My first dog was a black Labrador retriever named Sheba. I was a year old when we adopted her. To this day, it’s safe to say that Sheba taught me more and had a greater influence on my life than most humans. I have yet to meet a dog, or a person, with her level of patience, wisdom, and inner peace. Sheba was so happy to be alive and to be part of our family, and her paw prints are still in mine and my parents’ hearts today. I’ll never forget her and her endless devotion and unconditional love.
Dogs are incredible creatures, and every day, they earn their title as man’s best friend. They give us a love, a trust, and a loyalty that is impossible to find in a human companion. That’s why Monday’s “Harsh Facts” break my heart. Dogs, cats, and other pets have so much to give to us, and too often we neglect them and give them nothing back. We abuse them, we abandon them, we over breed them, and due to the high volume of homeless animals in the United States and around the world, we euthanize them because our shelters are too full.
My blog isn’t all about the climate change and pollution, although, of course, those things are an important focus. Viridorari’s mission statement is to help you be healthier for you, the people around you, and the environment. I firmly believe that pets, wildlife, and nature are important to our emotional and psychological well being. We keep pets because of the joy they bring us in our everyday lives. We plant gardens because they’re beautiful. We take walks and have picnics in parks to think about our lives and enjoy time with friends and family. We go hiking. We bird watch. We construct extravagant zoos. Most of us rely on animals for food.
I care so much about the environment, community service, activism, and my blog because I am terrified that my children or my grandchildren or both will not have the joys of animals and nature in their lives. A world without these things, in my opinion, is not worth living in. Without these things, the world is not how it was meant to be. Not to mention, how could we possibly survive without them? It all ties together: the more we pollute, the more we destroy, the more we avoid considering the future, the more our natural world recedes into the annals of history.
So, while deciding to adopt your next dog or cat from a rescue instead of a store won’t really make a difference for the hole in ozone layer, it will make a difference to that dog or cat. And it certainly will make a difference for you. I watched my late dog, Buddy, go from a malnourished, nervous shell to a proud, happy, and loving being who was as healthy as he could be considering his age. My mom channeled Rosie’s boundless energy into training. Now, she is a well behaved dog, and while mom still worked at a school, she brought hours of laughter and fun to children as a certified therapy dog. She still gets a little over excited sometimes, but we love her regardless. When Mom and Rosie spend time together, I can see in Mom's eyes how much her dog means to her.
A major problem today is that there are more homeless animals than there are homes willing to take them. The key word is willing: if more of us committed to being mindful of where we acquire our pets, or even just committed to some community service here and there, I think there would be less abuse, less euthanasia, and more happy endings. Rescue dogs may not always be puppies. They may not always be purebred. And they may not always be perfect; but neither are we. If we were perfect, I wouldn’t need to be writing Viridorari.
I think you’ll find, like I have, that true love has a lot to do with accepting imperfections, and once you and your rescue dog get past that with each other, I can promise that there is a long road of joyful companionship ahead.
We owe our pets, livestock, and wildlife an ethical responsibility. They bring us some of the finer things in life, and in turn I think it’s about time we recognized them as co-inhabitants of our planet and treated them as such. Selfishly prioritizing ourselves and rolling over them for the sake of a temporary, fake happiness, will only come back to hurt us in the end. And while I think many of us have recognized that at this point in time, the human race is far from being on board in its entirety. If we’re going to have the wonderful future that I dream of, that we all dream of, we all need to make changes in our everyday life and the way we think. Each and every single one of us.
I’d like to share a poem I wrote about Buddy in February of 2012. Buddy had a habit of sitting on the top porch stair and looking out over the yard, the field, and the woods for hours at a time. The poem is my interpretation of what he thought about when he sat there. It’s called “Things I Never Had”, and is a part of my social commentary poetry series, called “Raise Your Voice.” You can find more of my creative writing on my other blog, The Quill.
Things I Never HadI dream of things I never had
On this freezing lonely night
As I cling to this life so fleeting and sad
Without these dreams I’d have no will to fight
And I’d be stiff and cold by morning light
I dream of fields, sprawling and green
Soft plumes of grass beneath weary, cracked foot pads
Forests and skies that stretch to eternities unseen
A family full of love, always glad
Each night a big warm meal to be had
I’ll make it through each long, painful day
On a stomach with no food and a heart with no love
On shaky legs and a mind that’s begun to decay
I’ll survive till dusk touches the grey sky above
So I can sleep and briefly enjoy the things I’ve been dreaming of
I dreamt of things I never had
This night sky ablaze with a million stars overhead
This field full of fireflies like lanterns gone mad
This girl beside me, who will always love me, she said
And waiting inside, that warm, soft, inviting bed
This girl, my companion, she calls me by name
Kisses that spot on my head, reminding me her love is there
Even though from those torturous years, I’m physically lame,
She hugs me goodnight and holds me when I’m scared
There’s never a day where I doubt her heart is full of care
I spend hours resting on this warped porch stair
Gazing out over all that is mine
If I died this very moment, I’d die happy and without a care
I often wonder how I stumbled into this life so fine
This family and haven where I’ll spend the remainder of my time
Sometimes I remember those dark hopeless days
All the nights when I dreamt of the things I have
Thank you for reading this freewrite. Take your pet for a walk today. Play fetch. Administer a good belly rub. Make sure the animal in your life knows that you love him or her.