June 29, 2012
We Aren’t Selling Toothpaste
Carolyn and Mayor Robb are in All-Candidates Debate mode, swinging accusations and comebacks, like Tony Fernandez (Toronto Blue Jays) swung a bat. After Carolyn’s third base run at the mayor about the lack of Whitby’s stature in the province and its lack of government funding, the mayor retorts: “You can’t sell a city like tooth paste.”
Carolyn doesn’t miss a beat. She replies: “My honorable opponent just figured out we’re not selling toothpaste.”
One small piece of the dialogue. One giant leap for me. The words have been crafted by screenwriters Barbara Kyle and Stephen Best. I have read them numerous times with every incarnation of the script. Yet this is the first time I have stopped to think what those words really mean.
Of course, Animal Alliance and the Whitby Courthouse Theatre aren’t selling a consumer product or the merits of the city, though the beauty of Whitby’s downtown core speaks for itself. What we’re selling is the power of community and how divergent communities can band together to create something more powerful and meaningful than they could alone. But we are also selling or actually promoting a new way of thinking about the animals in our lives and the hostile world outside our homes that surrounds them.
I’ve come upon the notion among the families I know who live with companion animals that their animals are safe. They believe they provide the love and care that shield their four-legged family members from harm. Little do they know that such is far from the case. One doggy escape from a fenced in yard, one nip at the fingers of an irksome child, and their dog is thrust into a world that most families could never imagine from the safety of their living room sofas.
Breed specific legislation and the Animals for Research Act threaten all of our beloved canines, as do the dog brokers who abduct our family members and sell them to research labs or dog fighting rings. Many of them never return to the waiting arms of their family.
The film asks many challenging questions, questions worth asking: How far will we go to protect our furry loved ones? Where is the line we draw between our human and animal companions? How do we think of animals and why do we think the way we do? And most importantly what will we do to change our own thinking and then our behaviours to make safe the world in which our companion animals live?
Then there is one final question I’d like to ask the families I know who live with dogs: Do we continue to luxuriate in the mistaken belief that peril can’t befall our dogs? Or do we face reality and acknowledge that it certainly could?
This is what we’re selling. Community and the need for change in the way we protect our animals.
For more information on what you can do to protect our animals and the world we all live in, visit: http://www.animalalliance.ca/how-to-help.html
And remember, you can make a difference one change at a time. The time to start is now!