This morning, I was drawn to my kitchen by a robocall from one of our senatorial candidates from Kentucky- yes, the one whose campaign adherents stomped the young woman from MoveOn.org on the head- and while I was there, I checked my iPhone, because it was hooked up to the charger.
We have this lousy voice-recognition software at work that translates voicemail into text, which then posts in our e-mail. It reads a lot like badly-dubbed foreign language films look: that is to say, it's gibberish for the most part. I did recognize that my caller was a volunteer with the local animal welfare group, and that she was trying to convey the presence of an Airedale Terrier at the county animal shelter. I immediately pulled the shelter's number up on my phone and called.
Misty, the shelter secretary, has known me for about four years. She recognizes my voice, because we have, shall we say, an "Airedale overpopulation problem" in this county. She told me yes, they had a young male Airedale with a long tail, picked up on Halloween by the assistant animal control officer. I said I'd hurry, get ready for work, and come on out to verify him before making a rescue commitment.
I got there, poked my head in, and Misty said, "He's outside in the kennel on the left side." (I told you she knows me. I'm out there a LOT.)
I rounded the corner and my heart sank. Halfway down the kennels was a young male purebred Airedale with a natural (undocked) tail and a really bad haircut. I walked up and put my hand to the chain link fencing- he bounded forward, wagging his tail, and licked my fingers...and I was angry. People do this all the time around here- turn a dog loose and que sera, sera, especially in that area of the county. I have a pretty good idea because of where he was picked up, which of my egregious backyard breeders is responsible for his presence...and although I'm sorely tempted to go wring his neck, I can't.
Several phone calls and an adoption contract later, if the owner does not materialize to claim this Aireboy by Saturday, he will be the custody of my group, Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Every day, I am thankful that our breed is not terribly popular, like Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, or Bassets. I have friends who rescue those breeds and while our intake is steady, theirs is vast. I have seen things in rescue that I hoped never to witness firsthand. I have rejoiced at the closure of two puppy mills near me that were cranking out Airedales hand-over-fist, but then I get e-mails like the one that dropped last night: a woman in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky, wanting a young, unspayed Airedale bitch.
My response was simple: my group neuters all of its Airedales. If you are interested in breeding (God help us!) Airedale Terriers, please contact the Airedale Terrier Club of America for an appropriate referral to a show breeder. There's no money in Airedales, especially not in this part of the country, but try convincing some people of that- much as I love these dogs, we don't NEED another breeder in Kentucky. The fact that I have taken in as many as I have, in a limited section of Kentucky in the last four years, is concrete proof that we don't.
So I'll keep rescuing Airedales and helping out the other groups as I can, while holding out a vain hope that someday, people will understand that dogs are not livestock. They are feeling, sentient beings who need love and care, not a cash crop for sale to the person with the fattest wallet.