Do not go …

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”


My trail began on the 14th of December 1961, born the second child to two damn fine human beings: Sylvia Pamela Brown and Bernard James Ahern. Wandering down many paths throughout the years, it was the discovery of an old journal recently that took me back to a path I inadvertently took in early February of 1994. A short cut led to a detour, which was to lead me to a German Shepherd dog and a change in the course of both of our lives. Out of the corner of my eye I spied what I thought was a dead dog by the side of the road. I thought that our shared moment together would be but that moment of sadness I felt for his passing. But then I thought he moved. “Did he move?” “No, he didn’t.” “Hang on, I think he did”. Teetering between arriving at work on time (as my “short cut” had already proved anything but) and the plight of the hapless injured animal, it was the hapless injured animal who easily won out.

What transpired next was a new path to navigate for both me and the gentle German Shepherd, as Schofield was to become to the Central Highlands Animal Shelter what Edgar Alan Pig was to Edgar’s Mission. Whilst tugging at the piece of fencing wire that crudely connected the emaciated dog via his neck to a fence post, his pitiful form and putrid wounds tugged at my heart strings like no other. His dew claws, or what was left of them from pawing at the wire in an attempt to free himself, were a mix of dried blood and pus and a great host for infection which had achieved its debilitating aim. The ashes of this once majestic animal drove me to ask, “What happens to animals such as he?”. The answer was the impetus for creating the aforementioned charity. Shooting unclaimed animals and dumping them at the local tip was never going to sit well with me.

Schofield was to become my most constant and loyal of companions and nurtured my great love of his breed. I found him to be curious, obedient, loveable, ever alert and vigilant, courageous and brave (I swear he would have laid down his life for me if ever the need arose, and yes, I truly believe I would have done the same for him), intelligent—all traits so typical of these majestic dogs. But sadly, as the years rolled on, so too did his hip dysplasia, a chronic and debilitating condition all too common for German Shepherds—a sad reminder of how we humans have allowed our desire for looks to override our responsibility for “those we have tamed”. His coming into my world at just that time not only saved his life but the lives of countless other lost, abandoned and neglected cats and dogs who went on to find sanctuary through the Central Highlands Animal Shelter. Additionally, it inspired me to be brave and courageous and do things I never thought I could. I recall the day the shelter had to close, through no fault of my own, as one of the worst days of my life. Yet it seemed that the passage of time had seen the expansion of existing animal rescues who were able to fill the void I was to leave. Not long thereafter a certain dashing, debonair, witty, wise, charismatic pig was to trot into my world and lead me down another path I would never have trod had I still been at the helm of the animal shelter.

Closing the journal, I cannot help but smile as the vision of a perfect pig and a handsome German Shepherd steal my thoughts. Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail … of kindness.

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31 thoughts on “Do not go …

  1. Dear Pam,

    You are the most beautiful soul and my biggest inspiration. When I dream of a windfall, Edgar’s Mission comes first to mind.

    Love your amazing stories and tributes :)

    Thank you for making the world a much better place

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to read one of your posts without welling up with tears. Though I haven’t given my life to saving all creatures great and small, it feels at times like I’ve forsaken humans over animals. Always one to stop on the side of the road, always transporting & saving & keeping tortoises, geese, lizards, cats, dogs, ducks, wildlife to home & vets, far & near. Always receiving snide remarks from friends especially if time was of the essence. The great thing is as I’ve grown older I’ve grown bolder & care less what other people think. I admire your courage & conviction. I try to support Edgar’s Mission as much as possible & try every day to be a better, kinder & more considerate human being. Thank you x

  3. Telling your story is beautiful indeed. Everyone has a story that needs to be told. If it helps one being it is worthwhile. All stories matter so thank you for sharing yours and thank you for not staying on the path and making your own trail

  4. That is truly beautiful Pam. Inspiring words from a wonderfully kind human and a leader for animal awareness. You are a gift to the world. And that has made my day!

  5. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt and inspiring stories. It’s always an incentive to ‘do better’ after I read them.

  6. Dear Pam,

    So beautifully written as usual, and so extremely inspirational to both my husband and I, who have just taken on a rescue German Shepard, who we know will bring as much joy to us as Schofield did to you.

    Thank you for all the wonderful work that you and your team do.

    Your s sincerely

  7. Thank you Pam for sharing from your heart, as always, when you keep us updated on all the precious animals there it makes us feel like we know them as well as you do and we are happy when you are, and we Grieve with you when you lose one, I too have had to German shepherds and no they’re beautiful intelligent nature, they are very special as are all animals, thank you for the very special person that you are and for everything you do 4 these precious animals, God bless you ❤

  8. Thank you Pam for that beautiful story. As a fellow Saggitarian (13/12) I share the great love of all animals
    great and small and my lasting wish is for all animals to find a safe place, love and health. God bless you and your team that take care of all animals that enter your sanctuary.

  9. I love how your courage, eloquence (I get too emotional to make sense!), humility, sense of humour and compassion have inspired loads of other people. The world is a better place thanks to you all at EM and the brave souls who work at animal shelters!

  10. Pam your eloquence is only outshone by your bravery and your kindness. You are a true inspiration to so very many of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  11. You are both amazing and an inspiration, Pam. Thank you for sharing this story. You are such a wonderful exemplar of kindness. You restore my faith in humanity and regularly encourage me to reaffirm and continue my commitment to bringing kindness to our world.

  12. Somehow or other, I’ve always had “unwanted” pets & have always found they give more pure, unconditional love than humans. Once I had 2 abandoned Alsatians, one being pregnant, & they became inseperable from one another, they were such a joy. At the moment I’ve got 2 kittens abandoned in strange circumstances, & although they have “given” me many “presents” of distruction etc, & one time after one of their escapades i threatened to put them on E Bay, I wound not be without them. Pure unconditional love & I thank God.

  13. Saturday’s story really touched me and it reinforced what I believe about lives – ours and the animals we meet. If you can get to the end of your life and say I have made a few people’s lives better because they knew me (and the same with animals) then you have lived a very worthwhile life, Few of us leave big legacies of any sort but a legacy of adding joy to other lives is as important as it gets. Thank you for giving Saturday four more wonderful years of love and frolicking.

  14. When I finally grow up (hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t seem to be much of a chance to happen) I want to have the very kind soul and big heart as you have and you share! You are an inspiration to all of human kind and a God sent to the animals you love.

  15. If only the world were filled with more the likes of you, dear Pam, than those who are in places of power. May your example inspire and motivate many others across the globe to take your lead instead of those others far less enlightened.

  16. What a beautiful and amazing story! Wish there were more people in the world like you…it would be a much better place to live! Thank you for sharing this!

  17. I do so love to read the back story of the very special human you are Pam. Your parents must be incredibly proud of the compassionate, indomitable, brave and inspiring person you have become and – it seems – have always been. Your actions on a daily basis are an inspiration to those of us who follow your wonderful work to be brave, strong and to make our own trails of kindness.

  18. Pam Ahern, you are one of the bravest people I have heard of. You have definitely bravely gone on a path that no one else had the guts to take and have left a trail of bravery compassion, kindness and goodness and consistent loyalty to the cause of saving animals.
    Thank you for this beautiful story. Its a privilege to know (even though from a very far distance such as South Africa) someone like you.
    Thank you for making this world a better place for the animals to live in

  19. I read a lovely item about abandoned pets who arrive at the Rainbow Bridge but cannot gain entrance until a ‘rescuer’ comes by and takes them over the Rainbow Bridge. You are that sort of person Pam. I doff my cap to you! Take care.

  20. You are the living Saint Francis, please write a book Pam,,often a book will with photos brings these shocking issues to life. Every creature deserves their place in the sun, a personality, a living feeling soul, not something to be treated like a piece of rubbish.

  21. Dear Pam. You are truly the most kind and wonderful person I have ever met. You just continue to help unfortunate animals without looking what’s init for you. These days unfortunately most humans are only interested in their own lives and gains. You are an angels sent from above to look out and make animals in need better and give them plenty of love and a forever home where they can what ever time they have on this planet enjoy and live without fear and suffering. Thank you Pam.

  22. Dear Pam. That is such an interesting and awe inspiring story of your kindness and love and no doubt you had no second thoughts about what you would do.
    It’s strange how animals serendipitously come into our lives without us looking for them. When my son and husband were driving home to where we live in the rural West of Ireland my son spotted something at the side of the road and was convinced it was a kitten. My husband thought it was a piece of white paper but my son begged him to stop and he was right. It was a tiny tortoiseshell and white kitten that would fit into the the palm of your hand. Some of its teeth had been knocked out and it also had a broken leg and started having fits. We phoned the vet as soon as they arrived home and he recommended a quarter of a paracetamol tablet and plenty of rest. She slept in a shoe box all night next to my daughter. We thought it was going to be touch and go as she’d had such a tough time with whatever had happened to her. In the morning she woke up absolutely ravenous and ate her way through a dish of food and looked for more. We thought she was too tiny to even be weaned but her will to live was strong.
    A month ago we had to say goodbye to her. She was twenty three years old and blind, though up til that point she had managed to carry on with her life through familiarity of her environment and still loved being tickled upside down and being with her two big black dogs. Then came the day when she could no longer stand and kept falling over. She couldn’t seem to smell her food or water and though I tried to feed her by hand her quality of life had become tragically inadequate. She seemed to have had a stroke or brain trauma.
    So we had to make the final journey and it was devastating. My son was just a lad when he found her and he’s 37 years old now. That’s a long time for an animal to be part of the family.
    She is buried at the bottom of the garden amongst the bluebells where she liked to go. My Mrs White. R. I. P. wonderful girl.
    I didn’t intend to write all this but reading your story reminded me of how a tiny white cat with a wonky leg became a legend in her own lifetime and was regarded by all as a miracle of nature.

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