We first met Cain at the animal shelter in Santa Paula, Ca. We were told they had a 16-year-old Husky who needed to be placed somewhere other than in a cage in an animal shelter yet it was highly unlikely that anyone was going to adopt him. Prior to driving to Santa Paula, we were told about Cain’s recent history; that he had several medical issues as a result of reportedly being chained to a tree in a backyard for 18 months. Just the thought of any animal living life being chained to tree is heartbreaking. Frankly, from my point of view such behavior on the part of a pet owner is unconscionable. There is no defending such behavior. It is abusive. It was explained to us that a neighbor (a caring man named Richard) who had witnessed the abuse, reported it to an animal control officer and between the two of them, were able to remove Cain from this property; even though Cain’s owner was unwilling to relinquish him. That’s reasonable: The owners leave their dog chained to a tree in a backyard for so long that his spine is permanently damaged, he has developed acute arthritis in his extremities, all his fur on his neck has been rubbed off by the collar that hasn’t been removed in forever, and yet they have strong feelings about keeping him? Hmmmm.. Tune in next week for another episode of the reality show “People Behaving Badly”.
Upon being rescued from this property, Cain was taken to the Santa Paula shelter. Sometime after that we at Wise Tails were contacted about him by a wonderful, selfless individual who works within the rescue community. She explained the details and we arranged to go get him. If his days were numbered, which was reasonable to believe based on his history and being a larger dog at 16 years old, we felt it important that he spend his final days in comfort and among people and dogs that loved him. Of course, the same could be said for all dogs that grow old. In a perfect world, they would all spend their “golden years” among loved ones, being cared for with the same type of love that these seniors have shown their families throughout their entire lives. That should be written in the circle of life.
Generally, dogs don’t live as long as humans. Thus, it is often on the humans to care for these sweethearts as they grow old and develop special needs. Unfortunately, we find that this is often not the case. The care a dog receives in its senior years is directly proportional to how the owner views the relationship with his dog. Personally, I see my dogs as family. They are members of the family and also my best friends, a wonderful combination. I am guilty of what some would consider pampering my dogs. That’s ok. I don’t deny it. Through our life experiences, we have come to find out that not everyone shares this type of relationship with their dog. People are different and view things differently. In Korea, dogs are bred for purposes of being consumed by humans. People eat dog meat in Korea. As horrifying as people in other cultures and countries may find this fact (i.e. The USA), in Korea it is quite common. Clearly, many in Korea have their own unique view of dogs and their relationship to humans. While that is an extreme example of cultural differences and the varying treatment of dogs, is it any more egregious than having a “family” dog and leaving chained it to tree for 18 months? Consider the fact that owners of dogs that treat them so inhumanely generally believe that their behavior is acceptable or at the very least they are indifferent to it. While we know people have different opinions and views on almost everything, this has never been truer than in today’s society, certainly most can agree on the fact that inflicting pain and abuse on a defenseless animal with no voice is unacceptable. Those that disagree with this point may want to take a hard look in the mirror. I am speaking of the most basic and fundamental of principles: treat other living things with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, honor and humanity seem to be fleeting notions in some circles.
Getting back to Cain. Through all his challenges, he arrived at our facility with character and grace. Amazingly, Cain always seemed to have a smile on his face. Due to his arthritis, his walk was slow yet always seemed to be with a purpose. Cain reminded me of my old man: Physical challenges and pain, yet you never hear him complain about anything. That is how Cain carried himself. His demeanor and honorable way of being had, and will continue to have, an impact on those of us who spent time with him. His life with us at Wise Tails was a wonderful example of resiliency and great spirit. We love and thank him for that. There is so much we can learn from dogs: forgiveness, trust, humility, gratitude, unconditional love, staying present and living in the moment. Experiencing Cain during the last two months of his life taught me a great deal.