Friday, August 18, 2006

Herbie has a histiocytoma

At least, that's what the vet thinks it is, unless of course it's a mast cell tumour, in which case it's a whole new world of unhappiness... There I was, minding my own business, as much as I'm ever capable of, and thinking Herbie was fine, when suddenly a large red boil erupts on his neck. I think it was Noel Coward said that while he liked a manly man and a womanly woman, he couldn't abide a boily boy.

Herbie, now alias boily boy, seemed OK, still eating like a wolf, but he went to the vet pronto. Vet has now gained confidence, and has realised that greyhounds run away rather than bite. He thought that histiocytomas (see how that word trips off the tongue) were more common in younger dogs, but that the head and neck were common places to find them. If it was a nasty (technical term there), then it would be more likely to be on his torso.

Hmm. It's all proving to me that I really need to be At Home With Herbie. I think he's coming out with the ailments I used to have, when I first started this job. Pain in the neck, paralysed shoulder and arm, duff foot - all signs my body didn't want to go to this job. I ignored them (mortgage to pay) so now Herbie's coming out with them instead. My poor boy - when will I listen?

Soon, I promise you. As soon as I've sold my house, we can go live in a caravan or a tent or anything, and I will be a stay-at-home-Mom. This bad-job year has to end. Before I spend any more at the vets...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Everyone's on holiday

So it's a perfect time for the Dogs' Trust to launch their annual statistics for the numbers of dogs put to sleep in council pounds across the UK. It's down a little bit this year, and it's been decreasing every year, but the survey doesn't have a 100% response rate - what's the betting that the places with the highest death toll don't fill in their survey forms?

It only measures the dogs put to sleep by councils, not the ones killed on the roads or dropped off bridges or bashed on the head. So there's the RSPCA figures, and then there's the greyhound secret unacknowledged figures that no one will ever admit to, and there's the lab dogs, 7,000 last time I looked, mostly killed rather than rehomed despite evidence from Germany that it's perfectly possible to rehome a laboratory beagle.

But it's OK, we'll issue the figures while everyone's away, and not in the mood for unpleasantness, and that way it'll all be fine, because we've ignored it. Hmmm. The same approach has led to pretty much every single man-made disaster and botch-up I've ever heard of. Scientists mentioned that feeding ground-up cows to cows might not be a great idea. Engineers mentioned that the levees in New Orleans could maybe stand looking at more closely. Killing animals bred to be friends and companions does something horrible to our souls, our psychic selves, even if there isn't an accepted way of measuring this at the moment.

The connection between cruelty to animals, killing of companion animals, and murdering human beings is well documented. Serial killer profilers in the US have found that the one common thread was animal killings. The more we accept that animals are disposable, the closer we come to sharing the psychopathic personality disorders that criminal profilers worry about. This is news we need to come back to, and investigate, if our society is not to go down a dark path.

But hey, we're on holiday.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rise of an activist (nearly)

Two letters to my MP in the same month - does that make me a political activist? OK, the first one was an e-mail, but the response I received (on thick cream House-of-Commons-headed paper) was so obviously a form letter that I had to write again. I'd never done it before - it's one of those things, you know you have a democratic right to send them letters, but I've never really wanted to bother them, or interrupt their busy bench-sitting schedule or anyting.

In reply to a succinct email asking for support on an issue (OK, greyhounds), I got a page of recycled propaganda. Maybe I was unreasonable to expect anything else, after all, don't all MPs go off to Tuscany at this time of year? (Except for the one idiot trundling their caravan about in everyone's way, definitely something I would be keeping quiet about if I were an MP.) Ooh, I feel a new issue coming on - the compulsory seizure and destruction of all caravans towed annoyingly and/or dangerously. Maybe there'd be a bit more support for that than for acting against the mass destruction of greyhounds.

I've always been politically apathetic, always looked on politicians as incapable of changing anything other than their own bank balances, and believed that they can do that without my help. Now, I've found a cause (no, not caravans, not yet, anyway, I still mean greyhounds) that's worth fighting for, but faced with a weedy government stance of "ooh, no, why don't we let the industry that kills them supervise things" I suddenly realise why there's a crisis in political engagement. The politicians themselves won't, or don't, engage with issues that people are genuinely interested in. I've seen any number of regulations being issued about where you can bury sheep (not something I tend to do much) but faced with something that causes a moral outcry, such as the killings at Seaham, the official response is "it's not illegal".

The trouble is, there can be a vast gulf between things that are morally wrong, and things that are illegal. When politicians concern themselves with "wrong" and how to right it, then people will concern themselves with politicians. Until then, they're merely a (well-paid compared to me) cog in a marginal bureaucracy. Who can't even think up their own replies to letters.

So, maybe I'm as useless as they are, writing letters to people who don't care and won't do anything. This is the point where activists are born... now what do I do? Suffragettes threw themselves under the King's horse, but I really don't fancy throwing myself onto an electric hare. Not worried about the dogs, I'm worried about being electrocuted by a mankily-maintained piece of kit. There must be some railings I can chain myself to... or a caravan. That's what we need. More people chaining themselves to Minister's caravans. Perhaps if I stood in a tartan shopping trolley, so even if they drove off I'd still be there...

Hmm. I have a cunning plan, my Lord.