This Grand Life

Random Musings From the Editorís Desk

By Kirsten Mustain

Our front page today features an appalling story.

It is the sort of thing one doesnít want to put on the front page, and yet it seems utterly important to let people know that it has happened:† more than a hundred small helpless creatures crammed into tiny filth-ridden cages without food or water; small poodles and spaniels so hungry they were eating members of their own species that had already died.

A few details were left out Ė like the fact that at least one deputy working the case vomited; the fact that an employee of the Grove and Grand Lake Area Humane Society said she would never be the same after witnessing this sight; and the fact that our own reporter said that however horrible the pictures she took were, they could never match the stench of the place.

In the face of such things, it is easy to simply fall into despair, but this problem is one that we can do something about.

The Little Dog in my Life

About a month and a half ago, I adopted a 7-pound Pomeranian that had been rescued from a puppy mill. I named him Clarence.

Though Clarenceís wide brown eyes are very expressive, he cannot speak, so I donít know what horrors he suffered during his seven years of living in a cage.

I donít even know what he is supposed to look like because his fur was so matted when he was rescued that he had to be shaved and it still hasnít grown back completely.

Probably he wasnít completely starved, but his teeth were so bad that several had to be pulled.

The thing I do know is when he came to me he didnít know what grass was, how to play, or how to take a walk. He was terrified of going through doorways. He yelped every time I picked him up, but seemed absolutely elated to be held and cuddled. He had no idea what his role as a dog in the house was.

He is still not quite himself yet. He has learned that running in the yard and sniffing things is a wonderful pastime and he can get there by going through the door. He has learned that he likes it when I pick him up and there is no need to yelp. He has learned that he is part of our little pack, which includes another dog and two cats.

Since he has come to live with me, his eyes have gotten brighter, his form has filled out, and he is slowly becoming a real dog.

One of my cats, Isadora, who is a good five pounds heavier than he is, had taken to tackling him and biting his head. I was delighted one day last week when he finally stood up to her and put a stop to her bullying. Now they get along perfectly.

Clarence has brought new life and energy to my household. He is unreservedly affectionate and always enthusiastic. It has been a rare joy to see him slowly blossom.

I thought when I adopted him that I was the one doing the favor Ė taking in a helpless waif of a creature and paying his extensive veterinary bill instead of buying a puppy from a breeder.

It turns out Clarence has done me the favor by bringing new and unexpected joy to my life. Every time I lift him up and he presses his small wet nose into the crook of my neck, I know I have been blessed.

There are networks all across the nation that rescue dogs from puppy mills, not to mention our own Humane Society, which is overflowing with lovely dogs and cats that would make any household a brighter place.

You Donít Have to Adopt to Help

People donít have to adopt these animals to help.

The U.S.D.A. only requires licensing for wholesale breeders. People who sell puppies over the internet etc. do not have to obtain a license. This year there will be a bill introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature, which would require that retail puppy breeding facilities be licensed according to state guidelines. Considering that Oklahoma currently has the second highest number of puppy mills in the United States, this seems like a necessary measure. Anyone who wishes to help should call their legislators and urge them to pass the bill.

The Grove and Grand Lake Area Humane Society is always seeking funds and volunteers. They may be reached at (918) 786-7630.