PRESIDENTIAL DOGS AND SECOND CHANCES

The (usually) dynamic duo

Buried among more serious and newsworthy news, a short piece on President Obama who took the time to call the Eagles’ owner to congratulate him on giving Michael Vick a second chance caught my attention. Not because I am an Eagles’ fan or even because I  follow football (I don’t even know what a quarterback does) but because I love dogs.

Mr. Vick  payed for his…how shall we call them?…mistakes by doing jail time, being trashed in the media and hopefully learnt his lesson and he probably deserves a second chance at his chosen profession but should our President really  spend five minutes of his busy day worrying about or congratulating Michael Vick?!

The media attention Mr. Vick’s crime attracted focussed, for a while, on the bigger and subterranean problem of dog abuse in particular and animal abuse in general. Illegal dog fights were spotlighted and subsequent stories on how Mr. Vicks’s dogs were faring kept the interest going for a while. By the way, for those of you who lived on Easter Island a few years ago with no access to the news, Michael Vick is a football player who used to run illegal dogfights on his estate where dozens of abused dogs were found and rescued, together with the corpses of dogs that were hung, electrocuted and otherwise tortured. His pit-bulls were, understandably, less than social and trainers at the Best Friend Society have been working with them to rehabilitate wherever possible and find them loving families.

I just feel that Mr. Obama could have done a better public service in rescuing a dog when the time came to adopt Bo – Mr. Vicks’ dogs were extreme example of abuse but by no means the only ones. Thousands of dogs each year are put to death in shelters for lack of homes willing to take them. Yes, a rescued dog presents some disadvantages – it’s hard to find six months old puppies, they might come with minor conditions like kennel cough or mange due to malnutrition and neglect and some might have some psychological disorders. On the upside, a responsible shelter will always try to pair you with a dog suitable to your needs and a one or two-year old puppy is most likely housebroken – above all, once you establish a relationship, he (or she) will never ever betray you, will never run away and will always show you in a million ways how grateful he is for the chance you have given him.

My first dog came from a breeder – son of champions, we got him at 3 months and he grew into a beauty. I loved him to death because he was the first, he was smart, quirky, moody and affectionate. After his death, I started rescuing. My boxers might not win any prizes in canine competitions – Ottie doesn’t even have a cropped tail – but they are adorably cute and love me in such an unselfish and grateful manner that melts my heart every day. They are still mischievous and, at times, closely related to Dennis the Menace, but I know they appreciate every single meal, every hug, every hike in a way store-bought dogs don’t. I will never know what their life pre-me was – I can tell by his behaviour that Ottie lived outside for quite some time and when he first arrived here, he suffered from pretty severe separation anxiety. Portia had horrible mange and sports a scar on her face I will never find the origin of. Still, a little patience went a long way. Healthy and happy they were the best addition to my life. I hope Mr. Vicks’ dogs will also get a second chance (and maybe a phone call from Mr. Obama).

 

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