A tale of two pets - and their different treatment

Bob
Bob Wakeham
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Only days after seeing those stomach-churning pictures of the emaciated remains of a dog that had starved to death in a house in Dunville, my wife and I had to say a tearful goodbye to an aging but still beautiful beagle - two dramatically contrasting stories and substantive examples of the fact that life can be a real crap shoot for pets.

Clover, our magnificent dog, never had a hand laid on her in anger during the 13-plus years she lived with us in a hillside home in Flatrock. She had nearly an acre of fenced-in land to roam at will, and could stretch out on a warm, inviting couch with a great view of the ocean during her frequent, mid-afternoon siestas. The choice was all hers.

Only days after seeing those stomach-churning pictures of the emaciated remains of a dog that had starved to death in a house in Dunville, my wife and I had to say a tearful goodbye to an aging but still beautiful beagle - two dramatically contrasting stories and substantive examples of the fact that life can be a real crap shoot for pets.

Clover, our magnificent dog, never had a hand laid on her in anger during the 13-plus years she lived with us in a hillside home in Flatrock. She had nearly an acre of fenced-in land to roam at will, and could stretch out on a warm, inviting couch with a great view of the ocean during her frequent, mid-afternoon siestas. The choice was all hers.

That poor unfortunate creature in Dunville, on the other hand, must have lived the life from hell; the fact that the owner left the animal tethered to a heavy appliance to die a slow, tortuous, horrific death, would lead one to believe the abandonment was not an aberration.

But the owner, if convicted of any crime, will probably get a slap on the wrist, accompanied by one of those inconsequential "stern warnings" from a judge to go forth and sin no more.

The reaction from government to the appalling image of the dead dog was predictable: tougher laws are going to be passed, it declared, abusers of animals are going to pay from now on. The Williams crowd, with its spotlight in search of a motherhood issue to exploit (as are all governments, of all stripes, at all times), jumped at the opportunity to come across as having St. Francis Assisi as its patron saint, to leave the impression that all Tory MHAs gather once a week to watch endless reruns of "The Dog Whisperer" and read "All Creatures Great and Small" to their youngsters.

What they conveniently forgot to mention, though, was that mistreatment of so-called "pets" has been with us since Old Yeller was a pup. Locally, at the CBC and The Telegram, in particular, the places I know best, there are stockpiled stories equal in depravity to that incident in Dunville. And Tory and Liberal cabinets alike reacted over the years with tokenism.

Overdue

But any dog lover will have to concede that tougher laws are still welcome and are long overdue. That legislation, though, had better have the kind of teeth it's being ballyhooed to have, and provide for onerous fines, jail terms for the most hideous of crimes, or for repeat offenders, and an order preventing the convicted from ever owning a dog or cat again.

There was a predictable backlash, as well, last week from some who wondered about the priorities of those clamouring to tar and feather abusers of animals. Where are those animal lovers, they asked, when human beings are being cruelly mistreated? Well, I can only speak for myself, and say that I've always been there to document man's sometimes incredulous exploitation of the weak in our society; it's a crucial element in the journalistic mandate.

But I'm confused as to how my anger over the abuse of domesticated animals somehow puts my priorities out of whack. Perhaps you have to own a dog, enjoy a lifetime bond with a dog, to "get it," as the young people say today.

In any case, I'd like to return to the story of Clover, the epitome of low maintenance, a dog who stayed close to me and Heather. She was somewhat aloof with others. And that was fine with us.

Clover was amazingly healthy most of her life, until old age and arthritis started to take its toll. And when she screamed in pain whenever I lifted her off the bed or couch, it was time.

We held Clover while the vet, a young but empathetic doctor, gave her a sedative, and five minutes later - an eternity, it seemed - put her out of her misery.

And we cried.

Then we took Clover home to Flatrock and buried her next to a clump of trees in our yard.

That particular spot provides a grand view of the ocean.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by e-mail at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Dunville, Flatrock, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Yvette
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Bob. I know exactly how you feel. I get it. I didn't have a Clover but I did have a Duke and I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn't get easier but a little more bearable as time goes on. Another pet will help or in my case, two - a friend for the other. So glad to hear there are people like me who are not afraid to publicly say how they feel and how much they hurt....ps We cried too.

  • Ursula
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    The tears that my family have cried for our beloved cats and dogs over the years would fill a large bucket . We have recently lost our cat of 24 years and our 4 year old ,blind mixed breed . I am not sure how we will ever replace those two . We have four lovely dogs remaining . They have a kennel of 300 sq.ft. and ten acres of forested land they
    call home . We make our own dog food and treats . Lots of work for us, but a virtual paradise for them .

  • Yvette
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Bob. I know exactly how you feel. I get it. I didn't have a Clover but I did have a Duke and I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn't get easier but a little more bearable as time goes on. Another pet will help or in my case, two - a friend for the other. So glad to hear there are people like me who are not afraid to publicly say how they feel and how much they hurt....ps We cried too.

  • Ursula
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    The tears that my family have cried for our beloved cats and dogs over the years would fill a large bucket . We have recently lost our cat of 24 years and our 4 year old ,blind mixed breed . I am not sure how we will ever replace those two . We have four lovely dogs remaining . They have a kennel of 300 sq.ft. and ten acres of forested land they
    call home . We make our own dog food and treats . Lots of work for us, but a virtual paradise for them .