Readers may forgive me for focusing on animals in recent weeks. The space chimp, the cat that hates lightning, the dove that lost her tree--it's not by design but occasion that the creatures made their way into this column.
Three weeks ago, in "Letters to the Keys," I described the disposal of four, live German shepherd pups in a dumpster by some chill-blooded person. The puppies, still in their downy-fur stage, were rescued when someone by chance heard their cries.
Unharmed, thankfully, they were examined by a veterinarian and distributed to families that will care for them.
How Spike was rescued
Walker, a Key West resident, read about the four pups' plight and was reminded of how he got his dog, Spike, who also was tossed into the garbage when just a youngster. Another man's search for beer led to the animal's discovery.
Spike is a perfect example of a rescued pet whose presence is a gift to the world.
I happen to know Spike; he was a fixture at The Key West Citizen when I was there. He was a member of the staff, prancing into the newsroom with two tennis balls in his mouth, followed by Walker, who was busy making sure newspapers got delivered to news boxes and performing a million other tasks.
Spike does not let those tennis balls out of his sight. He can control both of them, too, by using his nose in combination with each front paw. I swear. I've seen it a hundred times.
He is all about food, too. If he smells a slice of pizza or a Cuban mix at an employee's desk, he's right there, sitting politely, awaiting a handout.
This dog is a real cool animal that could have had an awful, lonely end in his puppyhood.
I will let Walker relate the story.
"I have been enjoying your pieces in Key West the Newspaper but was especially touched by your "Letters to the Earth" one.
No beer, but plenty of Spike
"A crazy Cuban man (I can't remember his nickname now) saw her and went to check if there was any beer in the box. He saw Spike, who was, maybe, 4-5 weeks old, in the box, and removed the box (and the puppy). If I would have hypothesized such a situation, I would have predicted that the man would have just left the box (and Spike) there. This guy spent his days hanging around at the entrance to the fish house, talking to himself and cursing Fidel Castro.
"He showed the puppy to another Cuban guy who worked with me and he brought the puppy to me.
Spike stares at the tennis balls in Walker's hand as he took this photo last week. The grizzled fellow loves the outdoors but stays close to his owner, Walker. Note his rapt attention, expecting Walker to throw the tennis balls for him to chase.
"I have always been so glad that I ended up with Spike, even though, at the time, I was not even contemplating having a pet.
"Ever since, I have thought about how horrible his fate would have been--he would have died before the sun went down that day 11 years ago. Anyway, thought your readers would appreciate the story."
Thanks, Walker for sending in the photos. Spike sure looks happy!
Puppy dumping happens everywhere
If there's a place where people take care of their animals and pets, it's in the Keys. Puppy dumping is thankfully rare here, though we don't know how many animals aren't saved from such disgusting action by humans. It doesn't take a lot to imagine what kind of death that means for animals.
A quick Internet search for "puppies thrown in trash" Wednesday night included the following news headlines:
"Mother dog, six puppies thrown in trash"
"Puppies bagged and thrown in landfill"
"Fourteen puppies thrown in trash."
The dog dumping happens all over the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom--indeed, all over the world. There are YouTube videos of puppies being pulled from dumpsters, landfills and trashcans. Not a heartwarming scene, but it seems the act is not limited to one area.
This is reason No. 3,543 to neuter one's pets. Fewer unwanted puppies and kittens means fewer puppies and kittens will end up in the trash.