Celebrating Canines is Part of My Anti-burnout RegimenPosted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on April 19, 2013
Working to protect animals is emotionally draining and people often ask us how we continue to do this work without burning out. The fact is: some of us do burn out, and that’s sad because the animals end up losing a valuable advocate.
Over the years, I’ve developed several techniques to avoid burn-out. I strive to keep a sense of balance in my life, stay close to friends and family, read good books and create quiet time to appreciate the present moment. I also spend many hours with my companion animal family members and take note of other animals who are doing just fine and enjoying their lives.
Recently, I was in Brussels, Belgium to participate in a panel on the use of animals in toxicology, a subject that often makes me feel angry and depressed. After the panel was done and the work was complete, I found myself walking around the lovely cities of Brussels and Bruges. Of course, I noticed the dogs.
In fact, if you and I were walking down the street in Washington, D.C, and you saw the White House, I would notice the cute dog walking in front of the White House. Story of my life…
So, here I was in beautiful Belgium and while the architecture is gorgeous, I kept noticing well cared for dogs on one end of the leash. These lucky canines were obviously part of the family. I noted that there were Jack Russell terriers and English Bulldogs, as well as other great looking dogs, some who were pure bred and others who were mutts like me.
As I stood waiting for a bus, a tram stopped nearby, the door opened and there stood a beautiful Bull Terrier, on his way home with the human who held his leash. I tried to grab my phone and take a photo, but I was too slow. None-the-less, the seed was planted: I wanted to capture the happy faces of these Belgian dogs.
As I walked down the streets and saw dogs, I stopped their guardians and asked if I might snap a photo of their animal companions. You would think this was an everyday occurrence, because their humans didn’t look at all surprised and were only too willing to indulge the odd little American woman.
I was delighted and the photo sessions opened up conversations about their relationships with their dogs. One man even announced to his dog, “Vous êtes arrives!” (You have arrived!) And so, for those of you, like me, who always to see the dogs first, I offer these pictures of Les Chiens de Belgique (the dogs of Belgium).