by Cathy Fugler,
Communications Director of Niagara Falls Humane Society
Do you have a dog? Is there anything better than that four legged happy dance at the end of a long day? Or a purring lapful of fur? Who doesn’t love the unselfconscious enthusiasm and outpouring of unconditional love? An amazing gift in a busy world, that’s for sure. Having a pet can bring so much to anyone’s life. Your animal can comfort you when you are sad or upset, and they are always on your side. When you’re happy, they share your mood. They help you not to feel lonely and they can help you stay active (by begging mercilessly for walks). Your pets will forgive you when you’re cranky, will help you reduce your stress levels, and will be faithful companions when you’re sick. Children raised with pets learn gentleness, kindness, patience and tolerance. They learn to speak for and look after someone more vulnerable than themselves. They learn that everyone is different, and special.
The animals that come in to our local shelter often have a sad, sometimes tragic story, and they usually come in through no fault of their own. Dogs that are so neglected that their breed is unrecognizable. Dogs that are so afraid that they tremble when spoken to. Cats that hide away, wide eyed with fear. Too often we see that the pet owners have been cruel, negligent, or too wrapped up in their own problems to care about the suffering of their animals.
The flipside of that is that we also see what is possible with patience and kindness. We see people who come in to adopt an animal and deliberately choose the scared, challenging or abused ones. They have faith in their ability to help the troubled animal and confidence in the outcome of the adoption. Very often we hear from these families because they love to tell their success stories and always, we hear how much the animal has brought to their lives. It makes you feel that anything is possible with enough time and caring and belief.
I think of that observation made by Gandhi that says “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If all vulnerable creatures in our community could be treated with understanding and support and acceptance, so much could change. Animal or human, can’t we just respect and care for each other?
For years my parents had a pair of little birds that would come in the spring and build a nest in a corner of their front porch. Once they started building, we all knew that there was no more using the front door. Everyone who visited knew to come to the side door, so as not to disturb “the birdies”. We laughed about it, but we all dutifully followed the rules, and felt good about respecting these small creatures, and not scaring them. We admired their solid little nest, counted the babies and watched their progress in growing and leaving the nest. What lessons! Respect and kindness, patience and acceptance.
It is amazing to me to witness how forgiving and resilient animals can be, even when they have been treated very badly. We had a very sad, scared, neglected little dog at the shelter. During her lunch hour, when she could be just taking a breath, our vet tech sat with her, cuddled her until she stopped shaking, and let her know she was safe. That wee dog could be snappy and aggressive. Who would have blamed her? But instead, she allowed herself to trust again, and is showing love and affection to anyone who offers it to her. Amazing.
Spend some time with an animal. Let them teach you a thing or two.
Cathy Fugler is the Communications Director at the Niagara Falls Humane Society.
Her passion and dedication to NFHS is truly inspiring and Embrace Niagara is ecstatic to have her contributing to our website.
We look forward to a wonderful adventure together!
Niagara Falls Humane Society
The Niagara Falls Humane Society helps find loving homes for unwanted and mistreated animals, as well as trying its best to reunite lost pets with their rightful owners.
The NFHS provides a safe haven for pets in limbo, before they are placed in a new home. The Society tries to alleviate the suffering of all animals and to eliminate euthanasia as a method of population control for pets. At the NFHS, no healthy adoptable animal will ever be euthanised.