Just over twelve years ago, we were in the throes of emigrating from South Africa to this little island off the coast of Tasmania. It was a nightmarish, expensive bureaucratic process, that was actually very hard, aside from uprooting your whole life to move across the world to a little island where you knew no-one. Migration is hard enough when you’re young, and have your world on your back, and are moving hopefully to something more prosperous and better. We knew we were going to be a lot poorer, would no longer have a home of our own, and would have no family or friends to turn to in need. On the other hand… I could see that the future in South Africa was… uncertain, and if I waited any longer, leaving legally would have been impossible.
The biggest difficulty of the entire exercise had to be our dogs and cats. I’m sort of guy who believes that there is a bond of loyalty between me and my animals that must be honored. They were all rescues of one sort or another, and very, very difficult to adequately re-home as a result. None of them were that young, that it was really practical, let alone kind. Anyway, Dave’s dogs. Dave’s cats. We were very tight. So: it was take them with us or I don’t go. We took them with us, but they had to do quarantine, and then be flown over, first from South Africa to quarantine here, and then from Sydney to Launceston, and then truck to Bridport, and then over on the post-plane, to us waiting on the ground. It was a very joyous and happy re-union and neither dogs nor cats had the least trouble settling in (we’d had horror stories about the cats in particular). They lived out their lives as glorious and full as I could make them all getting to well beyond their expected lifespans, and each breaking my heart when the end had to come. But… well we were loyal to each other right up to last moment. The last dog and last cat made ten years – putting them both at 19 ish.
Of course, such a thing didn’t come cheap. Three dogs and three cats and all the fees and permits and quarantine and flights… ended up costing $26 000. Which was more than we had left over from paying our own way… So: we came up with the ‘Save the Dragons’ fundraiser, where I put a chapter of the book as we reached each financial goal with a free e-book available for backers at the end, and IF (big IF) I ever found a publisher signed copies for all those who backed the fundraiser to over $50.
We raised over Australian $10 000 (the exchange rate not being in my favor at the time, a little more in US) which left us pretty well destitute… but with our dogs and cats here. It was worth every penny as far as I was concerned, although I don’t want to go through rationing slices of bread again. We got there, we did it… and I tried to sell SAVE THE DRAGONS to every publisher out there. No one was interested because 1)the e-book market had already had free copies. 2) I was going to pay Author rates for a couple of hundred books. 3)It was an equal-opportunity offender book, making fun of just about every sacred cow out there.
So: nothing happened. Eventually the hard-drive with my donation list died. Anyone who had donated had had a chance to read the e-book online and download the same.
Twelve years later… we’re still battling to get back to the situation we were in before emigrating. We own our little farm (it’s scrubby, scruffy, rough-as-guts… but we have an orchard, a potato field, and veggie patch… and a sheep). We have a habitable old building-on-wheels (long story) AND we have a fight with our local petty bureaucrats who are threatening us with demolishing it etc etc… unless we comply with a huge pile of petty and irrelevant regulation, which, um, we should not have to. But it’s easier and cheaper to battle our way through their rubbish than through courts, and it is slightly less uncertain. The dogs and cats are all dead now, and we don’t want to start again, until we’re sure we actually have a home for them. All of this is playing havoc with my concentration, so… one the means I’m employing to try and take that pressure off is to make SAVE THE DRAGONS available as an e-book on Amazon. The link below pays me a trifle extra.