Day 78: Do you have Britain’s Cutest Staffy?
Could I set up an online photo competition to gives these dogs a bit of a PR makeover?
It was time to leave Greece.
Although I’d seen a lot of dogs in distress and helped with the day to day running of the wonderful CARE sanctuary (including carrying a fair amount of raw shit into a hole in the ground) it was fair to say I hadn’t saved any animals.
But something very important had happened.
I had investigated a fairly horrible place – going back at night to the dog kennels run by the two mad-seeming old women – and seen something that although didn’t appear as awful as I had expected had opened my eyes to a fair amount of misery. That dog on the other side of the fence – and the law – which by every account was never going to be released but which I was unable to help had got to me.
I got to the airport with a feeling an intense guilt.
A confused smell at the airport
In the duty free shop I tried on perfume sample after perfume sample as if trying to cover myself with rose petals and ease.
‘What are you doing’ said Ann as she held her sleeve to her nose.
‘Trying to make things better’
But, like a child that uses every paint colour in the box and ends up with a dark ugly brown, I smelt foul: a Frankenstein concoction of Calvin no.5 d’Givenchy Obsession.. I got on the plane in a haze of my own confusion, took a deep breath and passed into muted sleep.
But on waking I felt better about things.
What had happened, I mused to myself, was I had gotten a little closer to the caged fortress inside myself. The barks of fear and longing that I heard in that little dog concentration camp were like the cries inside myself that I had never listened to. This sounded awfully pretentious – but then again it was true. The voice that I had as I kid that said it was so wrong that animals suffered like this was now just within reach. I was seeing and touching suffering and could no longer cover up my desire to help with the sweet smell of ignorance.
On arrival in London I weighed up my options. I didn’t want to sink back into comfort but at the same time what could I do next?
I considered my skills – photography, a vague ability to communicate, a network of friends and a tendency get up late in the morning.
I thought back to Poppy and the abused staffie that I had seen in the dog pound who I had heard had also recently died. Both had suffered due to neglect, and both, indirectly, bore the burden of being ‘status’ dogs, over-bred for the wrong reasons, owned and abused for the wrong reasons.
What if I could create a photo competition to find the cutest picture of a so called ‘tough’ dog to promote the fact that they aren’t so tough. What if, in a small way, I could try and change perceptions? What if I could raise some money for AllDogsMatter that would directly go to saving more staffies? What if the winner would get a photoshoot in the studio with me? What if I could try and get some minor celebs involved?
www.cuteststaffy.co.uk was born. Please check it out.
I designed it in a hurried few hours and a friend and programmer agreed to set the thing up in exchange for a print. Of a dog. Naturally enough. I contacted celebs within the dog world who agreed to be judges – then the actor and animal campaigner, Peter Egan, the TV vet, Marc Abraham, and the BBC radio presenters, Joanne Good and Anna Webb.
Then I learnt to use the awful Twitter. I hate that crap. But in 128 characters or less I told the world about it.
After much effort this site is now live. If you know anyone with a Staffy, please pass it on. They have till Xmas day to enter.
All money raised will go to the formidable AllDogsMatter.