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Shaggy Dog Story


Jeremy Sandford

Samantha’s dog has been stolen. Her attempts to rescue him start her on a personal odyssey. Will she ever get ‘Shaggy Dog’ back? And if she does, what state will he be in?

Shaggy Dog Story


Suddenly I Can’t Stand Sausages

Samantha’s dog is called ‘Shaggy Dog’. Next thing, would you believe it, he’s vanished. After a while Samantha begins to suspect that something dreadful may have happened to him.

Samantha becomes increasingly drawn into a tangle of events, emotions and high dramas that will change her life dramatically.

Will Samantha get back together with Shaggy Dog? If she does find him, what state will he be in?

Shaggy Dog Story

Samantha asks friends, passers by, puts up notices in newsagents, adverts in local paper. No luck.

A friend suggests that the dog may have been abducted for sale to the local foxhound kennels, who it is said are always prepared to buy carcasses.

Samantha goes out to the kennels and the huntsman is able to reassure her that her dog has not been through there.

A friend, possibly maliciously, suggests that the dog may have been taken to the local Indian restaurant to be turned into curry.

At the restaurant a very courteous waiter explains that they only use ‘very best meat and very best vegetables’.

The local Dog Sanctuary; a visit. No dog like hers has been through, they say, but it seems to her they could be hiding something. They only keep dogs a week before destroying them, and it’s more than a week since Shaggy Dog disappeared.

One day she sees a hen standing stock still in the road, takes it home with her and realises that this zombified creature must have been in a factory farm and fallen from a lorry.

Slowly, under her loving care, the hen comes to life and turns into an ordinary happy hen.

For her it’s an intensely joyful yet poignant experience and it starts her thinking of the lives led by animals in factory farms.

She talks to the local vicar about it, without much success.

She is not prepared to believe that Shaggy Dog may be already dead. A visit to the local pet food factory. She sees the arrival of a lorry load of carcasses. She’s very distressed. But conversation with an official reassures her that the dog is not there. They don’t use small animals.

Next morning at breakfast Samantha most unexpectedly discovers that she can’t face eating the sausages that she’s just cooked.

She throws them away and then, on second thoughts, gives them to a passing dog which much enjoys them.

It begins to dawn on her that Shaggy Dog may be in the nearby product test laboratories, who are known to sometimes do experiments on animals. She remembers hearing that they are sometimes ready to buy animals, no questions asked, and realises that she has been trying to put the thought behind her.

Somebody tells her that they saw Shaggy Dog following a woman who was laying a trail of dog meat and on enquiry she discovers that the woman is suspected of supplying the laboratories.

Samantha feels that if she goes to the laboratories she will be able to tell if Shaggy Dog is inside.

She is possibly encouraged in this belief by an eccentric lady with a pendulum or crystal who claims she will be able to tell whether Shaggy Dog is there. Standing on the hillside above the laboratories the pendulum lady announces that Shaggy Dog is definitely inside.

‘Why should they do such terrible things to animals when they are innocent?’ asks Samantha.

A friend explains that experiments on animals are necessary to test new ways of relieving human suffering.

‘I don’t like it.’

‘People can’t just stop doing things just because an animal might get hurt; you might just as well stop giving the cat catfood.’


‘Well, that’s meat, isn’t it? Animals died to make that tin of catfood.’

Samantha tosses the catfood into a bin, and sits down to think a moment. Then she gets is out again and gives it to the cat.

Samantha discusses the question with her friends. One of them, who she has always felt was rather boring, explains that she hasn’t eaten meat for some while since, driving in a town once, a lorry ahead shed some of its load, a few thousand sheep’s eyes.

The friend explains how that helped her make the connection between the living animals in the fields that you see in advertisements on food packets and the meat in your sausage.

Not so long after that, Samantha is sitting down to egg and chips and her children come in from school. They’ve been on a school visit to the local battery hen farm. The children are telling her all about it. But when she asks whether the battery hens are happy, the children say they’re not sure.

Samantha looks at her still uneaten egg. Oh no, it’s happening again! She throws the egg into the bin.

‘I would have eaten that!’ says one of the children.

Her friends tell her; if you go on like this, you’ll have nothing to eat - or to wear.

‘How do you mean, wear?’ asks Samantha nervously.

‘Well, how about that leather coat? And that leather purse?’

‘That’s mock leather.’

The thought of Shaggy Dog in the vivisection place haunts her.

She begins trying to live a life which causes less exploitation to animals and the environment as a whole. A perennial pattern in our story is that, just as she has given up yet one more foodstuff or clothing and thinks she’s finally discovered the knack of living a life that doesn’t involve damage to animals or the environment, she finds something else that she’s doing wrong. She also has lapses. When she has decided not to eat some particular form of food, she’s sometimes tempted and succumbs to the temptation.

She pays a visit to the local factory farm and, looking at the outside, wonders if the animals inside are happy.

‘Oh yes, quite happy,’ says someone who works there.

Someone involved with the ‘Animal Liberation’ people comes to see her. She is asking whether Samantha would like to do a spot of liberation. Samantha doesn’t want to break the law - or go to prison.

A friend urges her, ‘don’t think about these things or it will send you mad.’

Samantha is becoming involved in trying to live more in harmony with her environment. Can she have her car converted to methane? Or water? Can she grow her own vegetables?

Samantha goes to the gates of the laboratories and is given a brush off. She discusses with friends how she could get Shaggy Dog out.

As she searches she becomes increasingly aware of her own complicity in animal suffering.

She visits a couple of animal welfare groups and suspects that they are not so much concerned with animal suffering as with the perpetuation of their own institutions.

In due course she remembers the ‘Animal Lib’ people.

She finds them in a rarified atmosphere with joss-sticks and Indian music, guitars playing and people dressed in Eastern style, and Vegan food. She’s out of her depth and rather put off. They are evasive when she asks them directly if they can rescue her dog.

Meanwhile Samantha herself is changing. It began with the sausages she threw away. Then she found she couldn’t eat eggs because of their connection with battery farms. There are more and more things that she can’t eat or use.

She realises that she has been using a product that has been tested in the particular laboratory where she believes her dog is.

Jacqueline, an idealistic friend who she had always found boring, is part of the change, again and again coming up with information which dispels Samantha’s hopes that she is living more ecologically.

There’s also cynical non-vegetarian Ruth, who enjoys pricking holes in her idealism. As a vegetarian, Samantha is eating a lot more tofu and rice - until Ruth points out that these products have to be imported with vast expense of the world’s resources, and that the tofu has been genetically altered.

Samantha buys a Christmas tree as a symbol of sacredness and purity. Ruth points out that she’s destroyed a living tree.

The same with tea and coffee. She’s trying to drink these rather than alcohol until it is pointed out that these have to be imported from abroad at great cost in petroleum and cause havoc to the local agricultural scene in their countries of origin.

She’s tried growing her own vegetables, only to find that, close to the highway, they have become lead-polluted.

As Samantha tries to make her life more and more ‘ecological’, so she is perceived by Ruth and other of her friends as becoming more and more weird.

It is all a mass of paradox. Should she use cow’s milk which takes ten times more acreage and may be polluted, or soya milk which may have to be imported?

Jacqueline hazards the rather fey view that according to some ‘cosmic’ system of natural justice, only when she has purified herself enough will Samantha get Shaggy Dog back.

Some of the people she met when they were protesting outside the factory farm invite her to take part in a raid on the laboratory. They will try to ‘liberate’ Shaggy Dog for her.

Samantha’s job will be to keep the night watchwoman occupied on some pretext while others, who know their way around, get the dog.

She does her bit well and the watchwoman has no suspicions until suddenly there is a pandemonium of barks, screams, crows, hisses, etc. and the whole place is plunged into darkness.

Samantha escapes from the factory farm and returns home.

She’s waiting with a friend in a state of excitement to see whether Jacqueline has succeeded in rescuing Shaggy Dog.

They hear sounds of a dog bounding up the stairs.

Incredibly excited, Samantha rushes to the door.

But - her face registers her disappointment.

This is a dreadful anticlimax. A dog stands on the stairs but it is not Shaggy Dog.

Samantha takes it into her flat.

It acts like a zombie. Still trailing wires that Jacqueline had cut through in her haste to detach it from the monitoring machinery, it morosely just sits there.

They offer it food and begin to clean it up.

The dog will not eat or drink.

What will they do with this stolen zombie dog?

The bell rings persistently and there is loud banging on the door. They are terrified that they’ve been discovered. Marilyn goes down to open the door.

Then another dog is bounding up the stairs.

‘It’s Shaggy Dog!’ cries Samantha.

This time the rescuers have got the right one.

Shaggy Dog is overjoyed to see Samantha and barks and bounds around with pleasure. He sees the laboratory dog, barks and tries to play. The other dog is still zombified.

Samantha is gambolling with Shaggy Dog, delighted to have him back. Then their attention turns to the other dog.

‘What are we going to do with this poor creature?’ asks Jacqueline.

Samantha says, ‘I’ve got two dogs now.’


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