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Friday, April 8, 2011

Creature Comforts

There have been so many terrible reports on-line lately about the horrific abuse to which so many animals are being subjected. Thoughts of these poor animals, most of them dogs, have filled my head at night and made it difficult to sleep.

So it was nice this morning to glimpse my older dog, Mila, snuggled on her bed in my room. Mila adores her bed and its comfy blanket, and she often can be found there during the day. Later, as I watched her drinking from a bowl of fresh water, I was reminded of the animals who were deliberately denied access to this life-giving liquid.

These little moments reminded me of things we provide for our dogs without thinking about it -- a soft bed, fresh water, good food, veterinary care, love -- that bring such comfort to our companion animals. They ask for so little. What makes some people totally incapable or unwilling to provide these simple basics?

My daughter told me recently that when I went out for a walk, Mila lay down by the front door, the last place she saw me. When I went out through the garage, she lay by the door to the garage. These actions really touched my heart, because Mila has always been rather aloof. She doesn't seek or seem to need a lot of attention. I believe she spent the first 18 months of her life without much human companionship, until I found her, pregnant and apparently abandoned, in Houston. But it is clear that she misses me when I am out of the house.

I also have noticed that when I go back to bed after my daughter leaves for school, Mila is on the bean bag in the living room. In a few minutes, I invariably hear her walk quietly into my bedroom and curl up in her bed. Should I take a nap in the afternoon, she always comes to join me. Although she loves to eat (she is, after all, a beagle/Labrador retriever mix), what she really craves is companionship.

Our nightly routine always includes spending a few minutes with Mila on her level. Although she would probably not admit it if she could, I believe she enjoys these few minutes, with me on the floor, telling her what a good girl she is and how much I love her, gently giving her an ear rub or neck massage.

I read recently about a large, severely emaciated dog that was rescued on the verge of death. In the animal ambulance on the way to veterinary treatment, the dog  would not lie down on any of the comfortable blankets spread out for her. Instead, she did her utmost to crawl onto the lap of the person riding with her. She finally settled down when the woman lay down with the dog, covering them both with a soft blanket.

The saddest pictures I have seen were not just those showing the terribly emaciated bodies of animals starved -- deliberately -- to the point of death. The saddest pictures are of dogs whose spirits are totally broken, whose eyes reveal the torment and loss of hope from which they are suffering. Looking at the hollow, empty eyes of these innocent animals, so devoid of happiness and spark, is the worst thing.

My prayer is that some day, all of our companion animals will have an abundance of the simple creature comforts they crave so badly.