Here’s an idea I’d like to solicit your opinions on.
If there’s one thing that having a sick dog on your hands reminds you of is how much a dog counts on their human, not just for food and shelter, but for their emotional lives, too. Roo was sick for weeks on end—I’ll describe that in another post—and it amazed me how important it was to her for me to keep her company when she was feeling her worst. Even when she was in too much pain and didn’t have the energy to get up, if I was keeping her company on the floor, she would bat at my hand to keep me from getting up and leaving her.
My theory is that dogs think in a vast array of emotions. They don’t have language to use to structure their thoughts the way we do, so they won’t think, “Please don’t leave me alone—I’m sick and worried,” but they can definitely worry and of course they need your support.
Anyone who loves dogs understands that, and it’s part of what makes it so nauseating to see any animal—but especially dogs, who exist only because of their relationship with humans and whose lives are never really fulfilled unless they’re in a relationship with them—be treated cruelly.
There are parts of America where it’s rare to see cruelty. In all the time we spent in Vermont, I saw one dog chained and no other examples of anything bad. But in other parts, especially in the South, you see dogs treated terribly all the time. Chained, starved, frozen, abandoned, injured, sick, neglected. They’re everywhere.
All of us would like to think that we would stand up for all those dogs, but in truth, that doesn’t happen. Every time I pick up a stray, it turns into at least a day of work to get them situated somehow. If I stopped every time I saw a dog chained to a tree, it would be all I would do. Too much of it goes on. Unless someone has unlimited money, sufficient armament and developed martial arts skills, busting in on every redneck who mistreats a dog is just not realistic.
So, today, Roo and I passed a yard where a small pit mix was chained to a tree. He had shelter, if you want to call it that, a doghouse made of a discarded clear plastic water—or pesticide or fertilizer—tank. His ribs were sticking through his skin. You can imagine the look on his face.
I was ashamed of myself for not stopping and ringing the doorbell. To tell you the truth, it was a combination of 90 percent cowardice and 10 percent being worn down. I see these poor dogs all the time—if we’re traveling on backroads, usually a few times a day. I can’t make a career out of interfering with them all. I spent a couple of hours the other day going after another one who was running loose, then right after that two Labs were loose in traffic. It never ends. And the sad little pit mix wasn’t in immediate danger. What I saw was just another slice of the life in hell he lives all the time. He’s left out there on his short chain and in his plastic tank by himself and fed on those occasions when someone gets around to getting off their couch and throwing a handful of kibble at him. He watches you drive by. He would probably like to take a ride.
He gave me an idea. Maybe it’s a terrible idea, which is why I’d like to know what you think. It’s postcards like the ones in the accompanying picture. The template for them could be downloaded by anyone and printed up at home on any printer on regular .38¢ Post Office postcards. A few could be kept in the car, and quickly filled out with the address on the spot and dropped in a mailbox. At least they'd let someone know they're being noticed.
Would they do any good? Or would they just jeopardize the dogs further? If you have any thoughts, use the comments here, not on facebook (these are facebook comments, same thing, and that way I don't have to jump back and forth).
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