DIANE PHILLIPS: Man’s best friend – then it’s time we started treating them properly – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: April 13, 2021 at 6:48 am

When it comes to pets, humans can be a downright mess. Even those of us who love our Bellas, Fluffys and Fidos and smugly think we are spoiling them, are doing them wrong.

We say pets are family, yet we call ourselves pet owners. We own a refrigerator, but we dont own family, otherwise we would refer to ourselves as children owners.

So why do we refer to ourselves as owners of living, breathing animals that love us unconditionally, that patiently wait for us by the front door, living for the moment when we walk through at the end of a long day and give them a quick pat or, if they are lucky, take them out for a walk?

Fortunately, they have no idea we consider ourselves their owner lumping that adorable scruffy-haired, long-eared, wide-eyed four-legged pal of ours in with a fridge as things we own.

What difference does it make if we think of ourselves as pet owners rather than pet parents? Why make such a fuss about a word so long as we feed and care for those living, breathing parts of our family? Heres why. The pandemic is not just affecting us pet owners. its impacting our pets.

So long as we think of ourselves as pet owners instead of pet parents, we will feel no shame in dropping off a litter we no longer want to own or feed at the Bahamas Humane Society where there are now more than 300 homeless dogs and cats. So long as we think of ourselves as owners instead of parents, we can slough off the responsibility that goes along with parenting when times are tough. So long as we think of ourselves as owners instead of parents, we dont have to take charge of spaying and neutering and making sure the pet population does not get out of control as it is today in New Providence. So long as we think of ourselves as owners instead of parents, we may not heed the words of experts or the Washington, DC-based Pet Food Institute that spends tens of thousands of dollars every year educating people about the importance of proper feeding and avoidance of potential dangers like cooked bones that splinter in an animals insides or foods like chocolate, onions, garlic and grapes that can even kill.

So long as we think of ourselves as owners instead of parents, some of us would let male dogs abuse a poor female in heat whereas we would never allow our sons to gang rape a neighbourhood female.

And even if we dont change to pet parenting instead of pet ownership, there are thousands of hungry pets, each of whom is a reason to get onboard with a responsible parenting spay and neuter regimen. We understand that BAARK is enlisting the support of local vets in such an exercise that will take place at the Bahamas Humane Society across several Sundays, Its a great move and deserves cash and volunteer support.

Across the world, there are some 470 million dogs, 370 million cats and countless birds and fish and other domesticated animals and species. You can own yours if you want. I am going to parent mine.

In another continuing story, the lady who was about to give birth and sleep on the floor with her newborn is sending prayers and thanks to all who came forward to help.

Mama and baby are doing fine and thanks to a man who fixed her car, she has transportation, and another who repaired her stove, she has a way to cook and Social Services got her a new stove after all.

Other donations large and small came in, food and diapers from her Fox Hill constituency office and friends she did not know she had. Her BahaMar family found out about the situation and lent a hand. She is excited about returning to the resort where she worked for seven years before the pandemic shut it down and nearly took away everything she had worked hard to preserve.

She sends a very special thank you to the anonymous angel who paid her rent for March and April, hoping that the call back to work will come in May. Life is good, says the new mama, so good.

July will make three years since I wrote the first column about officially naming sailing the national sport so no one is more surprised thanme that I am still receiving calls, notes and the occasional comment about the subject which has been touched on a few times since.

Not everyone agrees, including Mike Sands, whose opinion anyone in the sports world would be foolish to ignore. Former 400 metre national record holder and BAAA PR officer among other titles, Sands picked up the phone and called personally to share his disagreement. Even when Mike Sands disagrees with you on something, its good to hear from him.

Why, why would you not want sailing, I asked. Because, he said, the national sport should be something that everyone can play or participate in. Sands, who is the recently-elected first Bahamian to head the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Athletic Federation (IAAF) area representative, has a point, but heres the counterpoint. Theres a lot more water than there is land in these Bahamas and it would take little to make sailing part of every school curriculum at some point.

Sailing is part of Bahamian heritage, its how folks discovered and later settled the islands, how Bahamians of old transported goods and people, and native sloop sailing is something unique to The Bahamas.

There have been a few, including Dallas Knowles from Exuma, a sailor himself, who have argued that competitive sloop racing is disorganized, that races start late (absolutely true), that boats say they are going to participate, then dont show up at all. Yes, Dallas, you are right about that but sailing is far more comprehensive than racing and once something becomes a national sport the attention it gets raises it to new levels. But no one will argue with the faults you point out.

One of the most interesting letters supporting sailing as the national sport came from a junior sailing programme in Abaco. Its a copy of a letter they wrote and presented to then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Danny Johnson.

Dear Sir: This message is addressed to you, with the hope that you will agree that the Sport of Sailing should be the National Sport of The Bahamas.

A National Sport should be part of the intrinsic history of a nation, as well as a current sport enjoyed by all. Sailing holds a unique spot in the countrys history, since as an Island Nation, it was a skill required for daily life. Not only did everyone originally arrive by sailboat, but sailing was the way people traveled, communicated, and sustained themselves.

As always happens, sailing also became competitive. The most important race originally was getting fish and other cargo to market faster than the other boat. The sloop racing was an outcome of that competition.

Sloop racing has become a tradition which is being handed down to youngsters. In Hope Town, for instance, the Abaco Rage Syndicate regularly hosts the Junior Sailors who want to learn about sloop racing. The Hope Town Junior Sailing Programme is one of many youth programmes across The Bahamas with the goal of giving every child an opportunity to learn to sail, affording a whole generation the chance to take part in the historical tradition. I am glad to volunteer with this programme, and there are many other volunteers who are passionate about sailing.

One of the best things about sailing as a sport is that it can be competitive, or it can be recreational. This makes the sport appropriate for both mediocre sailors and skilled racers. It is a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and all skills. One can sail solo, or with a group. It promotes love of the environment, cooperation, responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment.

The Bahamas Sloop Sailing Federation will be a great step towards continuing the tradition of sailing into the future. The many youth sailing programmes around The Bahamas will ensure that the skill is passed on to the next generation. It seems that the Sport of Sailing would be a natural and unique National Sport, for a country that was built on sailing. I very much hope that it can become a reality.

Sue Holloway, Hope Town Junior Sailing Secretary-Treasurer

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DIANE PHILLIPS: Man's best friend - then it's time we started treating them properly - Bahamas Tribune

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