Of Cruelty and Shame, of Lennox and Buck

Lately I cry and cry.  I have to admit that I’m an overly emotional person (I once had a female manager tell me I was “worse than a woman”).  Regardless of the fact that I’m given to feeling things profoundly, I’d have to say that the last 6 months or so have been exceptionally turbulent with tears.

Those that have followed my post or at least read a sampling of it before might know that my hobby is animal advocacy.  To all of you that have been to Grasping the Tale before, I apologize for the months since my last post, but it is my engagement in this second full-time, non-paying vocation that has kept me from blogging.  In fact, I haven’t really written even my poetry/lyrics with any kind of appreciable frequency.  Whichever part of the brain it is which I utilize to advocate has kept me wrapped up there so I can’t transition to the creative part.

About  the tears: it is so draining to see the animals for which I advocate suffer so much, have their innocence and dependence upon mankind be betrayed so badly.  It runs from the (unfortunately) typical cases of neglect to the worst possible scenarios.  Two cases recently have taken a toll on those of us that dwell in the “online animal kingdom”.

One is the story of Lennox, an American Bulldog/Retriever mix that was a family pet in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Lennox was seized by the Belfast City Council for violation of DDA, or Dangerous Dogs Act, which is known as BSL (or Breed Specific Legislation) in America.  The Council determined Lennox to be a Pit Bull even though he is the breed mix stated above.  Pit Bulls are banned in Belfast as per the DDA.  Despite the fact that he only resembled a pit bull and had never bitten, attacked, or even threatened anyone, Lennox was taken.  While in their custody, one member of the Belfast Council declared Lennox too dangerous to be allowed to live, even though video exists of her with Lennox stitting by her feet and at one point even licking her.  The family fought through the legal system for two years to regain their cherished family member.  After losing the last round of appeals at the end of June, the family’s legal counsel advised them to end the fight.

During this entire ordeal, the world became aware of the story, and literally hundreds of thousands of advocates were signing and posting petitions to free Lennox and return him to his home.  Later on, well-reknowned animal behavior experts such as Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell offered to take Lennox out of the country and work with this “dangerous” dog to become a well-mannered, safe member of society (which, of course, he already was).  The City Council ignored all requests.  The council declared that they would euthanize Lennox at 7:00 a.m. on July 11th.

There was a flurry of activity to add even more signatures to the petitions, and media markets all over the world ran pieces about the fight to save Lenox’s life.  Hoping that the negative publicity would move the Council even if the appeals to their human decency failed, the animal-loving world held its breath.

Lennox was killed by the council as declared on the morning of July 11th.  So many mourn this senseless and evil loss of life, and sympathize with Lennox’s family, who were denied requests to see him one last time, to be with him when he was killed, and to at least receive his collar as a relic of him.  They were told they MIGHT be given some of his ashes after he was cremated, though even that has not been provided at this point.  It has of course been theorized that Lennox was either killed while the legal battle was still going on or that he died languishing in his meager cell (pictures showed it devoid of food and water bowls and even appropriate bedding).  These are just theories, though they are highly likely scenarios.

The other dog’s account that has crippled me emotionally is that of Buck, a blind elderly dog that was released from a shelter to an individual that either let him free or negligently allowed him to escape.  After weeks of searching for Buck, his body was found in a concrete enclosure.  It has not been revealed at this point how he ended up in this cement resting place or whether he died of exposure and lack of sustenance, torturous foul play, or a mixture.  The fact that he died alone and hungry, thirsty, and without even the sight to understand his surroundings is too much.  I keep thinking that some SUBhuman beings might have even abused him to death, which is worse.

I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth being part of this world when such stories of incomprehensible pain and cruelty seem increasingly the norm….

I had written a poem for Lennox upon hearing of his official end (the grief being so great that the artistic flood gates finally broke), and will conclude this post with it.  You’ll notice the title says “Part II”, and this is because Part I was written the night before as a sort of prayer (unanswered, obviously)  for his life to be spared.  I am too drained at present to write one for Buck, though I absolutely want to do so.

For Lennox, Part II                               7/11/12

Belfast now a place of scorn

As countless hearts lie ripped and torn

For all the pleas you would not answer,

Your pride and ignorance like a cancer.

You could have picked another way

Yet bathed your hands in blood today.

You heeded none, for you thought best

To lay an innocent one to rest.

I hope your conscience one day wakes

And your hands shake in fits and quakes

When you see doings that you sought

Have not justice, but murder brought.

You’ve disgraced yourselves before the world;

In Hell’s fires your souls be curled

Around a spit and searing slow

For how you have brought Belfast low.

I can’t see why you’ve made this choice

Now countless cry in Lennox’s voice.

 

 

Reposting From Facebook: Please Read!

This is something someone shared on FaceCrook, and it’s deserving of being shared everywhere.  Hence, I put it up here.

 

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.

 

HOW COULD YOU? – By Jim Willis, 2001

 

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

 

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

 

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

 

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.” As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch — because your touch was now so infrequent — and I would’ve defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

 

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog ,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

 

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family

 

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, “How could you?”

 

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind — that this was all a bad dream… or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

 

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

 

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, “How could you?”

 

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

 

A Note from the Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

 

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember…They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

Now that the tears are rolling down your face, pass it on! Send to everyone in your address book. This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters!

Onward!

"Onward!"

It has been 2 weeks since I last posted.  I’ve been crazy busy with my animal advocacy page.  I’ve even been on a stay-cation for the last week and spent an abominable amount of that time networking around the clock.  Rewarding, but time-consuming, as I’ve said before.

I kept hovering at the 237-243 level as far as subscribers to the page.  When I got up to 243, I was wondering when I’d hit 250.  But then 2 people would “unlike” the page.  You never as an administrator of a page know why someone bails unless they tell you.  I’ve lost 12-16 subscribers since starting it up.  I get stats on this, though they’re always a few days behind.  For example, today is March 25th, but I’ve only got stats up to the 22nd.  When I realized I was losing some fans along the way, I started posting once per week that if anyone would like to see something different from the page or they have dissatisfaction to let me know so that I may address it.  I’ve never gotten a response positive or negative to such posts.  I sent a suggestion to FaceCrook to add a questionnaire to the process of “unliking” a page so that administrators could adapt to their subscribers’ needs, wants, and or expectations.

Today, I finally broke 250, and some of my contacts made a “recruitment push” to get me to 282 as I write this.  A lot of the pages to which I subscribe are between 600 and 7,000 followers.  So I’m still in the larval stage as far as that goes.

The other major battle front in my life is the diet change from strict meat-atarian to vegan or near-vegan.  I always used to think that I’d die on a vegetable-based diet because there weren’t enough fruits and vegetables I liked enough to subsist solely or even predominantly off of them.  To a large extent, that’s still true.

"These are a few of my favorite things...."

I like carrots, celery, peas, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  I can tolerate peppers and cauliflower and spinach, and will eat broccoli, though I prefer it cooked.  I’m not fond of asparagus or melons.  I HATE tomatoes.  Kale is supposed to be incredible for you, but it’s so friggin’ chewy it’s a blah-fest.  Same with chickpeas.  Surprisingly, I find myself addicted to apples.  I ate a Fuji apple one morning, and found myself thinking, “This is the most amazing fucking thing ever.”  And then I was stupefied that I actually just had a mental orgasm over an apple.  I’m still digging them over 4 weeks later, though.  One thing I should be doing is cooking more to get a variety of styles of meal, and to eat less of the processed soy meat-substitute stuff.  But I CAN”T STAND cooking.  I abhor food prep, and loathe taking the time to do it.  I have done so in the past, of course, but only do it every 2 months or so.  I like a grab and go type of meal if I’ve got to fend for myself.

I have eaten chicken 3 times in the last month and no other meat products.  I think it might be close to 2 weeks since I even did that.  Dairy has snuck in there if I forgot to read the ingredients on something, but it’s been otherwise non-existent.  This past week and a half has been hard because I’m jones-ing for pizza.  And I LOVE corned beef, so to go through St. Patrick’s Day without my traditional C.B. was rough.  I was very tempted to break my morality diet over it.

I was concerned over how my body would handle the change since I felt like crap for 5 months when I tried this a couple of years ago.  And I was still eating some seafood and dairy that time.  I feel okay energy-wise, and I’ve had some stomach upset, but the main thing is the GASSINESS that comes with this change.  It’s brutal.

I decided to go back to white bread because so much of what I’ve been eating hasn’t any flavor or enjoyability to it other than the carrots and apples.  The multigrain bread is getting to be a deal-breaker.  The vegan hot dogs will be more and more tolerable over time, but the bread products I was using kill it.  I found a vegan white bread today, so I look forward to liking a little more of what I’m eating (I hope).

In my attempt to keep a decent level of protein in there, I’ve been eating a lot of cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, and the aforementioned soy- and wheat-based meat substitutes.

One meal I look forward to each week (because I don’t have to make it) is a grilled veggie burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill.  One of my writers’ groups meets there every Tuesday night, and I’ve been getting this amazing dinner each time.  Sour cream is such a staple of burritos and such, but since I ditched dairy, I decided to pay a little extra and add guacamole to the burrito so I still have that texture and coolness in it.  It’s fantastic!

So that’s my update.  I’m still fighting my chosen battles.  Ooh….that reminds me of one last thing.  My birthday (which I always hated–we don’t need to get into that now) was within the last week.  I bring this up because of the card my father gave me.  In it, he wrote,”You have always stood up for what you think is right.  Continue on your journey.”  It meant so much to read that.  So, Thanks, Dad!   Onward!

When a Plus Is Outweighed by a Minus….

In the time it took to write that last post, I hit follower #200 on my advocacy page.  I don’t feel like celebrating, though.  In the same period of time, it was announced that a dog which had been attacked by another dog had died.  There were so many of us following this dog’s story, I can’t even guess the numbers.  Hundreds?  Thousands?  I don’t know.  We were all over the country.

The dog’s injury was one to his face.  I’ve seen the photos.  His snout was literally ripped upwards from his skull.  From the front, You could see his eyes with the skin and fur of his nose sticking straight up between them.  His teeth and skull on the upper part of the muzzle were where they should be for the most part, but without what should have been covering them.  It was awful.  The dog was dropped off by the the supposed owners at a shelter, in that condition.

A vet in California had tried to perform emergency surgery after a young man volunteered to take the dog from the shelter to the vet.  They sewed his face back together, and put gauze all around his head to try to get the skin to adhere to the skull again.  The doctor even took him home that night to keep an eye on him.  There was so much support, so many prayers, offers to help pay, you name it.  So many people wanted this dog to make it.

We knew this was a serious injury, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it.  He eventually succumbed to cardiac failure, probably from all of the sedation it took to keep him comfortable and from possibly hurting himself further.

When I got this news, I just broke down.  Like he was MY dog.  Like he was MY family.  Maybe, in a way, he WAS.  We were united as a family caring for one of their own.  We all invested in him emotionally, wanted him to recover, and wanted him to know love and happiness.  His death, to me, made it seem like nothing mattered anymore.  Many of you might not understand this devotion to a dog, especially to one I hadn’t even met.  People waited to hear about the miners (in Chile, was it?) that were trapped in the mine a while back.  They anxiously waited on Elian Gonzales’ fate.  This was an equivalent for those of us that fight for and dearly love animals and nature.

I certainly didn’t think that my 200th fan meant anything after this news.

It took the signing of about twenty petitions to help pull me out of this funk, as well as another WordPress writer’s post.  If you care to check it out, the post is “Running Water’ on silverpoetry.wordpress.com.  http://silverpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/running-water/#comment-212

I caught a rumor that this dog was actually attacked in a dog fight.  Oren, as the dog became known, was a poodle, so if this is true, he was a bait dog, used to whet the adrenalized appetites of the fighting dogs before the actual match.  I hope the fuckers responsible pay, even if this is not the case, even if it was simply an owner whose dog had an accident; who just drops a dog in that condition off at the shelter, not even taking him to a vet?  I hope there is a such thing as Karma.

199 and Counting….

Furgii modeling her new tee

My animal advocacy page, Pet Patriotism, now has 199 followers.  Un.  Be.  Lievable.  One person shares it, and three more check it out and “like” it, and it keeps going.  It’s only been a week and a half since starting it up.  Ca-Razy.  I feel a certain pressure to keep these folks happy and interested in what I’m doing.

I admit there’s very little info which I have the knowhow to find.  I pretty much come across other postings and repost them myself.  It’s not to claim credit for it; I’m not erasing the originator’s tags on there.  It’s just that I want to keep the information flowing.  I might subscribe to a certain page that others may not.  You can’t subscribe to everyone–there’s not enough time to read it all.  If someone gets their info from me, great.  If they get it from somewhere else, great.  The point is to keep it all out there, educating more and more people and getting profiles of animals in trouble or petitions that need signing to cycle onwards to those that will help.

I don’t remember if I covered why I set this page up or not.  A friend actually messaged me asking me to “Please stop”.  It was in reference to an item I shared with a picture showing a pretty gruesome wound on a dog.  I knew when I shared it that I’d probably face opposition, but I shared anyway because every share was going to raise another dollar towards care for the dog.  I know that perhaps only three or four of my 93 or 94 friends on Facebook actually care to sign these things, can or will donate, or can spend time networking my posts.  So between reaching people that care and not pestering my friends, I set up the separate page.

I foresaw that this was going to be time-consuming, and boy I was right.  I was already spending a lot of time on Facebook and my email account as it was.  Now I’m taking the time to cross post it TO MYSELF, essentially, on my new page and sharing from there.

After the first week, I decided to take Tuesday the 6th off.  I still went in there a little, but I needed a break from the 24 hour media stream plus 40 hour work week.  Also, my own dog was being neglected regarding attention, which would not be good in general, and definitely not from someone who claims to be all about animals.

I realized that my voice was rather silent that day, but the world still turned.  And others were there filling my void.  Did I miss a petition or two?  Probably.  Did I fail to get something forwarded to someone that may have helped?  Possibly.  But I can only do so much.  There’s guilt, but there’s also reality.  I’ve made the decision that anytime I log in, I will only scroll back through four hours worth of material at most.  I used to go back all the way, even if it was ten or twelve hours, fearful something important would get by me.  I wrote in a previous post that I am a recovering addict (alcohol; two years sober), and I am left wondering if this is another form of addiction, even if it’s a meaningful one.  So I must impose limits, addiction or not.

It seems that some of the people that are informing me are doing this full time.  They are largely female, and, I believe, older, so they may be stay-at-homers with working spouses or are retirees, either of which having a great deal more time in theory.  I’m jealous.  I don’t know if they actually get paid for any of their time.  I doubt it, but if so, I’m jealous again.  Not because I want to profit, per se, but I would love to support myself this way and therefor be able to do this kind of thing all the time.

I previously mentioned reducing meat from my diet, for obvious reasons.  Well, I’ve spent the last two weeks primarily meat free.  I ate chicken three times, and that’s it.  I had already weeded lamb and pork from my diet, and beef and dairy are now gone.  Going forward, I may or may not occasionally eat chicken, eggs, and seafood.  The reason I ate chicken the three times I did was because I am getting some digestive upset from the continuous intake of fruits and vegetables.  A friend hypothesized that it could be all the live enzymes and fiber.  Going from forty years of meat, bread, pizza, and ice cream to this is tough.  So I’m throwing the chicken in there from time to time to make it a more gradual change and hopefully easier on my system.  I feel good about this.

The Tale of the Fox goes on….

Exactly why I keep doing this….

Holy Hell, Batman!

Inspired by the title of my last post, I decided to set up my own page on Facebook as an advocacy site.  Other pages that I’ve “liked” forward different petitions, articles, and such to me, so I decided to try and get my own page so I can forward things from there to others that might want to join the fight.

The title is Pet Patriotism.  I came up with this because I feel we should take pride in our pets and other Earthly creatures the same way we take pride in our nationalities.  I’m a little nervous at taking on something like this when my time is already kind of chewed up with these things and page administration is going to add to that.  But I started it, and that rock is now a’ rolling.

I reached out to someone on Facebook with whom I’ve networked asking for help, and SHE networked for me to get followers who will do the same.  I was even invited into her private group on there of others like us who have pages of our own.  Before I jumped over to WordPress to write this, I was up to 12 followers within a half hour.  Crazy!

For my logo, I chose the American flag, obviously, because I’m American, fulfilling the “Patriot” part of the title.  The lavender paw is a symbol of animal rescue and animal rights (you will often see lavender ribbons for the same).  I’m rather technologically challenged, so I went ghetto, pulling up a “googled” dog paw print, and tracing it and coloring it with a Sharpie.  I then cut it out, laid it on top of a small flag I had, and took the picture.  The background is actually the blanket on my couch.  It works, though.

Now I just have to live up to the faith the folks networking on my behalf have placed in me!

 

Photo © Jordan Alan Fox

Pet Patriotism: Nipping Animal Abuse in the Bud

As many of you know, I fight online against animal abuse.  I sign a bazillion petitions each day for different causes.  While wearisome, it is something I’m incredibly passionate about, and I’m immensely consumed by it.

So many of these petitions seek maximum legal penalty against convicted animal abusers.  Seeing all of this, and also seeing all of the spay/neuter propaganda (which I believe in as well), a new thought has come to me today.  What I’m about to propose is something radical and (currently) unconstitutional.

I propose convicted animal abusers be spayed or neutered so they can’t create any more people with their damaged mental facilities.  Some animal abusers might be genetically geared to do what they do, and some might be taught these things by their elders.  Either way, denying them procreative rights should substantially break the cycle, and would be a more than fair treatment for the suffering and possible death they’ve caused.

It’s been talked about, I’m sure, doing such medical procedures on convicted rapists, murderers, and abusers of children and others (which I think I agree with as well, especially with the former and latter).  This is just another progressive step in that line of thinking.  Maybe one the best ways to prevent animal abuse will be to limit the birth rate of animal abusers….

"Don't tread on me!"

Note: Just so you all know, I didn’t get Furgii pissed off here.  Her teeth were dry and one side of her lips got hung up on them.  I simply tucked the other side under to give her a “mad face”.  🙂