As I promised in my last post ‘Smile while you swim’, here is the antidote to mind-numbing prescriptions. Of course, it is one of many possibilities; there is always someone, somewhere worse off than we are, who would love our help, be it an animal or an old person, or a child in need of direction. Not long ago I came across another wonderful animal rescue place, this time in Los Angeles. It is run by just two people, Audrey and Eldad Hagar, from their home. They rescue stray or mistreated dogs, often those who are minutes from being put down in the city’s compound. What is remarkable is the couple’s, especially Eldad’s, ability to connect and rehabilitate dogs deemed as dangerous and only suitable for euthanasia. They treat, nurse back to full health, and then rehome the dogs in their home, before finding them a good adoptive family. To see their video of rescue and then rehabilitation, and the extraordinary transformation is both touching and spirit-lifting in equal measure.
I bought their book, ‘Our Lives Have Gone To The Dogs’, to find out more about their work. An added bonus are the quotations from great and famous people that are so important to remember. The couple’s inspiration to help all animals in need is reflected in the very first one thought, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
‘For every animal that dies in a shelter, there is someone, somewhere, responsible for its death. You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late.’
The couple wrote in the book about the fulfilment and joy their work has given them: ‘The greatest thing about fostering and adopting animals is that anybody can do it. Anyone who fosters knows that we are the lucky ones. These amazing animals shared their lives with us and taught us the importance of hope, love, loyalty, and gratitude.’
As Charles Darwin wrote ‘The love of all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man’. The couple help to save any wildlife that is brought to them, including this beautiful young owl. There were also countless fledglings, lizards and squirrels.
Their book should be on the shelves in every primary school’s library to be read in the classroom. It would teach the very young – the best age to start – compassion for fellow creatures. It would help eradicate the unkindness and bullying that is common in our schools. My very favourite man from the past, St. Francis, wrote: ‘If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.’
In this country we have many rescue centres but not nearly enough for all the animals that need help. The World Horse Welfare charity was alerted by a caller to an abandoned foal. The black and white cob was found by a passer-by lying in a field that was mouldy, and he was infested with worms and lice. He could not stand up and had no food or water. He was hours from death. Transported by the charity workers to their Penny Farm in Blackpool, he was nursed to health. Four years on, he is a champion, having won two first prizes in a rescue pony competition, and was named overall rescue pony champion. Penny Farm manager Fran Williamson said: ‘Frodo’s transformation is truly amazing. It is true testament to the hard work and dedication of the team who care for him, and we couldn’t be prouder.’
Just one more special place to mention is The Owl Barn and Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. They not only rescue and nurture injured owls but run the charity in a profitable way (to the ‘Bruised, Battered & Bewildered’ owls) by gathering a cornucopia of gifts that are genuinely beautiful and practical. Their catalogue on http://www.owlbarn.co.uk is to be highly recommended, especially around the time of Christmas and Easter but also for interesting gifts all year round. The team of people who work there are exceptionally courteous, friendly and kind; I can vouch for it as I speak from a long-time experience of supporting The Owl Barn.