A Slow Reader’s Note

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I finally managed to finish the book, ‘Marley & Me’  by John Grogan after a long time – it’s less than six months though, so I didn’t really set a new record this time. Not that the book was slow or boring, in fact I loved it cover to cover; it’s just that I am a genuinely slow reader really (quite in contrast to the way I write) and this is every bit a slow reader’s note.

I am often mocked at this slow trait of mine, especially when the rest of my intellectual family are certified book worms and super quick readers. I mean, talk in hours and minutes with them and they are done with a new read. I am just not in their league.

Anyway, proudly maintaining my pace, I am so happy at my achievement for the day. So what, if it arrived after immensely exaggerated delays. It still brings so much joy!

Well, in all honesty, I really wanted to finish the book much earlier, especially ’cause I love the story and the adapted movie version of it so much. I even took it with me as my travel read on my last trip, but due to my busy and tiring routine (as I already mentioned in one of previous blog posts Turning the Clock Backwards at length), I really have to pave my way through prioritizing daily tasks carefully. Hence, I really struggled through the chapters mostly.

This morning though, I woke up quite determined. I was on ‘Mission Completion’, heavily supported by my incessantly high energy level, owing to the abundant amount of sleep I am getting due to Ramzan these days. Yes, I am sleeping a lot, and I mean ALOT!

So, today I grabbed the book at seven am and just finished the remaining 150 pages in roughly about two hours, which is not all that bad, considering it’s me you’re talking about. It almost made me realize, I am not such a slow reader after all, I am just mostly tired and suffer from an inconsiderable lack of time.

Anyway, Marley & Me was an overwhelming book. I am so glad I picked it up two years ago on a random bookshop visit with my colleagues. Being an animal lover, and a dog lover, with two rescued dogs of our own, I mean of course, it was a story I can so relate too. Of course, no two pets can be exactly the same in their traits and personality and our dogs are not really like Marley, but yes, dogs share this godzilla like loving spirit with which they touch our lives unlike any other pet. That’s what makes them so unique and special.

Just the way Marley touched the lives of the Grogan family, our dogs have done the same for us. Time is passing quickly and we have already witnessed so much growth and change in the attitude of our mama and son pair, it is truly quite amazing. Unlike Marley, though we are dealing with one seriously ill, epileptic dog, who was once quite a hyper dude himself (a bit on the Marley side), but has sobered down now drastically, and the other female who is slowly slipping into the senior citizen arena with a disturbing past of living on the streets.

Parts of the book made me so happy and they made me applaud our once hyper male and our female mom, who is actually the ‘best guard’ dog in town in so many ways. Yes, they have their moments and special needs that need to be attended to (which is the responsibility of a dog owner, regardless), but they are actually great pets, especially if you consider their mongrel breed, their life on the streets (in the case of our female dog who escaped the notorious Karachi DHA’s CDC dog killings several times, till we rescued, spayed and officially got her registered) and the fact that they are merely a four legged creature in a society that lacks compassion for animals at large.

On the other hand, the book also brought a few tears especially from the part Marley grew old and weak till his family funeral. Animal lovers can understand how tough it is to lose their fur pals after years of bonding followed by helplessly watching them grow old and weak as their systems collapse slowly and gradually. It’s an ordeal that all animals lovers go through and there is no escaping it.

I did too, since I belong to a household where pets are like family, siblings and kids, literally speaking. I lost my ‘youngest in the family’ title many years ago to our furkids happily. Yes, pets are just as important as any of us in the house. The love, joys and memories shared with them are so pure, beautiful and non-disappointing – a rare quality in humans of the world. And then finally comes a time, where you prepare yourself and them to part ways. That is heart wrenching, but the entire experience with a pet leaves you so much more human and responsible at the end of it all.

But, as I truly believe, you can’t force such things on you. It’s in you and you’re chosen for this stuff. You can’t force or pretend yourself to be an animal or dog or cat lover just like that. It’s just something within you.

Anyway, the reason for today’s blog was to cheer my own book completion. Secondly, to praise how amazingly simple and relatable Marley & Me was as a read, full points to John Grogan. I am sure all dog lovers have already read it by now, but if someone hasn’t I fully recommend it. Go get a copy today! Lastly, it took me through a showreel of my pet encounters in a way I can’t really put down in words. Somethings are better left unsaid, as they say.

Well, what’s next for the slow reader? I think I kind of have an idea of what to read for the next zillion months. I’ll fill you in with another slow reader review a whole lot later guys. So, just wait up till then 🙂

Voice of the Voiceless

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A glimpse of the Karachi Protest to end dog killings (via Pirzada’s Pets Clinic )

The week that passed has been a crucial one as people from different walks of life gathered on a single platform to protest against the unnecessary and cruel practice of dog culling through brutal shootings, poison and perhaps some other inhumane measures.

The community in Karachi and Lahore, though not that gigantic in size, but was determined enough to raise the voice for the voiceless.

As mentioned before, I’d emphasize again this horrendous act of killing dogs on sight is not required because every dog in the city is not ill, crazy or infected with rabies. Dogs do not attack people as is assumed by the general masses.

It’s sheer stupidity to believe that killing this entire specie will solve all our issues. No, it will not! In fact, science, research and history gives us enough evidence that wiping out any specie brings a disbalance in our eco system. Dogs clean up a lot of human mess and other smaller, dangerous animals/organisms in our surroundings as their routine, which once they are gone will keep on populating and eventually lead to unusual diseases or plagues. That, is what our lack of intellect is preparing for actually with the never ending exercise!

Being a Karachite, I can safely say we have bigger problems in this city such as the dire need of cleaner districts, access to clean drinking water, safer and secured lifestyle to name a few. Our city mayor, who is an arch fan of killing dogs needs to take a closer look at the city to resolve the real issues.

We need to be a little more educated on this topic. Dog killing is no solution…Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs are the only humane solution. It’s a common practice globally to spay and release stray dogs and cats and we have plenty of veterinary associations who can actually work in collaboration with the government to make this program a success.

Apart from that, it’s time we need to educate our people, both the kids as well as adults through advocacy programs on animal rights to ignite the missing compassion. In Pakistan, people are quick to judge those who speak up for animal rights and instantly assume that these individuals don’t respect human rights. We need to get out of this shell of labeling which cause is more important, as they are equally important!

The issue has been covered both by local and international media for sometime. Here’s a report by the Daily Mail. Last month I shared a personal account of how our family lost our adorable neutered dog Angel due to dog shootings by CBC Karachi.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed on this one and hope this might help in ending the horrendous ritual of dog killings in our cities.

Angel

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They thought I was an Angel, when I was just a Messenger!

-Unknown

One of the key reasons of starting this blog was to pen down my anger on the reality and suffering of animals in Pakistan and all over the world. As humans, we may have achieved zillions of milestones in myriad walks of life, but when it comes to compassion we have reached nowhere.

Of course, I am referring to mankind in general, whom I often refer to as man-cruel. It is evident from the efforts that humans have put in destroying so many wild species from the face of earth over the last century. Unfortunately, now we are left with a handful of species; the rare ones at the verge of extinction and all of this leading towards an ecological imbalance, which would ultimately lead to the end of all life.

I feel this world is cruel to animals as well as animal lovers. They may both share a handful of joyous moments and years together (oblivious to the world), but mostly this companionship is short-lived and followed by suffering wherever the world gets a chance to intrude.

Today, I want to write about a similar intrusion. Last year, my family met someone beautiful quite accidently. There was this stray female dog in our neighborhood. She had given birth to a litter and those little fur balls were living outside our neighbor’s house. Before we could know, we became quite attached to the dog whom we started calling ‘Angel’. We put a collar around her neck so everyone would know she is a pet. She used to visit us every morning and evening; she was friendly and harmless.

However, in Karachi like many other metros of Pakistan, the authorities had come up with a vicious practice of shooting all dogs regardless of caring whether they were actually dangerous or suffering from rabies or were they really a serious threat to people. We were always afraid for Angel because of this looming danger. Sadly, we couldn’t keep her with us in our rented space and a hater of a landlady. At that time, our hands were tied real bad so we did whatever we could.

We sent Angel and her pups to an animal shelter – the best in town as was claimed, for their safety. However, when we visited the shelter, Angel seemed sad and uncared for. While the shelter became a home for her litter, it was clearly not her place. Looking at her sadness, we brought Angel back to our neighborhood.

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Angel sitting at her favorite spot

We got her neutered, put a collar around her and cared for her. Angel was so happy as we could see her beautiful transformation through her pictures. She had her stray pals here; they played together. She continued to visit us daily. There was this spot outside our house where she used to sit gracefully. Everybody in the locality knew she was our pet dog. Life was good.

Until, one morning when we were getting ready for work we heard a few gun shots. We went out looking for Angel to bring her inside till the shooters left. We didn’t find her, but we saw two of her strays pals dead. They looked so innocent even when they were dead. At last, we saw Angel on the opposite side of the road. We ran towards her but in an instant, there was a gunshot and the shooter had hit her heart.

It was devastating. While my brother fought with the shooter and everyone else shamed the shooter for killing dogs unreasonably considering them a nuisance, I stood by our dying Angel. She was looking at me and then she was gone. What could fighting achieve…the poor animal had suffered and was dead already.

The sight of her walking, getting shot and then dying in my hands never leaves me. Of course, I don’t expect people to understand such bonds – people are hardly faithful and loyal to each other to figure out the friendship of a human and dog. Angel was too good for this world and it seemed like her death was waiting for her in the neighborhood. Though, we loved her so much, we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t save her, although she was a dream pet for any dog lover. The next few months were depressing and I often felt sad for all those mornings when I didn’t get up to see her.

Although Angel will never be forgotten, but I feel all this was so unnecessary. She could still be alive today.

Like Angel, 100s of dogs were killed in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Some are shot and some are being poisoned to death. It doesn’t matter if you put collars around their necks. People feel society will be cleansed by wiping them off. The concept of TNR (Trap-Nueter-Release) is unknown to authorities and governing bodies here. After every few months, we see papers covering news of how 300 dogs were killed in the line of some kind of duty. I mean don’t we have terrorists and suicide bombers to deal with or stray dogs the biggest threat to our country’s existence?

Though, I stopped following these updates after Angel was shot, my siblings tell me there have been petitions and a case has been filed too against the killing of dogs leading to a supposed halt to such massive killings.

Maybe, one day there will be a bill that abandons such dog killings in Pakistan, but what we really need are the basics – we need to be taught of compassion from the beginning. People need to respect each other and animals. We need to learn to coexist. Only, then can we see the change that brings positivity and life. Till then, I know, there will be many more Angels crossing the rainbow bridge before their time and many more broken hearts lamenting over their loss.

-Z.

Survival

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It’s time for a Friday Fur Kid post!

We’ve all got our shit to deal with. It’s obviously really important to us irrespective of the nature and size of the problem. In a way, we’re all busy fighting our mini battles and colossal wars in our tiny world. Some of us are hungry for victory, but some of us simply care to survive.

It’s no different for animals. In this essentially cruel world of humans, every specie is barely surviving.

Looking at their rate of extinction, one can only hope for the return of humanity (and sanity).

– Z.