Albert Schweitzer once said, that the sophistication of the society can be observed by its’ behavior towards the animals. I personally do not think it can be observed not only by behavior towards the animals, but towards the weaker in general. Children and elderly the most.
I am a dog person and I regularly attend one dog training led by one Flying Dutchman called Alex. For free. Because he loves animals and also his desire to train people how to treat their pets ( I mean their dogs). To be honest, his training is only for the strong minded personalities. Dogs aside, they are cool, but the masters tend to have a hard time from time to time…
In the first lesson, I was told by this bully, that I am a hen and in the second he asked me, how old I am. After my careful reply, he drily snapped: “Oh really? Then why do you run like an eighty-years-old grandma?” Yes, it takes a lot of control not to hit someone. And also not to judge the book by its cover, and in this case also by the content. You have to be really focused on the reading in between the lines. Our dogs love their trainer, and every Saturday loads of foreigners and Czechs come (given they have healthy sense of humor and self-reflection), so there must be something about it.
“Love towards the animals made me a human being,” wrote Albert Schweitzer and this man was right. Fergus changed my life. And Saturday became my favorite day of the week. I am a different person with new friends, whose names I do not remember, unlike their dog’s names. Apart from the training I also attend social events, such as money collection for the people in need, or pigging out the grilled kielbasa and home-baked pies with coffee while dogs jump over the agility obstacles.
In the spring, we collected the money for the shelter with disabled animals and this autumn we started one for the elderly. The trainer is a gourmet, and so he decided, that it might be nice to make food packets with goodies, which regular senior cannot afford- quality ham, chocolate, good tea, butter crackers, salami and pate. For the whole autumn’s training (which is usually for free), he collected from each attendee 50 crowns, and before Christmas we bought groceries for 12.000 crowns and made packets.
Shopping and packing was done by Alex’s other dog group- foreigners, which are also regular trainees. Yes, it’s hard to admit it, but we are not his only ones… (Do not tell that to Fergus, he would be so unhappy!)
Unfortunately right at the moment, when the packets were ready, we discovered a nasty truth- the senior home, where we wanted to take these, wanted to give these packets to their employees rather than to elderly people, because the employees are also not very rich and they would also like to have something good to eat for Christmas… Which might be too cruel to be true, but we collected for the old people and this was not going to change.
Crazy times ask for crazy deeds, and so it happened that I had found myself in my street with the car full of packers hunting for poor, old people. We just decided to play Santa and give them to those in need. I live in Prague 6 and there are really many old people living here, so we just stood at the corner in Dejvicka Street and started to communicate.
I would like to write here, that it is nice to prepare yourself for something like this and to really think through, what it is, that you want to say to that poor, scared senior. I underestimated this part greatly (given the circumstances), but I will be wiser next year.
Another great discovery was the fact that if you live in Dejvice, you must live with old people in your building and just try to stop by their doors from time to time. Believe it or not, they will not tell you that they are without money, or that they are lonely. They are from different times, when the honor, honesty and decency were the foremost qualities to have, so if you suck at hunting people in the streets, start with your own house, where people might know you already. Following street performance will be easier.
Given the privacy of the seniors I would like to if possible anonymously write down the most important stuff I had learned that day.
…after paying all bills you might find yourself (in your old age) with 140 crowns left for food for the whole month. Your only safety net might be only your character and good heart and good behavior, which might be these days considered to be useless, but once it really meant something. Believe it or not, good deeds (and only those) will come back to your when you get old. Karma obviously does not wait for other lives. So if you help someone, f.e. a homeless person, whom you found in the church, then this former homeless person might give you in twenty years’ time part of his money to cook your own lunch, which you will eat together.
…if you had lived with someone for more than 60 years, you will simply miss him He was your part and only saviors are the grandchildren and children, who come to visit, well if you have some.
…if you are a dog owner, or a former owner of dog breeding station, for example Bonanza Bohemia, you will gladly accept a packet from other dog owners. Because once dog owner, forever dog owner. Especially if you walked your dogs for 70 year in Letna, where we meet these days. And if you are over 90 years old, childless, because of the dogs and you live by yourself, you will be glad to talk to someone, and about anything, until your feet start to hurt.
…while talking about feet, ideal receiver of the packet is the senior in the wheelchair. He does not have to struggle with carrying it home, and he can also talk with you longer, because his feet are not hurting. And you might find out during the conversation, that he had a dachshund in the past, it is clear, and that our collection is going to those who deserve it the most. The dog lovers.
…and while talking about dogs, hunting senior would not be so pleasant, if I did not bring Fergus with me, who works as a general relaxer. So if you are thinking about doing something similar, I suggest Frenchie as a shield.
…use the most effective way and that is the old self-service shop, where everybody goes. Just stand in front of it and wait and look for- crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, shopping bags on wheels and as soon as you spot your candidate, don’t let him outrun you. Ok running is perhaps too much, but it might be more about your patience, if you have enough to suffer through endless waiting and slow walk.
…it is unbelievable, but with regards to good behavior (I will once explain what it is) most of the seniors did not want to accept the packet, as if they did not feel they deserved it. Which was really touching. I would like to warn you to prepare yourself for tears- yours and theirs. They might be surprising, but also very beautiful.
The whole day was truly remarkable, even though I was totally stepping out of my comfort zone to ask strangers. I will just make a examination of my neighbours, to target those in need upfront, to avoid this adrenalin.
PS: We still have two packets left. One is for (work title) “a mister with bandaged legs, who sits at the corner of Boulevard” and the other one for the lady in Slaný, who is still helping in one restaurant, because her income cannot cover her life needs. When our trainer came to the Czech republic she was always giving him double portion. It looks like Karma is working pretty fast, right?
Thank you all for contributing! Happy New Year!