Saturday, October 21, 2017

Of incendiary times & perils to animals

Does the word “wildfires” conjure up images you’ve seen everywhere over the last few weeks? Fiery forests, skies, roadways . . . then ashy remains of homes and businesses. California residents have become more intimately familiar with fires than they could ever have wished.

As usual, I thought about the animals in those wildfires, and as usual – except for the occasional feature about a miraculous rescue or a heroic animal -- they weren’t mentioned. We’ll probably never know how many perished, terrified and suffering, in inescapable flames.

That’s also true for pets, who may have sensed great danger before their people did. I wondered, with fire suddenly racing toward their homes, how many residents thought of their pets and evacuated with them to safety.   

“If your neighborhood was on fire, what would you take with you?” Asked in a newspaper story at the height of the burnings, that question drew a number of answers with glad tidings for pets.

My purse, my son and two dogs, said one woman. My guitars, family photos, and then the cat, a man answered.  A young Napa Valley guy said, “I love my animals more than anything in this life. I’m all good ’cause I got my animals – and I got my dog’s favorite little stuffed donkey.” 

I quit reading while I was ahead, wondering how many of us have a list of “must-saves” for whatever catastrophe comes our way. What would we gather up and carry off with us?  Here’s one answer to love:  

Saluting smart Lulu! 

Remember the tale of the woman office worker who didn’t want to become the default coffee maker, so she deliberately made such horrible coffee she was never asked again?  No dummy she.

That tactic may have caught on among dogs, and good for them.  Think about it: which would you prefer: bomb-sniffing in perilous places, or being a pampered pet here at home?

I thought so. And so did Lulu, a recently publicized flunk-out at the CIA’s “puppy class” for “explosive detection” who just wasn’t interested in detecting possible bombs.

Lulu, successful CIA "failure"
A “black Labrador retriever and free spirit,” Lulu was even checked out by a “doggy psychologist” before being dropped from the rolls and adopted by her handler, going off to life (bomb-free, we hope) as a pet.

You go, girl!

Lulu’s new life must be far better than what she would have had: hazardous duty and possible death while doing the work people had chosen for her.  She would have been “a service dog,” meaning she served human – not canine -- needs.

. . . and mourning the ‘dogs of war’

In a related vein, this columnist extols the “military working dogs” he knew in Vietnam, who – he claims – “loved to work (‘protecting our soldiers’) purely for the approval and praise of their handler and partner.”  ( Hogwash!)  

Of the “thousands” of these dogs, most inexplicably given to the military by US families, about 350 were “killed in [involuntary] action,” with many more wounded.  Most of those who survived were left behind.

Hey, everybody, it’s Dominionism all over again – the worldview or belief held by one species that it has a divine right to use animals and everything else in the living world for its own benefit.  It keeps happening, often to ill effect, and too often, it goes unchecked.  

But not with wily Lulu.  Brava!


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