It seems about once a week, I receive an e-mail from an animal lover who is convinced that all Amish run puppy mills and are cruel to their dogs. I answer back politely, explaining that I haven’t seen any cruelty to animals among the Amish. Just the opposite, in fact, I’ve observed a lot of tender care for animals—livestock and pets. Buggy horses are like a member of the family, lap dogs are common, birds are encouraged to nest (great mosquito eaters!) and also admired.
Plus, I write, please be aware that the Amish get lumped together in the media with all sorts of rural people who dress conservatively. I’m not saying there aren’t puppy mills among the Amish, but they aren’t as plentiful as the e-mailer suggests (or accuses).
I learned of a story recently from one Amish family that captured the love and care for animals that I’ve seen, up close and personal:
For seven years now we’ve had two dogs, Holly and Heidi. One evening a truck driver brought us a piece of machinery. Holly apparently got on the trailer without anyone noticing. Later we realized she was missing and didn’t know what happened. A week later Dad met the driver again and asked him about Holly. Sure enough, the driver told us she raced off his trailer when he opened it about one hundred miles from home. He said he’d bring her back to us if anyone found her. We also put an ad in Die Botschaft. Later we received a letter informing us that some people were keeping Holly for us. She came to them when it was thundering—she has always been afraid of thunder. About six weeks after she left, the same driver brought her back. We sure rejoiced to have our dog back!*
The next time I get an outraged e-mail about Amish and puppy mills, I just might send them that story. Funny thing is I have yet to get a response back from those kinds of e-mailers.
*Gather Around the Amish Table by Lucy Leid (Herald Press).
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Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. The Search won a 2012 Carol Award. The Waiting was a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. The Choice was a finalist for a 2011 Carol Award. The Letters is a finalist for a Christian Retailing 2014 Best Award. Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World and Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She travels back east a couple of times each year for research.
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