Jim Willis makes a connection with the hearts and souls of animals that all humans should strive for. His writings read as if the creatures he so passionately cares for penned them. He powerfully reinforces the concept and importance of the human-animal bond, and that bond is evident in nearly everything he writes.
A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan
incredibly took out a US$7,000 full-page ad in the paper to publish this
story by Jim Willis.
"How Could You" (Reproduced with the permission of Jim Willis)
When I was a puppy, I entertained
you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and
despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows,
I became your best friend. Whenever I was bad, you’d shake your finger
at me and ask how could you? But then you’d relent and roll me over for
a belly rub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because ice cream is bad for dogs, you said) and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and then you fell in love. She is now your wife, she is not a dog person, and still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.
Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog pen. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love. As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch because your touch was now so infrequent, and I would defend them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me.
These past few years, you just answered yes and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to just a dog, and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.
Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your family, but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said I know you will find a good home for her. They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with papers. You had to prise your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed No Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog! And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and lead with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked how could you? They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow.
They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you, that you had changed your mind that this was all a bad dream. Or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.
When I realised I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully, quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden, which she bears, weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.
She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured how could you? Perhaps because she understood my dog speak she said I’m so sorry. She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I couldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or to have to fend for myself, a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my How could you? Was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your Life continue to show you as much loyalty and love as I did?
by Jim Willis
'Tis lonely here in prison,
I dream of sun, of fields,
I saw them from a window once,
but I don't know how they feel.
I've never known a caress,
a friend, a bone, a toy,
I'd happily companion,
a human girl or boy.
But some men have decided,
with selfishness and greed,
that my fate shall be a cage,
and for my keep, I'll breed.
What should fuel this folly?
My kind may bark in vain.
We care not for your commerce,
and few know of our pain.
We're hidden well from justice,
for our freedom some may cry.
God grant me, please, just one request -
Let me play once before I die.
Dedicated to the millions of animals who never knew the sun and fresh air, those regarded as property, and who profited human bank accounts. Help stop the illegal activities of puppy/kitten farms that allow this incredibly cruel situation to continue.