Once upon a time, Hercules lived like a king. Together with two other Great Danes, he lived in a gated orchid west of Tehran.  He was healthy and strong. His human knew how a Great Dane should be fed and looked after. However, Hercules’ owner like some others, was not dedicated to taking care of him for a long period of time. Hercules’ owner eventually emigrated and left him behind. They gave away this beautiful Great Dane to different people.

Hercules went to a new gated orchard. His new owner had no idea what and how much to feed him, and could only visit him once a week. The Guard who resided at the orchard seemingly did not care much. Hercules was getting thinner and thinner. He was so famished that one could not believe this crumpled, disease-infested creature was once a glorious looking Great Dane. His owner was made to understand that to keep Hercules in those conditions is cruel, and he agreed to surrender him.

When we went to pick him up, he was a feeble being lying on a piece of plastic in a dirty dingy den.  He was so weak he could not even step out. Only when we showed him a piece of chicken he gathered all his strength to get up and followed us to the car. Hercules was very gentle and loving. We helped him to get into the car, and soon he fell asleep. The calluses on his elbow and the wounds on the hip obviously were due to sleeping on hard surfaces that were infested with worms.

Hercules was so weak that we did not know if he would stay alive.  He became seriously sick, but he was resilient. After months with good nutrition and care, he gained back his black shiny fur.

Hercules lived at the shelter for two years.  Life at the shelter, of course, is not the same as living in a house with a yard and having your own loving family, but he had security and peace here and he was loved.

Great Danes live a short life.  His past of neglect had a toll on him as well. Gradually the sign of old age appeared in him.  He passed away…  No being is eternal.

Hercules was lucky, but many other dogs are neglected and forgotten. Their stories do not end as well as Hercules’.

How unfortunate animals are in our land.  These days there are many irresponsible breeders.  Dogs that were once expensive and in-demand, now are overpopulated since demand has decreased.  That is why they get kicked out by the breeders and add to the population of homeless dogs.

To care for a living being requires responsibility, budget, knowledge, a suitable place, and time.

Pets are not toys to have them when we feel like it and put them aside when we don’t. They have feelings, they get attached to us, they trust us.  In their small world, it is only us. They look up to us as a source of love and security, let us not breach their trust.

More importantly, there must be laws to protect animals.  People who show cruelty to animals are a danger to society and must be dealt with by strict laws. A society that shows no mercy to these helpless, voiceless creatures is a dangerous society for everyone!

Farah Azari

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