"ON WITH THE SHOW!" . . .  You're Not Alone . . . Ron Hevener

In my travels (both real and imagined), I have the chance to meet lots of dog lovers. As we talk about our favorite breeds and as we explore fascinating pedigrees, a great affinity is born between us. We feel OK with each other; we share the same passions; we realize that we're not alone.

This doesn't mean we always agree with each other. It doesn't mean that we share the same belief system or background. But, it does mean that, when it comes to dogs, we have a lot we can talk about. Let's talk about something that crossed my desk today, but, first, let's paint some background ....

Like most of us, I receive notes and phone calls about all kinds of things. They come from dog lovers all around the country and far beyond its borders, and they cover a great variety of issues. Kennels such as my own, which have been around for a long time, have a way of developing a network of customers and friends who keep in touch with each other through good times and bad, through thick and thin. Much like a family does, or a network of friends looking out for each other.

The good thing about this, besides knowing there are people looking out for you, is that you never have a dull moment. Your days and nights are filled with news far different from what the big networks carry, as if you have a network of your very own, broadcasting news customized just for you. That's a good thing. It's nurturing and it's healthy and dog lovers have a way of bonding together by sharing what's happening in their lives. The down side is, not all of it is thrilling. Take the news from China, for instance, where authorities have decided to kill dogs in front of their owners. No dogs over a certain size! Only one dog per household! They have ga-zillions of people and 300 have contracted Rabies. Never mind vaccinations. Kill off the dogs! Can't happen here, you say? I used to think so, too. But, Louisville, Kentucky, is changing my mind. I know. A lot of us have fun in Louisville. When it comes to dog shows, we go to Louisville for the drama, the glamour and the grit. But something stinks in Louisville right now ... and it's not coming from the dogs.

Authorities in Louisville have just passed one of the strictest pet control plans in the United States. If their idea was to smash the love right out of people, well, they ought to feel like a big success. I'm talking about 96 pages of pet control reform. I'm talking about 47 objections on behalf of the dog fancy on the first 40 pages alone – and every one of them being voted down. I'm talking about regulations like "No bitch in heat can come in contact with any other dogs/cats." I'm talking about fines and mandatory neutering/spaying of any dog "picked up by animal control officers for any reason." I'm talking about severe restrictions for unaltered dogs, people being required to put up 6 foot high fences, being told that no unaltered dog can be on a leash more than 4 feet long and needing written approval from the Director of Animal Control for their fencing or to even buy a puppy. The list is foolish, vindictive and it goes on. My information came from a woman who attended the meeting, which lasted somewhere around 10 hours. She said the votes – regarding almost every issue – were made along party lines. This, my friends, is perhaps the saddest commentary of all, because it means the votes were cast according to political affiliation – and not with regard for the higher emotions, character, needs or interests of dogs and the people who love and care for them

When legislation like this enters our lives, stunning us with its intrusion into our privacy and basic nature, we find ourselves asking if our leaders really know what they have done. Do they realize that (by instituting such laws) they have, essentially, stolen the ownership of our dogs away from us? Who really owns and controls the dogs in Louisville now? Who owns the dogs in California, where the same thing is happening? Who really owns the dogs in Virginia where it's being considered – or in Pennsylvania, where there is similar talk? I can tell you what I think (but, I'm not sure you want to know). When a government can seize your dog, hold it for ransom (in the form of a fine) and perform invasive surgery (neutering/spaying) no matter what the value of the dog is before they will let you have it back – that's when "somebody" is making it pretty clear "who" owns "what."

Not too long ago, most of the notes I received were friendly nudges wondering what show I might be going to next, or what was happening with my dogs. But, lately, a whole different feeling is creeping into the news coming to my e-mailbox and zinging over my phone wires. No longer can I smile when I see a note from a familiar address. No longer does my heart relax when I take a phone call. Am I the only one who feels as if people are nervous and angry? Am I the only one noticing strange behavior, razor-sharp tempers and rudeness? I can't be. What has happened to courtesy? What has happened to freedom of thought? What has happened to respect for others ... or, for that matter, what has happened to respect for ourselves?

I don't have the answers to such questions, but I do know one thing: When it comes to asking them ... You are not alone.


Author/Artist RON HEVENER specializes in animals and the romantic, adventurous people who love them. Mr. Hevener's collectible figurines and the prints from his novels ("Fate of the Stallion!" ... "The Blue Ribbon" ... "High Stakes") are now bought and traded throughout the world. Today, Ron Hevener's illustrated animal stories are published regularly in magazines, newsletters, newspapers and on websites around the globe. He is currently on tour - speaking at bookstores, libraries, theaters, schools, gift stores, pet stores, dog shows, art shows, horse shows and public events. "Your life is a movie," he says. "On With The Show!" ... www.RonHevener.com

"Submitted by Ron Hevener's Publicist"

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