Thursday, January 31, 2013

What animal advocates have done for me

Welcome! Many friends have asked me why I have spent more than a year chronicling animal advocates for, and now undertaking Max A Pooch's Awesome Animal Advocates and this blog.

The answer is Max the dog who we adopted a few years ago is what animal advocates have done for me. Since I adopted him he  has become known as Max A Pooch the Canine Superhero to the Environment. You see, we gave Max a forever home and after he arrived he recycled and repurposed me.

Briefly, prior to adopting Max I had gone through a rough few years. First, I suffered a stroke that left me paralyzed on my right side. I had to relearn how to walk, and I also had to relearn how to write and again control my fine motor skills. In addition, my speech was impacted and I needed speech therapy.

Thanks to the support and encouragement from my wonderful wife and a great medical staff I recovered. Unfortunately, soon after recovering from the impact of the stroke I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had surgery and the cancer was removed. After recovering from the surgery I returned to work. Two days later my employer told me my position in the company had been terminated and I was let go.

I was devastated. I had fought hard to recover from the effects of the stroke. As with many cancer patients I had been through a psychological roller coaster of hope and despair. The surgery had been major and the recovery painful. Now, at 55 I was told my job was terminated. Both mentally and physically I was in no way prepared to receive the news. After all, it is tough enough to find a job when one is over 50, being a stroke and a cancer survivor would make that task all the more difficult.

Although I did find employment, I never again held a position comparable to the job I had prior to my stroke.  My morale was at an all time low and I began to feel sorry for myself. It was then we went to Orphans of the Storm Animal Rescue with our granddaughter Zoe to adopt a kitten. We also ended up adopting Max.

Max was a project dog. He was six months old, had no training and was full of energy. He was also super smart, and willing to please.  Slowly, he began training me to be aware of the simple, but incredibly great things in life, like him greeting me when I came home.

As I trained him to pick up litter and recycle bottles and cans my attitude began to change and I saw life through his eyes. It was good. It was then I realized as I was training Max, he was recycling and repurposing me. I put my marketing and promotional skills to work. Through Max we could help raise awareness of the thousands of companion animals waiting for homes at animal rescues, and to help people become aware how easy it is to reduce America's WASTE line. One of the things we did was make a website for Max A Pooch.

It was when TAILS Magazine called Max, the Canine Superhero to the Environment in an article they wrote about him I realized what a positive change he had made in me.  And, I owed a debt to animal advocates that I will never meet.  Because of these people the rescue shelter from which I adopted Max exists and because of them I found Max. That is what animal advocates have done for me.

How many people are there who like me found their lives improved by the addition of a rescued cat or dog to their homes? How many people are their whose lives are enriched because a wild animal or species of wild animal is saved?  I will never know the answer to those questions. But, I do know there are countless people who can step forward and say thank you to the awesome animal advocates who fight for those who can't speak for themselves; and by doing so make the lives not only the animals  for whom they advocate better, but make lives for countless people richer and better.

I hope through my efforts I can help animal advocates spread their passion and energy, inspiring others as my way of saying thank you to those who efforts allowed Max and me to meet.

Keith Sanderson is the creator and host of Pet Life Radio's Max A Pooch's Awesome Animal Advocates. He also writes Chicago Animal Advocacy Examiner, National Celebrity Animal Advocacy Examiner, and is the human companion of Max A Pooch.