Amid an onslaught of sticky doughnuts we chatted and what I gradually discerned was a dedication to dogs but not in estranged isolation, rather an attitude accepting dogs as part and parcel of settled modern life, their having earned a place in our society over generations of accompanying our forebears in a multitude of tasks. The role of the dog, I learned, is certainly not ended and indeed opportunities are opening up for their further involvement in the daily life of people – and peace initiatives.
*“The aim of Pets for Peace is primarily to work alongside animal welfare groups like the Labrador lovers people like myself who work to stop cruelty to dogs, to educate people and society about dogs, their care and needs and particular their care per breed, also informing of breed origins and so on,”* explained lively Patricia Carrascoso.
*“I mean, even in simple things, like if dogs are always kept inside the house how can they learn to be with people? This is why we are asking for malls to be dog friendly and allow people to bring their dogs out with them shopping, even if on a leash.”*
But wait, I questioned what is this about fashion shows for dogs?
*“Yes, fashion shows for dogs, ridiculous some may say but for us – indicating her sister Pinky – anything that brings dogs and people together is fine and actually doggie fashions are lots of fun.”*
Thus events like “Dog Day Out at the Town – Alabang Town Centre”, near Manila to the “Dog Trek” at Sariaya, Quezon Province, are organised. Very recently a Dog/Pet Walk for Peace and a Peace Sign Formation was organised to celebrate September as Peace Consciousness Month.
There were many dog clubs involved in organizing this latter Pets for Peace activity: the Labrador Retriever Owners Club, the Cavite Mondioring Club and the Sporting Dog Club of the Philippines, Cross Breed Club of the Philippines and of course Pets For Peace, an initiative of Ang Komunidad Para Sa Ikauunlad ng Tao (the Community for Human Development), headed by Willa Tecson. Not to forget Hobbes and Landes shop and the Bonifacio group.
*“This was basically a fun event with our dogs but since it was a celebration of September as the National Peace Consciousness Month, we included in the program after the walk brief interfaith prayers including Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Sioux. There was also a brief talk on the Mindanao war which is the war going on in the south.
“Actually, we made a statement that that war and the conflicts must end, that every side suffers in a war, that there is a social cost to the war in Mindanao and that the social cost is experienced by reduced national resources for education, health, livelihood, housing, and so on for Filipinos. We also invited Dom-An of Kasiyana Peace and Healing Initiatives to participate. She is a widow whose husband was killed in the setting of the New People’s Army-military conflict in northern Luzon.”* (See: http://world.pressenza.org/npermalink/human-rights-and-healing-our-wounds )
… and that was when I became an ardent fan of this dog-centric group of pals.
The group’s initial activities started as long ago as 2003 with animal shelters. For example, if a car had ran over a dog the group could be contacted for assistance; also, they would find homes for stray dogs.
*“From the start we were against the commersialisation of the dog lovers world. We left that side of dog affairs long ago. We admit there are fanatics in the dog world too like quite recently when there was a minor fray as one women insisted on kissing one of the dogs at an event. The dog was not at all keen. In the end, she insisted, and got bitten. This highlighted the fact that people need educating, not just dogs…”*
The group provides free rabies vaccines and go twice a year to squatter areas to help alleviate rabies related problems – suggesting that city dwelling owners of dogs should carry anti-rabies vaccines, just in case.
Early 2010 there was a Pets for Peace Reach-Out activity that centred around dogs and handicapped children. Held in Silang, Cavite, Philippines, this initiative was supported by Ang Komunidad para sa Ikauunlad ng tao (The Community for Human Development), where the group visited the handicapped children of Chosen Children’s Village.
The Chosen Children’s Village is a shelter for infants and handicapped children who have been abandoned. The activity was supported by the Labrador Retriever Owner’s Club as well, at that moment to also support the World March for Peace and Non-Violence. It was then that the members decided to continue peace advocacy and reach-out activities.
Patricia Carrascoso zoned in on the Labrador, finding them an exemplary dog for their versatility, intelligence, and biddable temperament that are their hallmarks.
*“The Lab can be a show dog, an obedience dog, a work dog, a field dog, a companion dog and a family pet simply loved because of those innate qualities,” she notes. “We want to have fun with our Labs! The Labs cannot live without human interaction and in turn, they can be a great source of joy by simply being loved and being a part of our family.”
“People are invited to join us in our varied social and fun activities. These can be a dog walk in a mall, a nature trek out of town, a beach outing, an outreach visit to an orphanage, a seminar on how to take care of Labs, a fun agility hour, or a meeting in a coffee shop to chat and exchange experiences.”*
It became clear to me that having one’s family pets and one’s family gathering together with a statement for ending wars and conflicts and local issues was an effective way to introduce initiatives for peace into people’s lives without attracting violent reactions. This could be a development for Pets For Peace in the provinces, especially in politically sensitive or “hot” areas.
*“At this moment, we don’t know where events may lead us in terms of future activities for Pets for Peace. What’s important is that we, animal welfare and animal lover people, are getting together and finding out that we agree on many things about the violence and discrimination in society. We are developing friendship and doing it with lots of fun and joy, in this case, accompanied by our dogs. Many times I have realized that compassion and love is not a limited resource in the people we meet. There is a mistaken belief that someone who loves animals has less love for the human being. Not so. Usually, the people we meet in the animal world have a lot of love, openness and concern for people as well.”*