It’s one thing when humans unleash their frustrations and vengeances on other human beings – we humans are generally capable of at least attempting to defend ourselves. When humans abuse defenseless animals, who depend upon them for their very survival, the crime occupies an entirely different plane of depravity (not necessarily worse, just more wicked).
Our daughter, Mandy, called earlier tonight, terribly upset, and told me the following story:
She had just arrived home from having dinner with a friend and was walking her dog in the neighborhood behind her apartment (it is a very large housing development with hundreds of fairly nice homes).
While walking, she noticed a man walking what appeared to be a young adult, lanky, still puppy-awkward golden retriever mix coming toward her, with the dog on a very short leash.
Mandy’s dog, Ernie, did as he usually does when another dog approaches – pulled a little on the leash and whimpered somewhat (nothing obnoxious), and the other dog began to do the same – at which point his owner smacked him hard on the top of his head.
Then, as the two dogs got closer to each other, and naturally showed a little more interest in each other, the man forcefully punched his dog in the face. The dog went down, somewhat dazed, got back up, shook himself off, and walked on.
Mandy, horrified, yelled at him, ‘What are you doing? That is abuse!’ And he simply mumbled something rude and incoherent in her direction, and walked on.
Mandy is feeling somewhat guilty now for not attempting to continue to observe him in order to find out where he lives so that she can report him to the Humane Society, but she also knows how dangerous that could have been. This man was frightening.
It was a very unsettling experience for her. I wasn’t even involved, but I know I’m going to have trouble sleeping tonight as well.
This experience put me in mind of this ‘dog’s prayer’ that gives me a serious lump in my throat each time I read it:
Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for although I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside, for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements.
And I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though, had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in the land.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food so that I may stay well to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready willing and able to protect you with my life should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather, hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest ... and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I draw, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
… Beth Harris