Reading the eclectic diversity of articles by GardenDrum authors about gardens and gardening, it has become pretty evident to me that a lot of true gardeners are also great animal lovers. It seems an automatic impulse or desire in us that we graduate froma love of plants to all creatures as well.
One of the big joys of of my gardening life has been the relationship of my animals and me as we spend time together in the garden. Our pets are currently Archibald our big black Labrador of 7 years, Jerome our tabby and Mildred [Milly] the tortoiseshell at only 7 months. They delight in us being in the garden with them as much as we enjoy their company. To me, it is all part of gardening. Some of their antics can be truly hilarious.
Four weeks ago, Jerome disappeared. He is a very large superbly marked tabby of 20 months and is desexed; he had never wandered before. I have been frantic with grief about him. One conjurs up all sorts of horrid thoughts during the middle of the night, rendering one spent and exhausted in the morning.
On Monday this week, I was phoned by the local vet to say that Jerome had been found and taken to the Veterinary Surgery. I was warned that he was not in a good way. What an understatement this proved to be!
Jerome was emaciated and dehydrated – his eyes were like saucers, and shrunken into the back of his bony head. His hind quarters had clearly visible bones with only skin covering them – his muscle tone has all gone. But it was his front foot that was the biggest horror. Instead of a foot he now has a crushed and mangled mess of visible bone shard and bare, red, suppurating flesh. His foot had oh too obviously been shattered in a rabbit trap.
Jerome was too sick to operate on. The foot is gutted, but also is the whole limb, because for 4 weeks he has been trying to walk on this foot, finding it too painful and so has held it up to walk on 3 legs. The limb now has severe contractures and will never mend. It has to be removed tomorrow.
While awaiting surgery, we have him home; he gets many small amounts of his favourite food – chuck steak. He is also drinking well and looks so much better after only 3 days with TLC. But when he is asleep which he seems to have difficulty doing, his shaking is akin to a fit, they are so fierce. I can only assume that he is reliving the shocking experience of being left in a rabbit trap in severe pain. This will take him a long time to recover from mentally. The body will repair, but the mental anguish is obviously going to last for some time.
Our darling boy follows me everywhere that he can. He sits at my feet as I write this. I know that I will do everything in my power to help him get through this ordeal, the best being to shower him with love and patience as he gets beyond this experience.
I have written a letter to the editor of the local paper about this illegal practice. I have also contacted the local shire ranger who is going to try to find the culprit. He is, like me, horrified that anyone would still be doing this to animals.
There is a saying that ‘people who are cruel to animals have a real capacity to be cruel to humans’. Unfortunately there are still too many people who seem oblivious to this adage and practice it without a care in the world. Fortunately I believe that Karma will eventually catch up with them. It gives me some respite.