Dwayne Rawlings
April 17, 1937 - January 10, 2001

Early in January 2001 I lost a valued personal friend, and the animal world lost a gentle crusader who believed all creatures should be treated with respect and kindness.

Dwayne Rawlings was a crotchety "Old Goat" (his words, not mine) that I met soon after starting my guinea pig rescue in 1993. Back then we corresponded via snailmail and the occasional phone call. As the world got smaller and computers and the Internet became commonplace, we 'talked' more often through email, or faxes. The shelter's first computer was donated by Dwayne, with all the fixin's, including a paisley gecko to guard the monitor.

I believe Dwayne was a lonely man, who didn't have much contact with friends or family. Cantankerous and argumentative he could certainly be, but Dwayne was also a kind and compassionate soul. He told me more than once over the last several years that his guinea pigs were his reason for living. Scottie, Blarney, Harmony, TW, Carmel, Pixie and Emmy. Not long before he died Dwayne adopted a lively Tibetan Terrier-mix, appropriately named Buddy. Dwayne cherished them all, their happiness and welfare was more important to him than his own. He was devastated when his last guinea pig, a lovely dignified sow named Emmy, passed away. It turned out Dwayne died only a few months after his beloved Emmy. I like to think she went on ahead to organize a welcome home party for Dwayne at The Rainbow Bridge*.

Tireless in his campaign to make John Q. Public, the government, and various corporations aware of needless animal suffering and tragedy, Dwayne constantly wrote letters and signed petitions seeking their help in making life better for animals. Even as his health deteriorated and he became weak and sick, Dwayne still agonized over the plight of innocent animals in pain, terror or loneliness - and continued to do all he could to improve their plight.

I have been fortunate to have Dwayne in my life, as a good friend and as a guardian angel to my cavy rescue. His compassion, encouragement and support are deeply missed. My heart aches to think I will never again talk with Dwayne, or receive his emails or faxes. I will never again get to hear the proud stories of cute or intelligent things his dog or guinea pigs were doing. Never again have him ask me to join in a letter campaign to right a wrong or stop an injustice.

One of Dwayne's fears was that he hadn't made a positive difference in this world, that he would be forgotten soon after his passing. He is wrong. He made a difference, many animals have benefited because of his concern. The people lucky enough to know Dwayne as a friend will not forget him. We are grateful for Dwayne's efforts in making life better for animals and wish him well on this last journey.

*The Rainbow Bridge connects heaven and earth, owners must cross this bridge to be reunited with beloved pets that have passed on before them.