No place like home!

Brie & Me

We all can have different reactions to the word home. For some regardless of the negative connotations-home is still home – it’s all you know and you long for it. For those of us lucky enough, home is safety; home is love.

When I first started working in secondary school settings, I was always struck by some young people who literally lived in houses of horrors who despite getting into foster care and away from very broken homes, still wanted to go home. One boy kept running away from foster care and would often be found sleeping or sitting on the doorstep of a house (his home) where no one was ever home. It was home to him: it was all he knew. The tragedy is some will never know any other normal and the cycle continues. A probably greater tragedy and wrong (if it’s possible to measure) is when someone has a safe and familiar home and someone plucks them from it – which brings this post to the word normal and what we normalise. 

I read an article yesterday about collies in Mayo where they live in unimaginable deplorable conditions. Some are kept in car boots. A rescuer said she is considered a trouble maker for highlighting it and some have bought dogs from here to simply save them. During the week a rescuer called me about an animal in an urban setting at risk. What both these owners have in common is an abnormal mindset when it comes to keeping animals – not to mention lack of empathy. I can vouch for this: not all people who hoard or who are cruel to animals ‘have something wrong with them’. Some do it because they can and they get away with it. Some are just plain old evil and choose to be so, and it is not down to a mental health problem. Some people get a kick out of being cruel in the same way you get a kick out of being kind. I said to the rescuer on the phone: ‘you are ringing me (no authority to intervene) to ring someone else (with equally no authority) to help you (no authority) to get the animal out!’ and I went on to add ‘aren’t we meant to be able to ring department welfare vets/officials’ and that’s where we both did a u-turn on that futile path of being actually able to call a person with the authority to act! That would be a normal thing to do but normal has yet to find the rescue world. Rescuers search for it, hope for it but are actually the architects of it for a lot of animals they save. They find homes and often create another home, another space for another animal they have crossed paths with in their own home. A Guard once said to me: ‘there is something wrong with ye! A bit touched!’ I looked at a woman in uniform who previously had normalised a kitten kicked around a kitchen, the video posted to social media! I looked at a Guard who normalised a tiny dog kept on a chain with a ‘falling-apart’ box for shelter. A guard owned the dog. This is a woman who tried to convince me there was something wrong with me and ‘my kind’. I don’t think I have to argue who has to fix their mindset and normal / moral compass. 

No, it’s also not normal that our government has granted a renewed license for hares to be netted, ripped from their natural terrain, to be placed into a public arena where adults and children roar and scream at hounds to chase them,to fill them with fear,and to toss them in the air. What is not normal is that 77% of people said they did not want hare coursing anymore. Is that normal? To not listen to the majority? To not listen to the CEO of the ISPCA? What is the constant truth: it isn’t normal to cruelly intervene in a natural habitat for man’s titillation. 

So, I write this on top of a hill with two brave collies by my side. Their home is a piece of my heart and a tiny piece of our yard where they have a place to call home. They don’t ask for much but what they need is all they want: safety, care, love, food, and kindness. Owners who don’t provide this not only are breaking the law but they miss out on a dog who wants to be by their side, a dog who wags his/her tail,  a dog that wants to love them unconditionally. They are robbing them of a normal home. Because of their owner, they might never know a walk on a lead or to come be with us by the fire.

A clinical definition of sadism is to derive pleasure from inflicting or witnessing pain/suffering. Our government has given the thumbs up to a ‘sport’ that nurtures and gives a license to an extremely barbaric and sadistic activity: a hare running for its life from hounds trained to kill the hare. 

They say to teach empathy you have to put someone in someone else’s shoes/paws. I wish I could place that collie owner in Mayo in a boot for one day and I wish I could put our TDS who voted for hare coursing into an arena where they are chased down by two animals trained to chase them and cause harm as we all cheered on. I do not jest: In most cases people have to feel the suffering they inflict to stop inflicting it themselves. 

Hoping your home is a happy one today… x

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