I recently read a magazine article suggesting that we learn about our family’s history and everyday experiences by asking our parents, grandparents, and other relatives about these things. I suppose this is a good idea in theory, but the concept is so foreign to me that I only comprehend it in a somewhat fictional sense.
My father died when I was nine years old after a lengthy illness. My mother was incapacitated for the last 30 years of her life. My stepfather died a month shy of his 51st birthday. My last grandparent died 40 years ago. My grandmothers were gone by the time I was a few years old. Granted, I am 59 years old now, but hearing stories from my parents or grandparents has not been an option for decades.
I do have some knowledge of family history. My parents used to tell me stories about long passed relatives as we would plant geraniums on grave sites when I was a young child. I even occasionally had a face to go with them. We had a giant box of old photographs, some going back to the 1800’s. There were even a handful of tin types. They really weren’t much different to me than some of the books I would check out of the library though. I could relate better to Laura Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods than I could to the stern looking folks whose images were recorded in those black and white photographs.
If you have family around to talk to about these things, go for it. You never know how long you will have that opportunity. And I’m sure it will be an informative and bonding experience.
If that ship has sailed for you, as it has for me, there are many other rewarding relationships in life. Don’t forget about siblings and children. And the love we have for friends can sometimes be equally dear. None of us is a lone ship adrift. We form relationships as we go through life. And as we acknowledge those relationships, let’s make them matter.
It’s not only about the histories that we have. The legacies that we leave are equally important. I hope that during my time on this planet, I am able to make people feel special and loved. I want people to feel worthwhile and know that they are important after they spend time with me. I think it is important to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. To leave the world, a better place than we found it. History is important, but today is for living. Live well. And peace be with you.
You may get a puppy from a puppy mill and it turns out fine, so you think what’s the big deal.
Your thought process says, “My puppy is healthy and all is well”. That’s great but where did that puppy come from? I’m betting the parents are not well. They are are probably living in squalid conditions and receiving little to no veterinary care. You’ve seen the photos. I’ll spare you those here. But, look at the offenses documented above.
Why wouldn’t the kennel owners provide veterinary care to the dogs? Because the dogs are seen as a product and spending money cuts into the profit margin. The dogs are a commodity and it is cheaper to get another one than put money into the adult dogs that live there. Ditto for any puppies that cannot be sold for a profit. Compassion and emotional well-being are not a factor that is considered.
Your puppy mill dog may be perfectly healthy and be a fine companion. But by buying from this source you are promoting the system and allowing it to go on. Each puppy sold provides more money for these people to continue with what they do.
Some people buy their puppy directly from the puppy mill farm. They see the conditions the dogs live in and pay for that puppy and take it home to get it out of poor circumstances. This is a double-edged sword. You save the puppy you went to meet, but you feed the system. It continues with the parents left behind and new generations of puppies born into suffering. I would not condemn anyone for choosing to buy the puppy and save it after you have fallen in love with it. I don’t know what the right answer is. But you should have the full knowledge of what you are doing before you make the decision.
I am the President of a local breed rescue for Northeast Ohio. I have seen some of the dogs who make it out of the puppy mills. We rarely get puppies from any source. When it comes to puppy mill farms, we get the breeders and the dogs that didn’t work out as expected. The dogs who didn’t produce enough puppies or they have health problems that the owners don’t want to deal with. They come to us generally in poor physical condition and they have not been socialized.
These dogs are afraid of people and life in general. They are afraid of going outside. They are afraid of coming inside. They are afraid of stairs, petting, and direct eye contact. Our rescue had one who would only eat in the dark, after the rest of the household had gone to bed. These are the dogs that usually stay in rescue for a year or more. They go to homes where people are willing to live with their issues. Sometimes, they stay with their foster families forever, because we don’t want to subject them to the trauma of going through it all again. Also, it is not easy to find the special families who are willing to work with these dogs. If they do get adopted, there is the possibility of them being returned.
The average dog owner wants a dog that they can do things with, like go to the dog park, take a leisurely walk around the block, and snuggle on the couch. Many of these puppy mill survivors will take many months or years of work before they get to this point. Some will never make it.
There are those puppy mill survivors who are able to integrate into a normal life with a bit of retraining and lots of love. If you become the owner of such a dog, the rewards are great. Knowing you have turned life around for a dog like this is a feeling like no other.
Some rescues and shelters frown on buying purebred dogs from reputable breeders. They think the only answer is adoption from a rescue or shelter. And I agree, adopting from rescues and shelters is indeed a wonderful thing! I recommend people looking for dogs, check into adoption first. There are many wonderful dogs awaiting their forever homes. Many of them have no issues whatsoever and are there through no fault of their own. Purebred and mixed breed dogs who would fit into many homes seamlessly.
And I think there is also a place for the reputable breeder as well. The good breeders go to great lengths to plan their litters. They take great care to make sure their dogs are healthy and receive prenatal care and general veterinary care. They may do genetic testing if it would be beneficial. They breed for maximum health and to maintain breed standards. These dogs and puppies are housed in good and safe places, often the breeder’s own home. The resulting puppies have been handled and are used to people. The mother dogs only produce a few litters, so their bodies do not wear out. And when the puppies are gone, the adult dogs are still a part of the breeder’s family life. These puppies may cost a little bit more, but it is an investment in the health and quality of the dogs. And reputable breeders take their puppies or dogs back if they do not work out or the buyer cannot keep the dog at any time down the road. They will take the dog back until they can re-home it, or they may decide to keep it.
Sometimes our rescue will even refer people to a reputable breeder. We may not have an available dog that is right for every situation. If we are not sure our rescued dogs are good with small children, we may refer them on to someone who has puppies. The children and puppies can grow up together. If someone wants a dog for a specific activity like agility or herding, we may refer them to a breeder who specializes in dogs who were breed for this. When the dog is a good fit for the home, things tend to work out.
If you plan to make a canine addition to your home, think about how you expect your life with a dog to look. Do you want a companion? A working partner? A running buddy? Pick a dog that is likely to fulfill the plans you have. Be willing to put in the work.
And above all, consider where they come from. By making an informed choice, you have the ability not only to set yourself up for success, but to play a part in ending puppy mills and the suffering that takes place. YOU can make a difference!
Who is your favorite super hero? Mine has always been Aquaman, even before the days of Jason Momoa. And he certainly confirms it!
As a child, I liked Aquaman because he always saved the world with his ability to communicate with the underwater animals. Whenever there was a crisis, he used his under water sonar to call for help and the sea creatures always came to save the day. Aquaman would have been no one on his own. He relied on his animal friends. This was something I could relate to.
I also have always been drawn to undersea life. It fascinates me. Growing up, I made sure to watch Jacques Cousteau, Marlin Perkins and Jim on Wild Kingdom, and any other underwater shows I could find. Even Bedknobs and Broomsticks was intriguing with the bed floating through the underwater encounter. There is a whole plethora of organisms living their in the murky deep, and I wanted to know what they looked liked and how they lived.
I suppose it wasn’t that big of a stretch then, that my college major was Biology and my favorite part of my water treatment career was looking at organisms under the microscope lens and doing stream studies. You never knew what you were going to see there either.
My fascination with animals and iconic figures did not stop there. My favorite Saturday morning cartoon was Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. I never wanted to be Jane, the female character. I wanted to be Tarzan himself who swing from vines and talked to the animals and called on them in times of need.
The focus of my life has always centered around animals. There has only ever been a few years of my life in college when I did not have a dog. I was between dogs after the loss of my beagle-mix Captain Sizzle, until I got another dog as soon as I could rent an apartment in college that would allow pets. (That was when I got my first Shetland Sheepdog and the rest, as they say, is history).
My younger years were spent watching cartoon characters and television personalities who worked with animals, because I didn’t know any people who did this in real life. As I grew up and my world became wider, my heroes changed. I discovered that there were real people that I had been unaware of, who were making animals their life’s work.
My first role model, who I saw as a regular person who had a life with attainable goals was Jack Hanna. As a Kent State University graduate, I moved to Columbus, Ohio for my first summer out of school in many years. I was newly graduated and didn’t have a job yet, so I bought myself a membership to the Columbus Zoo. It was only three miles from my townhouse, so I went to the zoo several times each week. Some days I would pick an animal exhibit and sit there watching the same animals for an hour. I noticed that on the days I wore a khaki colored cargo shirt that the animals in some of the exhibits would follow me along the fence line. I later figured out that shirt was similar to what the zoo keepers wore and the animals were hoping I was there to feed them!
That summer was 1985. It was when I first heard of Jack Hanna who was Curator of the Columbus Zoo. That was before he went on to have his own television program. He had made some guest appearances on The David Letterman Show and others. I saw him walking around the zoo a few times. I was so impressed with the fact that he had taken a love of all animals and made it into a career. A career with the intent to educate about animals and improve their chances for survival. He is still one of my heroes.
The other real life hero of my adult life is Jane Goodall. What an amazing woman. She has loved animals for her entire life too. As everyone knows, she started her career studying chimpanzees in Africa. She has taken it so much farther. She has published multiple books and documentaries on saving our planet and the plants and animals that inhabit it. She even has foundations to promote these causes. And at her current age of 87, is still doing all she can to inspire hope and let us know that we can make a difference. She has taken a break because of Covid, but until then was still touring and speaking many days each year.
You can see a theme throughout the list of all my heroes, both fictional and real. They are defenders of animals and people. They know they were put on this world to make it a better place. Although my presence is small, I want to join them and follow in their footsteps to make a difference.
You have the ability to do the same. Won’t you join me in making a difference?