. And I thank God every day for the precious gift of my treasured companions.

What about you? What do you think needs to be done? How can we change the world for our friends who have only us to verbalise their desperation and dismay?

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