She liked Cape Cod. It was a place for beaches, salty air and new friends. To say she was glad when Steven decided to get away for a few days couldn't begin to describe her joy at having some special time with the one she loved. They were relaxed, they were "themselves" and they were happy.


Ron Hevener


She had been with him for over a year. By now, it didn't matter if he spoke one language and she spoke another. For them, life ran hot or cold, as it does in Italian households where love lasts forever and anger seldom makes it through the night. Their hearts needed this time together. They needed to get over the recent loss of Jenny, the dog who had been so important to both of them, after her sudden illness.

"Bella?" he said, in a voice that meant I'd really like it if you'd come along with me: "How about a walk?" It was the first of many questions.

She loved their walks. She loved the sound and rhythm of his words as they rolled from tenderness to excitement. As he unfolded his dreams, his hopes, his fears, she could sense them; she could see them. But she didn't see what happened next: They weren't the only ones out for a walk that morning. Other tourists thought it was a nice time for a stroll, too. Some of them walked hand-in-hand, some walked alone ... some walked their dogs

There are many different kinds of dogs; many sizes and many temperaments. Some are Toy breeds to be fussed over and cuddled, while others are hunters meant to chase anything that moves. In our changing society, lines of demarcation are blurred and the talents for which animals are bred become forgotten. But, Nature doesn't forget. No matter what laws we write, no matter how much we try to whitewash and purify our language as we get closer to a fantasy world devoid of honest, down-to-earth emotion, Nature makes her own laws and merits out her own swift punishment.

Mother Nature and common sense tell us not to get between two dogs that are fighting, but, usually, it's wasted advice. Few of us can stand by when dogs are settling their differences with their own kind, especially if one of them is ours. So it was, when Steven pulled Bella off the Shih Tzu and, in the heat of the fight, she grabbed his pants.

At first, it almost sounds funny (A vacationer in Cape Cod, struggling with his own dog as she pulls off his pants). But, what happened next wasn't funny at all. As the other guy hurried off, a police officer was driving by.

Did the officer stop because of the fight? No. The police officer stopped because Bella was being scolded.  "What are you doing, slugging that dog!" he demanded.

"Excuse me? I was not slugging my dog!" Steven said, surprised. "I would never 'slug' my dog."

"Yes you were. I saw you slugging that dog in the face!" Clearly, it was a matter of the vacationer's word against a hometown cop.

Why was the officer so angry? Why was he interfering with Bella's training by the one who raised her from a puppy and knew her better than anyone else?  This is a very beautiful dog of valuable bloodlines. With her unusual colouring and perfect physical condition, she is a standout anywhere she goes. Was someone trying to get her for themselves?

As Bella looked on in confusion, Steven was written up and told that there would be an investigation. Two days later, police arrived where he was staying, and they took him away in handcuffs. He was jailed, required to post bail, and hire an attorney. One of them asked for a $5,000 retainer.

Have we gone overboard with laws for animal protection?

All we have to do is look at animals, themselves, for the answers. Is Bella afraid of Steven? Does she cower around him?  Does she whimper in expectation of being hit?  We don't need laws or courts to tell us these things. We know them in a heartbeat.

At the time of this writing, Steven and Bella are home, but they have a court hearing coming up. If he was such a threat to her - if they were really worried about a dog being hurt - don't you think Bella would have been taken away from him? Maybe this isn't really about dogs. Maybe it's not about animals at all. 

There's something strange in Massachusetts. Why does it need such a law? Why does any place need such a law? Are such laws being correctly understood and applied - or have our beautiful animals been used to get something on the books that hurt them worse than anyone ever thought? 

The court is treating this as a felony - a felony!  Do any of us realize what a felony does to someone's life - and to the animals that depend on them?  Is this how dog lovers (real dog lovers, not the phoney kind) want laws against animal abuse to be interpreted and carried out?

Bella lacks for nothing in her life. When her mate, Jenny, was sick, Steven paid thousands of dollars to save her. Does over-zealous law enforcement mean we must pay for lawyers, have our reputations smeared, lose our jobs, lose our pensions and go to prison for training dogs not to bite? It's true that animals don't speak our language, but they do learn by example. And, as anybody who sees a spoiled kid throwing a temper tantrum in a grocery store knows, so do we.

Animals do not stand alone in our society. They cannot be born, raised, trained or cared for without someone who takes on that responsibility. What happens to Bella now? What happens to a beautiful dog in whose name such laws were passed if she loses Steven - the one she loves and depends on - because a law meant to protect her . . . ends up wrecking her home and destroying her life instead?

Think about it. 

© Ron Hevener





One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)

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