Hercules’ Story


Once upon a time, Hercules lived like a king. Together with two other great danes, he lived in a gated orchard west of Tehran, Iran. He was healthy and strong. His human knew how a great dane should be fed and looked after. However, like some others, Hercules’ owner was not dedicated to taking care of him for his entire lifetime, and he eventually emigrated and left Hercules behind.

Hercules went to a new gated orchard. His new owner had no idea what and how much to feed him, and could only visit him once a week. The guard who resided at the orchard seemingly did not care much. Hercules was getting thinner and thinner. He was so famished that one could not believe this crumpled, disease-infested creature was once a glorious looking great dane. His owner was made to understand that keeping Hercules in those conditions was cruel, and he agreed to surrender him.

When we went to pick him up, he was a feeble being lying on a piece of plastic in a dirty, dingy den. He was so weak he could not even step out. Only when we showed him a piece of chicken did he gather all his strength to get up and follow us to the car. Hercules was very gentle and loving. We helped him get into the car, and soon he fell asleep. The calluses on his elbows and the wounds on his hip were obviously due to sleeping on hard surfaces.

Hercules was so weak that we did not know if he would live. He was seriously sick, but he was resilient. After months of good nutrition and care, he gained back his black shiny fur.

Hercules lived at Vafa Animal Shelter for two years. Life at the shelter, of course, is not the same as living in a house with a yard and having your own loving family, but he had security and peace here and he was loved.

Great Danes live a short life. His past of neglect had taken a toll on him as well. Gradually the signs of old age appeared in him. He eventually passed away; no being is eternal.

Hercules was lucky, but many other dogs are neglected and forgotten. Their stories do not end as well as Hercules’.

How unfortunate animals are in our land. These days there are many irresponsible breeders. Dogs who were once expensive and in-demand due to their breed are now overpopulated since demand has decreased. That is why they get abandoned by the breeders and add to the population of homeless dogs.

To care for a living being requires responsibility, a budget, knowledge about proper care, a suitable living space, and time. Pets are not toys to have when we feel like it and put them aside when we don’t. They have feelings, they get attached to us, they trust us. In their small world, we are very important. They look up to us as a source of love and security. Let us not breach their trust.

More importantly, there must be laws to protect animals. People who show cruelty to animals are a danger to society and must be dealt with by strict laws. A society that shows no mercy to these helpless, voiceless creatures is a dangerous society for everyone.      

All images in this story via Vafa Animal Shelter.

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About Author

Vafa is a charitable NGO run by grassroots donations. It runs two animal shelters in Hashtgerd and Qazvin, Iran, housing more than 1500 dogs. Click to see author's profile.


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