In my main working life, my job consists of driving all over my state once a month or so and interviewing people. This can be great, sometimes it’s not. Yesterday, I had a low grade fever that had begun on Tuesday and had only gotten worse overnight. Nevertheless, I had to get where I was going and get my work done because I’d spent weeks setting up the logistics of the thing. I was about half way through my multi-hour trip, in the middle of nowhere on a back road, when I saw something I always hate to see, a dead dog. It appeared to have been hit by a car likely the night before and I looked hard at him as I passed by. His coat was black, about 60 pounds, a fairly big guy. I always try to look hard at things like that because I know that if a dog has been hit on the road then it died alone and possibly suffered alone. I want to look hard because I have some sort of feeling that there needs to be an acknowledgment of that and maybe it’s because I don’t want to die alone and if I did then I’d want someone to acknowledge it somehow.
He was possibly a stray. That part of my drive was in a state park so he could have simply gotten separated from his owner and gotten lost. He may have been on the way home. Who knows? It may have been the fever but I thought about this on and off all day. By the time I was heading home in the evening my fever was hotter and I kept thinking about this dog and dogs I’d had that were gone and the deep, familial connection I felt to them. I thought about all that dogs are willing to do for us, get hurt for us, die for us, take the beatings of abusive owners, protect us, protect our children as if they were theirs. Like you, I’ve seen the videos of soldiers returning home and their dogs greeting them with the enthusiasm of a believer finally meeting their benevolent god. It’s touching, but more than that, it’s stunning. It’s stunning that such a thing would have these feelings for people despite all the wrong that we do and that, in turn, so many people have these feelings for these animals. Then, last night while drinking some tea and eating some ramen with lemon juice I came across this video. Note, nothing goes badly in this video.
It all kind of came together for me. Raw intentions come out when it comes to animals. Because of a dog’s trust, the abuser is free to express their cruelty but, at the same time, the gentle are free to be gentle. It occurred to me just how eager so many people are to display gentleness if they felt they could trust it would be understood. People put themselves in danger and hurt themselves saving dogs and I have to wonder if that isn’t some implied recognition on our part that to so many of these animals we are gods, for good or ill. They count on us. They look to us. It’s an amazing relationship and one that’s lasted well over 15,000 years, longer than any human civilization. It’s a relationship where the trust involved is too seldom matched by relationships among people.
Then, still feverish, I went to bed and my cat curled up with her back to mine which she never does and I thought “thank you.” Thanks for being sweet to me when I was sick, old girl.