For the love of Judith . . . and all others like her

JudithThe following story was inspired by data documented on an animal rescue website.

They should have called her Angel, but instead she was given a name more reflective of her masters’ despicable character, abusive behaviour and unconscionable betrayal. I don’t possess any information about Judith’s life before she mistakenly arrived at this house of horrors, but I know indisputably that her story holds true for innumerable dogs at this very moment. I never met Judith, but her tragic beginning implores me to give her a voice, while her heart wrenching image propels me to continue advocating on behalf of innocent animals awaiting justice.

  Try if you can to imagine where you were ten years ago. Remember your surroundings, daily activities, ongoing interactions and aspirations. Consider how many days and hours you have passed in this decade filled with countless experiences and unforgettable memories. Now envision yourself restrained by a cold, steel chain bound to your neck condemning you to an uninhabitable wooden dog house for ten torturous years. This was the life of Judith . . . and for many others like her.

  I internalize the mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement of a vulnerable animal going to a new home, ready to start a lifelong commitment of providing fierce loyalty, unconditional love and everlasting companionship to a worthy family. Without any background knowledge, I can presume that these were the emotions experienced by Judith as she arrived at her new home. Maybe this was not the case. Perhaps she was violently taken and shown cruelty from the moment they set their sinful eyes on her. Like all dogs, her only desire was to feel loved in return for her consistent devotion. What she received was the most vicious torment one could ever endure. For one hundred twenty months, Judith suffered in silence. Her cries were noticed, but perpetually ignored. Instead of preparing for the joy of a new pet, her owners contemplated the many ways in which they could inflict punishment.

  With the name “JUDAS” crudely spray-painted on her makeshift dog house, Judith began her life of agony. All the while she would wonder what she had done to cause such hatred. This ill-fated dog spent ten years waiting for freedom, but until that day would arrive, the rest of the world existed around her as she politely stared at the same surroundings to the point of madness.

  The same chains, dog house, dirt and fear would envelope her unspeakable life. To further her sentence, Judith was never given any toys with which to play and occupy the excruciating monotony of every passing minute. While people went about their busy lives, Judith waited.

  As the seasons changed from hellish heat to unbearable cold, Judith suffered the oppressive sun without anyone to care about her intense thirst and exhaustion. When the acute deep freeze sustained the long winter months, nobody brought her inside or offered her a blanket.

  Overtime, her coat became thick and matted; her legs deformed and crippled from exposure; her health deteriorated from malnutrition, and eventually her vibrant brown fur turned a deeper shade of grey. But still she waited. Judith waited for someone to cut her chains which left her sitting in her own bodily waste and that of her masters.

  In addition to denying Judith any proper food, water and cleanliness, her owners committed a revolting act of indecency in order to strip away any shred of remaining dignity. Bordered by her excrement and with nowhere to run, she awaited further maltreatment. Judith’s “human” owners never came outside to lovingly feed or play fetch, but rather to stand over and defile her. Neighbours witnessed this atrocity, but could do little to help since bylaw enforcers permitted Judith’s “family” to disgrace her with indignant acts of violence.

  How this magnificent beauty managed to stay alive is a testament to her undying spirit. Through the grace of God, the day finally materialized when Judith’s wait was over. Human heroes had come to rescue her. She even barked with her innate duty to protect her family from intruders – a family who forced her to sleep on frozen ground, covered in snow. Rescue workers took photographs of her horrid living conditions, physical malformations and other devastating effects of neglect. Judith was given a hair cut to remove the infested matting and received healthy nourishment to fill her empty stomach. Judith experienced a lifetime of love in the seconds it took rescuers to bond with her. After her rehabilitation, Judith found her way into a home she deserved from the onset. This family loved her tremendously and spent their time expressing their fond adoration.

  With all the questions I would like to pose about the reasons for which Judith had to wait ten years to be rescued, I can currently answer one with certainty.  I truly believe Judith was an angel sent to incarnate a visual representation of societal indifference.

  Although she was given a name indicative of brutality, she was not the beast. Through all her unequivocal suffering, Judith never lost her trusting disposition and ability to adapt to a new environment. Her previous life makes me wonder how we can refer to ourselves as a society when such ruthlessness inflicted upon animals is permissible by way of apathy. When did we become so complacent in our ability to stand up for the rights and freedoms of animals? How can individual communities knowingly allow animals to be chained outside for a decade, under the worst conceivable conditions without consideration for their welfare?

  Sadly, Judith’s life in her new home wasn’t eternal. After a year of peace, the rainbow gate opened its arms to welcome her home after her mission on earth had been completed. She had been sent down to show the world that animals are beloved creatures to be respected and admired. Judith’s life touched so many hearts in a manner that will hopefully lead society to question its own beliefs, while encouraging the public to seek legislative change to animal welfare bylaws. By ignoring her pleas and those of other animals, we become just as guilty as Judith’s heinous keepers who demonstrated such disregard for her life.

  Let us use our conscience to form moral decisions in favour of unchaining animals by having the strength in our conviction that as a society, we cannot in good faith consent to this form of callousness.

By Cherine Bissinger


Read Cherine's poem on Judith here




Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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