The only argument that vivisectors, factory farmers and others who kill animals resort to is the human supremist one which states that animals are inferior, property, something as opposed to someone. The animals at HLS, Sequani, Safepharm, Covance, Bantin and Kingman and all the other hellish places are left without any human being present to ease their suffering most of the time the hours are 8-17.00 and if they collapse in their own blood and vomit and piss at 17.30 there they will stay until someone notices in the morning, often the suffering is simply documented rather than eased. Each individual is a complex being capable of experiencing love, fear and every other emotion we can. Recent events have brought this right home to roost.
My dear friend Hector died on Monday 26th January 2009. I was woken by him whimpering early in the morning and found him incontinent, salivating, cold and distressed. The on call vet came to my house and between us we got him to the surgery. He died on the operating table a few hours later. Fortunately I was able to stay with him for the last 10 minutes before he was anaesthetised and the last thing he would have heard was the voices of me and one of the nurses who has dog sat him for years, he was surrounded by love and treated with the utmost respect but alas he was indeed dying and his heart stopped and nothing could be done to revive it.
Hector was not a “something”. He (not “it”) was a someone who had a massive presence, a huge vibrant life force, a fantastic sense of humour and a deep love for all humans. Once we were staying in a house which was raided, the police in full riot gear sprayed him and another dear departed companion full on in the face with a fire extinguisher before dragging both dogs off to the loo not allowing any of us near them. When eventually we got them out he wanted to be friends with the police and tried to snuggle up to one of them to placate them. On another raid I was carted off leaving him with the police, a friend arrived to find that not only had a cop in full flame proof body suit taken him for a walk but he was sitting on their laps no mean feat as he was 25kilos!
He arrived at Boat Lane 8 years ago “for a few nights”. Physically and emotionally I was a mess rebuilding my life after being seriously attacked and injured the previous year, I certainly was not in a position to take on a young, vibrant, strong Staffie who would bolt off to explore the surrounding area at the drop of a hat. He had been rescued from a life in the dog fighting ring and despite our best efforts no-one would give him a permanent home and so days turned into months and after very eventful year in which he had frequented every pub and shop in Evesham driving us mad with worry he was to stay with me for keeps. Once he spent 5 hours in a pub eating crisps with the locals whilst we searched frantically for him until the landlady decided he’d been there quite long enough.
He was very, very naughty, the absolute bane of fishermen on the river Avon. Once he pushed some rods in the river and early one morning as an angler prepared his breakfast Hector swooped in running off with a whole string of sausages. Once a van pulled up with anglers in it wanting to make a fuss of him, he had leapt in their van and nicked all their sandwiches the previous week but they loved his sheer cheek. He was an accomplished thief who even sneaked into kitchens and begged for food. Once he ran into a bakery. He ran off to Woolworths on one occasion and was apprehended by staff as he rummaged through the sweet section! When the house was being renovated he insisted on being with the builders often moving the wood back downstairs when they had put it upstairs, shutting him away from them when he was putting himself in danger resulted in a very vocal protest and he cried piteously when one of them climbed out of the window to check the woodwork and only stopped when they came back safely. He loved the sun often creeping onto the flat roof and lying flat out on his back. He loathed cats and one would sit outside the front window deliberately taunting him, he also hated fireworks and if it rained he often whimpered and often refused to go out. He loved the frost and snow and rolled around in it for as long as possible. At the time of writing it was only a few days ago that he was throwing himself over styles, running through the mud and rolling in sheep poo. When he collapsed he still had mud on his tummy from the previous day on his last ever walk on Sunday morning when he raced up and down the riverside. On the Saturday as was often his way he had decided that the 3 of us (my other dog Jack and I) had been out for too long and that it was time to go home and sit by the fire, he refused to budge until we all started to walk back. In the last few weeks he had raced up British camp in the Malvern hills full of absolute joy at the deep hoar frost, days ago he crashed through the woods on Bredon hill after making friends with a group of ramblers. On one occasion as we watched in horror from the top of the Beacon in the Malvern hills him rushing down to pinch a rambler’s stick running off laughing triumphantly, fortunately the man was the sort to see the funny side as Hector ran back to give him his stick back.
Hector was the most loving person I have ever met. If anyone felt depressed he would snuggle right up to them and embrace them with his front legs. He loved human laughter often doing everything in his power to induce it. He insisted at getting into bed with whoever took his fancy at night often pushing that person out of bed. During the floods in Evesham in 2007 an Italian businessman who was stranded stayed the night and Hector stood outside his bedroom door crying because he wanted a cuddle from him and to make friends, the poor man was not really a doggy person and left first thing in the morning, I had actually had to physically extract Hector from his post outside the door several times through the night. He was terrified of fireworks and would bark at them hackles raised.
To some Hector and those like him are just things to be jeered at in the dogfighting ring. To me and those who came around last night to bury him with his toys and some biscuits he was a dear friend a beautiful, unique individual who enriched our lives and cheered us all up with his antics. Neighbours who had long suffered from his invasions into their homes came to say a tearful goodbye in the dark, in the rain. We buried him under an elder tree so that the Hag Goddess can protect his dear soul as he crosses over to meet his loved ones on the other side. I will never forget him and will continue to mourn his loss until the day I see him again.
A heartfelt plea to all those involved in animal abuse whether the victim be a chicken in the slaughterhouse or a primate like James at HLS being forcefed floor cleaner at HLS it is never too late to stop the abuse and walk away to a new compassionate life. Every one of those creatures is as beautiful as Hector, none deserve the horror you inflict upon them. Opening your hearts to their suffering will cause you immense pain as you let down your emotional defences but as many of us will testify it will be the most life enriching thing you will ever do to turn towards a life in which you make decisions based around NOT harming others with whom you share this world. Chris Brown had a dog called Nellie who he adored (unlike the cats), really what is the difference between Nellie (another real character and accomplished burglar!!!) and one of those cats sent off to be maimed and killed?
Hector was SOMEONE, every animal in HLS is also SOMEONE (as opposed to something).
May all find peace, love and happiness and may we get off this pedestal we have put ourselves on.
Thanks to all who have supported me over the last few days and to Hector thankyou so much for all the fun, laughs and love we shared even if you did get me into so many fixes!