It's a lifestyle, being an animal lover. The only catch is, most animal lovers would be perfectly content to be with their animals all day long and it's not always possible. Oh, maybe it's possible for those with a pension, social security, lucky investments or a trust fund. But, "most" animal lovers hold down a full-time job or two (or somebody else in the family does) and that's what hurts.
How often do we hear the criticism (noble as it sounds on the surface) that if you really love animals, you won't "exploit" them for money? The word "exploitation" is effective when criticizing others. Some people get pretty loud when they use it. But "loud" doesn't win debates. It just stops people from talking.
Let's take a closer look at critics who sincerely feel that animals should not be "used" to earn money.
Most of us would grab picket signs and march outside the courthouse if we thought animals were mistreated to gain money. But, what if they're not being mistreated? What if critics think purebred animal lovers only care about money and we don't have any sensitivity for the lives or higher emotions of the animals in our charge? How do they get such ideas! Don't they know that animal lovers spend all they can on their animals? It doesn't matter if we're talking about a stray cat, a dog you got from an animal shelter or the most valuable racehorse in the world and you've got a four-legged ticket to a million dollars. Our animals must be provided for and it's up to us to figure out how.
If we're lucky enough to do what we want to in life, it's a great thing. But, if we can't (or if we can't be what we know we were born to be), then many of us blame a lack of money for standing in our way. Very rare are the individuals who figure out that it's up to us how our lives turn out and not up to "fate." That being said, when it comes to animals and money, the two will always go hand in hand. Why? Because you can't have one without the other. The bigger your budget, the more you can do, and if your animals are good enough to win prizes and help pay the rent, I'm all for it. I'm inspired by beautiful animals that somebody respects and values enough to share with the public. I'm glad they share their prize-winning animals with us instead of selfishly harboring them as personal pets for nobody else but their own friends to know, or touch or see.
Does paying for the best feed, the best shelter and the best veterinary care make us good people in the eyes of our critics? Not necessarily. But, it can be measured by the love in the eyes of those around us. Whether they walk on two legs, four or fly with wings, our animals know the kind of hearts we have. And they respond to us accordingly.
Love goes two ways and, sometimes, it comes from the most unexpected places. Regarding the question of animals and paychecks, consider this: When you work outside the home to pay the bills, how much time can you really spend with the animals you love? But, if your animals are smart enough, talented enough, or if they represent their breed well enough to earn a paycheck, it won't matter if your boss fires you. It won't matter if the company shuts down, sends your job overseas, and the best you can do is get a job at a burger joint. If life takes a turn for the worse, and you end up bringing home that dreaded pink slip, animals with their own income are one less thing you have to worry about.
If animals knew they could help with the family budget, do you really think they would refuse? It's a gift they can share with us. Animals are part of the family. If they refused, what kind of family would they be? If they refused ... then maybe we should take another look at the human-animal bond!
Responsible animal lovers pay for food, vitamin supplements, grooming, boarding, medications, surgeries, breeding fees, paperwork, entry fees, legal inspections, advertising, magazine subscriptions, transportation, collars, leashes, brushes, training, equipment and all kinds of care.
Exploitation? I don't call that exploiting animals ... Do you?
His interest in Arabian horse racing goes back to the early days of Delaware Park, now one of the leading Arabian racetracks in the US. His stallion "Nahgua" (Nugui El Khamsin) was one of the first Arabians to race at Delaware Park and inspired Mr. Hevener's novel, "Fate of the Stallion."
Along with racehorses and show dogs, Mr. Hevener's interest in Greyhounds started with the adoption of a retired racer and led to a full-fledged racing kennel and inspired his novel, "High Stakes." Today, he owns sons and daughters of every major Greyhound racing sire from the U.S., UK, Ireland and Australia.
An accomplished artist, Hevener figurines and prints from his novels are bought and traded throughout the world. His original paintings and sculptures are displayed in galleries and can be found in many private collections.
Mr. Hevener is currently on tour, speaking at bookstores, libraries, theaters, schools, gift stores, pet stores, dog shows, art shows and horse shows throughout the country. "Life is a movie," he says. "On with the show!"
Book Price: $14.95 - Audio Book: $18.95 - Watercolor Prints $32.00
Photography by Maxine Bochnia