World Animal Day: Celebrating our true best friends

Once again Irene, Jessica and Gina came up trumps with a superb World Animal Day event in a huge shopping precinct in Guangzhou, where people had gathered to celebrate sharing our lives with dogs and cats. About 20 of our gorgeous Dr Dogs turned up with their proud and glowing family and the time flashed by with barks and laughs reverberating around the hall.

Some of the recipients of our Dr Dog animal-therapy programme arrived to entertain the audience too. Little Zhang Shu Xun, 8, who was dressed in her best tartan skirt and pink sunglasses, sang shyly to the audience, not able to see people in tears at the end of such an endearing performance, because she is blind.

On next was a group of children from the Guangzhou School for the Deaf, who “signed” their way through a beautiful song that celebrated how much they love their home and country of China. And last, but not least, a little 4-year old boy with a serious bone disease, who was brought up on to the stage by his father, stood on a chair and sang lustily and happily into the mic.

Then it was the dogs’ turn, with prizes given for every aspect of the work they do with such wide smiles and wagging tails. All Dr Dogs were bursting with happiness – bright eyes and bouncing gait – as they trotted over to the prize-givers and photographers.

Grateful thanks to Suki, our Dr Dog coordinator in Chengdu, for helping to translate the main thrust of the message in my welcome – asking that people everywhere no longer breed animals or buy from breeders, but to please adopt from the shelters drowning with homeless dogs and cats across China. The situation is critical and everyone must try to reduce the problem which is causing so much misery for animals who love and protect the human race. 

I spoke about several of my own rescued dogs – first Peggy, a golden retriever who was thrown away by the breeder because she was born with three legs, a broken dog. She is without doubt the most engaging and loving dog to be seen and has no idea that she is different to the rest of my family at home.

Similarly with kind and gentle Twitch – another supposed retriever (although looks nothing like one) – who missed out on his vaccination as a pup because the greedy breeder was trying to save his funds. Twitch consequently caught distemper – hence his name. His body pulsed in violent jerks for years before the condition improved – but leaving him still with multiple health issues, including disabled legs and a curved spine, as he advances into old age.

Lastly of course there’s Eddie – a rescued mutt from one of Guangzhou’s live-animal markets – and a dog that clearly belonged to someone before ending up in a cage destined for slaughter. His nails were clipped and his fur was cut – had he been stolen, or sold to the market because someone wanted a pure-breed dog instead? We'll never know, but I do know that Eddie makes me smile every second of every day with his love of life and an attitude that is a million times larger than his frame.

My speech ended with our World Animal Day wish – a plea to the audience to stop breeding their dogs, and that everyone think of the victims of this exploding industry – the dogs (and cats) who end up in misery without families to love and protect them, waiting for weeks, months or years for a home that never comes.

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