I believe that our world will always be in dispute over when life truly begins and if a woman’s right to choose is appropriate. However, nobody will argue that a life is certainly a life when they are seen breathing outside a mother’s womb. What has always fascinated me is that while this argument continues to play itself out, the level of respect for life is never addressed, as it should be. In addition, some lives seem to mean so much more than others.
Consider the story of a dog that was found lying on what seemed to be another animal. Upon closer review, he was lying on another dog that had been hit by a car. Although the poor dog had died, his friend would not leave his side. It was also reported that he had stayed on top of this poor soul for an entire day before someone finally came along to help. This was clearly a demonstration of true sanctity of life, and it is a foundation to present some challenges to our society that are very much in need.
There are also plenty of debates on whether the Bible offers a level of respect for our animal friends. I cannot understand why it is a debate because it is clear to me that they are in fact respected. However, even if there is a valid argument against my beliefs, nobody should accept an animal being physically or emotionally abused. As much as I personally respect the Bible, I only refer to the sacred scripture to bring my point into a religious perspective. In reality, the Bible respecting animals should not be the be all and end all reason to treat animals with respect.
Consistency is one of my perspectives on many issues. I wonder why our society is not more consistent when it comes to the value of all life. It seems like only the high profile cases of sanctity of life are the ones that attract attention. Consider the high profile case of Terry Schiavo. The issue surrounding her was whether or not the end of her life and the feeding tube that was keeping her alive was appropriate. Some people I know well were very outspoken in this matter and were on the side of the value of Terry Schiavo as a person. A day later, the same group spoke out against homeless in their neighborhood! I am afraid that this dichotomy extends in many different directions even though this sanctity of life debate rages on.
I must admit that Daniel the Beagle who lives with me is also a high profile case and received much more attention than other dogs in need. However, I immediately took charge to use his miracle survival to help others, and I can say with confidence that to me every life matters. Daniel is a valued member of my family but no more than the other living creatures, dogs and humans, that I share my life with. I look at this as your typical bell shaped curve. About 20% of the people in our world will completely understand my points and in many cases can express them better than I can. The other 20% will not be convinced that I am making sense no matter what I say. But, it is the 60% in the middle we want to influence.
We want to convert the family that brings their dog to the shelter when he is 10 years old and they no longer want him.
We want to convert the teenager who at present time has no respect for the dog wandering the street, but comes to realize that he is a living, sentient being that feels pain.
We want to change the attitude, especially on those who proclaim to be compassionate, to think twice when they speak ill of a dog and make that statement, “it is just a dog”.
There is reason to be encouraged. After all, every time there is some type of natural disaster, people have a change of heart. Consider the horrible effects from Hurricane Katrina where dogs were left stranded in flooded houses and many left behind while people were saved. I heard so many crying out for the poor dogs, and those who did were not what we would call dog lovers!
It is interesting that these types of things can make people think differently. Well, there is some “good news” in all this. If we convince people that these terrible things happen to dogs every day, maybe we can get a ground swell of support to truly make a difference for all of them, every day.
That brings us to some action items to create this mindset in the people who we can influence. Many who read this are those who are in the category of “preaching to the choir”. My hope is that they will also benefit by finding new ways to inspire others to see that these lives matter. The other side of this spectrum is likely not to be converted to mater what we say or do. However, if we assume the bell shaped curve for this issue, there are many that can be tipped over to the side of loyalty to all life, all of the time.
With that, I introduce my 4-point plan. 4 paws on the floor grounded and ready to run.
There are way too many stories about how dogs are abused or even worse the horrific accounts of how so many loving canines lose their life. These situations are emotionally heartbreaking; they create anger, and can easily drain us. I totally understand all of this but we must also realize that in most cases there is nothing more we can do. My suggestion is to at least spend as much time each day sharing positive stories in order to keep our own sanity in check. This will also help us to inspire others to do more to help dogs in need.
I know these terrible situations where people hurt animals leaves very little room for any positive thoughts about the people who do the heinous act. However, there are plenty of situations where we can easily rush to judgment on someone and by doing so we are moving away from the loyalty to life that we are seeking. Consider the person who cuts you off on line in the store. We can get angry and escalate negative feelings, or we can let it go and consider the possibility that the person is having significant issues in their life. I am often reminded how Shelby, my formerly abused Pit bull now a therapy dog, treats every human with respect even those who are obviously not in a good place. If we can step back and consider these moments it will strengthen our own loyalty to life.
Although nothing is perfect, even for dogs, I love to see how well dogs get along and in many cases they work at it. Daniel and Spartacus are a good example. They will never be best friends, but they are often seen hanging out with each other and there is no animosity. If I had one wish to help more animals it would be for rescue organizations to get along better and not be so critical and create such “turf battles”. I do see the differences of opinion and yes, I have some of my own issues with what some organizations do and not do. However, I clearly prefer to look at the positives and if there are none, I will always try to remain quiet. There is a better alternative, which is to put differences aside and work together to not only help more animals but also send a powerful and positive message to society about our passion to help dogs, and how we live it every day. I have 29 years of corporate experience including 10 in Labor relations. I am happy to offer suggestions to make improvements in this important area.
I have been training in Martial Arts for over 30 years. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I almost quit after the first day thinking that there was no way I could really do this, physically and emotionally. Obviously I stayed the course and realized that although there would be challenges, I needed to dig down deep for effort and a positive attitude. I remain convinced today that Daniel survived that gas chamber experience because of his great attitude that I see in him every day. The path we have chosen to defend the lives of animals is not easy. We will be beaten down by negative stories and like me, you will be harshly criticized by people who do not believe as we do. This is where we must each adopt a “black belt’ mentality to never give up but know when to back off, support each other, and have the best positive attitude every day.
Peace, Joe Dwyer
Thank you so much for all you do.
Please contact me at www.danielsdream.org