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As we weathered the recent snow and ice, it was easy to take note of the damage it brought. There were trees down, cars off to the sides of the roads, and the unsettling darkness in our homes when the lights should have been on. Mother Nature then changed course by following her winter display and frigid temperatures, with a couple of unseasonably warm days, allowing us the opportunity to clean up most of the leftover debris while the neighborhood kids rode their bikes. Not wanting to spoil us, she then treated us to a day of high brisk winds followed by a rainbow over Elk Creek.
Through it all, churches provided and neighbor helped neighbor. However, I have not been able to relinquish the sadness I feel over what is a continuing problem in all kinds of weather for some of our four-legged friends.
There is the gray dog that has spent his life in his owner’s fenced yard. Some of us wold think he’s got it made. I disagree! His shelter is a tree. Enduring the winter he sits as close to its trunk as he possibly can shivering through the day and into the night. During the rains, he lays upon the trees’ large roots as they are exposed and laden with mud. Come the humid, hot days of summer, he once again tries to find comfort next to his friend’s peeling bark hoping to cool down and slow his panting. I can’t help but wonder why he is there. Why do his owners never interact with him? Did he choose this family that has no time for him? And why do they lack the compassion to see his broken spirit?
What about the yellow dog up on the hill? His family has put him in what looks like a five by five pen, as far away from their home as possible. Yes, he has a shanty dog house that is considered legal, but is it really humane? While the bitter cold kept his owners inside, he huddled as close to the ground as he could while the ice continued to grow around him. when he paces within the confines of his cage, he always looks toward the house and the occupants who chose him to be their pet. Hoping against hope, with the devotion of a child, he waits for the brief moment they come to him with a scoop of dry food and water. Without a pat on the head or a “good boy”, he watches them walk back to the comforts of their warm home. Finally, the days that follow heat the hill and melt the snow. But now like the gray dog, he lays in the cold mud. His chest is matted and his legs are weighted down robbing him from any warmth the sun is spreading. What he is given, is the unveiling of garbage that was buried in the ice and is now pressed against the sides of his “home”. I can’t see his eyes, but I have seen the eyes of others like him. Waiting and watching but scared and empty. Also like the gray dog, his spirit is broken. I question the necessity of this abuse while looking at the barn on the property. Once again, this family chose him, but yet he isn’t loved enough to rate the quarters of the barn.
Lastly, there is the black dog I don’t see anymore. I can only pray he is in a better place. As a puppy in the first six or so months of his life, he had lived on his owner’s front yard, his neck hanging, burdened by a chain with links heavier and bigger than he. With about six feet to spare, he was lucky enough, for at least part of the day, to also find shelter from the sun under the arms of a tree. A beautiful puppy finding comfort from a tree! Now I wonder, what were the motives of these people who chose him? How could they truly believe he was being provided a happy, healthy dog’s life?
Man’s best friend! What is he really? We give the best we can to our children, why not these dogs? Like our children, did they choose us or did we choose them? These four-legged friends do offer companionship. They do offer joy. And, they will offer loyalty. The next time you decide to adopt a dog (or cat), ask yourself first if you are ready. Do you have the time and patience it takes to train a dog? Is your home a suitable size for the type of dog you want to own, and what energy level are you looking for? Lastly, can you give this dog all of the love he really deserves?