When I became a journalist for Animal Writes, I never
dreamed it would be the beginning of the end of the rainbow for me. My
single most cherished goal in life was always, always to be become a
published author. My mother would read to me every night and through
these stories I was taken to faraway places with fairy-tale princesses
and primates who spoke English and quaint little French convents where
little girls learned to be great women. "How wonderful to have that
power," I marveled, "to be the
catalyst for people's fantasy!" Later, I learned the unequivocal truth
behind the words "The pen is mightier than the sword." My attentions
turned to learning about animals and their environment, and it was
through the written words of women like Rachel Carson, Dian Fossey, Jane
Goodall and Ingrid
Newkirk that my innocence in a kind and caring world turned to concern
and outrage mobilizing me to become a nonfiction writer so that I, too,
could help spread the message of our responsibility and our covenant
with animals. Writers of fiction take us outside our world and our work
to a place of delight, mystery and drama. Those of us who write
nonfiction simply hold a mirror to the world and invite those around us
to take a peek.
Through a series of unusual coincidences and amazing
twists, it was an article I wrote for Animal Writes, entitled "Querencia,"
that led to the publishing of Hospice Hounds. The article provoked a
spirited debate between myself and Professor Marc Bekoff, author of
"Strolling with our Kin" and "The Smile of a Dolphin", who e-mailed me
to share his feelings about the article. We became fast cyber-pals and
later met face to face in a small cafe in Coral Springs, Florida. The
rest, as they say, is history. Marc wrote the Foreword for Hospice
Hounds and for that I am greatly in his debt.
I would like to share with Animal Writes readers the
Afterword that appears at the end of Hospice Hounds. I feel that Animal
Writes readers will be especially understanding of the point I am trying
to make in the writing of the Afterword. It is my hope that the book
Hospice Hounds will be read and enjoyed by many, but I most sincerely
pray that Animal Writes readers will read it with the spirit that it was
written by one of their own, and that it was they, the readers, who
accepted my writings in Animal
Writes these past two years and shared with me their comments, both good
and bad, that gave me the courage and strength to believe I could
actually write a book. So to the readers of Animal Writes, and to the
publisher EnglandGal and the editor JJswans, and to all the wonderful
staff of Animal Rights Online, I am eternally grateful for the
opportunities you have granted me, the constructive criticism and the
endless nights working together through difficult research. Thank you
from the bottom of my heart.
The following is an excerpt from the book Hospice
Hounds, Animals and Healing at the Borders of Death, by Michelle A.
Rivera, published by Lantern Books (www.lanternbooks.com)
I did not set out to make this a book that served any specific cause.
However, there was one theme that recurred over and over again, and to
ignore it or dismiss it as coincidence when there is progress to be made
would be a disservice to wonderful dogs and cats like Katy and Woody and
Kelly and Sable and all the others mentioned in this book.
My research turned up a tragic fact. The number one
reason animals are given up at shelters is because the family is moving
to a place where "no pets are allowed." For this reason, thousands of
animals are killed in our nations shelters every year.
We won't stand by and allow bias against people of
color, or religion or age or gender or cultural differences, yet we
allow bias against our best friends. Friends who love us unconditionally
and who visit the dying, cheer up little children and so much more. They
deserve to be protected against unfairness just like anyone does. But it
is the guardians who must make it so.
Dogs need to be taken to school and taught good behavior
just like children do. Dogs love to do homework! They love to please,
they want to be an important part of our world. We must make them good
citizens and teach them well. Only then, will they be welcome in the
places we live and we won't have to "put them away" or surrender them to
shelters or abandon them.
The faces of the people in the rooms that we visited
told the story. They love dogs. Most dog owners freely admit to buying
presents for their dogs at Christmas and their birthdays, yet we stand
mute when told they cannot live with us.
Americans love and rejoice in their companion animals.
There are so many ways to celebrate the wonderful relationships we enjoy
with our dogs and cats. We must celebrate them all and then write about
them! Write their stories. When your mother, father, or grandparents are
dying, write their favorite animal stories. They have so many stories to
tell. If not animal stories, then write their favorite recipes. Write
their favorite songs. Give them a journal and write what they tell you.
Use it as therapy for both of you. Write the stories for all time for
future generations. And know that when someone is dying, their companion
animals feel the pain and isolation too. Talk to them, take them for car
rides and long walks. Bring them to the grooming parlor, the vet, the
trainer. Then relate in speech and writings
the stories about how their dog reacted to new people and places and
things. Do this so that your loved one can die knowing that someone
truly does understand their beloved dog or cat almost as much as they
do. And loves them, and will always love them, when they no longer can.
Michelle A. Rivera
December 14, 2000
Hospice Hounds is available online at
Amazon.com: buying info: Hospice Hounds : Animals and
the Care of the Dying
or through the publisher at Hospice Hounds by Michelle Rivera
Go on to Deadly
Return to 3 May 2001 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright