Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Next time you come can you bring a mongoose?

No, we don’t keep mongoose at the animal shelter. That much I could answer. But some of the other questions really tested me. Like, ‘do you think it’s possible that my dog’s spirit could be transferred to my son’s body? I think this is what has happened. What about the blood? Could animal blood be in a human body?’...

I was speaking to patients at the psychiatric hospital. Just down the road from the shelter, up a hill, looking over the prison. One of the other volunteers invited me, to see where she worked and talk about how animals are good for our mental health.

We’d brought a puppy with us. Raffa, four months old with honey-coloured fur. He was a bit nervous and his limbs went all floppy when we let him out of the cage. Ioane cradled him, walked round to let the patients pat him while I spoke.

My notes curled up unread in the palm of my hand as I did my best to respond to a barrage of patients’ comments...

‘I think people rights are much more important than animal rights. I know a family who feed their dogs well but don’t look after their children.’
‘How often should I bathe my dog?’
‘We have kittens here, two of them’
‘Excuse me, but I know everything you are telling us, I saw it on the Get Set program on TV’
‘How much is this puppy? Can we buy this puppy?’
‘What about when I call the shelter and they don’t come?’
‘He likes it when you pat him’
‘Do you have mongoose? We have mongoose here’
‘Where are you from?’
‘The dog bit my son and now my son has the dog’s spirit in him. Do you believe me?’

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