He Will Come. (by Gina Richey)

Sent to me by former Animal Control Officer, Gina Richey, this is an incredibly sad yet beautiful poem about a dumped black Lab, waiting by an intersection. As much as I love to post only positive and happy tales, this simply isn't real life. Gina wrote this poem in his memory, and I feel it deserves to be shared to honour the poor Labrador's memory:

"I wrote this poem many years ago, when I was an Animal Control Officer. There was a Black Lab who was obviously dumped, and would wait by an intersection, every day. Multiple complaints and concern calls came into the office, daily. Over the course of 4 months, I tried to help this poor dog, and slowly watched as he lost wait and hope. Because of my job, I knew he would eventually lose his life, either from a heartless human, or from being hit by a car. Sadly, it happened.  I retrieved his body, and finally got to touch his soft fur, and rub his sweet head, and I cried. I cried for the fact that I couldn't save him, the fact his worthless owner abandoned him, the fact that he loved his human (S) so much that he waited daily by a dangerous intersection, and the fact that he was just one of the multitudes of pets abandoned/dumped, every day. I promised him that he would never be forgotten, so this poem is for him, and all the hopeless fur babies searching for comfort, and love."

                 He Will Come
 Don't close the door Don't push me away
 Why are you leaving? Don't make me stay.
 Slow down the car I can't keep up
This pavement is hot and my pads are cut.

 I've got to quit running or my heart will pop
 Every muscle is aching why didn't you stop?
 I'm so hungry and thirsty Darkness is near
 But I shouldn't leave He will come for me here.

Several weeks have passed I'm dead on my feet
They call me a nuisance because I eat off the streets
 Every car that passes I chase it to see
 If it is my master coming for me.

Though I approach those that come near
With trust in my eyes and no sign of fear
With hate in their voices and cold, heartless stares
They threaten to kill me, they don't even care.

Batter my body with rocks that they throw
I will not leave He will come, Don't you know?
Overtaken with weakness, my body is numb
I'm sick and so lonely. Oh please, let him come!

I will go back to where he first threw me out
I'll wait for him there He will come, no doubt.
My thoughts are fading, my chest feels like lead
I'm sleepy, so sleepy and can't lift my head.

 It's so quiet, so peaceful all remains still
There is my master at my home on the hill!
Yes, I can see him, he's calling my name!
 His voice is so gentle, his hands are the same.

He decided he wants me, things will be fine
I really do love him, that master of mine.
My tail wags with pleasure, I can't catch my breath
He came in my dreams, but so did my Death.

                    By: Gina Richey

Charlie and Oscar. (by Charlie Avent)

Written and presented by Charlie Avent. This is his beautiful tale of how a horse named Oscar came into his life and taught his more than he could have imagined; especially the unique gift of autism. Please read on...

"My name is Charlie Avent.

Although I live a normal life in the United Kingdom, I have a special gift called Autism.
This is my true story of how a horse named Oscar gave me life, helped me to become an apprentice Horse Whisperer then helped me to turn my Autism into a gift.

Before I discovered horses, I was rapidly losing the will to live or get out of bed let alone learn anything at all, I was hysterical, upset and depressed by the bullying and the hate I had to endure in my life particularly that aimed at me for having the (so called) disability of Autism. It felt as if my ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorder’ as my carers called it, was blinding those around me to my interests and strengths and this felt awful as I began to feel like a mutant.

I first met Oscar when I was in my second year at Ruskin Mill College. I was struggling to make sense of my life, to find meaning or purpose in myself. I was so upset that I Felt my existence was pointless and wanted to die because I hated myself for having Autism and being different. One day I was in Patricia my art tutor’s art studio beside her house, crying and hysterically upset in a full-scale autistic meltdown, when she took me out to meet Oscar.

From the moment I met Oscar, a bay thoroughbred who, I had been told, had had a very difficult start in life and had nearly died, I felt my own self pity become lost in a sea of love. He seemed to be saying ‘I love you, Charlie’ and asking me for friendship and help in spreading the message that violence towards any animal or human being is never the answer. In return he said he would help me to learn about his language and that he would never let me fall back into myself. He said, “I’m always here in spirit if not in body”. I feel very tearful just writing about this.

Oscar said to me, “If you want to repay me, you can become a Horse Whisperer”, and although I don’t believe I can ever fully repay him I have since totally set my heart on becoming a Horse Whisperer!

Patricia could not believe what she was seeing and decided to ask for me to have a few sessions of horse therapy with her and Oscar over the next few weeks. However in true Ruskin Mill style, ‘They’ did not give me horse therapy, ‘They’ gave me a Horse Whisperer! Carol arranged for me to meet a lady called Dawn Oakley-Smith, who keeps a small herd of horses at her Natural Horsemanship stable yard called ‘Heartshore Horses’.

As soon as I arrived at Dawn’s house with Carol, I was loudly welcomed by Hector (the friendly big black Labrador) who Dawn keeps as her friend and companion.
Dawn took us to Heartshore Horses’ main field where her herd of horses were waiting to be fed with their morning hay. As soon as I saw them I knew that Heartshore was an amazing place where I would learn a very great deal about horses. I feel rather silly now but I asked Dawn if she had heard of my hero Monty Roberts. She replied, “Of course, I am a Horse Whisperer!”

I was totally amazed to hear this. It was the most incredible feeling, to realise exactly what was happening here! This was my destiny; to help Dawn as a Horse Whisperer apprentice. To help to save horses from certain death and to help horses and people understand one another!

Over the next year as I became more confident, competent and able, it became apparent that more than anything I wanted to have a horse of my own. As this seemed to me to be impossible I waited as long as I could before I finally asked Dawn how expensive they really were to keep. She replied, ‘”We can keep them here very cheaply at Heartshore because we keep all of the horses as naturally as possible”...

It was about this time that I met Monty Roberts the iconic Horse Whisperer, on telling him my plan Monty told me to make my own luck wished me good learning and told me to go for it!

After many weeks of discussions, meetings and anxious waiting for both me and my Ruskin Mill house parents, the news that I was to have a horse of my very own made me cry!
And I had already decided on the name, ‘Spirit’!

I first met ‘Spirit’ on a lovely warm sunny day in May. It all happened after a phone call from a horse breeder who had seen my advertisement, knew that I was looking for a young horse, and had just the one! We arranged to visit the stables and I was introduced to a young and very handsome colt. Although I instantly liked his spirited nature Dawn and I said no to buying him. She was the voice of Reason and I was the voice of excitement. So we went on to the next paddock where I met a young Irish sport horse cross thoroughbred whose father was the famous coloured sport horse stallion ‘Masterpiece’. I immediately fell in love! Her name was ‘Summer’s Rain’. The breeder was happy to agree on a fair price and I was happy to buy her having changed her name to 'Spirit Of Summers Rain' and ‘Spirit of Summer’s Rain’ arrived at Heartshore Horses on June 20th 2010.

Spirit and I have a wonderful relationship and since we met I have extended her name to ‘Spirit Of Summer’s Rain’. She is an extremely easy and kind horse despite still being young. We play and learn as partners and I have been training her almost totally unaided. I never use pain or force when training her, we use the ‘Natural Horsemanship’ methods of ‘Monty Roberts’.

Oscar kept his promise to me right up to his final days but he had an accident and tragically he had to be put down due to breaking his leg Eventing. Since meeting this amazingly mentally and psychologically strong, yet troubled horse, my life has never been the same and I won’t forget him.

Dawn for a time became part of the ‘Horse Boy Foundation’ and has worked alongside Rupert Isaacson, author of the book ‘The Horse Boy’. She now runs therapy camps for autistic children and their families at Heartshore Horses in Gloucestershire although we prefer a natural horsemanship approach to all of our equine therapy but especially with those who have autism because we found that the natural horsemanship seems to produce better therapy horses who are more relaxed and happy and are less focused on their own survival and more focused on their job.

I work as a volunteer assistant on these camps and do my best to look after those who need special help. I enjoy telling the visiting families about my life changing experience with Oscar and introducing ‘Spirit’ to all those who wish to meet to her. Spirit and I are now out to try to inspire others to try Natural Horsemanship through giving Talks on how horses saved me and displaying our wonderful friendship via natural horsemanship demos. We also want to inspire others with disabilities or difficulties to just carry on regardless and focus on their Strengths and Interests.

We had a phone call not long before Monty Roberts was due to do a demo near Gloucester at Hartbury College for his Jubilee tour to say that he had heard all about my story and wanted me to come and be part of his demonstration to speak about my Autism and do a Join Up in front of everyone with Kelly Marks 18hh hunting horse Harry! As you can imagine I was honoured but nervous as I walked into the round pen to speak but this feeling soon subsided and then when I was with Harry doing Join Up nothing existed anymore except him and me so that I felt the same lovely calm relaxed feeling I get when I am with my own horse Spirit.

Recently I heard that Oscar ‘Cleverly Bay’ had been put to sleep after breaking his leg Eventing and this was devastating news but I hope to make him proud of me and help many other people not to have to go through what I went through.

I have now written a book Following The Hoofprints which has now been published and is available worldwide exclusively through Amazon.

Thanks to registered charity The Autism Directory I have set up my own company called Autism Meets Natural Horsemanship using natural horsemanship demonstrations and public speaking to raise positive awareness and acceptance of autism as well as improve the respect shown to horses in equine therapy centres. I am only really able to do this work because I have the support of the access to work scheme which supports me to do supported permitted work coordinated and organised by the charity.

In recent times Spirit and I had to move from our old yard at Heartshore in Minchinhampton because it got into financial difficulty and Dawn went to live in Wales, to be with our new friends at Tumpy Green in Dursley where we are able to enjoy much improved facilities and lots of lovely people who help us each day. Is the perfect place with indoor and outdoor arenas and round pen for my team and I need to get my business up and running helping people with their horses and teaching people about autism through talks and demos.

Thank you for reading my story.



Strangers Being Human.

Today I am a stranger, passing a collection of strangers. I am a son to a father, a brother to a sister, an uncle to a nephew, a king to a pauper, a pauper to a king, a child to a grandfather, and a grandfather to a child. I am a foreigner to a traveller, an Englishman to a foreigner, a customer to a servant, and an associate to a customer. I am a source of joy to my friends, frustration to my enemies, and illusion to those who only know me through the work I produce; as much as those who produce their own art are to me. 

I am the suave Casanova in the crowd, the unkempt fool in the distance, the distant soul by the side, and the curious indifference to the few. I am the all for one and one for all, the free spirit, the too in love to leave, and the one that got away. I am the stroker of dogs, the visceral interloper of commercialism, and the Machiavellian response to those I unfairly deem culpable to ridicule. 

I am the chained to civilisation, the psychologically liberated, the trapped by conscious conflict, and the drifter upon free society. I am the person who pays for the addiction of freedom offered by technology, and the one who sells time in order to gain more of it. I am young, I am old, I am wise, I am an idiot, I am a philosopher, I am a clown. I am a hundred thoughts offering a thousand signs pointing along a million possibilities. I am your complete opposite, I am your exact replica…

Today I am a stranger, passing a collection of strangers. You are the stranger, and are all these people and more. This make us wonderful, it also makes us human.

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Bocker; the Shaggy Superhero.

"The Shaggy Superhero"
In June 2014, I made the bold decision to run a half-marathon for charity; in the leafy suburban serenity of St Albans, here in England. While difficult to select a cause to raise funds for, I settled on aiming for £1000 towards the Animal Cancer Trust; a group which aids treatment and research towards both humanity's strongest love, and nature's deepest fear. 

Four weeks of perseverance in training and promotion later - and twelve hours before the race, the full amount had finally been reached; its majority through the kind souls who have slowly grown into fans of my work - and loved animals. Compassion had yet again prevailed, and I finished the 13.1 miles with a firm sense of pride in the human spirit - and very tired legs.

And yet at the beginning of this idea, I was apprehensive; my initial amount was planned as £500, and I felt uncertain enough people would donate to a charity - especially one so little known, in a world where it is impossible to champion so many deserving causes. However, all those fears were conquered in a flash moments after opening the charity page, when I saw the first donation of $20.00 - "Wishing me all the best... from Bocker and Marie!"...

For those unaware, Bocker is a Labradoodle from New York (pictured). Half movie star, half therapy dog, full humanitarian, my friendship with he and his family began with an article written earlier this year (link below), celebrating his life and altruistic works. I was taken aback by the sheer volume of his charity, humility, and dedication to provide a richer, happier way of living to anyone he touches; as much as the welcoming nature from a family who clearly nurtured a young pup, into a proud, quite remarkable shaggy adult. Much like all dogs of the world, he came across as a giver, and writing about him was a pleasure, an honour, and still one of my favourite articles I have written to date.

"A smart cookie too"
Last month, Bocker was diagnosed with lymphoma - a form of cancer which stems from the lymph glands. With chemotherapy the only option of saving his life, his family currently guide him through the early stages of treatment. Chemotherapy unfortunately, is expensive, and the givers now find themselves needing a similar form charity and goodwill in return. Which is why I write this article. 

I would like anyone reading this to show your support, and donate whatever form of finance you can to aid his treatment; the link is below. Beyond this, sharing his plight through the internet, sending messages of support, of simply wishing for his full recovery can only help. Cancer in humans is treacherous enough, yet for dogs it must be a confusing and difficult time. While they may remain unaware they are ill, the sensitivity of those who love them would be impossible to ignore; in an animal which lives so viscerally through its emotions.

Bocker is a truly amazing character, and still has plenty of doggie duties to take care off - in that thankless manner canines live their lives. The boy who has helped so many humans, is now in need of vital human help in return. It was his donation which made me realise I was working towards a greater cause, and would eventually be a success. I now hope the same can happen for him...

CLICK HERE and donate to aid Bocker's chemotherapy
CLICK HERE to visit Bocker's Facebook Page
CLICK HERE for my previous article on the amazing Bocker

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How Would You Write, Back to the Future Four?

In the ensuing 25 years since the release of the third and final portion of science-fiction classic, Back to the Future, movie fans worldwide have mused over the possibility of a fourth instalment one day coming to fruition. However, with Christopher Lloyd in his seventies, Michael J Fox’s acting limited by the debilitation of Parkinson’s disease, and writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis openly dismissing the project as 'boring', it would seem part four hitting our silver screens is more a work of fan-boy fantasy, than Hollywood reality.

Yet we live in a world where minds can rapidly change like a Scottish highland breeze. And what if – whether for love, money, or a script strong enough to justify the time and effort in writing it, the original cast and crew found a desire to recreate a modern version of the past, and signed up to this fresh green lighted project. With the collection of issues born from time working against it, and the intricate level of construction needed, how would you write a movie, like Back to the Future Four?

The year is 2020. Marty and Jennifer remain comfortably healthy and married; living in the pleasant present future displayed in Back to the Future Two - minus Hoverboards, flying cars, and Jaws 19. Biff Tannen is a middle-aged loser who flips burgers (in the movie world, flipping burgers means loser - even though it is an honest way to make a living), while Doc Emmett Brown remains in 1915 with Clara Clayton and family. 

The McFly’s live with their only child; 21-year old Mikey - a carbon copy in looks and personality to his 1980’s father. One fateful day in the family garage, the Doc turns up in his trusted Delorean - the spacecraft/train was too large and expensive to maintain. He explains to Marty – aside why Hoverboards, flying cars and Jaws 19 never came to pass, how they need to venture back to 1999 – in order to maintain the course of his sons conception; who faces the dangers of Biff and his usual hair brained schemes from separating Marty and Jennifer. Of course Marty – being older, is usurped by young Mikey – eager to prove himself; being the only soul ever convinced by his father's stories of 1955/2015/1885. Mikey McFly ends up venturing back to 1999 with the Doc – discovering a world before smart-phones, widely available broadband, and twitter; but still with a surly and stupid burger flipping bully, named Biff Tannen. For the next 90 minutes, all kinds of mayhem and mischief ensue, ending with a resolution which leaves everyone happy, and involves Michael J.Fox in the final scene in some capacity. While rehashing elements of the events in 1955, the difference lies in the cultural and moral interests of two very different periods of history; and in the hands of crafted screenwriters like Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, this would surely create a recipe for cine-magic...

Regardless of the plot, working a fresh Back to the Future movie would prove an arduous task for any director; a fourth movie runs the risk of tarnishing a series universally loved and regarded, and our imaginations often create a magic, reality is unable to reproduce. Added to this is the audience accepting Michael J.Fox in an extended cameo role; even though they would understand his limits are forced by illness, it may still feel difficult to see him take a back seat, as well as needing a very talented young actor to fill a lead role of a cultural icon.

On the reverse, there would be no trouble prizing the still active Christopher Lloyd, or pulling Thomas F.Wilson from his comedy gigs and voice-overs. And it is also a project Hollywood would invest good money into; as the movie alone would likely generate a large financial return, regardless of quality. It is a major risk, and a highly unexpected event, but I would happily accept an adequate part four, purely to enjoy seeing beloved characters and situations re-awoken for one final occasion; while a different genre, it never hurt Rocky Balboa or Rambo. The only other option is an attempt to ‘reboot’ the original; which going on the recent Robocop and Karate Kid ventures, I cannot imagine anyone under the age of 25 - or with any regard for the artistic beauty of classic cinema, wishes to see happen. 

There are a multitude of ideas and possibilities with this, and this article is merely the musing of one person. With millions of die-hard fans of the series out there, I would love to know how you feel Back to the Future Four should pan out - if it even should? Would you allow the son of Marty to travel with the Doc? Would Biff be flipping burgers, or running a corporation after some kind of mid-life epiphany? Or would you create an entirely new direction altogether? Please comment below, and I will post the most original and interesting one up in my next article...