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Influence Positively Interview - Pamela Webster

Pamela & Honey on the beach
Pamela & Honey on the beach

In her paid work as a housing counselor for a nonprofit organization, Pamela sees that helping animals and helping people go together. Many first home buyers approach her for help because they are struggling to find apartments that allow animals. Others have trouble getting homeowner's insurance that doesn't discriminate against their dog's breed. And shelters in the areas hardest hit by foreclosures are struggling with an influx of pets from families who have lost their homes. Issues at the center of people's lives have tremendous impact on the animals who live with them.

This realization that compassion toward animals can't exist without compassion for people influences the content of Pamela's blog, Something Wagging This Way Comes. Yes, it's full of silly jokes and stories. But more serious posts describe ways for people to travel with reactive dogs, provide arguments for why puppy mills are bad capitalism, and even posit that someone seeking a dominance-based trainer might be looking for a way to understand their dog, even if the approach they take is misguided.

Pamela is the contributing Pet Travel writer for A Traveler's Library where she reviews books about pet-related travel. When she's not traveling with her dog, Honey, Pamela and her husband foster puppies for the Tompkins County SPCA.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I'd love to live in a world where life is more important than commerce. In that world, puppy mills and factory farms wouldn't exist because making money wouldn't take precedence over the health and welfare of living creatures. People would live balanced lives that gave them time to treat each other and animals with kindness. We'd remember that relationships are more important than acquiring stuff.

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be and why?

I'd definitely come back as a dog. I can't imagine ever being beautiful enough to be a cat.

Besides, I think of dogs as fun-loving animals. They seem to be less serious-minded than cats. And they're generally quite social. I'm far too extroverted to ever be a cat.

What is your pet's most treasured possession?

Honey's most treasured possession would be her ball. And your ball. And that ball the kids are playing with across the way. And the ball that just rolled by...

Your proudest achievement so far?

I can't say I've accomplished my proudest achievement yet. I'm very much in the process of achieving.

But I feel pleased when someone reads something I've written and tells me it made them think about things differently. Or that I've helped them make a new connection. I hope that through my writing, I can contribute in some small way to a changing mindset so that people no longer see animals as property but understand them as the second party in a relationship.

And, although I really can't take credit for it, I'm terribly thrilled that my dog Honey has become such a great host for the foster puppies we've had in our home so far. My idea was that she'd be a full partner in any volunteer work I'd do with dogs. And she has exceeded all my expectations as a "foster sister."

Who are your heroes in real life?

I have two sets of real life heroes. The ones I haven't met are the scientists, behaviorists, and trainers who have made a huge difference in the lives of companion dogs by sharing their knowledge in ways that are easy for ordinary people to understand. The short list includes Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller, Turid Rugaas, Suzanne Clothier, and Karen Pryor.

My second set of heroes are the many people who have learned from the first set of heroes and are applying what they've learned with the animals in their lives. Through blogging, I've met so many wonderful people who advocate for animals, who provide foster care, and who, every day, are the best animal caregivers they can be. It's this last group we most need to nurture and grow. Because the biggest missing piece in placing homeless animals in homes are having responsible, caring, and knowledgeable people to take them in.

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