Written by Darcy N. of Saskatchewan, Canada
I was lucky to spend my formative years on a beautiful farm in Saskatchewan. My family moved into town when I started grade one but my heart always remained on that farm only 3.5 miles from town. The most difficult loss for me was my dog. I was not allowed to have another dog until I was an adult and on my own. I would rescue stray cats instead and train them like they were puppy dogs. Over the years, like over 35 years now, I have rescued many dogs. Often they were starving and in poor shape and too often they had been abused and neglected. I found that it didn’t take long to have a dog become happy, healthy and so loyal and loving towards me.
I wish I could say the same for human beings. I have not been able to sell my house because my neighbors are such a serious problem. They have a yard that looks and smells like a garbage dump. To make matters worse, they breed dogs and cats and neglect them too. They have been complained about to the SPCA a number of times but it doesn’t seem to help.
About a month ago, they managed to get their hands on two St. Bernard pups for free. They are sisters, about nine months old. Neither one had any training and the neighbors kept them in a chain link enclosure with no shade and only a dirt floor. They ran a hose through the chain link into a bucket for water and would just slit a bag of dog food open and throw it over the side onto the mud and dog poop. The pups still had their winter coat in late June and into July. I did see the neighbor trying to brush one dog in her front yard but she kept kicking her, yelling at her as she yanked her chain. Both the husband and wife neighbors admitted that they can’t handle these dogs and that they are so strong they just pull them around if they try to walk them. I felt so bad for these poor sisters. I offered them the use of my dog run which cost me over $2,000 to build three years ago. It is beautiful with separate sleeping quarters, cool in the summer and heated for the winter. I even offered to buy one dog and to work with them to train them. They instead chose to continue on, even though both dogs would regularly dig under the enclosure and run loose.
A few weeks ago, a terrible storm hit. I went outside once it calmed down to check my potted plants on my front steps. One of the St. Bernard pups came barreling around the corner, ran up my front steps and into my house. She was like a bull in a china shop. My plants on the steps went flying. A table in my house was knocked over, a vase of flowers smashed, chairs tipped over and the kitchen table with my laptop on it almost went over as well when she tried to hide under the table. I moved quickly to clear away the broken glass and put my laptop away in my office. I gave her some cold water and some food. She was so hot, dehydrated and sick. She was also underweight. I spent several hours cleaning up poop soup and vomit. I cleared out most of the furniture from the living room and put my mattress from my bed in my bedroom on the floor in the living room. Finally around 2:00 am. I laid down on the mattress to get some sleep and Hazel sat on my face! I managed to get out from under all that winter bum fur only to have her jump on me again and pin me down. This was the beginning of our regular World Doggy Wrestling Contests. I am getting better at it, but she really gives me a good workout.
Hazel Makes a Rebound
It didn’t take long to train Hazel. I call her Haze for short. She is so smart, so sensitive and so stubborn. I think I have finally met my match. I had her to the vet twice and likely spent at least $400 in just two weeks but we are all set and Hazel is looking and doing great. I got a special rake that makes grooming her easy and fun. I set up a paddling pool downstairs for her to bathe in. I thought that wiser than the bath tub in my bathroom. I spent a lot of time in the tub when she was sick and I ended up covered in her mess. Hazel would sit right beside the tub while I had a bath. I figured if she learned to jump in the tub too, I’d likely drown in that wrestling match. I take her out in the country for runs.
I reported everything to town council members, the by-law enforcement officer and many other residents nearby that have had complaints regarding how these neighbors neglect and abuse their animals. I have a license for Hazel, had her micro chipped and have all her health records from the vet. I wish I could adopt her sister too. The other St. Bernard is now chained up so she can’t run away too. There have been a few bad thunder and lightening storms in these past few weeks. Hazel is very afraid when these storms hit and I know her sister must be afraid. I saw Hazel’s sister early this morning. She still has most of her winter coat. She jumped on top of an old wreck of a car to get my attention. I told her she is welcome to come over to my place as well.
I know I will have a fight on my hands as soon as the neighbors find out I have had Hazel all along, but I will be ready. Hazel has already brought so much joy and such peace of mind to my life. I promised her she is not going back next door. Hazel picked me and I am very grateful she did!
The whole situation with my neighbors came to a head a few weeks ago. I actually contacted the police ahead of time myself to say that Hazel was in my care. When my neighbors finally realized I had Hazel, they called the police and said that I went into their yard and took her off her collar. This was not the case. Hazel just escaped and ran into my house. The police came to my house and said that I had to give her back to my neighbors. They were even prepared to take her away.
I had to chuckle. I told the two police officers that they would have a difficult time carrying her next door and that she would just run back home to me again. I made it clear that I would not return the dog because it is an animal rights issue, there are criminal code sections dealing with abuse, neglect and distress plus by-laws regarding dogs running loose. I had a whole file ready on Hazel. I even printed out a copy of the story I wrote, copies of the criminal codes sections, the by-laws and all vet bills and Hazel’s health record. Basically, I was building my case.
It was not difficult to settle the matter. I just gave my neighbors all they care about…cash! You would be amazed how quickly their outrage turned to delight once the money was in their hands. Ongoing conflict with my neighbors is something I do try hard to avoid but I will not stop feeding Hazel’s sister. Her name is Mabel and she sure appreciates the extra food, bones and treats. I did try to convince my neighbors to let Mabel come live at my place, but I think only another wad of cash could make that happen.
I think a very important issue is that although there are laws in place to protect animals, too often it is only the very extreme cases that get any attention. Distress under the Canadian Criminal Code deals with lack of proper shelter, food and water but does not deal with emotional distress. True animal lovers need only to look into an animal’s eyes to know if they are being well cared for. I practiced law for many years and for me it was, and still is, children and animals first. The world cannot survive without them, but they have no real voice and need society as a whole to step up and do what we can to help. More photos of Hazel here
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