The first draft of this article made no sense. There were paragraphs not gracefully flowing into the next one; it almost seemed as if they belonged in a separate article. But after carefully reading the entire piece I realized that the lack of flow was not in the article, but in humanity. It was not the article that didn’t make sense or didn’t have flow, it was the fact that as humans we don’t see the evident and daily connectivity of our world. We generally treat everything as separate, unless it has an obvious link, not realizing the connective flow everything has in our universe.
Instead of supporting our local community, whatever that might be, we spend thousands of dollars in processed foods purchased at unreasonable prices from local or chain supermarkets nearby. This crap makes us unhealthy and fat. It makes us weak. It doesn’t help our brains. It doesn’t help our developing children’s brains. But we keep doing it because it’s easy, because it’s convenient. We keep at it because it’s readily available and we have convinced ourselves that easy makes our lives better.
We have become a race complacent with crap. If it’s nicely packaged and placed in front of us, for our convenience, regardless of what it does to our bodies and to our environment, then we’re happy with the crap we are offered. It’s even better it this crap is on special, or if we can get 2-for-1 crap. So sad. I keep saying we don’t deserve our planet, and that’s not crap.
Since taking care of our own human bodies is inconsequential, we give much less importance to taking care of the creatures we choose as companions, those amazing beings that fall under the category of pets and we must register as property. After all, if our own bodies are not primordial to us, why would we care about our property?
Taking care of a pet should be as important as taking care of a child. It is sad that they are considered property and many use this unfair label as an excuse to abuse and dispose of them as they please.
I have never had a piece of property give me as much happiness and positive memories as a dog, cat, snake, bearded dragon, bird, parrot, ferrets, possums, lizards, bat, chameleon, iguana, and many others who have shared their lives with me. How can I consider any of them property? My computer chair is property. It is where I sit my ass all day to write and process orders. It is a piece of plastic that tries to hold my injured back up straight all day, despite its inability for self-thought. It does a decent job, but it doesn’t take treats or biscuits. My dogs, on the other hand, do a better job at strengthening my back than my computer chair. They engage me to take them outside, they keep me mobile, active, they keep me engaged, they keep me alive.
How can they be property?
Since we have little interest in improving our own quality of life, we treat animals much worse. It’s sad.
Last year we rescued a dog. Perhaps I should say last year we stole a dog from the street, then she rescued us. She was crossing the street, hurriedly chasing two kids riding bicycles across US1. They couldn’t have possibly cared less about her; they weren’t even paying attention to the traffic. But there she was, head on after them with all her little tank force, full throttle, no breaks. Her tits were hanging very low on the ground. She looked malnourished and had all kinds of widespread skin problems. She looked rough. But it was the look in her eyes that penetrated my soul. Her face had the most mesmerizing gaze in the world. Her eyes screamed for love and attention. I heard her loud and clear.
We busted a U-turn and asked the kids if they owned the dog. With little respect and quite dismissive, their reply was a simple “not really, she just follows us.” We inquired about them feeding her, another “my mom throws food at her sometimes.” The responses were the perfect example of why humans suck. We inquired about the puppies she evidently had recently given birth to. They said all they knew is that she had “recently been kicked out.” Same old story with these beauties, used and abused for years, then discarded. She was old, they couldn’t get any more litters out of her, so they dumped on the street where she found the good heart of two little assholes who didn’t give a damn about her, they just wanted a “tough dog” to walk with them, just not care for her. So, we took her, put her in the car, and drove away. I think I flipped the birdie out the window on the way out.
To summarize the months after she came into our lives … Princess, as they called her (and was the only thing she responded to) was a mess, we just didn’t know how bad.
While giving her a bath we realized she had given birth very recently. She still had parts of the after birth, and remnant of other tissue we didn’t care to analyze to much; it was obvious what it was.
She was petrified, frozen in fear while we were bathing her, despite our attempts at comforting her. Comfort? She had no clue what that was.
Medically, she was a disaster:
- She had canine anaplasmosis, a bacterial tick-borne disease that took a month long of antibiotics to go away.
- She had hundreds of ticks, all nicely dropped after giving her Bravecto. When I say hundreds, I mean hundreds. Our light-colored floor could barely be seen from the amount of ticks that fell off her.
- She had a BB pellet embedded in the middle of her back. It cannot be safely removed.
- She barely had any teeth. Most were missing, the rest had been filed down (to prevent her from fighting/biting back). The scars on her face answered the question as to why.
- Aside from being used as a breeder dog, she was also used as a bait dog. Her hind legs were underdeveloped. Her hips had been broken at some point. She had patches of skin missing in many areas, including half of her tail.
- She had 17 cigarette butt marks on the side of her hip.
She feared everything. She didn’t wag her tail, and didn’t understand what play meant, or a toy was. She almost died during the spaying surgery because she started bleeding. The vet stated she had massive internal trauma, common in these cases of breeder dogs. She survived, and we took her home.
Princess had been through hell.
So, we put everything into getting her happy and healthy. She learned to play, chase a ball or frisbee, and play with our other dogs. She began to wag her tail for the first time in who knows how long, and hasn’t stopped since. We took her to the vet, got her meds, and made sure she always had enough to eat, feeding her the same high-end dog food we feed the rest of our dogs. But in our rush to get her to a healthy state, we got her fat. We got her fat because we got complacent, because we decided to go for the easy items, readily accessible to us, thinking it was going to be best for all of us. The best for our schedule, for our budget, and for all the dogs. We were wrong.
We made broth at home to moist her food because she couldn’t chew the hard food. We were told to stay away from the wet food. We didn’t like it either. We thought we were doing a respectable job at taking care of Princess. We were convinced we were saving money too. Then we took her to the vet after a few months to check how everything was going. It was then that we realized that, rather than getting her to a healthy weight, we had inadvertently helped her put on so much weight that it was hurting her in other ways. Her weight made it harder to walk, run, and play, and hurt her previously broken hips. She also had arthritis.
We had to make a change. Back to the vet, who recommended cutting back on the dry dog food, and mixing it with vegetables which will fill her up and make her feel good, without making her fat. Veggies, for our Princess?
There’s a supermarket down the road, of course, but there’s a fruit and vegetable stand right across the street from our house. We are lucky to live near Florida farmland. We can stop there on the way home, or just walk across the street in the morning to pick up whatever they have that’s fresh and cheap, and throw it in a pot to boil and soften for the dogs. We give them mostly vegetables, with beef or chicken broth which we make with leftover chicken bones we cook or purchased ready-made. In this house, little goes to waste. We topped that with a third or half the dog food they had before (dogs are still obligate carnivores, they can’t be complete vegetarians). Not just Princess, but all our dogs. They all love string beans (who knew?). Butternut squash is great for everybody, but the little dogs don’t like yellow summer squash. Princess eats potatoes slowly – they’re too soft for her to devour with her broken or filed down teeth – but the little dogs love it more than they love the treats we give them. Broccoli? Carrots? Cuban sweet potato? They devour them all.
Since starting to give them vegetables, all the dogs look and feel better. Nero, the small guy who is often a finnicky eater, now digs in with gusto. In losing weight, Princess can do her adorable “I’m about to eat” dance better. It’s priceless. Previously, it wasn’t uncommon for somebody to have some type of digestive issue once every few weeks, but in the last months of feeding them vegetables they’ve had no digestive issues, and their poop always looks like it’s supposed to (don’t look at me like that; of course we pay attention to these things – you don’t?).
And the best part of all of this is that not only is this healthier for the dogs, it’s better for everybody. It’s almost no difference in work load for us: just cut up some veggies and boil them an hour or two before the dogs need to eat. And it’s cheaper. Much cheaper. A 50-pound bag of high end dog food we were buying was more than $50.00 and lasted for only a couple of weeks. Now, it lasts three times as long, and the vegetables are cheap at the supermarket, and so cheap they’re almost free when we buy them from the stand across the street. And it was all done just by shifting 30 minutes from our schedule to boil the veggies for meal time. Really, that’s all it took.
So, this leads us back to the beginning. In taking care of our dogs, we’re taking care of ourselves and our planet, and we’re supporting local small business like the lady who sells veggies across the street. We’re more engaged with our companions, paying attention to their needs rather than mindlessly scooping pellets out of a bag for them once a day, then complaining that their poop smells like shit. We’re not as reliant on commercial dog food that’s grown, processed, and manufactured halfway across the country and then transported to a large chain pet store for us. The vegetables are grown locally; we’re supporting the community and the environment in the process. And we’re taking better care of ourselves too, because buying veggies for the dogs makes it more likely that we’ll buy fresh fruits and veggies for our own meals, rather than defaulting to ready-made junk, or deciding to go grab some fast food at the last minute because we didn’t plan anything beforehand because, like many folks out there, we got sidetracked with too much work.
Ours is an interconnected world, and all of these little things add up to make a big difference. The simple act of trying to help a rescued dog stop limping because she was too fat has translated into us working to make a better planet for all of us, building community by supporting our local farmers and roadside stand operators, and making the whole family healthier to boot. Heck, even the kids are eating veggies more.
Now, I want to know, what seemingly insignificant changes have you made that have trickled down into other aspects of your lives? What small change can you make that will have a positive impact on you, your family, community, and planet? What small changes are you willing to make to ensure your pets are living healthy lives?