The fight for animal care awareness in a developing country such as the Philippines is a daunting task. Animal care expenses come only after all other expenses. Taking care of your pet’s needs is seen as a concern only of the well-off. Unwavering efforts from local animal welfare groups and individuals are what’s making this cause move forward along with the development of the country. Every little thing counts.
On a previous post, I shared with you how I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year a little differently. With the support coming from the good people around me, we were able to, for six years, help a favorite animal shelter. Although I am more than grateful for the kind of support I continue to receive, I also know that donations can only last for so long. Any dedicated animal welfare advocate dreams to see a more long term resolution. Something that could stay even if we die. Something that could be passed on to the younger generation. Education is the key. Awareness and action get us somewhere.
Part of my mission for this year’s Furry Birthday, is to visit one of my favorite communities, Aeta Children’s Home, and plant the seed of animal care. For a community who takes care of more than 150 kids and young people at the mercy of donations and volunteer work, animal care is not a priority. Although the community does what it can to make sure their animals are safely housed (primarily to ensure the kids’ safety) and are well-fed, it is still important to make them, especially the kids, really understand their animals. How to do this? I did not know how to start. My only glimmer of hope was these cards I brought with me.
A few hours after settling down, the opportunity came to me like it was meant to be. Like it knew what I was there for.
Meet the opportunity, Samson, the Home’s friendliest dog and probably the kids’ favorite of all.
I started with questions about Samson – who feeds him, who bathes him, where he sleeps, who walks and plays with him. The kids were all eager to answer as if it was a graded recitation. I found out that Samson goes to church, too, every Sunday with the kids. It was something I later witnessed. Then I thought it was a good chance for me to teach them simple things such as how to properly approach a dog, why dogs need a free space to run, what to do and not to do when they are sleeping or eating. My audience were all ears.
Samson was just there. He seemed to be enjoying the spotlight he may not have had for a long time.
After this session, it was easier to talk about animal care. I showed them photos of my own pets and told them how I take care of them. I got myself an amused crowd in so short a time. And oh yeah, you got a more amused storyteller. Look at me! Ha!
Getting an audience of ten (10) or less was good enough, I had to remind myself many times. One is not a lonely number for me. One can do a thousand things.
The next day, I figured the kids are ready for the animal care postcards. I don’t have a specific list of audience. Whoever is there where I am is my audience. Prior to visiting, I told the Leaders of the Home not to alter any of their routines when I visit. I want to see their normal everyday activities as they are. I gathered those who are with me at the time that I brought the postcards. I gave one to each and asked them to read it on their own and explain it to me. The cards are in English. I was hoping to hit two birds in one stone – to set up a reading activity and teach them animal care. There were postcards on personal hygiene and there were those that talk about animal care. For this post, we’ll talk about the latter.
For almost all the cards, we had to translate in Tagalog for them to better understand it. It was a challenge but we did not want to give up. We talked about simple things like making sure that the animals are:
1. Given fresh water and food.
2. Provided a shelter that’s not too cold or too hot for them.
3. Not disturbed when eating and sleeping.
4. Not hurt or abused.
5. Are bathed regularly.
After this session, we gave each participant an assignment to ensure that the reminder they got is being followed. It was like an advocacy assigned only to them.
A few minutes after, they toured me to see the other animals of the Home. I met Whitey, Love, Boo, and Prima. They also have two monkeys namely Dreamy and Coco. One of the teachers, Ma’am Frida, owns a cat named Puto.
Love loves to run and play with the kids in the morning. He is the biggest dog in the Home. He’s very protective of the kids that he barks if he sees you come near to any of them. It takes a while to befriend him but he does get comfortable.
I started talking about wanting to bathe all of them hoping it could come as a suggestion. They gladly welcomed it. Bathing a dog is probably something that is not regularly done in the Home because of the very hectic daily routines in maintaining a community that is both a shelter and a school at the same time. The next day, I got an invite to help bathe Boo. Yes!
Thanks to Leslie, who helped me push for this to happen. This is Boo enjoying his long-awaited bath time! Oh you cute little creature!
Imagine yourself getting a bath after a week. Oh so refreshing!
I, also, started introducing dog food and how it is different from table food. Although I know it may be a long shot to have them buy some for their dogs, I just wanted to give their canine friends some treat at least while am there. A can of gravy treat with beef chunks was served for Samson. He consumed it in less than two minutes. The kids were all happy to see Samson happy. It was like they learned to be in his shoes … or, in this case, his paws.
The other two cans of dog food, we mixed into the rice food for the other dogs. The last one I gave to Leslie (the lady who helped me bathe Boo) to give to Samson.
We got them hooked right away. Look at them!
This experience has taught me the importance of living a life we want others to live. Preaching can only do so much. But showing makes more sense and is, undoubtedly, more powerful.
You see? This task ain’t easy. It is difficult but not impossible. It is my hope that these little moments that I shared with you remind them of how to properly take care of the animals. It may work. It may not. They may remember it or they may forget it when I’m gone. But we can’t give up on this hope just because we think it might not work. If at least one of them remembers and acts on it, then all these are worth it! Just imagine what could have happened if the people before us had given up on animal welfare fights, we and our animals may not be enjoying the good things that we are enjoying now.
I guess, as long as I know the kids adore Samson and how he loves back with his gentle manners and loyalty, I am positive things can progress for this community.
As long as I know Ma’am Frida, Leslie, and my animal care advocates are there, my hope will never falter. It can’t falter.
Do you wish to help advance this cause? If you do, please send me a message via this online form below. Or you may just send me any of the following:
1. dog shampoo
2. learning materials that teach animal care (videos, photos, handouts, etc)
3. or cash to buy the above
We will accept whatever you can do to help this cause.
Thank you for your time. Stay tuned for more posts about #furrybirthday7