April is Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Month. This seemed the ideal time to reflect on the subject with this first person essay about the Dogs in Brazil from our guest author, Janice Cabral. Her story below shares with us how her compassion for animals, trumps her desire for a leisurely new life in warm South America. She demonstrates clearly how to give fearlessly. I hope you will be inspired by her story and sweet Pluto, the ugly puppy.
In November of 2001 my husband and I left London, England to live in Brazil. We spent many cold and rainy English days imagining our new life lazing by the pool sipping ice cold Caipirinhas [Brazil's national cocktail] in the sun. Of course, nothing ever turns out the way we plan it. We are still here today. We have seventeen abandoned dogs, no swimming pool and we are financially crippled. Life is still very satisfying though and perhaps this desired vision of life was always a bit superficial to say the least.
We started off by adopting a German Shepherd that some friends of ours found wandering amid the traffic in Copacabana. We called him 'Harry'. He arrived very thin, almost bald with mange and too weak to lift his leg to pee. We soon got him better. Then we decided he needed a female friend, along came 'Misty', a traumatized street puppy who still suffers from all sorts of problems until today. Three veterinarians advised me to euthanize her because she could become dangerous. I obstinately refused and she has never bitten us.
We intended to close our little family there. Mom, Dad and two ‘children’ seemed perfect. There was one problem though; we had eyes. I often wish there were blinkers for humans because when I see a hopeless dying animal it is impossible for me to turn my back. I have even brought animals home to die with dignity. Knowing I could not save them. I have also euthanized dogs I have found in the streets suffering to the limit. One was a poisoned dog that convulsed all the way to the vet clinic and bit his tongue off in the back of my car. There was absolutely no hope. You never forget each case, and each face, and all the different ways they suffer.
'Pluto' was one little Puppy that I brought home to die. I was returning from the vet clinic with a brown Labrador, she is still here with us, when I saw what looked like a dead rat as I drove across a speed hump. The body was limp and its head was quite near the traffic flow. I had just collected 'Cassie' the brown Labrador from her surgery for dysplasia. I stopped the car mostly out of curiosity never imagining this could be a dog. To my horror it was a tiny dog and he was not able to move or walk. He moved his little eyes, so I picked him up. He was covered in slime as though he had fallen into a sewer and he smelt the same way. He was limp but alive.