The Dog in the Polish Village

ID-10025746 I have no name, but that doesn’t bother me.  What is a name anyway?  I live in the woods near the farmhouse at the edge of the village they call Pierzwin.  The little girl lives in the farmhouse.  She’s small, so small, and toddles when she walks.  She is mine, this I know.  I am hers.  This she knows. The one who doesn’t know is the old woman with whom the girl lives.  The girl must always beg for a scrap of bread for me, which the woman throws far from the farmhouse door, as though this would keep me away from the girl.

When I first saw the little girl playing along the edge of the creek, I knew she was mine to watch over.  She was stooped down looking at a rock, the sun glinting off her flax-colored hair.  I stood downstream, regarding her.  The girl looked up at me and laughed.  I can still hear the sound—like a thin, golden strand twirling up into the air.  I walked to her and nuzzled into the crook of her arm.  She laughed again, breathing sweet breath on me.

Today everything is different.

Yesterday as the day darkened, the little girl played alone in the farmyard.  Snow started, then grew heavy, swirling from every direction.  Instead of going inside, the girl toddled toward the woods.  I watched the farmhouse door to see if the old woman would call for her.  She did not. I followed the girl, a few feet behind her, whining and willing her to turn back.

She meandered to the edge of the creek.  Looking up at the sky, she stuck out her tongue to catch the snowflakes, lost her balance, and slipped down the steep slope toward the water.  I caught the edge of her skirt in my teeth but it did not stop her.  The cloth ripped, the water splashed, and the girl cried.  I leapt to her.  She took hold of my fur, and I pulled us up the slope.

I tried to lead her to the farmhouse, but she turned the other way.  I barked for her to follow me, but she kept her course, away.  I followed.  At the edge of the woods I tried to steer her back, but she sat down, shivering.  I took the arm of her coat gently between my teeth and tugged, but she lay down and cried.  I peered into the darkness.  Was there no one who would come for her?  I thought to run to the farmhouse door and bark, but I couldn’t leave her.  I lay down, circling myself around her small body, willing her shivering to stop.  More snow came.  The girl slept, and so, eventually, did I.

At first light, I heard the calls.  I nosed the girl awake and barked, again and again.  The girl sat up.  I nosed her again: call out, cry out.  She sat mute.  I continued barking.  I sensed the footfalls on the earth before I saw the people.  I ran to the men, then sprinted back and forth between the men and the girl, trying to tell them.  They followed me.  A man scooped the girl into his arms and carried her away.  I stood watching for a few moments then, hanging back, followed.

The old woman ran from the farmhouse door and grasped the girl.  There were so many people, so much noise.  I watched, then retreated.  As I walked into the woods I heard a whistle.  Looking over my shoulder, I saw a man coming toward me.  I thought to dash away, but something in his manner seemed gentle.  I sat down and waited for him to approach.  He extended his hand for me to sniff and touched my head.  “It was you,” he said, “you are the one.  Come.”

I walked a few respectful paces behind him.  We entered the farmyard.  The man said some words to the old woman.  She studied me, then opened the door wide and with a sweep of her hand asked me to enter the farmhouse.  I looked into her eyes for a moment, and then stepped inside to warmth.

 

German shepherd photo by Maggie Smith

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Spay/Neuter and Vaccinate a Street Dog in India

India dogsfrom http://www.animalrescuesite.greatergood.com

Despite some of the strictest animal welfare laws in the world, thanks to its ancient spiritual philosophy of ahimsa (non-harming), India teems with animals on its streets, particularly dogs. With each litter born on the streets, canine overpopulation worsens, leading to malnutrition, untreated injuries, and the spread of disease, especially rabies.

Vishaka Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) works to reduce the overpopulation of street dogs. In cooperation with the local government, VSPCA vaccinates against rabies and spays or neuters loose dogs. VSPCA’s veterinarians use sterile techniques, pre- and post-operation pain control, and gas anesthesia when possible.

Unlike pet dogs which owners bring in and take home after the operation, street dogs need to be humanely caught and kept for several days while they heal from their surgery, then brought back to the same place for release. This is a very specific practice that has to be done absolutely right — dogs haphazardly released into the wrong neighborhood can be killed by other resident dogs.

VSPCA’s program is one of the most advanced in India, and sterilizes an average of 40 dogs a day when operated by four veterinarians. All these dogs are vaccinated against rabies, and their ears are notched for identification and protection.

VSPCA is a growing and struggling operation that also provides emergency animal care and shelter. No other similar services for injured street animals exist in the area.

You can help VSPCA in its vital work. This Gift That Gives More™ vaccinates and spays/neuters a street dog in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

https://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/store/ars/item/31709/?adId=131065&placementId=362707&origin=

25 Ways to Help Animals & the Humane Society International

From helping animals affected by disasters, providing care for starving street dogs in India and elsewhere, making strides for animals in laboratories, factory farms, puppy mills, and so much more, Humane Society International (HSI) is working to protect animals around the world Please visit their site and consider a small holiday donation in honor of someone you love.   Thank you.  http://bit.ly/1g9QZhL

child with dog ID-10023413

25 Actions to Help Animals and HSI

There are many ways to show that you care.  Get involved, make a difference.  Here are 25 ideas for ways you can help animals locally and around the world.

With so many widespread problems facing animals, it takes all of our collective efforts to confront cruelty and change things for the better.

Get involved in your community

  • Write letters to the editor on animal protection issues and encourage radio and television talk shows to cover these topics (hsi.org is a great resource for information).
  • Approach your place of worship about engaging in animal protection issues. See what the HSUS Faith Outreach team has been doing for ideas.
  • Help feral cats in your neighborhood with the HSUS’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) resources.
  • Ask your local restaurants and grocery stores to switch to cage-free eggs, and to protect seals by boycotting Canadian seafood.
  • Take a stand against puppy mills and encourage local stores that sell live animals to stop. Ask pet stores to work with animal welfare organizations to promote animals available for adoption.
  • Promote Meatless Mondays in your school, workplace cafeteria, or in your favorite restaurant. It’s a campaign that’s good for animals, the environment, and our health.

Help animals in your everyday life

  • Be a responsible pet owner. Have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted births. Put a collar and visible identification on your dogs and cats and encourage others to do the same. And keep your cats safe indoors.
  • Avoid supporting cruelty as “entertainment.” Do not attend bullfights, bull fiestas, or marine mammal shows.
  • Add an HSI video to your website, blog, or social networking page.
  • Educate yourself by signing up for email action alerts and news from HSI. Share emails with friends.
  • Adopt a friend for life from a local animal shelter or foster an animal waiting for a permanent home. Search World Animal Net’s directory and choose “Pet Adoption” or “Foster Homes” under “Select Focus or Activity.” If you live in the U.S., search The Shelter Pet Project.
  • “Like” HSI on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  • Eat with conscience. Practice the 3 Rs of eating. Reduce your consumption of meat and other animal-based foods, refine your diet by avoiding animal products derived from factory farming, and replace meat and other animal-based foods with vegetarian options.
  • Pledge to be cruelty-free and only purchase cosmetics that are certified [PDF] to be non-animal-tested.
  • Support compassion in fashion by consulting the Fur-Free Retailer program’s list of fur-free retailers, designers, and brands and The HSUS’s guide [PDF] to telling real fur from fake.
  • Prepare a disaster kit for you and your animals.
  • Make compassionate purchasing decisions while traveling and at home with the help of our Don’t Buy Wild guide.
  • Ask restaurants that serve shark fin soup to stop by providing restaurant managers with our Consumer Cards.
  • Make a personal annual gift to HSI or sign up for an automatic monthly pledge using your credit card.
  • Share this list with family members and friends so they can learn how their actions can help animals, too.

Participate in trainings and events

Volunteer for animals

  • Offer your time and skills to your local animal welfare/protection organization. A useful resource is the World Animal Net directory. Do make sure you are comfortable with the positions and actions of any group you volunteer for. You can also volunteer ”virtually” for groups anywhere in the world!!
  • Some ways you may be able to help animal protection organizations: fundraise, manage their website or social media presence, design and produce flyers and/or advertisements, set up a community education booth [PDF], or take photographs of animals available for adoption.

Reach out to youth and schools

  • Teach children and teens to respect animals with humane education activities and lesson plans. Lead Mission: Humane projects for students and animal clubs who want to help animals.
  • Provide classrooms and youth clubs with our How to Avoid Dog Bites booklet [PDF]
  • Give talks at local schools about factory farming and how students can help animals at every meal by avoiding factory farmed products, and by choosing cage-free eggs and plant-based foods. Encourage them to ask their cafeterias to go cage-free and to adopt Meatless Monday.

Information from http://www.hsi.org and letter from Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of HSI Canada on My Life’s Work – Helping Animals

Photograph of Child with Dog courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and photographer Ashley Cox