Needy Dogs are All Around Us

I seldom repeat a column, but this is such a current problem, by request, I am sharing it again (originally published in 2012).



As Iowa weather grows colder, I would like to share an observation by Cherine Bissinger:

“As the weather turns nasty, I cannot suppress my deep feelings of desperation for the countless animals forced to endure a torturous existence with owners who willfully neglect or casually ignore the basic needs of their four-footed companions. Every day I am surrounded by humans who never extend an act of kindness toward voiceless, living creatures. Driving to work, I am horrified by the sight of helpless animals without any visible shelter. ‘What is the matter with us?’ I think to myself. ‘How can we allow such suffering?’ As I drive into town I see total disregard for decency and blatant lack of compassion for animal welfare, and as I park my car at work, my attention is drawn to the sight of a dog wagging his tail. The sun has barely risen, and the home where the dog is tied is dark. Apparently this innocent dog has spent the night outside in the blustery wind and cold, while his humans slept contentedly indoors, apparently oblivious of the painful effects of such inhumanity. I walk toward the dog, and he jumps up as much as the length of his chain will permit. He is shivering wildly, and I whisper words of comfort to the dog. I tell him how sorry I am for his predicament, and regretfully turn to walk into my workplace. Each step I take away from the dog, I imagine his desolate look of devastation for having been forgotten and ignored. I think of the thousands of animals suffering in silence. Life is unjust, and like the neglected animals, I feel helpless. When will things change? Feeble anti-cruelty laws, little enforcement of existing laws, and most of all public apathy are overwhelming. What has happened to us as human beings that we can ignore the plight of so many animals?”

We are all aware of dogs in our own neighborhoods who are not enjoying a good life. Maybe their caregivers don’t even realize that their dog is suffering. Without being judgmental, perhaps you could suggest ways to make life better. If you feel the dog is in danger, report it to the authorities, and follow up to be sure that appropriate action is taken. Each of us has a circle of compassion: the people and animals and things that we care about, that emotionally affect us. It may be our own family, our own friends, and our own pets, but not the family, friends, or pets belonging to others. It may be those just in our own comfort zone. Essentially, we all need the same things as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion: compassion, intelligence, and the courage to make the world a better place for both humans and animals. May we all strive to expand our circle of compassion.



by Albert Schweitzer

 Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals,

 Especially for those who are suffering;

For any that are lost or deserted, or frightened, or hungry.

We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,

And for those who deal with them, we ask hearts of compassion,

And gentle hands and kindly words.

Help us to be true friends to the animals,

And so to share the blessings of the merciful.


Words of Wisdom for the New Year

The arrival of the New Year brings the inevitable resolutions. We are all familiar with the promises to improve our lives and the lives of our dogs in the coming year, so perhaps we can all benefit from a few words of wisdom for 2015:

  • Walk with your dog every day, smiling. Emulate your dog…..greet everyone you meet with honest enthusiasm.
  • Live with the 3 E’s: energy, enthusiasm, and empathy.
  • Read some books on dog training: then follow through with the suggestions.
  • Listen to quiet, relaxing music every day…it is nourishment for your soul and most dog enjoy it too.
  • Spend more time with your family and your dog than you did last year. Sharing our lives with others is a privilege, and it is humans’ responsibility to provide proper care and attention those dependent upon us.
  • Put together a pet first aid kit and a disaster kit so that in case of an emergency, you are prepared. If you have a kit, be sure to update it on a regular basis.
  • Eliminate clutter…in your house…in your office. In your mind…and clean out the dog toy box and donate some of the toys he never plays with to a dog that doesn’t have any toys.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to help an animal in need. Chained animals, injured animals, lost and wandering pets—all of these animals need intervention. Removing them from dangerous situations may be the difference between life and death for them. Animals can’t dial 911 or ask for help; they are at the mercy of humans, so be prepared and willing to help an animal in need.
  • Support the efforts of local shelters or rescue groups. If you can’t adopt, volunteer to transport animals for a rescue group or give financial support to struggling organizations. Animal rescue is a 24/7 operation and groups need as much help as they can get—both physically and financially.
  • Donate supplies. Call to find out specific needs, but most groups need blankets, paper towels, and toys, and many shelters have website posts with “wish lists” of the most-needed items.
  • Never buy pet supplies from stores that sell puppies – you will be supporting puppy mills. Regardless of what they tell you, almost ALL stores that sell puppies are supplied by puppy mills.
  • Stay informed. Join animal welfare groups to keep you updated on current legislation. Write to your congressmen, encouraging them to support better laws to protect our companion animals.
  • Recognize that you can pass through another year, just coasting on cruise control, or as Pablo says, “You can step out of your comfort zone, trying things you have never done before and make 2015 the year that you elevate from where you are and soar high…Make it happen.


Walt Zientek offers this prayer for the New Year:

I pray for every dog searching through alleys and trashcans for breakfast, a forever home with plenty of food and love.

For every dog who spends his nights chained or isolated in the back yard, a soft, warm bed with a human nearby.

For every “Christmas pup” that was given, a tolerant, caring person who realizes that a dog is forever, and must not be abandoned, no matter what.

For every ailing pet, enough money for the caregiver to pay bills, and a skilled veterinarian to make him well.

For every lost dog, a clear, safe road, and well-marked path to lead her home.

For every old and tired friend, a warm fire and soft bed to ease the aches and pains.

For every dog who has passed on, a moment when he is remembered, and missed.

Life is beautiful, and this year offers wonderful opportunities to make it the best year ever.