Animals Without Limits

American Swedish non profit organisation

Category Archives: weekly column



 My last column for 2012, hope you will continue following me 2013. Enjoy!
Whichever ones, whom live in dignity or not, can no outsiders judge. Mia Mattsson-Mercer believes in the inner power of all living beings.
To live a life that is worthy, what does that mean? When is a life no longer worthy? In my work, it is not difficult to save the animals, but the most difficult is to explain to the people that the dog can be saved even though it might look really bad.
Volunteer workers who come from “rich” countries have often not seen sick stray dogs or dying dogs. In the richer countries stray dogs are captured and in most cases they are euthanized (killed) within a short time.
During several years of research and practical experience, I have found that even dogs who have spent up to 16 years in cages can still be very mentally stable and they can acclimate quickly to life in a family as an adopted pet.
But many of us are not used to travel to undeveloped countries or in countries where street dogs live. I remember my first years after the war in Bosnia, it was the toughest time of my life with a lot of pain involved to see everything “wounded” and destroyed. Never had I seen such suffering animals walking around me.
Many of us have never practiced at a veterinary clinic or in the tough shelters. In richer countries, fewer dogs will be brought in that have been hit and run over by cars.  It is also more rare that dogs come in with tumors the size of oranges hanging under the belly, limbs that have self-healed at odd angles or with other serious illnesses.
We become aghast when we see this in countries where there are many street dogs. Dogs are reading into our eyes and they will be just as unhappy in their eyes as us when they see the persons sadness, wondering why this creature in front of them is so unhappy – just as children do.
The dogs look miserable and we humans interpret it as suffering. “Oh look, such a sad dog, he suffers.” But in many cases, the dog does not suffer; the dog is just trying to survive.
Or when we’re talking baby talk to the dogs. Animals listen and interpret the energies and the tones. We and they react the same way to the tone of pity.
When I am sad my daughter asks me with the same sad eyes, she looks just as miserable as I am, “is it happy or sad tears, Mommy?”
We in the “richer” countries euthanize dogs in shelters on the grounds that there is no dignity for dogs to live in a shelter. But it does not help to solve the problem of stray dogs or puppy mill breeding. Most important is to remember that they are living and emotional souls that we euthanize due to our own beliefs and for our own convenience.
Today, anyone can save animals in war zones or shelters, but how many of us can handle, for example, to go along with Doctors Without Borders? I wonder how many sick and starving people we would see that we would consider having no quality of life?
The eyes reflect the pain! I remember when I worked in Sarajevo, Bosnia and often experienced other people’s pain through their eyes. Without words, I could feel their pain through my own eyes.
When I recently was in the hospital for treatment, I met people from different countries with the same disease, symptoms and pain as me. Most of us agreed that this disease does not give a decent life to live, but we are fighting for our lives. None of us want to throw in the towel.
Mr. Estonia was one of the strongest patients and he had the right attitude. I shared with him my opinion that he was very admirable, headstrong person. Mr. Estonia laughed and told me it was his upbringing that had been tough. His upbringing had taught him to view life’s challenges from a different perspective than perhaps many others would.
He did not see his childhood as something tragic, but as a great survival tool. His parents’ home was seven kilometers from the school, and every day he went back and forth, fourteen kilometers, in sunshine, rain, hail and what was the worst he thought were the snowstorms. “When I was half way home, there was no choice but to fight on through the cold and feeling cold, with wet mittens.
No one can have a straight answer for whose life is worthy or not. We all have our own paths to walk and our own crosses to carry. But it is important that we take good care of each other along the way, and to share our own reflections of what dignity is with humbleness. Keep a warm glowing eye when you met others.
We all want to see love through the eyes of others, which channeling from the heart. Our eyes never lie!
I can look through the eyes of the four-legged souls (sometimes three) with silence and it allows our communication to flow via our hearts.
With this I would like to send a warm hug to our four-legged friends, the people who love and cherish them,  and a big hug to all of you who so faithfully follow my columns every week
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I look forward to the Earth 2012-12-21 enters the new feminine energies where we will think more with the heart that channel to our eyes.
That’s Amore!
 Mia Mattsson-Mercer



You can also read the column in Swedish click here


 Children and dogs are often very lovely together, and they have a lot to teach we adults.  They demonstrate how to be in the moment, have compassion and enthusiasm, ingenuity, fantasy and ideas.

Children’s natural way of being and their balance with former street dogs is a beautiful play. The kids are thinking a lot and share their wonderful questions, which in turn allow me to look in my mind for the answers. And if I do not find the answer I seek it further later on.
On weekends, there are many children with their parents visiting us at the Hospice. I love watching kids fall down on their knees to get to the same height as the dogs, or small children standing on their tiptoes to give the bigger dogs a kiss on their head.
I love children’s compassion towards the elderly clients. Meanwhile, I notice how much that has been forgotten within me. Together with my own two children we are now practicing how to be more in the present and work more on our intuition and our thoughts.
When we eat dinner, we frequently thank for our food, to be grateful and at the same time give thanks to the long path before the food ends up on the plates in front of us. I ask Olivia and Max who we should thank: the earth, the rain, the sun, farmers, transportation, stores, dad’s job, mom’s wallet and the cook.
Besides that we have a lot of fun, it’s also stimulating for me. I noticed with myself how hard I have to get started with my imagination.
A few times a week in the evenings, we experiment with silence. We put ourselves down on the floor for about fifteen minutes and then we say nothing. (Here it is hard for me not to fall asleep!)
Then we talk about what thoughts, smells or any concerns that come up. This is also a good start to learn how to meditate, become aware of our thoughts and to learn to “control” them. But it is also a chance for everyone to think through what is moving around inside us.
Sometimes in life we push away thoughts, forget them or we do not want to remember. And over time, it might be difficult to talk about the suppressed thoughts.
Many years ago I met a happy little guy who understood that I could communicate with animals. He knew that it was through the thoughts that communication took place.
We were with my dog ​​Tjojs when the little guy told me he had bought a gift for Tjojs, but he would whisper it to me what it was, or Tjojs could hear it. “You are not allowed to think about it, because then Tjojs will ‘hear’ it!” the little guy said. But he was disappointed. He had thought about the gift to Tjojs, and expected that she would jump excitedly, but she never jumped.
Talking with children is amazing. We hear many deep thoughts and we should be able to learn something from their natural approach to life’s mysteries.
That’s Amore!



When it comes to healing, we have a lot to learn from the animals. They focus on quickly becoming healthy, not on the difficulties that a disease can bring to them.
I am impressed by how the cells in our bodies are working in a positive way when other cells in the body become sick. The healthy cells rush forward to ask the “question:” what can they do to fix the diseased cells?
Sometimes I visualize during my meditation how my body cells work like ants. The ants are working positively and disciplined in order to achieve a beneficial result.
Animal body-cells work faster and more positively than our human cells. Animals focus only on the desire to quickly recover. They want to return back to a full life. In addition, the animals are very aware of their vulnerability to enemies.
For we humans, it often takes a longer time to recover. Our thoughts and fears siphon off energy bemoaning what we cannot do anymore. We stress ourselves when we become ill and this stress slows our natural healing process.
The animals go into themselves, meditating, resting and only drink to flush their body. They shut the world out and no time exists for them. Our children do the same!  I smile when I think of street dogs that have the amazing ability with their unconditional love. Often they come up and ask me how I feel!
When I’m sad, my adopted dogs approach me with their love, they want me to feel better.  When I cry, my seven-year daughter Olivia comes up to me and wants to know if it’s joy or sorrow. “Are those sad or happy tears?”
Olivia sits with her iPod and listens to music while she looks at photographs that she photographed on her own. One photograph shows our dog Clyde, a beautiful collie who died a year ago.
“Mom, I am petting Clyde, he likes it,” says Olivia.
My eyes fill with tears, I miss him something terrible even if the house is still full of dogs. Although I’ve been through the death of beloved dogs and euthanized several, both from hospice down in Italy and ill stray dogs, it never gets easier. Each individual has filled my heart with life and wisdom.
Olivia looks up with her big, wise, blue eyes and her little hand presses my hand lightly, “It’s ok mom, you can be sad, but do not let that hold his memory, he doesn’t want that.”
I cry even more but at the same time laugh through the tears. My little Olivia with her wise words. How wonderful that she is not sad, but comforts me — her mom — with words of wisdom.
Olivia loves older dogs and is not afraid that they will go over to the other side sooner than a young dog. Many adults do not want to adopt an older dog because of that very concern: that the dog will leave their life too soon. But for Olivia the time doesn’t exist, only the love.
Sometimes I wonder if we do not suppress our children to decide for them what they can see, feel and hear. Are we projecting our own fears onto the child about death? Do we not admit it, but tell our “protected words” to the children? Making it easy for us to avoid having to deal with our own fears of mortality?
I want to be as our body’s cells, street dogs or my daughter. Being able to love in the present and take different situations and adapt them for the better. As a way of life, not question with all the different questions of life all the time.  Well, maybe live with only one question:  “What can I do for you? ‘.
That’s Amore.
Mia Mattsson-Mercer
photo Shutterstock.



My weekly column in the Magzine NARA.
“Let the stress go and let the changes take the time”
Very often we the humans can feel stressed about wanting to achieve quick results with ourselves, or our children, or our animals.  And many times we give up too soon. Of course I am the one that feels pressure if things do not go fast enough and then I become very frustrated.
But when it comes to other individuals I will do my utmost to see them as a separate subject in need of unique time, not mine. Especially now with my two children I often bite my cheek so as not to compare the different milestones in their lives.
When Olivia was twenty months old, she was quick as a weasel. Many laughed at us when we were in the big bookstore in the U.S. and Olivia strayed away from me between the bookshelves — with me chasing after her.
The Rabbi looked at us a long time and finally said, “My grandson is three years old but does not run as well!” I smiled at the older man: “Do not worry, your grandchild will surely be a wonderful marathon runner when he grows up. “
At the dog park, we let our dogs meet and we want them to like each other right away.  A dog may growl at another dog and the owner might become alarmed that his dog behaves aggressively towards other dogs.  But growling is part of their greeting communication. The reasons for dogs to growl at other dogs vary. For some dogs, it may take time getting to know another dog, just like when we meet new people.
Sometimes in life surely ​​we have experienced a loaded meeting where we have seen another person for the first time. But after a second chance, maybe in a different environment, the attitude has changed and we feel better about the person. Or perhaps they or we have matured and are more “acceptable” now. Or maybe nothing has changed, but we will not be punished for it as dogs can be if we continue to “growl” in our own way and don’t become friends.
How long it takes to get a dog housebroken is a question I often get from dog owners who only had the dog for a few days. It also happens that they give away the dog to a shelter if it doesn’t become housebroken fast enough, on their timeline, not the dogs’.  Do we do the same with children that wear diapers for years or maybe pees in their bed longer than we feel they should?
I look at my children. Max, who will be five in December, swinging a stick right up in sister Olivia’s face.  It could have gone very badly. I took the stick from Max and explained why his behavior is dangerous.  I cannot excuse the dog’s or children’s “negative” behavior, but I must try to find the reason for this behavior.  After that, I try to find a solution and give it time to work.
During our childhood, and adult lives, we all have been labeled with something that was false or true. The label may have been difficult to wash off, even if changes have occurred in our lives or in the children, or the animal’s behavior or maturity.
Gus, the dog that I’ve written about in previous columns, growled and snapped at his family after a traumatic experience, and was abandoned because of it. In his journals, it said that the family considered him aggressive and stressed out. A few months later when I met Gus for the first time, there was no growling or stress in him.
Gus may have been both at one time, but now had a label that made no one want to tackle him. No one even wanted to test him or read about his past and put one and one together, do a little psychological math.
Animals are thinking and feeling beings. Just because they cannot deal with an iMac computer or drive a car does not mean that they lack the same emotional feelings as us. Gus now lives with me and is a great darling.
Over time, we grow into the emotions and not in the words. Follow the emotions and release the time, feel behind your closed eyes. It’s not that scary once you manage to release the stress, quiet the opposite.
That’s Amore



A small bundle of fur was moving a

long the side of the busy highway. The morning traffic was as usual — very busy in this southern part of Italy. In her car on her way to a clinic sat veterinarian Francesca when she suddenly spotted the little dog. She stood on her breaks and stopped.

She stepped quickly out of the car, ran to the small dog, which had now stopped and looked curiously at her. Was this woman a friend or enemy?

Francesca realized quivkly that her intention to save the little five-kilo dog could end tragically. She could see that the dog was matted and dirty, but allowed herself to be lifted up by her savior. No other car stopped, only angry horns were heard as she carried the little ball of fur back to her car.

Francesca drove straight away to the veterinary clinic where she worked and contacted Marty at Animals Without Limits (AWL). As usual, AWL did not have much time to find a home for the dog and our own hospice was full of four-footed clients.

Summer is a hardworking season for us. Every day people call us after they have found lost dogs. Most dogs are evicted from their homes while the owners travel on vacation. Dog pensions (kennels), double their prices because August is the most profitable month for them all — they have their clients over a barrel. Many can’t afford the kennels, so they let the dogs out of their villas when they depart on their vacations. The dog owners hope that someone will pick up their dog and take care of it until they get home from their holiday.

Francesca examined the female dog. The fur was matted and there was no microchip implanted. AWL began intensive efforts to find a home for the little dog. A photograph with a description was published on AWL’s Facebook page.

The dissemination of information went amazingly fast! After twelve hours we had received a response from a Swedish woman living in Rome who fell in love with the image of the little dog.

The woman wanted to open her home to this scrubby beauty. She named her Aila. The woman later wrote to me that Aila must have had an owner earlier in life. The dog showed interest in dog toys, and also jumped happily up on the couch. Her self-confidence indoors showed that she knew what a living room was.

Many other dogs end up on the highway. Some owners let them out on the dangerous highway for a quick death. Euthanization costs a lot in the south of Italy were already many people are desperately poor. Often, they cannot afford even routine medical care for themselves or their family.

Most vets do not kill animals until they are so ill that they have stopped eating and drinking water. According to both the law, and their predominately Catholic faith, it is wrong to end a life, certainly a healthy one.

The economy in Italy is disastrous and down in Naples, where the law largely does not exist because of the Camorra (mafia), it is a human tragedy. Many young ones want to be part/members of the mafia with drugs, small crimes and prostitution as a means for getting fast money. Others try to find a way out of the country, while others are simply trying to live a normal life, ignoring as best they can the strife and corruption around them.

Suicide statistics are rising and unemployment is increasing every passing month. We are bracing for the chaos to increase in the already chronically chaotic area that we work in.

Many people have asked us why we help animals and not humans? Some ask accusingly, others asking bitterly. It is a difficult question and it hurts tremendously to turn your back to any living soul. But the landscape of Campania is almost forgotten by many aid agencies. Many look to the Italian government, or even the European Union. One would expect one of these to help, but they have their hands full elsewhere, and there is fatigue because so much has already been done over the decades, with little to show for it. The money gets siphoned off into the pockets of the Camorra and corrupt government officials.

Many of us forget that the province of Campania could be its own country. Before the unification of Italy, Naples was it’s own kingdom. It is very different from the other provinces in northern Italy. Why help the animals? We do not go and question why, for example, veterinarians are not trained as a doctors and help only people instead of animals.

Aila was lucky that the veterinarian Francesca stopped on the busy highway that morning. Francesca was very lucky to have AWL’s phone number with her. AWL was lucky that the picture on Face Book produced a quick result, and we got an answer about adoption so quickly.

Cooperation is what life is all about. To dare to have an open mind for a life whether it has two legs or four.
That’s Amore.

Thank you Dr Fransesca, Animals WIthout Limits team, Mitra