The following article was written by Karen Porreca, PETA's senior library director and chief copy editor.
"Seize the day, trusting as little as possible
in the future"―these words of wisdom came from Horace, a Roman poet who
lived from 65 to 8 B.C.E. Nowhere in our lives is this advice more apt than in
our relationships. And because all dogs' lives are tragically short, this
advice applies all the more to them.
I recently began corresponding with Kate Hughes, a
lovely woman who appreciates dogs as much as I do. She had an idyllic family
life with her husband, Virgil, their cat, Daisy, and two big dogs, Wrigley and
Coco. Both dogs had come through hard times before ending up with Kate and
Virgil. Wrigley had been shot with a BB gun, lived through Katrina, and finally
been dumped by the side of a road. Coco's past is not as well known, but for a
while, she had the telltale skittishness of a dog who had not always been
treated well. The two dogs were inseparable. According to Kate, "Wrigley
was a playful and protective big brother. He and Coco would sleep snuggled up
together in our bed every night, and he often licked her face gently while she
fell asleep. He was also buddies with our cat, Daisy (adopted last summer), who
liked to swat his tail and cuddle up with him in his chair."
The late Wrigley Hughes enjoys an autumn adventure in the woods.
We write of Wrigley in the past tense because not
long ago, tragedy struck. An overnight guest at Kate and Virgil's home left a
bottle of the medication Adderall within reach of the dogs, and Wrigley chewed
up the bottle and consumed most of the pills. At 5:30 a.m. on August 17, Kate
awoke to find Wrigley foaming at the mouth and frantically thrashing around. She
rushed him to the emergency vet, where he spent the next 48 hours struggling to
survive what was essentially an overdose of a drug similar to speed. The vets
did everything within their power to save him, but Wrigley had suffered too
much organ damage and finally had to be euthanized. Kate wrote, "It was so
crushingly painful and heartbreaking to say goodbye to our healthy and
happy-go-lucky pup. It haunts me to know that this terrible tragedy could have
been avoided. I still think of that night over and over and can't believe that
this happened in our own home when we've always been so neurotic and careful.
Not a minute goes by that we don't think of Wrigley and not a day goes by that
I don't cry for him. He had overcome so much in his short life and gave us (and
many others) infinitely more unconditional love than we could ever
Wrigley was only 6 years old when he died. Just last
weekend, I heard that the 6-year-old dog of an acquaintance of mine has
developed terminal cancer in his jaw. The week before that, a friend told me
that his little dog had been killed by a neighborhood pit bull. I myself had a
dog who died of liver disease long before his time. Losing a dog who has not
yet reached old age is not an uncommon experience, even though it seems like a
terribly unfair one. No matter how careful we are, any dog can fall
victim to an accident, be harmed by another dog or person, or become terminally
ill at a young age.
So let's remind ourselves to cherish our dogs each
and every day and not put off for later any of the fun things that they might
enjoy. Hiking in the woods, swimming at the beach, agility classes, play dates,
dog parties, belly rubs―whatever your dogs like, let them do it now. Don't put
it off, because there are no guarantees that they will still be here tomorrow.
Wrigley poses with family members Virgil, Kate, and Coco during one of
their many hiking trips.
Thankfully, despite his premature
passing, Wrigley was luckier than 99 percent of the dogs on the planet because
Kate and Virgil have always understood how to seize the day. In the four short
years that Wrigley lived with them, he joined the family on hiking and camping
adventures and traveled to Michigan, Maryland, Vermont's Green Mountains, the
Berkshires, Cape Cod, the Hamptons, Bear Mountain in Connecticut, Niagara
Falls, and the Appalachian Trail. He also had many opportunities to do the
things he loved—like going to the dog park, romping through the snow, and
swimming in the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Wrigley's story is a cautionary tale,
yes, but it also illustrates the importance of making sure that our dogs get to
enjoy life to the fullest, whatever its length.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.