My Version of
"Just a Dog"
by Richard Biby
From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a prairie dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a prairie dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a prairie dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a prairie dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a prairie dog,” but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a prairie dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a prairie dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “just a prairie dog,” then you will probably understand phases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a prairie dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a prairie dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of “just a prairie dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a prairie dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a prairie dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a prairie dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a prairie dog,” just smile, because they “just don’t understand.”
We Are NOT Vermin
To prairie dog lovers everywhere
Look across the prairie and what do you see?
Small furry creatures; my family and me.
Ranchers and farmers view us with hate
They shoot us and poison us to seal our fate
They call us vermin and useless, and things such as rat
But if you look closer we're much more than that.
We provide food for ferrets, raptors and all
For we are active spring, summer, winter and fall.
Endangered creatures are at home in the tunnels we make.
They also provide passage for rain to underground rivers and lake.
We exist with a purpose to maintain the land
Without us there'd only be dust, rocks and sand.
And despite man's cruelty we forgive and forget
When treated with kindness we make a great pet.
So let prairie dogs live in colonies great and small
We are NOT vermin; God made us all.
We figure if we can get through to one person it might
help them see our favorite pet in a different light.
Authors: Susan Bechtholt and Frances Marcolli
Copyright ©2004 Susan E. Bechtholt
OUTRAGE: Animal cruelty laws do not apply to prairie dogs.
OUTRAGE: It is legal to poison prairie dogs in this country.
"Modern Day Concentration Camp on West Texas Plains:
Helpless Victims Gassed"
OUTRAGE: It is legal to extract prairie dog families out of their burrows with a grain vacuum. Any survivors of the grain vacuum suffer physical and/or neurological damage and should be outlawed. Just as inexcusable, is the fact that they are sometimes sold as pets without instructions on their specialized care, and like other animals, end up being neglected. Strict guidelines must be implemented in the pet trade, including humane capture and proper quarantine, with care instructions as a provision.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Wow! Here I Am. A Prairie Dog's Life"
Written by: Gigi Hugo 4/16/2002
I became aware of life as I nuzzled close to my mother's belly and nursed with my brothers and sisters. It was wonderful. Nice and comfy and warm. I knew no fear, only the love and protection of my mother. I knew there were lots of others like me in our network of tunnels, but I hadn't seen them all. Sometimes I would hear them scurrying by or hear a distant bark. It was comforting to know that I was surrounded by the activity of my kind.
One day, not long after I came into this world, I heard screaming and barking and warning cries. I sat up next to my Mom and felt fear for the first time in my short life. I looked to Mom for answers, but she looked very frightened too. My brothers and sisters began to move about in panic. We were trying to get closer to our Mom, but it didn't feel like we could get close enough. Suddenly I heard a strange noise. It was very, very loud and awfully scary. The next thing I knew it was becoming hard to breathe. It felt like the air itself was being sucked out of our home. Then I felt the air pulling at me. I clung onto my Mom. Holding her for dear life. My little sister, who was closest to the tunnel passage was crying and grabbed for mother, but she could not hold on and the air pulled her right out of our chamber. Next thing I knew, my other brothers and sisters were flying right out of the entrance after her. Then it was my turn. I held tight to Mom, but no matter what I did I came to realize that I was not strong enough. I couldn't breathe and my grip was slipping. Soon I watched as my little fingers lost touch with mom's fur. My fist gripped the empty space between us and I got my last glimpse of her as I was pulled backwards out of the nursery.
It was dark. I couldn't breath. I was so scared. I cried, but no sound came out of my mouth. There was only the horrible loud humming noise crashing through my head. I tumbled and turned. I slammed into the sides of the tunnel walls and sometimes I think I slammed into others of my kind.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was pulled through an opening at a force that I could not describe. My body was moving so fast, and there was nothing for me to grip to stop my flight. WHAM! My tiny body hit up against something very hard and I felt myself slide downward until I finally came to rest on the bottom of some type of smooth chamber. My first awareness was that I was not alone. There were many others, but not all of them were moving. I could hear some cries of pain and some cries of loss and fear. Myself, I was a little dizzy and feeling confused. My head didn't feel right and I hurt all over. I tried to get up but found that not all of me was working. I put my front feet forward to grip onto something to help pull myself up, but there was a lot of pain and I couldn't grip with my left paw. I brought it up to my mouth and licked. It was my blood. It tasted kind of funny, but I felt like I needed to keep cleaning it. I tried to move but I hurt really bad between my back legs. It felt like something had come loose inside of me. This is really scary. Where is my Mom?
Light. There is sunlight. It is very bright and it hurts my eyes. Not as much as my paw and legs are hurting though. There are big animals (I think they are called humans). They are getting arm loads of us and putting us into some type of containers. The humans pick up some of my kind who are not moving and they throw them to the ground. Why do they do that? OH... someone is grabbing for me. A big human is holding me tight. It hurts so I try my best to squirm away. When I am not able to free myself, I try to bite the human paw that has me gripped so tight. Although I bite, it doesn't seem to hurt the human. Their paws look funny. Like they have extra paws on top of their existing paws. Must be why it doesn't hurt when I bite. The human tosses me into a box full of other boys and girls that are about the same size as me.
We all stay in the box for a long, long time. I am hungry and hot. My head hurts, and my paw hurts. My rear legs feel strange and my tummy is churning. I don't know how long it has been since I've eaten, but I'm feeling pretty weak and sad. There is nothing for me to do now but sleep. All the bad feelings disappear when I go to sleep. Maybe I'll go to sleep and when I wake up, I'll be in my nursery cuddled again with my Mom and brothers and sisters. I'll have a full tummy and none of these bad things will have happened. I'm closing my eyes now.
Light again. Big human paws pick me up and turn me over and over. I think I'm being inspected. I don't understand what they are communicating but I am scared. I hope they feed me soon. I'm really hungry and sore. Back to the box full of my friends. We are all afraid and so we cling to each other for support. I hope these bad feelings will go away soon.
Many days go by it seems. I can barely move from weakness and it is hard for me to even open my eyes. A human is holding me. Petting me and cuddling me. It feels good, but I feel sick and I hurt all over. Still I want this love and closeness. It is the first time I've felt good since I was last with my mother.
I am given water. I thrive on it. I can't seem to get it down fast enough. I must have a lot because I don't know how long it will before I can have more. Something is put into my mouth. I don't know what it is. I try my best to chew and swallow. I am not able to eat very much, but the food does make me feel a little better.
Time passes and I'm feeling stronger every day. I am living with a big human. The human keeps me in a container. There is food in the container (although it looks very strange to me) and water which hangs inside my little home. The human visits me sometimes for short periods and touches me. Pets me and makes nice sounds to me, but I'm lonely most of the time. My back legs feel better, but they still don't work the way they once did, and now that I'm well and can see clearly I realize that one of my paws is gone. I can still get around, but it hurts a little.
A long time has gone by it must be two seasons later. I am big now. Probably ten times the size I was when I first came to live here. I get good food all the time. A lot of the food is sweet, and I have all the water I want. I think I'm maybe a little too big though cause it gets harder and harder for me to move around. Mostly I just sleep and eat now days. I go for days sometimes without seeing my human now, but I'm used to the solitude.
Weather is changing. I can feel a coolness in the air. I also feel strange things inside my body. Stirrings that confuse me. Sometimes I feel a little crazy and I don't think I'm in control of myself. I keep having the urge to bite my human and I don't know why. I wish I had some company like me. I feel like I need another of my kind.
One day I'm feeling very confused. My human comes by and pets me. I was startled. My reflex had me bite the human. I heard the human cry and I saw the blood dripping from the human paw. I'm scared. I don't know why I did that.
Days pass and I have not seen my human. My food is all gone but I have plenty of water.
After many days my human grabs me in a blanket and puts me into another holder. We go in a machine. It vibrates and makes a strange noise. It is kind of scary cause it reminds me of when the bad humans took me from my mother. Some of the smells are the same. Soon the noise and vibration stop. My human carries me in my holder into a structure. We go inside. Other humans are communicating with my human. They are looking at me inside my holder. They scare me with their faces so big and close to me. Why do they keep looking at me like that? Before I know it, human paws open my holder and grab me. I squirm but cannot get away. I think my size is making it hard for me to move around. I am brought to a room which is very bright. I am placed on a smooth cold surface while the coated paws hold me down. I see another paw coming close to me holding something. It looks sharp and long. My human has water coming from her eyes and it is dropping in salty puddles onto the surface which I'm laying. The sharp object jabs me. It hurts. I feel burning inside of me. I'm really scared. I feel sleepy. The bright room is beginning to look dark. Wait!!! Where am I going? I've probably only been out of my burrow for two seasons. I'm scared. It's getting darker. I don't feel anything anymore. BLACK. Then I see a curve with many different colors. It looks like a bridge. On the other side, waiting for me is my mother. She is standing on her rear paws and has some of my brothers and sisters with her. She throws her front paws up in the air and tosses her head back as she lets out a welcome cry to me. I am so happy. I have not felt joy like this since I first entered this world. The bad dream is finally over. I am home. I don't hurt anymore and I'm no longer lonely or afraid. I've made it over the rainbow bridge. Wow! Here I am.