Dog' tails' & puppy love
German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Doting dog lover Marie Baillie must have a heart of gold for raising not one, not two, but seven dogs.
If there was anyone who could ever tell the greatest dog 'tail', it would be her! From canine adoption to charity through dog photography, you name it, Baillie has done it. "My dogs are very caring and give me unconditional love, which, of course, is returned tenfold. Their affectionate nature always lifts my spirits, which makes me crack up with laughter. They have taught me by their actions and the look in their eyes that life is worth living," she told Outlook beaming with pride.
Her journey into the world of pets began at a young age. "I was always an animal lover from I was a child, especially dogs, and wanted to do veterinary medicine. But there was no scope for it in Jamaica, and it was not affordable for me to go overseas," she explained.
Her diminished dream did not deter her from providing assistance to canines everywhere.
"I currently have seven dogs, their names all begin with the letter P. They are Patches, Pudsy, Puncy, Peaches, Pee-Wee, Polly and Po-Po. They are all mixed breed, which most persons call 'Heinz variety 57'. She continued, "Three of my dogs who were rescues were puppies found eating from garbage on the street or were left abandoned in the bush."
Mixing and mingling might have proved to be difficult, but not for Baillie. She notes that the introduction of a new dog to the pack is always a gradual process. She would give the older dogs the opportunity to smell or snarl, as well as examine the pup first, then place them in the doghouse to get better acquainted with the new environment, "Under my supervision, he or she would be let out every day for a short while until I observed that he or she could be left unattended with the others."
Caring for the dogs, she says, comprises of a routine. Initially, as puppies, they were taken to the veternarian, where they were dewormed and given their shots. "I follow through on a regular basis with these medications," she said, adding that once a month, the dogs are shampooed, their nails clipped and ears cleaned.
"Dogs are creatures of habit. They have the same daily schedule, but it is not at all boring. For example, I know when it's time for me to get out of bed, say between 5:30 and 6 a.m., they make it a habit to come on the lawn near to my bedroom window to play and bark, and, yes, I can understand dog language. They are saying, "It's time for you to get going. Where are the crackers?" After having their crackers, more playing, then drinking water. Rest time comes next, sometimes disturbed by a dog passing on the street, [or] the utilities personnel who they refuse to let in," she relayed.
She revealed that by late evening, they wait for her at the gate; that's usually dinner time, and the barking continues until they are fed. And at nights, they are very alert.
She added that like human beings, no two persons are alike, and it seems that this is the case for her heavenly seven, who strut around with seven different personalities. "In the group of seven, however, there is some overlap of traits: loving, mischievous, energetic, smart, thoughtful and angry at times."
When asked if they have a trainer, she responded by saying no, "I don't have a trainer. I try and must emphasise ''try'' to do some training. My friends say I more spoil than train, which is true."
According to Baillie, The Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) was experiencing severe financial difficulties and they needed funds to relocate. She wanted to help, and so she came up with a plan to explore canine photography.
I discussed the matter with my now photography partner (Bruce Taylor) along with Dr Kai Meng Lui, who advised me that I would need to do a photography course in order to meet the required standard for the project which I had in mind. I enrolled in the evening photography class at Edna Manley College, and one year later, I got started on the project," she revealed proudly.
The mission, she said, was almost impossible since dogs don't pose, but she had fun doing it. The project was launched in 2013, and was a great success, which helped the JSPCA to purchase needy equipment for the clinic. From 2013, her journey in photography has soared to new heights and has been nothing short of phenomenal, "I now do weddings, events, and all other aspects of photography," she revealed proudly.
Her advice to persons wanting to become a dog owner? "Be prepared to sacrifice your time, have patience and some funds put aside for emergencies. It's just like caring for a child and worth more than words can express. This feeling comes from the heart."