27 July 2007

Local Dogs Are Not Askals

That is true!
Askal is a filipino slang word
for "asong kalye" or strays.
Local dogs are not strays.
Local dogs are actually mongrels
and like all the mutts in the world
are discriminated against by society
who prefers the purebred ones.

My studio is actually named after all the pets I have in Heaven. Heaven is the name of our house and the hounds are my pet mongrels who came like life's blessings into our house. You can also add to that all the other 'uncaged' pets like birds, lizards, etc. whose presence inspires me and my work . . .My world, not to mention my work schedules, revolve around them which is the reason why I can not easily accept commitments for long trips and assignments outside of my studio.

My love for animals goes beyond Heaven's gate since I love to talk ('communicate' might be a better word) to all animals I meet. Which brings most of their pathetic plight to my attention and to which I take action by designing a one-page info sheet which I gave to our homeowners association and barangay (local government unit) for distribution. I also try to call attention to owners and people when I see abused dogs and animals. I see a lot of animal lovers doing the same thing and the points I raised were also their concern:

1. Before you adopt a PET, think twice and see if you have the time, energy, and resources to do this. Caring for an animal is a Big Responsibility.

2. Pets like dogs and cats need annual shots, and their maintenance can be expensive so if you can not afford it, do not BUY, adopt or accept them as gifts. It is better to say NO now than to neglect them or worse, abandon them later in the streets!

3. If you happen to have pet dogs in your house already please make sure you provide them with clean water AT ALL TIMES. I cry each time I see dogs (even purebred ones in posh houses!) with expensive metal bowls that are dirty and with NO WATER.

4. If you go out to work all day, at least find time to take them out (or leave them ample space to roam around), feed them well before you go and do the same when you get back.

5. Since dogs have weak lungs, they can not take daily baths. You can wash them once a week (or twice a week during hot summer months) and try to brush their coats as their daily grooming ritual. If you can afford it, hire somebody to groom your pets (clip nails, clean teeth and ears, etc.) once a week, or else learn to groom them yourself. It can be one of your best bonding time.

6. And remember Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act which is a law that protects animals from abuse and maltreatment. Your neighbor and the community can call the attention of authorities and you can be penalized or send to jail if you fail to care for your pets!

An animal is not a lower creature to man. All of God's creation are equal and we must learn to live harmoniously by caring for each other. When we care for one another and the world we live in, we assure ourself, not just of our survival, but a good quality of life for all.

And culture is one of our best legacy. We do not look down at our culture as inferior (local dogs as askals, or local ice cream as dirty, etc.) but like all cultures, have its own unique discoveries that shape who we are as a people. And how we perceive others is reflective on how well we see ourself.

If you love animals, please take time to volunteer at your local animal shelter. They have great programs that care for abandoned animals, or use animals like dogs for therapy work, etc. In the Philippines, contact the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) at http://www.pitstopit.com/paws3