Niagara Gazette

July 20, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Finding loyalty and love at the SPCA

By Ron Gawel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — There’s a lot of love “out there!” If you’re truly tired of human relationships with strings attached or being on the receiving end of too many bad habits, or of listening to so-called friends, significant others and even family members always being “right”, or chronically complaining, maybe a committed relationship with someone of our species isn’t quite right for you and it’s time to think about other options in the way of companionship.

Try visiting the SPCA of Niagara animal shelter, perhaps on a “rainy day and Monday!” Seriously. There are oceans of love there to be given back to you by patiently waiting, extremely loveable dogs and cats, of every conceivable size and variety, and so many have incredibly winning personalities. The sad eyes will melt you, perhaps even make you do the RIGHT thing. That is, take a chance — step up to the plate and adopt a canine or feline for a family pet. Maybe take two. Think with your heart about maybe “trying one on for size”! Take your time to look carefully and choosing wisely.

The love and affection and company of these adopted animals is undaunted and cannot be matched and to have a dog or cat “on your side, in your corner,” is a very good thing! These innocent creatures, always though silently, but lovingly, “understand” and offer tremendous support during a time of stress or crisis or loss and are wonderful companions when there isn’t another soul to be found anywhere. Their function, if nothing else, is to be “a friend.” That’s all they want and they give so much in return in the way of being loyal and true just by being there. Devoted pet owners think nothing of initiating these creatures into their homes as members of the immediate family. The pets serve a dramatic purpose in the structure and support of a family unit and play a major role in interacting with it. And they live for the adoring love of their pets. Many would impulsively subject themselves to and do the unthinkable to make every attempt to save them in a life or death situation. And yes, when they must “leave” us, a part of us goes with them. For many, a house or an apartment truly becomes a home when you add a set of four legs, a happy tail and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog or a cat.

We have five cats, each as precious to us as a child would be — each unique, mysterious, humble, exotic and quite loveable. They all came from rescue shelters — two of them from our own SPCA of Niagara, one of which, Dinah, lived to be 18, and another from the SPCA, Savannah, now in her 13th year and still living the good life in our happy home in each other’s loving company. When we lost Dinah, in less than a week, we adopted another cat desperately needing a home who, as it turned out was in a shelter waiting for “someone” for eight months. Cinnamon too was on “death row” when I chose to take her home. A very nervous cat, she had chewed off half the fur on her legs and belly from the stress of being confined for so long. And as it turned out, she didn’t at all mix well socially with our extended cat family of four. She has to be kept separately in her own upstairs roomy quarters and is indeed a “special needs” feline who requires adjustment time that may never end. It makes no difference. The love for her is real, is genuine, as with the others.

We also just adopted a young, abandoned Pomeranian from a rescue shelter who was transported here all the way from a “terrible place” in the state of Kentucky. This, in less than a week after losing our own beloved pom, Konnor at the unexpected young age of nine from kidney failure. Again, it was all done to honor our lost dog’s memory. James Herriott, renowned author of such books as “All Creatures Great and Small” and “All Things Wise and Wonderful” once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

In closing, though the new NO KILL policy, which has reestablished the SPCA as the place for the community to look to for the protection of abused and stray animals, has put somewhat of a strain on utilizing the structure’s full capacity and then some, hundreds of innocent animals have been spared and given a second chance at taking on the coveted role of becoming someone’s loyal companion.

The people of the community need to “make it happen” in stepping up as the shelter’s support system by providing homes for these animals so many of which have terrific dispositions and gentle temperaments and are only asking for a chance at a real life. There are a lot of people already out there who do feel for these far too many, unspoken for, helpless creatures who never asked to be born. They “get” that these animals were put here for us to love and enjoy. And they aren’t “missing out!”

Cats and dogs bring so much joy and laughter into our often empty, sometimes bland households and into our very lives. Authoress George Eliot beautifully stated, “Dogs and cats are agreeable friends and perfect companions — they ask no questions, they pass no criticism. They love you no matter what. They won’t ever lie or deceive you or attempt to betray you. They have no ambition, no self-interest, no desire for vengeance, no fear other than that of displeasing. They give us always their absolute all. And we, in essence, are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.” Can any human friend live up to the same claims? A loving and loyal pet can keep us happy and sane and free from that “Hell of Loneliness” we’ve all experienced.

Ron Gawel is a Niagara Falls resident.