Today is Hug Your Hound Day, a day to give our furry friends an extra big hug and extra nice treats. It is undeniable that the love they give us is sometimes undeserved—a love given in spite of cancelled walks, long and lonely hours at home, missed meals and small cages. But today, let us appreciate the boundless love and little joys they bring to our lives.
Meet Boey Pena, a certified animal lover. She graduated with a degree in Speech Communications but her love for animals compels her to explore different animal-related volunteer and work opportunities here and abroad.
In February 2016, Boey joined the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and was an active volunteer for 3 months. PAWS is a group that prides itself for being a “volunteer-based non-government organization whose goal is to prevent animal cruelty through education, animal sheltering and advocacy”.
As a volunteer of PAWS, Boey spent majority of her time cleaning animal enclosures and working on various logistics assignments. Initially, her love for animals, especially dogs, convinced her to apply for direct animal care in PAWS. However, she ended up with minimal interaction with them because she couldn’t take the anti-rabies requirement at that time.
Nevertheless, it was still a fulfilling and an enlightening experience for her. It was then that she realized that the problem with many Filipinos is not that they don’t care about dogs. It’s that they are too breed-conscious thereby resulting to the neglect of what we call Aspins, the native ones.
As a dog lover, Boey dreams of one day owning several dogs. She believes that all dogs are good and should be treated like family—well-taken of care of, and able to freely roam the house. Even though she couldn’t maintain her active volunteer status in PAWS due to various commitments, her love for animals continues to grow.
After joining PAWS, Boey decided to take a leave from work and join a 2-week volunteer stint at the Cikananga Wildlife Center in Indonesia. Cikananga is “a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and its habitat in Indonesia”.
Boey briefly described it as a center that caters to animals confiscated during illegal operations, and those that were injured and captured when they came too close to human settlements. The center aims to provide temporary shelter for wildlife and to release them back to their original habitat once they have regained their health.
Boey gladly noted how Cikananga has been very organized when it comes to their schedule of activities. During her stay there, her daily routine mainly included cleaning enclosures and preparing animal food.
She witnessed different feeding techniques which varied on specific animal needs. The simplest way of feeding is to leave the food on the floor. But for some animals, they had to hide the food or put it in a sturdy plastic container to make feeding a challenge. The purpose of this is to avoid dulling the animals’ natural instinct to hunt and also to stimulate their brains.
Boey’s experience in Cikananga—however short it felt to her—was truly rewarding and eye-opening. Her volunteer journey in the last two years made her realize what she wants for her future. So far, the volunteer activities she’s been involved with were about logistics. But realizing that animal welfare and conservation is a field she wants to seriously pursue, she’s hoping for major involvements in the future. She is currently searching for scholarships and other volunteer opportunities related to the field.
It is true though that not all are called for a life of animal conservation like Boey is. But her story can serve as inspiration to all of us—to motivate us to show our love for animals in little ways. We can start by treating our pets at home with utmost love and respect, being sensitive to their needs, and giving them the same amount of love they give us.
Furthermore, we can extend our appreciation and warmth to animals outside our lives: the homeless, the abused, and those waiting for their forever homes. We can take this day as an opportunity to visit them in shelters and show them the kind of love and care we give our own pets. They too can show us as much love and deserve love in return.
This day is more than just a celebration for dog lovers—it’s a celebration of unconditional love and friendship. Hug your hound day was created by Ami Moore, a famous dog expert from Chicago. This unofficial holiday was created to celebrate the unique bond between owners and pets, and also to promote a dog-friendly environment.
Hopefully, in the midst of our busy schedule, this day will remind us to rethink the way we care for our pets, so that we can work on providing them with a place where they can be happy, healthy, and safe.
Happy Hug Your Hound Day to all dog parents, dog lovers, and dog advocates!
Lorraine Rañoa, iVolunteer Philippines