This writer had a most heartwarming experience with PAAWS – Protect Antiguan Animals With a Smile, while on vacation last week. Since returning home from New York, It had always been my desire to own a dog, what with having grown up with a great number of pets, including a dog named Rover that actually slept at the foot of my bed, but the opportunity never presented itself. After relocating to the United States, my children would have it no other way. We’re talking about Snowy, Lucky (rescued from a highway underpass) and Chulo, two adorable Shih Tzus and a Labrador Retriever. All our dogs have been an important part of my family.
You see, dogs are truly our best and dearest friends.Dogs are unfailingly loyal. They will look up at you with puppy dog eyes, sensing that something is wrong in your day. They will become morose and mournful, if you are in any way disconsolate. They will lick you in a most loving and affectionate manner. They will bark to alert you to danger, and will even attempt to rescue you. They will never leave your side. For those who are vision impaired, they become the seeing eyes. For those who live alone, they become the indispensable companion. They will always run out to greet you whenever you return home. A dog running around in circles, or peeing on itself, or wagging its tail interminably, is an indication of unleashed happiness – it is a thing of beauty, a joy forever. It can make even our most jaded hearts glad.
The expression, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” was coined by King Frederick of Prussia in 1789, who allegedly declared, “The only, and absolute best friend that a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his dog.” We concur! The friendship and companionship between man and dog goes back millennia, and it will endure.
It was for this reason that this writer was so very disturbed to see so many stray dogs roaming the streets of St. John’s, upon my return home from New York. It was so sad and disturbing to see neglected and abused dogs, dogs riddled with fleas, ticks and mange. Dogs with a whole host of injuries. Dogs with that vacant and defeated look in their eyes. Emaciated dogs with their ribs showing, scavenging for crumbs from our waste bins. Sigh! What a dreadful reflection on our society! And mind you, these dogs are not out of sight in the hinterlands of Antigua. Nay, they roam Heritage Quay and High Street and Market Square, in broad daylight – their hunger subsuming any fear that they may have of us mortals. Visitors to Antigua are aghast at the inhumane treatment being meted out to these poor creatures. And yes, the angels in heaven weep!
But all is not lost. Seems, there is an organisation called PAAWS that is doing God’s work here in Antigua. It’s a non-profit adoption and rescue body based in Parham, and committed to “preserving the happiness and sanctity of animals.” They are doing right by the less-fortunate creatures, and they ought to be commended and assisted.
I visited PAAWS for the first time about a week and a half ago, on the recommendation of our managing editor, Gemma Handy, a thoroughly smitten animal lover, and I was quite impressed by the wonderful work that they are doing up there. I was given the grand tour of the premises, by the manager, another animal lover by the name of Colin Quinn (no relation), and happily greeted by the many dogs who find themselves there. As you can imagine, I fell in love at every stop on the tour. Ah, the yelping and the barking! I felt like Roger Dearly in Disney’s 101 DALMATIANS, except that there was no Cruella De Vil to temper my joy. Seems, ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN, and I was there with them. It was difficult making up my mind as to which dog I should adopt, but I eventually settled on a beautiful bullmastiff named Bucky.
Bucky’s previous owner was no longer able to care for him, and he turned him in to PAAWS. Bucky is big and lovely and, oh, so gentle, and he has spent the last few days exploring my yard, sniffing the scents, and marking his territory. Bucky is now the monarch of all he surveys. When he stands on the front porch and looks out at passers-by, he is quite regal, and already, he is in command.
Of course, I did my research on the Bullmastiff and was quite happy to learn that they are “powerful, reliable, docile, devoted, alert, loyal, reserved, loving, protective, courageous and calm.” I see all of these wonderful qualities in Bucky. Here’s to a beautiful relationship!
Having said all of that, I recommend PAAWS to all dog lovers here in Antigua and Barbuda. If you are no longer able to care for your dog, please give it up to the fine folk at PAAWS. Do not abandon it on the cold, mean, cruel streets of St John’s. We suggest that there is a special place in Dante Alighieri’s INFERNO for those who abuse and mistreat animals. A pox on them! Conversely, if you are looking for that perfect pet, I suggest that you make a visit to PAAWS. Much like myself, I believe that you will not leave without one of those adorable creatures in your arms or at your side.
After all, here are some of the precious things that you can learn from your dog: “When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory. Run, romp and play daily. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. Thrive on attention, and let people touch you, in some way, be it ever so small. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk, and when you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.”
Shake dat booty, Dawg! Woof, woof for PAAWS!
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