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March 2015 Publisher Letter

My mother has always been a passionate animal lover, rescuer and advocate. She naturally instilled these values in her children, as well. Growing up, we were always bringing home stray dogs and cats and litters of kittens that had lost their mothers. How fortunate I am to have been raised surrounded by wonderful creatures.

Years later, I met Julie, a beautiful, affectionate, fiercely independent Great Pyrenees mix, and it was love at first sight. My dear friend and neighbor Niki, an animal welfare activist, found Julie running alongside a busy highway.

Niki is known for rescuing countless stray animals and finding them good homes. Her own house typically contains a menagerie of cats and dogs along with random neighboring pets that come to visit. It’s not surprising that Niki and I almost immediately became good friends.

When we tracked down Julie’s original owner we learned that she had been a guard dog for a cattle ranch, tied up 24/7 on a short rope near the gate, with inadequate food and water. A strong and active dog, she needed plenty of open space, and when she managed to break free, she made a run for it, ending up miles away. The ranch owner wasn’t particularly attached to Julie and agreed to take financial compensation for her.

Julie and I shared an adventurous spirit and had fun roaming and playing together for years. When invited for a ride in the car, she’d jump in with great excitement, understanding that we were off to do something fun, maybe a long mountain hike or a day at the beach. It’s been seven years since Julie passed on, and I still miss her. Although I’ve enjoyed the companionship of many wonderful dogs, I count Julie as a once-in-a-lifetime friend.

This month’s Animal Welfare issue focuses on the dangers and challenges faced daily by millions of animals, from domesticated pets to those living in the wild, and the need for active human protection and stewardship. Animals need us to preserve their native homes, afford them a safe environment and help those in trouble to find health and safety.

Any pet owner knows how much joy and comfort animals bring into a home. I hope reading this issue will inspire readers to reach out to a local shelter the next time they are looking for a pet and to be an advocate for all the wonderful creatures that share our home planet and don’t have a voice of their own.

To a good life for animals everywhere,

Gabriella Buchnik Natural Awakenings Magazine Milwaukee Publisher

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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