By Jennifer Webb, Founder, Shakespeare Animal Fund
Every day I read requests for help from people who love their pets dearly, and don’t have the money needed to save them from suffering. Just today we helped a dog, Puppers, who had eaten a piece of stuffed toy that got lodged in her intestines. Surgery was essential for survival and she was extremely ill by the time she got to the veterinarian because her owner was struggling to find the funds. She survived (she’s a fighter, the vet told her elderly owner) and she’s one of hundreds and hundreds we help. (You can read more about Puppers here.)
I was going to write a blog on how pets enhance the lives of the elderly, help children who are challenged in school learn to cope and read more effectively, help rehabilitate prisoners and speed up healing in hospitals all over the country. But then I decided to just write about how much fun pets can be.
I’m ashamed to admit I harass my two rescue cockers a lot, and they seem to love it! I’ve never exactly figured out where the connection comes from, but when the front doorbell rings (I open the door in front of my dogs and push the bell), and I call out the word “squirrel,” my dogs assume the backyard squirrel has somehow managed to run to the front door and ring the bell. Both dogs go dashing out the dog door so quickly they slide around a corner much like a base ballplayer sliding to home base, and often collide in the dog door itself.
Once outside they go to the places they think they’ve seen the squirrel (of course the squirrel is usually up in a tree watching their antics and wondering exactly how smart they are) and they proceed to spend 10 to 15 minutes under a bush looking for the squirrel, much to my delight. Their behavior is my comedy break, and I never tire of watching them chase imaginary creatures, nor do they seem to mind the harassment.
This activity does not end until it gets too hot, or the same thing is repeated (door bell rings) with a different word yelled out: “bird.” They believe all birds and squirrels can ring our front doorbell and live under a couple of bushes in the back yard. So I don’t tell them the facts. Instead I buy quantities of bird seed and we have a lively back yard filled with birds and squirrels, all twice as fast as two overweight cocker spaniels. No bird or squirrel is ever in mortal danger.
The moral: Pets are loved for different reasons. For many of the elderly I speak with, their pet represents family, sometimes all the family they have and a good reasons for getting up in the morning. For others the pet is the great stress release, or companion for their children. More often than not the pet means the world to folks, like the service man who wrote recently that his dog was the reason he hadn’t committed suicide.
Whatever reason a person has a pet, there is usually love involved. And when the pet is injured, ill or suffering, all the owners care about is helping their animals. Please help us continue doing what we do best; stop the suffering of animals every single day by paying veterinary bills that the owners can’t afford!
Thanks for reading this and for helping us spread the word.
Founder, Shakespeare Animal Fund