• THOUGHT: why is so hard to be soft?

    Oct 16th

    I’m always surprised by the fact that when I tell people in the charity world I’m spending a year helping animals they respond by saying ‘Oh, how wonderful. Lucky you!’

    This is not my feeling at all. My heart sinks as quickly as their smile spreads. Maybe I should be more positive, but I’m not.As I plan my next trip to rescue dogs from the dust or snails from the mud or ducks from the balcony my soul feels heavy. And it’s not because I can’t face the suffering. It’s because, I think,  I’m lazy and scared.

    I tell you this, not to moan or for sympathy, but purely as a reflection on why it is that perhaps more people don’t help. I care hugely about animals but really I WOULD RATHER NOT HELP. I would much rather sit in a sofa. Can I help from my sofa, can I?


    Helping is soooo easy in this modern, interconnected world.


    So why am I doing this project?

    It’s something akin to physical exercise. The idea of going for a run in the rain is miserable. But the idea of the hot shower afterwards is great: you have used your body for the better

    The idea of helping dogs in the dust is miserable. But the idea of seeing a positive impact afterwards is wonderful: you have used your heart for the better.


    Does anyone know Lance Armstrong’s chemist?


    But currently, I’m looking at a piece of scribbled paper on my desk with a plan for my year ahead with a sense of total dread. It’s like looking at an incomprehensible marathon map whilst massaging your broken ankle. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?


    My to do list:

    1) I’m looking for a lawyer so I know what to do when I imminently break the law (more on this later)

    2) I’m trying to contact 5 different charities around Asia and one in Africa to go and visit some really hard up situations whilst also planning my family xmas.

    3) I’m thinking about going out to visit disaster striken countries because I reckon I should pull a donkey out of a mudslide. Or something.

    4) I’m trying to start an online campaign to raise money for Staffies.

    5) I’m trying to build a cat shelter out of discarded wood for a feral cat round the corner.

    6) I’m trying to make some money from print sales and the odd photo job to keep the money in

    7) I’m trying to understand the legal ins and outs of puppy farms in Wales.

    8) I’m off to pick up a Staffie from Watford who has bad mange

    9) Someone has responded to my advert offering help by saying they have a ‘neurotic cat’ that needs help. Wha????


    And on top of this (and here my monstrous EGO comes thundering in to the room like a blind Yeti with a headache at a tea-party)   I am doing all this whilst being vaguely distraught that no-one is reading this blog, no one is paying me and no-one is saying you did a good job. I could be selling photo books! I could be at a gallery! People could be admiring me from a distance just far enough that they don’t see my slight bald patch.  For Chrissakes, there are other blogs out there about tiny dogs with perfectly round heads that get 1000 more hits a day than I do.

    If you think this dog is cute I’ll never forgive you…


    This is why it is difficult to do this year. Because I’m a vaguely confused, lazy, scared and self-obsessed animal lover with a big heart buried beneath years of inaction.

    Yes, maybe this year to help IS a good thing.

    Come on Usborne. hup, hup, 1..2…1…2..rescue those puppies.!!!!


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    10 Responses to “THOUGHT: why is so hard to be soft?”

    1. Hey Martin, I am following and reading your blog! I am proud of you for doing your bit to make a difference to some animals. It might be an effort at times, but I am sure the rewards will be well worth it. My son and I have given a home to a wonderful staffie from Battersea, who in turn has helped my boy find a reason to keep trying (he suffered a traumatic brain injury at 16, now 20). I want to change the world, but have decided I can do my bit in small but very important ways. I commend anyone who steps outside their comfort zone to make an impact, bit or small. So I shall continue reading your blog and wish you good luck with all your endeavors.

    2. Thank you lisa, that’s a very very kind email. And I’m really touched to hear your story. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for the blog about this? Of course it may be too personal but I think it would be wonderful to hear more about how loving the staffies can be. If you do let me know and we can chat by phone or email

    3. you are many things but lazy is certainly not one of them

    4. Thank you my dear. Love you x

    5. Well, I’m reading your blog, Martin! Sometimes with tears in my eyes but feeling great amounts of awe at your campaign – I wish I had half your guts. Also wish I could adopt the pups but it’s a long way for little dogs to come to France to live! I’ve commented on Moose’s blog before about my girls, Charlie and Connie, both rescue dogs from the Bath Cats and Dogs Home, and how they help me with my depression. Charlie is a Staffie/dachshund cross and was described by the home as “a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde”, but for me, she’s been my canine soul mate. She’s around 14 now and I hardly dare think of what life will eventually be like without her. It is heartbreaking that the lists of dogs in rescue centres (even in “genteel” places like Bath) contain so many Staffies when they are such affectionate dogs when treated right. I would definitely consider another, though there is also a yen for another Jack Russell (like our first dog from Bath, Pippa). Better mention Connie too – a corgi/labrador cross, wouldn’t want her to get jealous!! Anyway, I love reading your blogs, love your photos, drawings, sense of humour and your compassion for animals. Please don’t stop!! Love to Moose and Bug too (miss their blog postings), hope they’re not feeling too jealous of Poppy, she’s cute but not as cute as them…… xxxxx

    6. Hey Nicky

      thank you for the support and kind words and for reading the blog. It means a lot. Say hi to your two girls from Moose and Bug. Yes, they were a bit jealous of poppy but there is more to come on that front in the upcoming blogs. I appreciate you being in touch and hope that your black dog is kept at bay. I’ll also be talking about an iniative I’m setting up to raise awareness for staffies…soon!

    7. Hi Martin,
      I couldn’t help but feel I had to respond to this post! You are doing a good job, but what is needed is a lot of other people being able to do the same and even trying to make a difference. You are actually doing what I would like to do, so you are way ahead of me. Unfortunately I have other stuff to deal with (I don’t want to go in to that here but rest assured it has pretty much the same effect on me!). Unfortunately the most I can do is donate to the PDSA and generally be kind to all animals -feeding squirrels on demand (they are demanding aren’t they?), next doors unloved cat etc. I’m not on facebook so I can’t ‘like’ but this is the first blog I check out in the morning. Keep on the good work!

    8. Ah, that’s so sweet. It really means SOOOOO much to get your support. I guess I can’t help feeling like a loser sometimes but I suppose I’m trying at least and I’m not really a loser. Yes, I really hope I can make a difference, even if it is inspiring people who are more effective than me to make a go of it. Thank you for reading.

    9. Martin, thanks for the reply, I am not the most confident person at times, but if you think it would be good to write a guest post to show just how loving staffies can be, I would be more than happy, that would take me out of my comfortable place!! Feel free to email me, regards

    10. Hi Martin,
      I need to respond to this.
      I LOVE READING YOUR BLOG. Unfortunately I only discovered it today. You are such a caring person and I really admire the thought behind this. Your wife Ann must be very happy to have auch a devoted husband.
      I hope you get to save/help many even more animals and I thank you from the bottom of my heart where you have already been successful. Or at least did you best to do so.
      Kind regards from Vienna, Martina

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