When is life not worth living?

Pixie the dog

Pixie has never let her harelip and cleft palate slow her down or prevent her working it for HUHA on collection day

When creatures are surrendered or rescued or found by HUHA and taken in, they are sometimes in a bad way, a really bad way. And apart from emotional trauma, malnourishment or illness, they are sometimes handed over because they have some physical imperfection which will mean they can’t be sold for a profit or they are perceived to be expensive or time-consuming to look after or it’s thought that they cannot be happy if not physically “normal”.


Jellybean – catching his breath before mixing it with Pickle , his piglet friend again

Physically “imperfect” animals that HUHA has rescued, homed and certainly not euthanised include some three-legged characters (a few of those), blind ones, club-footed ones, harelips, ones with paralysed limbs, huggable smushilicious ones — oops sorry, that last one might not be considered an “imperfection”. It’s fair to say that HUHA has gone out of its way, with total disregard for some human sensibilities, to make available to all creatures the delights and the joys that life holds,  and the lack of sight, a leg or hearing has not ruled anyone out of that.

We’re a funny lot, us humans. We recognise human traits in other species and admire those with them (dogs, pigs, the African grey parrot, octoopodes when they unscrew jars) but other times we don’t give them enough credit to see that they can also handle what we can handle, in fact better or at least differently from us. When it comes to animals that have a disability, we empathise, we sympathise, we tut and then sometimes we say that it’s too much for the animal to have to cope with and it should be put out of its misery. Its quality of life is compromised, it’s not kind to persevere.

Minnie the gargoyle

The irrepressible Minnie. Born with a deformed skull and now a mad loon

Animals that are blind, or have three legs or, like our latest rescue Jellybean, have paralysed hind quarters, are not wistful about what might have been or made uninterested in the pleasure of running around, the sun on their faces, the cool joy of paddling pools in summer or the delight of someone tickling their tummy or massaging their neck and ears. They don’t give a toss about disabilities. They find happiness, fun and love irresistible and addictive, the same as animals with all their legs or fully-sighted.

Edelweiss and Boof

Edelweiss the sheep, born blind, chews the grass with her bestie, Boof

Very like parents, sometimes it’s hard not to try to protect your charges from possible harm or mishap – but they don’t thank you for that. At Kaitoke, when we put blind farm animals in boring, featureless paddocks to keep them safe from mishaps, they fret; they are not happy. When we move them into paddocks with gullies, they cavort like mad and run with happy abandon. No mishaps. The three blind kittens currently being cared for at Kaitoke don’t feel that they should just stay close to skirting boards and sleep 23 hours a day. They create the same havoc that sighted kittens do, they blast up furniture and climb up frames and then they (fairly) carefully back down again ‘til they get to the floor (‘cos they’re not dumb).

Jellybean, with his paralysed legs, hops about with the other dogs and Pickle the piglet – he loves the pack, he loves the sunshine, he isn’t sad, he isn’t suffering, his life is a thousand times more fulfilled and satisfying than a fully-abled dog sitting bored in someone’s backyard where the owner is too busy to walk him.

So we can all be glad for any animal – fully limbed or wonky– that is in a home with people that want them, love them and enrich their days. Those animals are living a wonderful, happy life and that’s what they all deserve.

Mabel and Tofu

Mabel whispers bovine secrets to Tofu, who is blind