For those who follow our editorials, they will attest to a definite bias towards advocating for large dogs. My affinity for Pit Bull type dogs and large, forgotten dogs is apparent through my writing and posts. And while the mandate of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is to advocate for the welfare of all animals, my exposure and attraction to large dogs has limited the exposure other creatures have received.
Over the year and half that I have been volunteering at Richmond Animal Protection Society I have not once walked a small dog, nor have I cleaned out any of the kitty litter boxes or rabbit homes. I will stop and say hello to a kitten, whose paws are stretching out through the kennel as I walk by and I did stop by and visit a rabbit who had just given birth, but for the most part, when I arrive on Sunday mornings, I say hello to the staff and go directly to the large dog kennels.
This morning was different.
This morning I arrived earlier than usual. Staff were just arriving and I was greeted at the door by a small pack of small dogs. I sat down to greet them and as four of them huddled around me to get my attention, a very timid creature kept peeking out around the gate. She would start to walk over and then retreat back in fear. This dance continued for about 20 minutes.
What is her story? I asked.
Chutney was picked up as a stray and it is believed that she was used her entire life to breed and was dumped once she got too old to breed. She is approximately seven years old, has not been spayed and most likely, until the day she was dumped, alone on the street, she had never been outside.
The first week Chutney was at the shelter, she cowered in a corner and did everything she could to just hide away from everything and everyone. That changed when two chihuahua x puppies were dumped at a nearby park and brought to the Shelter. These rambunctious and outgoing pups, Pebbles and Bam Bam, along with the other local residents have been critical in helping Chutney come out of her shell. And while she is still fearful, she is displaying curiosity and finds comfort in a lap.
Comfort in a lap
Instead of heading straight to the large dog kennels, I picked Chutney up, sat on a chair and held her on my lap. It did not take her long to realize that she was safe and she curled up and let out a deep sigh. That is when my heart exploded and there we sat for next half an hour. I did not want to let her go….ever.
While I was sitting with Chutney, it struck me. It’s the lives of creatures such as her, that we are fighting to save. Animals who have been acquired for the sole purpose of breeding and then discarded when they are no longer of any use. The fact that she was found in Richmond (the first city to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores) highlights the fact that ending the sale of animals in pet stores is not enough. We must educate the public about the consequences of buying animals on line and in newspapers. We must continue to advocate for adoption and we must support the local shelters and rescue groups who care for the ones ‘lucky’ enough to be given a second chance.
As the time passed, I did manage to get to the kennels and walk a couple of dogs….two of my favourites, Nikki and Rex, but before I left for the day I said good bye to Chutney. Again, I sat on the floor with her and she curled on my lap. When I got up to go, she looked up at me with eyes that just about broke me. And I silently thanked her for the opportunity to give her comfort and prayed that she would soon find a quiet home with someone who can make up for all the years she lived alone, most likely in a kennel and without human affection.