of us, no matter who we are, go through times when we
run up against a brick wall. When nothing - no matter
how hard we try - is enough to break down that wall,
and set us free. It can be some kind of political red
tape we can't get around, bills we can't pay or love
leaving us forever.
When I was growing up, I remember asking
myself "What can I do in life?" I guess I
was a pretty serious kid, to be wondering about such
things back then. But, I wanted to do the most with
my life, and there were so many people I wanted to know.
People I read about, or saw on TV or in the movies.
People I heard on the radio. The dreamers of the world.
As time went by, I discovered that I was
meeting some of those people. I was meeting them because
they had horses or dogs and all kinds of pets in their
lives. Often, I never knew who they really were until
after we started talking. Who would think a skinny farm
kid, from a town most people never heard of, would make
friends with the treasurer of CBS? Or the secretary
of Dag Hammershold? How about getting to know the top
banking family in Italy, the people who started Volkswagen,
or speaking about horses with a prince who would become
king of Saudi Arabia? Certainly not my classmates in
It was our interest in purebred animals
that opened the door. We met at the races, at shows
or just through the networks of the breeds we are interested
in. After all, a fine horse or dog is an incredible
thing, respected and admired all over the world.
I'm not sure how many of us, today, realize how quickly
things are changing around us. Some of the most sweeping
laws are being enacted that affect our privacy and our
hearts. By "heart," I mean our love and inspiration.
Or, to be more specific, the inspiration and "centered-ness"
we get from the animals we own. Yes, I said "own."
And years from now, as society continues cutting "passion"
out of our lives, the works of people like me will be
banned for it. Banned like the work of Albert Payson
Terhune, one of the most popular dog writers of all
time, for using words of his time that are not "allowed"
in public libraries today because they offend the NAACP.
Were his words vulgar like so much in books and on the
screen today? Hardly. Were they in every story? No.
But, they were enough to get him on a list of banned
writers - and now there are whole generations who don't
know the sentimental and romantic story of "Lad:
A Dog." But, you might. And I do.
So, fine. I use the word "owner"
instead of "custodian" or "guardian"
like they are being forced to use in Colorado or maybe
California, too, by now. I use the word "owner"
because it is a stronger word, evoking more passion.
Passion is what animals are all about! They
fight and love and cry and run and holler as hard as
they can! They show us it's OK to do that in a world
that wants to make us numb, bland and tone us down.
Getting back to those roadblocks along the
way . . . we all come up against them. And, I'd like
to say there's always a way around them. I'd like to
say that, but, I can't. All I can say is, those of us
who love - really love the sporting life with our horses,
our dogs, our pets of every kind . . . those of us who
love racing and the circus and the rodeo and books and
movies and singing cowboys . . . who ride on trails
through the woods, go to the Zoo and dream of dancing
Lipizzan Stallions and magical dolphins leaping into
the sky - must hang on to it. Treasure it. Because these
things stir our blood. These things excite us, and show
us what we - as living, breathing, feeling creatures
ourselves - can do. That is passion. And that - at all
costs - is what we are protecting as the world grows
ever more afraid of those who can dream.
Mr. Hevener's novel High Stakes is an expose of the
animal rights movement, and its growing threat to today's
society. He can be reached through www.ronhevener.com
or this publisher.