Over 50 years ago I was staying with my cousin on her family farm in Mid Devon. I loved to go there. Freedom,horse riding, saffron cake and spending time with the animals. I just loved it.
But one day I wandered into the barn to see my uncle bent over a bucket. A weather beaten,tall,somewhat austere man. He was drowning kittens in a bucket. I think he was sorry I had witnessed it, but he just said " we can't be over run with cats!"
I went back home to my Dad who was a vet and told him what I had seen and how sad it made me. Now, he was a farmers son and he had seen just the same himself.... And he simply gave me a cuddle and said. " Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind." I did understand those words but that image of those drowning kittens has never left me.
Last Sunday we went out into the foothills of the mountains opposite our house here in Spain. It was a new walk for us,way off the beaten track. As we walked we talked and looked at everything surrounding us. Mountains, valleys, tracks and woodlands. But, as we walked we were suddenly met by the sound of ferocious, noisy barking. And there beside the path were rows of concrete sheds with runs attached. And in every run was a dog. It did not take us a minute to realise we had stumbled upon a pack of hunting dogs. Of course you can not fail to be aware that wild boar hunting goes on in our area. But this was our first encounter at first hand. The dogs sounded crazy and that upset me. But, worse, behind a car nearby was a dog lying on the ground. It looked ill, thin and wasted. I have been told that Spaniards do not believe animals have souls. What a generalisation. But, I think the person who owns this dog does not gave a heart or soul. Or perhaps it's just a stray living nearby hoping to have scraps thrown to it when the hunting dogs are fed.
I realise that in a foreign land, walking on private ground, and not knowing if the dog was vicious or rabid there is little you can do. Andy was certainly not going to let me stop. So, we walked home. We both felt miserable and that image of the dog has haunted me all week.
I think that poor animal would rather be put to sleep than look like that but of course vet bills are so expensive. People are struggling so much with poverty. The charities that help with animals do a sterling job but are totally overwhelmed. To take food or water would not help because soon we travel home for a month and such kindness is misplaced. So, my dads words come back... I wish someone would be "cruel for a moment, to be kind to that dog."
We visited Assissi when we were in Italy .
It was beautiful and the work of St Francis, the patron saint of animals amazing. On our return to Turre I realised the local church in the village is dedicated to Assissi.
And right by the fountain in our village there is a little Charity Shop. The Assissi Charity of Turre.
I went in this morning to be greeted by a lady who was very keen to tell me all about the work she does to help people and their animals. She has a folder with pictures of all the dogs she is helping. The Spanish are actually coming to her. They may be out if work, they may be ill or very poor but they do care about their animals and she is providing food to help from the money she is making in the shop.
So, it's a strange old world. I felt lost to know how to help. But, after having a lifetime surrounded by animals and a Dad who devoted his life helping them, I am going to take some things I have made to the shop and hope at least some of the dogs will be helped. And even better their owners may be educated about illness, castration and spaying
So, here we have it. Embroidered felt Christmas decorations.
Baby bibs made from microfibre cloths.
A crochet hat that has been tucked away waiting for a good home
Of course I will add some books and bits and pieces to the bag and hope it raises some much needed Euros.
Of course it will not totally remove that haunting image but at least it's something.