My Dad had a rain barrel ( many of them); not the pretty ones but the blue hand-made ones. My Dad always had a garden, my Dad always bought in bulk and my Dad always owned pets. No, he didn’t do anything weird – he just always saved dogs that no one wanted and treated them like they were part of the family. He used to say, “Shelly, if you treat a pet right, a pet will always be there by your side”.
My Dad can be a bit gruff on the outside but inside he is really just a softie! I remember when I was 10 years old, I was looking out the upstairs window. There had been a lot of trouble with groundhogs and he had been “hired” to come in and shoot the groundhogs that had decided to make a home for themselves in the woodpile next door. The next day, my Dad heard some noises and realized there was a baby groundhog who had been hit but had survived. Before anyone could notice, my Dad swooped the little guy up, put him in a big box and filled it to the top up with a bunch of greens from the garden. As I watched, I thought to myself, so much damage had been done to many of the local gardens, including my Dad’s – but he didn’t care. He wanted to make sure this little guy had a fighting chance and therefore, made sure, that he was well equipped. I watched his truck drive back in the woods, baby groundhog as cargo. It was at that point, my heart ached for love and admiration for my Dad. I will never forget that moment.
I had bunnies that were rescued from under my Grandma’s shed. And we had Dino, Gypsey and Candy – all dogs that nobody wanted. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was usually for a drive ( which my dad still takes every Sunday) or when we were on a visit when a recycled pet would end up with the Elsliger’s. On three occasions, we left home without animals but by the time we got home, a furry baby ended up at home with us. In fact, we would even stop for dog food along the way.
Now I see what Dad meant by the words “overpopulation””and “excess”. It was his wonderful green way of approaching the acquisition of our next pet. My Dad never saw those pets, who once had other homes, as damaged goods – he saw those pets as “another man’s treasure”. He would also say, “every man and pet” deserves a second chance! He taught me that with a little patience and perseverance – loving and caring pet parents can do wonders for a neglected animal.
This is all ringing through in my own life today. I often get asked why I rescue and why I work so hard to get the word out about adoption. We have rescues; all recycled pets that would not have had much of a chance for a good life if we had not given them a home. They all have their baggage. Who doesn’t? But the love that they bring to this household is unbelievable!
I can’t really think of a more environmentally friendly way of acquiring a pet that has been tossed aside. You’re not only cutting down on the demand for “new” pets to be bred – you get to save a life! My Dad is amused everytime I say that he is Green!:)
As far as my Dad, he is still living in Belledune, New Brunswick – still not wasting one bit of water and being an awesome pet parent to Kalua, a big fur baby that he rescued 9 years ago.
I miss my parents a lot but it’s good to think of the things that have made me who I am today. I will always remember the baby groundhog and the pets that I grew up with. Thanks Dad, for teaching me the right way to treat pets! I owe this gift to you!