Here, in our little corner of this vast, wide world, winter has been particularly bleak.
Now, I love winter, more so than high summer, however, we’ve had endlessly wet, grey days, with icy blasts from the south west that would make an Emperor Penguin feel perfectly at home.
Sadly though, the same can’t be said for so many animals that have to endure less than comfortable conditions in their short lives. Hungry, abused and neglected, the winter extremes are miserable for them as they try to find whatever little nook they can – if they can – to avoid the bone deep chills that come up from the ground and air around them.
Man has “domesticated” once wild, yet trusting, creatures so that they formed strong bonds, and on whom they rely heavily for nourishment and comfort. Many are very fortunate, and live well with their humans. But, too many aren’t.
Recently, I was snuggled up in bed with Jack beside me one frosty, foggy morning.
I watched him as he slept. His amber tinted paws and velvety black ears twitching in a doggy dream.
Daring not to disturb his deep slumber, I whispered, “you are one of the lucky ones, my baby”.
I mentally counted his “resting stations” throughout the house. Soft, comfy spots to ensure he has a place to ease his old bones. There are six.
Not including our bed. To a dog and a cat, this revered of all domains, is pride of place in the home. The inner sanctum where the heads of their tribe sleep.
When hubby gets up (usually around 4:30am), Jack leaves his plump bed by my dresser and comes to the side of our bed to be picked up, where he’ll curl contentedly next to me as I snooze for a little while longer.
A little after dawn that morning, I woke and stared through the window at the trees outside as heavy fog gripped their branches with misty tendrils. I thought about how animals are faring “out there” in the cold, while we lay toasty and warm.
A luxury often taken for granted.
I believe in synchronicity.
And, on that day, I saw a plea for bedding donations on the Pet’s Haven Animal Shelter facebook page.
This spurred me to search online for doonas/duvets. Even though markets have been few and far between in the winter, I decided that the pennies I’d been squirreling away for a rainy day (I was saving for some kitchen utensils), should be used for a better purpose instead.
And this, was that rainy day.
I saw Kmart was selling cosy and washable bedding at great prices.
So, my son (home on term break) and I took a trip there, and came out with an armload of S/B doonas and a snuggly pet bed.
Score another point for synchronicity…
I very rarely go to shopping malls or chain stores like Kmart. So, what were the chances that I would bump into a friend, who I hadn’t seen since Christmas – outside that very store that I rarely go to, at that very moment on that particular day? My friend said that she herself rarely went to this store also.
It just so happens that she “owes” me twelve dollars. I was never interested in having it paid back. I told her all those months ago, that she could “buy me a coffee”, whenever we caught up again.
As my friend pulled the money from her purse, I said I’d be ever grateful if she would go back in and pick up a dog bed instead. I told her with a smile, “then, we’re square”. Done.
And so, with cushiony billows of warmth, my son and I headed home.
Are these all for me, mum?
No sweetie, they go to those less fortunate than you :)
Pet's Haven Animal Shelter is a non-government funded, “pro life” organization that rescues and re-homes cats and dogs of all ages that would otherwise have no future - or a very bleak one. Volunteers and foster carers offer their time and love freely in the hope of giving these animals a better chance to live a long, and most importantly, happy life with loving families. Their site regularly posts updates and “happy home tails” of cats and dogs in their new, forever homes.
Seeing as Pet’s Haven is a two hour drive from home, I considered taking our donated bedding to one of their “drop off points”. But, when I told hubby of my plans that evening, he chipped in with, “I’ll take you to the shelter on the weekend. It’ll be a nice drive and we can get coffee after”. Sweet.
We set out for the country town of Woodend on Sunday. When we dropped off our bundle of bedding, I asked one of the volunteers if it would be alright to say hello to the cats and dogs awaiting adoption, and asked for permission to take pictures.
Walking around the cages and enclosures, our hearts grew heavy.
To think these beautiful creatures were once malnourished, abused, neglected, or awaiting time on the pound’s death row, before being taken in by this generous shelter, fed and cared for, ready for adoption.
Staring out at us, there was a glimmer in their eyes - a soul's spark, with an unending capacity to please and to love.
Even now, after all they have been through.
Fighting the rising lump in his throat, hubby could take it no longer and told me he’d wait outside until I was ready to leave.
As it was the middle of the day, quite a few were snoozing and not interested in coming forward. They looked so peaceful.
Some of the more energetic little dogs were being prepared for a walk.
I continued on.
Then, I saw this gentle young lady named, Zoe.
Instantly, she captured my heart with an endearing look of hope that I might well be her new family. And, it nearly killed me to know that I couldn’t bring her home.
I sat with her for the longest time. She would make such a lovely companion. She has trust in her heart, regardless of the circumstances which led her to be rescued.
The look in her eyes haunts me still. I was awake at 1:30 this morning, crying. Thinking of her.
There was a connection. Turning my back and leaving was so very difficult.
I walked out into the grey winter light, blinking back tears.
Hubby and I drove in silence, as we searched for a place to sit and collect ourselves. Coffee - good coffee - helps at times like these.
It was a rather solemn drive home.
Our “doona run to Woodend”, will become a ritual journey at the beginning of every winter from now on, along with donations to help out whenever I can.
If anyone has old quilts, blankets, pillows, cushions or towels - please, please consider gifting them to your local animal shelter. There are many ways to support them. I know most people who read my blog already do, I’m sure, and have opened their hearts to a lucky orphan or two. Homeless no more. Most shelters rely on the kindness of good folk to help, in any way they can. Every little bit helps, as the costs of food, shelter, transport, advertising and veterinary bills continue to rise at an alarming rate.
Saving one animal will not change the world.
But for that one animal, the world will change forever.
Photo credit: Ari S. Friedlaender/Oregon State University
On April 1st 2014, Australia (and the world) celebrated “an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean”. I rejoiced at this news, but deep down, I felt uneasy.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), demanded Japan cease its whaling program "with immediate effect" as it didn't comply with the country's obligations under the international whaling convention. Japan stated that it was "deeply disappointed" that the UN's top court ruled in favour of Australia by declaring its Southern Ocean whale hunt illegal, but nevertheless insisted it would abide by the decision.
However my heart is heavy. I find it hard to comprehend in the light of the not altogether surprising, but still depressing, confirmation by Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, during his current visit to Australia and New Zealand, that Japan would continue its whaling program in the Southern Ocean.
The whaling wars down under will continue, as Japan navigates the loophole and structures a new research program, despite the ICJ ruling calling the previous Jarpa II research program “a sham”, and simply a guise for commercial whaling.
Photo credit: Ho New/Reuters
Mr Abe said, “One of the objectives of the international convention for regulating whaling is indeed a sustainable use of resources. Based on this, Japan will engage in research of whaling in order to collect the indispensable scientific information in order to manage the whale resources”.
What the fuck?
Makes no sense.
The fact that the Australian Antarctic Territory is a declared and established sanctuary, seems of no consequence.
And, despite pre-election promises to the contrary, whaling was not on this political agenda, as Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, chose to avoid the "thorny issue".
Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson has said, "I don't think Tony Abbott cares for the whales one bit."
Mr Abbott said this week, that the friendship between Japan and Australia was, "far, far bigger than our disagreement on one particular subject". "Friends can disagree on subjects and that's in no way inconsistent with a strong and growing friendship."
What’s a few dead whales between friends, eh Tony?
Mr Abe said, "Our countries both love peace. We value freedom and democracy and we hold human rights and the rule of law dear," and called the relationship "special".
So, I suppose animals have no rights then, Mr Abe? And, rules are meant to be bent or broken to suit.
I call bullshit on both of you.
It’s clearly obvious that trade agreements are far more important than the respect of conservationists worldwide. Of course they are, what am I thinking?
Political power and economics rule.
The World Wildlife Fund has stated that the International Whaling Commission should reject any new proposal from Japan to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary near Antarctica.
In the meantime, it’s once again up to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and its valiant, unfailing volunteers and supporters, to defend the whales, harass the whalers and ensure no money is made from the Japanese commercial whaling expeditions in the Southern Ocean. "Scientific" or otherwise.
Because, "the tables are turned, they're the ones who are the criminals".
The world will be watching.
Photo credit: Isabel Ender
Along with fighting the Western Australian government’s application to extend the shark drum line policy and continue the barbaric, controversial shark cull - which has been strongly opposed by hundreds of the world’s top marine scientists and researchers - Sea Shepherd continues to lead global campaigns to protect, defend and conserve the world’s oceans.
"We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean. If our oceans die, we die."
~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd
best kind of pirate… fierce defender of the oceans.
I make NO
apologies for including some of these images. They are the truth in
pictures. If they offend, click away. If
they anger and inflame your sense of justice for what is happening in our
oceans, please consider supporting Sea Shepherd – International or Australia.