Despite may having to deal with a cold during this past holiday week, it’s actually been a wonderful and happy time. It has been emotionally and psychologically uplifting.
Yesterday however, something occurred that was poignant enough to put just a bit of a damper on things – something I wish I hadn’t been witness to.
We went to the local Wal-Mart where we have been visiting. Upon entering the parking area, I noticed a white pickup with an extended cab. There was a couple, who seemed to me to be in their mid to late fifties, standing on the drivers side of the vehicle. On the ground directly beneath where the "rear" drivers side door to the cab was lay a dog which I automatically assumed belonged to the couple.
I don’t think I would have really noticed the pick up, except for the fact that it was parked lengthwise across several spaces. The couple seemed to be in somewhat of an intense discussion. They most definitely seemed agitated with one another. The first thought in my mind was: "Not a good way to begin the New Year."
Several minutes later, they climbed into their vehicle and drove away – which certainly caught my attention because they seemed to have forgotten all about "their dog." Then, as the vehicle stopped for a brief moment, I noticed that they both looked back toward where the dog remain laying, then without a second thought they just drove away and headed out of the parking lot.
I watched the dog to see what would happen.
It lifted it’s head, but didn’t rise to its feet to try and follow – which I thought was odd. I turned to see where the pick up was at, but could no longer spot it in the sea of other vehicles, so I turned back to see what the dog was doing. It had laid its head back down, in a rather mournful manner.
All the while my mind kept telling me that something was definitely not right. So I walked over to where the dog lay.
When I was within 6 or 7 feet of the dog it lifted its head to look at me. I could see that it was a female and that she had been injured. She couldn’t move her hind quarters and seemed to be having a difficult time breathing. I saw the collar around her neck. Then I noticed the reddish purple color on the skin of her underside and the matting of her hair near her rear torso. After that, it didn’t take much for me to realize that she’d been hit by a vehicle.
I don’t know if the couple in the white pickup were the ones who hit her. I don’t know if they had seen her and had stopped to see what was wrong. The truth is that none of that mattered to me right at that moment. What mattered was that this was part of someone’s family and right at that moment there was no one around to give her comfort but me.
I scanned the parking area for the security vehicle and when I spotted it was able to flag down the driver and tell him what I had seen. Together we went back to where she lay still in the same exact location and position which she had been when I first spotted her.
After the security guard called the local SPCA, we both remained to wait for their arrival. Little by little I approached closer, trying not to frightened her. I wanted to see if I could catch a glimpse of her "dog tag" to see if I might be able to find out her name or who she belonged to. Finally I could stand it no longer and moved close enough to her to stroke her head and try to offer whatever comfort I could. And there I remained until SPCA arrived and placed her in their vehicle, where I gave her a last goodbye stroke.
I asked the SPCA person if she would be euthanized immediately upon arrival at the animal control facility and he said yes. He pointed out that there was no ID "chip" and that although she had a collar, there were no tags to identify who she belonged to.
I knew that it was best that she be put to sleep because of the severity of her injuries, yet it took all I had to fight back the tears. In the end I couldn’t hold back and I wept as I walked toward the entrance to the store.
I thought about how that couple had just driven away. I thought about how they had looked back toward her as they drove away. I thought how cruel an act it was for them to leave that small life abandoned like that and it made me angry – and sad. The only consolation I had was the knowledge that at one time in her life someone had loved her. Once upon a time in her life, she had belonged somewhere. That made her life valuable.
Later in the evening, as I thought about her over and over again, it found myself thinking about the many different homeless persons in my community who also – at one time or another – were loved by someone: a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend. Once upon a time in their lives they too belonged somewhere. Many of them hoping to belong somewhere. Wanting someplace to call home.
As I lay there waiting to be engulfed in the oblivion of sleep, I saw clearly how valuable, how precious each and every life on this planet is. Every life matters.
No life – no matter how small or insignificant – lacks value…
… and no person – simply by virtue of having a home or the lack of a home should be viewed with anything less than dignity.
I stopped the by blog of a friend of mine yesterday. She had put up a list of New Years resolutions. One of them mentioned the need to treat each person as a "noble visitor."
I like that word "noble."
One of the definitions for the word is: majestic.
That’s what every life is – human or non-human, homeless or non-homeless: majestic.