View Full Version : Message from Jim Willis....sad one year anniversary

01-29-2005, 08:15 PM
Message from Jim Willis

Cross-posting/publication on or before January 25, 2005 will be greatly
appreciated. If you like, please light a candle in their memory or do
something extra special for an animal; please give a rescued animal a good
home if you can. Thank you. Jim Willis

Where's Daddy's Baby?
by Jim Willis

A Tribute to My Lost Children [January 25, 2004]

You had come from everywhere, even two continents, and you had come from
every circumstance: neglect, abuse, apathy, human boredom and
irresponsibility, human "inconvenience" (e.g., "we're moving; a new baby;
career changes"), medical issues, elderly, handicapped, blind, deaf,
psychic pain and behavioral problems. Almost none of you could have been
described as "well-behaved" and I counted myself lucky if you happened to
arrive housetrained and without aggression. You cost me a small fortune and
I had started with far less than a small fortune.

I knew from the beginning that you would become the "too many" and that I
would be subjected to some criticism, especially from those who do too
little, too late, or from the "theorists" who never provide a practical

I hadn't been "schooled" in how to rescue animals - almost nobody is - so
it was a lot of "learn as you go." I did learn, over three decades, and you
became my best teachers. I accumulated some academic accolades that should
have proven that I knew what I was doing, but you were always the first to
embarrass me in public and prove to the world that I didn't know how to
proceed. My "house-rules" were that you were allowed to destroy furniture
and carpets - which you did gleefully - but that you weren't allowed to
harm each other, which you complied with admirably. Hundreds of you went on
to wonderful lives and permanent homes with compassionate people. Some of
you stayed behind with me, even after my human mate of many years abandoned
us, because in most human opinions, you were the "unadoptable." The truth
is, I never could have endured parting with you.

Parting with fourteen of you on the afternoon of January 25, 2004 was
forced upon me when our home burned to the ground and took you away from
me. Not a day has gone by since that I haven't thought of you, what you
meant to me, and how much I miss you and how much I learned from you. I
could write a chapter on each of you and how you thrived with love and good
care, a homemade diet, maybe a little bit of tough love and the
positive-reinforcement training that added some stability to your lives and
set some parameters you could depend on. It had become my mantra that I
would never betray your trust and that you could always depend on me. I
rarely left you for longer than an hour per day, but as the fire marshal
told me the evening of the fire, if I had been home, I wouldn't be here
now. I have no doubt that is true, because my first impulse would have been
to try and save you again as I'd saved you before. I will live with that
regret forever, and the evening of the fire, I didn't want to be in this
world any longer if I couldn't be with you. However, a half dozen of your
brothers and sisters survived, and I had to continue on for them and for
whatever reasons our Creator decided I should remain behind.

You were feline and canine and lupine, but you were never less worthy than
me and never less than my children. Despite the respective tragedies and
disappointments of our lives, and our emotional baggage, we somehow formed
a family. I remember and still miss dispensing vanilla wafers at bedtime
and rolling around with you in the snow, and having my eyeglasses slurped
off my face, even cleaning cat vomit out of my computer keyboard. I always
knew that you had done far more for me than I had ever done for you.

People, even religious people of different faiths, often ask me if I equate
animal life with human life. What a silly question. Do we not all bleed the
same red blood, suffer the same pain and fears, and breathe the same air?
Aren't we all looking for the same safe environment and companionship we
can trust? Are we not all marvels of biology? Have most humans ever,
personally, visited a slaughterhouse, or their local "kill-shelter's"
euthanasia room? What an utterly silly question with such obvious answers.

Humans, who I like to call the "blind species," need to be forgiven,
especially by those of us who have achieved enlightenment as a benefit of
sharing our lives with you and your kin. Most of us consider it one of the
blessings of our human lives and we all need to help educate other humans
while helping to save more animals. To lose one furred, feathered, or
scaled companion who has shown us nothing but unconditional love is heart
wrenching; to have lost fourteen such in one day has approached the
unbearable at times for me. But God and you have shown fit to have blessed
me with wonderful friends, human and furred, to make sure that I do go on,
especially to go on and speak for those of you who have no voice.

If you'll allow me to single out one of you, it will be "Cleo," the
American Staffordshire Terrier who arrived at seven months old, starved,
abused, a product of a Pit Bull fighting dog breeder, and who was deranged
and uncontrollable from her experiences. She was biting inanimate objects
to the point that she knocked out two of her bottom teeth. For the first
three days, I wondered if I would have to finally, after all the years,
violate my own ethics and beliefs and have a dog euthanized for behavior,
for being "unredeemable," when I continue to insist that even biting is
natural behavior and a form of communication for a dog. I held to my
beliefs, Cleo settled down and then blossomed into one of the most
beautiful and well-behaved dogs of her breed I've ever met. We were smitten
with each other. As she ran around the yard, swam in her pool, and took
numerous foster dogs under her wing and showed them the ropes, I was amazed
at how much a "crazy" dog can teach a "crazy" human. In fact, she seemed to
gravitate to the most down-and-out "basket cases" I took in, and she
managed to give them the gumption and assurance that I, the fallible human,
could not. Every evening, before your dinner, I would call, "Where's
Daddy's baby?" and Cleo would come tearing across the yard and jump into my
arms, all 65 pounds of her (one time she nearly broke my nose).

Old habits die hard and to this day, whenever I feed your current brothers
and sisters, or the foster animals who have passed through our new home, I
whisper - but now it is, "Where's Daddy's babies?" Plural.

Of course, I know where you are, and while it may be customary to wish that
you rest in peace, that wouldn't be fitting. You never allowed me to "rest
in peace," and I sincerely doubt that, despite your obvious charms, you
have added much to the peace of Heaven.

On the anniversary of the tragedy that took you from my good home to your
new great one, I want to tell you, Otto, Pongo, Cleo, Tina, Gaston,
Gabriel, Amadeus, Danny, Danube, Tara, Tawny, Lucinda, Lakota, and Willow,
that you are not forgotten, that you are remembered daily and missed, and
until we see each other again, you always will be.
Love and more thanks than I can adequately express,

Your human dad, Jim, and all your furred brothers and sisters

P.S. To everyone who sent messages of sympathy and support, and donations
over the past year, you have our most sincere gratitude.

01-29-2005, 08:30 PM
I could barely finish reading through the tears. I can't believe it's been a year. Do you have his address so that we may write to him? I'd prefer a snail mail one, if possible.

01-29-2005, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by dukedogsmom
I could barely finish reading through the tears. I can't believe it's been a year. Do you have his address so that we may write to him? I'd prefer a snail mail one, if possible.

DDM..not sure..but I think this is the right one....
[email protected]

01-30-2005, 12:34 PM
I got that in an email as well.
How very sad--I remember reading about it last year too.

May all of his babies be watching over him and having fun at the RB--I know they'll all be waiting for him when it is his turn.