Well, who did I find at the West Virginia Capitol on the first day of my Doghouse Tour but Abe Lincoln! Just the man I wanted to see.
Me: “OK, Abe, hit me with it. Obviously it’s been twelve years and the dogs are still not free. What am I doing wrong?”
Me: “No, I don’t think I can become president and make a proclamation. Got anything else?”
Me: “OK. I’ll take it under advisement.”
[I think he’ll come to me in a dream tonight with some better advice. He wasn’t ready for such a tough problem today. He’s thinkin’ on it.]
Well, as days spent on a chain go, it was a pretty good day. Why?
1. It didn’t rain. I spent the majority of the day in the shade, perhaps through a little cheating at the end. (Hey, I forgot to put on my sunscreen! I couldn’t afford to get burned on Day One. Which I still did anyway, but not too bad.)
Here’s the thing about dogs and weather. You never realize just how bad they have it with the weather until you try a couple of days on a chain. Rarely, and I mean rarely, is there a perfect weather day. So even if the day starts out nice, like mine did, with plenty of breeze and shade, by the end of the day the shade is gone and the dog is stuck in the blazing hot sun. Not cool. And deadly.
I am never as obsessed about weather as I am when I am chaining to a doghouse. Then I worry about the temp, the rain, the clouds, snow. Just a nightmare!
2. TV stations came. Two of them to be exact, plus a newspaper sent out a photographer. That’s a good day’s work right there. A big thanks to DDB’s Robin Budin who’s been doing media for the event. Thank you, Robin!
I’ll add more as I find them.
3. Someone genuinely wanted advice on what to do about his dog. This is the thing that gets me, when my work really and truly TOUCHES someone. It suddenly feels so much more meaningful and powerful.
A gentleman came up to me and very formally told me he was impressed with my ‘moral fortitude’ and asked me for advice. He said he puts his dog on the chain only while he comes to work, and he wanted to know if we got a law if that would be wrong. He asked if he lived in the city of Charleston would he be breaking the law.
I told him he would be, since Charleston’s law states you can put them out five times a day for two hours. I asked him for details, and he said he has a black lab who likes to run. While he is working he puts her out on a chain and takes her inside when he gets home.
I asked if she destroyed or peed in the house. He said not really, when she was younger, yes, but she is pretty well behaved now. I said to my mind the best thing he can do is build her a fence with a doggie door, then she can truly be free to choose where she wants to be at all times. I gave him options on how to do it cheaply and how much a sliding panel doggie door cost.
He seemed to think that was as good idea, and I am so hopeful that my advice get his dog free from the chain for good.
That was more of a gift for ME than for him…getting to feel like I made progress and my work was accepted and needed.
So for my cheating with the shade story…
I could see around noon that I was losing my shade. I kept moving my doghouse down, and stretching my chain, until it could go no further and give me a place to sit on the stone wall.
I watched the other side of the Capitol steps, and as nature would have it, the trees there started sending their shade into an area where I could sit. But I needed to get over there.
I needed to move territories. Neighborhoods. You get it.
My assistants, Brynnan and her friend Izzy, were off at McDonalds enjoying the free internet and a beverage, so I was on my own. I couldn’t really carry my doghouse that far without things getting crazy, so I waited for some strapping lad to walk by. None arrived, but an in-shape woman came along, so I asked her.
She graciously assented to help me carry my house to the other side of the Capitol, and I was grateful to get back into the shade.
Obviously, this is cheating since the dogs don’t get to move spots like that. If it’s any consolation, it looks like I will have NO SHADE at all tomorrow. So you’ve got that going for you.
As it turned out, except for the shade, I moved into a worse ‘neighborhood’, with a half eaten apple carelessly tossed into my area, plus some scary dead bugs and my sitting area swarmed by small, biting ants. Sigh.
Such are the struggles of a chained dog! Often the family will ostracize the dog WAY to the back of the yard, as far away from the house as humanly possible. Then, if there are enough citizen complaints, they will move the dog to an even worse area, resulting in more suffering for the dog.
I’m telling you, the chained dogs can’t win for losing. And if you spend even one day on the chain, you’ll get a taste of what they have to live through.
Here are a few more pics from the day in West Virginia.
Tonight we are in Columbus, Ohio for a trip to the Statehouse tomorrow. I will be there from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. if you can come out and chain with me or even come for moral support. Hope to see you there!
There is no state law prohibiting or limiting chaining in Ohio, but there are a few communities with ordinances. Check this page to learn more: http://www.unchainyourdog.org/Laws.htm
And, my friend Gail Downie and her fellow advocates have just recently succeeded in getting a new law passed in Dayton, Ohio! (Would share a link, but the only link I could find didn’t work. But take my word for it, they did. They rocked it.)
See you tomorrow.