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Mahatma Gandhi was once quoted as saying that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

I have to admit to being a bit of a softie for animals. When the family pet dies I have to find a quiet corner and have a good blubber. Then I have to dig the obligatory hole in the back yard and gather the family for the farewell.

I seem to be the kind of person to which animals are attracted. I hope, of course, that it’s not slow fluid seepage – an affliction of oncoming old age – that attracts the snout of dogs to personal spaces.

I’d rather like to think that they acknowledge a kindred spirit, one who would happily wander the neighbourhood and check out interesting sights, sounds and smells all day long, then return to curl up on the couch with good company after wolfing down a hearty steak.

So I tend to treat animals with respect and kindness. It’s got me out of bother on a few occasions, once memorably when a huge hound thought I was about to intrude on its territory. It tore across its front lawn as I stood at the gate, teeth bared (the dog’s not mine) and looked for all money as if it was going to separate my larynx from whatever it is that holds it in my neck, in one foul, salivating chomp. But I smiled at the barrel-chested mutt, held my ground (though concerned at the possiblity of the aforementioned leakage) and the dog stopped in its tracks.

I think it smiled back, but I was backing away fairly rapidly, pleased that there was still a half-hinged gate between us.

So the lesson is to treat animals well and you’ll be rewarded; treat them badly and as Gandhi alluded to, we’ve lost our moral compass. So I was pleased to see that two of the Huha dogs we’ve featured in Ōtaki Today have found new homes (p26).

Think I’ll have a blubber.

A softie for animals



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