Would You Laugh At A Person In A Wheelchair?
When people see Jake in his stroller as I’m walking Jasmin, occasionally they’ll stop me and kindly ask after Jake’s wellbeing. I explain to them that Jake’s a very old dog who can’t walk very far. I tell them that he needs to rest during his outings, while Jasmin powers on.
More often than not, though, people will point, laugh riotously, and yell out that it’s funniest thing they’ve ever seen.
I ask them: “Do you also laugh at people in wheelchairs?” Their face tends to fall and they ask me what I mean. I say, “Well, obviously my dog's in a stroller for a reason. And that reason is that he can’t get around easily on his own. His stroller is like a wheelchair for him.” That kills their buzz.
Another typical reaction is people who state (always loudly and arrogantly) that Jake must be lazy.
My answer is a sharp: “He’s not lazy. He’s old and he’s unwell.” Again, their demeanour changes immediately because they regret what they said. But I don’t regret what I said, despite making them feel bad. It’s difficult enough watching Jake deteriorate before my eyes without people making flippant, ignorant comments whenever I take him out.
Assume Something's Wrong
If you ever see a dog being wheeled around, assume they need to be wheeled around. Assume there’s something wrong with the dog’s mobility, in the same way you do when you see a person in a wheelchair. Neither the dog nor the person is being wheeled around for the ‘fun’ of it: they’re in the stroller or the wheelchair from necessity.
Please be the type of person who asks why the dog requires a stroller rather than the type who makes fun. It’s hard enough to see your beloved dog become decrepit without insensitive people thinking it’s a joke that you’re trying to keep his quality of life as high as possible.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.