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One Woman's Opinion

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Speaking for Dogs

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Have you ever been to a dog shelter and seen the many homeless dogs? It’s a heartbreaking sight. As one walks through the lineup of pens filled to the brim with every breed or mix of dogs known to mankind, the most pitiful expressions stare back from behind the mesh fencing.

Those who love dogs and come from a long tradition of being loved by dogs really suffer at the sight. When I first visited our homeless dogs at the Middlesex Animal Facility, I unabashedly burst into tears. I saw the many dogs I have loved in my lifetime, for all dogs are the same, and the thought that any would have ever been homeless was upsetting. Since Man’s Best Friend cannot speak (or weep) for himself, I will try to speak for him.

The plight of homeless dogs is known everywhere. Some societies revere dogs, mostly from nations that we know today that make up “Western Civilization.” Yet, some societies have no interest in dogs. A dog can be kicked, spurned and even, alas, eaten.

The problem is there are more dogs in the world than good homes to care for them. Some areas are making great strides in controlling dog (and cat) populations by spaying and neutering them before they are adopted or fostered to new homes.

Many pets are simply abandoned when their owners move and must suddenly fend for themselves. They are fortunate if a kind neighbor takes them in. Others spend their last days slowly starving to death or finally being hit by an automobile while walking the highways looking for a scrap of food.

Dogs are often “dumped” off somewhere by heartless owners. On walks in Urbanna (Sundays especially were a day for unwanted dogs to be dropped off), I would notice abandoned pregnant dogs and puppies outside Urbanna United Methodist Church. I suppose such scoundrels hoped church-goers would pick up a puppy and take it home when they came out of church? I would bet over the years the Methodists have saved many a stray dog. 

The same thing happens with cats. The late Agnes Taylor, once a neighbor of mine, loved cats and could never turn one away from her door. Diane Ward, who also cares for cats, has saved many over the years. God bless these wonderful, big-hearted people who save a place in their lives to take in and care for stray animals.

Greece, the cradle of our Western Civilization, set a gold standard for taking care of dogs. I visited Greece several years ago and was thrilled to find homeless dogs freely walking and happily living their lives on the streets in downtown Athens. The Greeks simply sterilize their homeless dogs and allow them to live out their lives freely and outside of pens.

Every business, restaurant and hotel had their share of homeless dogs to feed and water each day. I loved it. I could sit on the front steps of the Five Star Britannia Hotel at any time of day or night and pet “their dogs,” and I never ate an Italian dinner in a bistro or café without a dog nosing my foot under the table. 

Middlesex is fortunate to have a beautiful animal facility at Cooks Corner that can care for as many as 26 homeless dogs at one time. The county also contributes money each year to the Gloucester- Mathews-Middlesex Animal Shelter that helps us handle our stray animals.

Of course, homeless dogs that have been taken to a shelter are really fortunate. They are spared dying of thirst and hunger or being hit by a car. At the Middlesex shelter, they are cared for partly by contributions to Dog Friends. They are fed, treated for heartworms and other ailments, neutered, and have a good chance to find a new home. 

Our county loves dogs. The Middlesex Animal Facility had over 100 people show up at its recent open house and as a result has placed six dogs into good homes. One dog, Rufus, a handsome, gentle, full-blooded hound who found a new home, was one of the adorable four dogs featured in the Dog Friends ad in the Sentinel last month.

I well remember Rufus. He loved to be petted. He was so happy to be out of his pen when a Dog Friend volunteer came by to take him for a walk, he actually trembled from stem to stern.

The good news is someone fell in love with Rufus at the open house and adopted him. Rufus can’t speak (but he can tremble) so I will speak for him. (I’d be glad to tremble for him, too.) Thank you, you kind soul, you, who gave Rufus a new home.


Join Dog Friends for just $5. Make check payable to “Friends for Life” and mail to Mary Buxton, P.O. Box 488, Urbanna, VA 23175.

posted 11.20.2013

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