Left out

I had to pull off the road recently, trying to get a signal on my cell phone. The local community center has a great pull off spot, under a big Maple, where I could sit in the shade. There was a house just across the road.  As I waited, I watched the kids nearby playing on the ball field. Nearby, another group of kids played on the freshly mowed grass outside, near their parents. It’s a nice little community center, with lots of trees, a large ball field, a building that houses nice rest rooms, meeting rooms and hosts a breakfast every Saturday morning.

As I watched the kids near me playing-yelling, running after each other, laughing, I noticed a movement across the road at the house. I turned and saw a little dog, some kind of terrier or Scotty mix. He was tied up near the porch, straining against his leash. He watched the children, running, laughing, and ignoring him altogether. He whimpered just a little, but mainly he strained to watch them. The tree I was parked under, a big maple, was between his line of sight and the children, allowing him glimpses of running children, just out of reach.

I watched a while, and saw his eyes light up, his tail start wagging, and his little body wiggle uncontrollably when the children got close. They did not stray past the tree, of course, that would have put them too near the road. But the clear summer air carried their shouts the 50 or so feet to the little dog and he heard them even when he couldn’t see them.

I imagined him thinking, “I wanna play! Let me play, too! Come get me! Please, come get me!”

If I had known the children or the parents or had I thought anyone was home (I saw no cars) I might have walked across the street and asked if Little Dog could come out to play. As it was, I felt near tears when I finally got the call I had pulled over for and had to leave.

I have seen that little dog over and over, and wonder if he has anyone to play with, or if anyone realizes he wants someone to play with. I can feel his yearning, see his symbolic nose pressed against the windowpane. It is too hard, sometimes, to be an empathetic person. I remember my own times of being left out, of course, of being ignored and passed by and all that. But for him, watching those children run and play and being so close to a dog’s idea of heaven and not being able to …get to it…must have been agony.

This is a reminder to all of you with dogs and cats and children and whatever- Everyone wants to be included. Look around. Invite someone over to play.

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7 responses to “Left out

  1. Oh, Katie!

    This tore me up. You write with such normal empathy, that little dog is sharp in my mind.

    I picked up a sick kitten three weeks ago….well, I STOLE a sick kitten from a bastard who just allows them to breed and never feeds them, either. I kept circling the block, trying to get my courage up, because I have tangled with this ‘man’ before. Over animals….He’s a brute.

    Well, I went in for the steal, grabbed the kitten (asleep but so weak he couldn’t argue with me…) run back to my Jeep, ignored the neighbors who yelled at me ….one woman:”There’s more kittens there!” and a man: “You should ASK James first.”

    Fuck him. Kiki was a case, and I got him…he’s doing great now….potbellied little black baby, but he’s MINE. LOL!

    Perhaps our empathy for struggling and abused things makes us ‘softheaded’ to the rest of the world, but we have been ‘there’. As you so eloquently expressed.

    Thank you, Katie….you are one of my very favorite writers…and human beings.

    Lady Nyo

    • katiewritesagain

      Jane Thanks for understanding. I still see that little dog and wish I could go back and play with him! I have two dogs where I work and we take a hike at the end of most days. They get really excited about it and we always have a great time. I have 2 cats at home, both rescues. If I had any money, I’d have more pets. As it is, these came with financial help form the original rescuers. They knew I would give them a good home but didn’t have the money.

      I don’t believe in taking in animals that you can’t afford. If you can’t pay the occasional vet bill (and not so occasional, depending on the animal) then you shouldn’t take the animal home. If you want to help animals but you can’t afford to offer them your home, volunteer at Humane Society or the animal shelter. Also, those organizations can make suggestions for other volunteer opportunities. No, it’s not the same, but it makes a difference. After all, isn’t that one reason we rescue? And if we volunteer when we can’t take them in permanently we can help more animals.

      Also, when you work in those situations, you see first hand what happens when animals aren’t neutered, or have their shots. You see the results of abuse. You make their last days as comfortable a possible if they aren’t adopted. It’s tough, and not many people can do it. But it’s meaningful work.

      OK, that’s my mini-rant for today! Thanks for commenting. Kathy

  2. You are right on target. It takes a big hearted person with a level head to do that.

    It’s not that these people. ….where I stole the kitty….couldn’t take care of the cats, it’s that they are so lowdown and mean they think animals don’t ‘feel’ pain. I’m serious here. Some people are so ignorant to their abuse of other species they don’t think or care.

    Of course, if this man put the $ into cat food instead of his beer, it would make a difference, but as he explained to me before….if he fed them they wouldn’t eat the vermin around his house.

    Nice.

    KiKi is doing fine…he’s a tough little baby and so damn affectionate. He will have a good life because we will make it so.

    I can’t go into shelters, Katie, knowing what is the final issue for so many of these little guys. Our Governor is a veterinarian and knows better…but Georgia still gases animals…and that is about the worse way to go.

    People have forgotten what people did before there was commercial cat/dog food. People soaked bread and cereals leftover from breakfast in milk or gravy or soup, and fed them. Probably as good or better than the dry, brown kibble they get now.

    I tasted some of that stuff once…and hurried to put something ‘good’ on their dry food. LOL!

    Bless you, Katie. Animals are defenseless, we have the responsibility to neuter, yet ignorance abounds here in the South.

    Jane

  3. katiewritesagain

    Janie!
    You know, I have been shocked all my life at some of the truly stupid things I have heard come out of people’s mouths. People who went to school, hold responsible jobs, etc., not just dumbasses, have said “Well, they don’t feel pain like we do.” ? Of course they feel pain! Why do you think they are squirming and screaming and trying like hell to get away from whatever you’re doing to them!
    I guess people need to think they aren’t doing anything wrong so they won’t feel guilty. Or maybe they really do just believe whatever they are told. Too many people aren’t taught to actually THINK so they believe without examining the issue. It’s that attitude -don’t question, do as you’re told, etc.-that keeps the rich in power and the rest of us working our asses off to stay afloat. And still, sometimes we sink.
    Thanks for commenting and for your humane, comassionate presence. Love you.
    Katie

  4. That reminds me of how I got my dog Shadow, and the condition I ‘found’ him in the first time I ‘borrowed’ him to come and play with me.

    Shadow is an awesome dog. And the first time I ever saw him, he was the most awesome dog I had ever seen. I was not a HUGE dog person. I don’t hate them…not at all. I LIKE them. I just never really cared to take 100 of them in like some people do. Still, I am able to care for them and like them from afar without wanting to necessarily take them in.

    With Shadow, it was different. I LOVED him from the first moment I saw him…and it was like love at first site. I won’t lie and say I didn’t WANT to take him in…but at that time, he had a home, and at the first siting, a home I had thought was a ‘good home’. However, the more time I spent with him, the more I realized it was only good on the surface, and how much neglect he was experiencing at this ‘home’.

    As it was, Shadow was either a ‘lost’ dog or a dog that someone had let out of their car. It really hurts to think that someone did not treasure him more than that, and I have to wonder how someone could not love such an awesome dog. But that is none of my business. He wondered up to my friends’ inlaws one day. They ‘let’ me come over and play with him and take care of him. He was always happy to see me and we had an instant connection. He always loved me.

    Well, her inlaws…they were the kind of people who would take dogs in, play with them, and then take more dogs in, and the original dogs would get neglected. Before I officially was able to adopt him from there, the last time I went over to ‘borrow’ him, everyone was really vague as to where he was. I got the impression that he had run off or something. It was really obvious that they didn’t ‘care’ where he was at all. It seemed like they were trying to act like they didn’t know where he was. I was concerned, and told them I would look for him. I was actually afraid he had run out in the road and gotten run over or something.

    I guess they didn’t realize I was going to find him, didn’t care, or maybe thought I was too stupid to locate him. There was a field that was sparsely populated with trees on the land. I walked through the field and the trees. The land had straw or hay or browning grass or something all grown up all over it. I eventually found him tied up in the middle of the field with a rope around his neck. He was panting ferociously, but barely breathing other than that…other than the raspy breaths that were coming from his mouth. He had a small bowl which I can guess had had water in it, but was empty. I don’t know how long it was empty. The temperature those days was in the 90’s usually, sometimes upper 90’s. The trees weren’t giving enough shade to reduce the temperature…any. There was one tree close by, but the position of the sun made the shadow from that tree fall outside of his reach. Other than that, he was under the blazing sun with no shade, panting heavily. I took him off the rope, gave him some water, took care of him, and took him with me — ‘borrowed’ him. Later…not much later, they said I could just have him, because they didn’t want him any more.

    I took him home. At that time, I had a home. I later lost my home due to losing my job, but my parents were able to take him in (I also don’t believe in taking in animals you can’t care for, but I could at the time, I just hit hard times, lost my job, and got to a place where it was hard to care for him). I dug the 8 ticks off of him, yanked them off of him. He had 2 or 3 right around his face, around his mouth. When I yanked a couple of them off, he bled in his fur where the ticks had been, but I knew it was important to get them off of him, even if it initially hurt. I couldn’t risk him getting diseases from them. And some of those ticks were FAT, indicating they had been on there for quite awhile. His beautiful, shiny, black coat was all matted up at the time…until I ran a dog brush through it and got it straightened out. When I pulled at the ticks around the mouth and face, he growled at me and I had to fight him a little bit to get them off, but I knew it was something I had to do. And with him growling, I knew I was in no danger.

    I later found out, after many internet searches, and many people caring what ‘breed’ he was (I didn’t care…I really just always thought he was a good ole Heinz-57 mixed breed…but many other people were incessantly and uneccessarily obsessed with it…I loved him no matter what)…that he was most likely of the breed “Lancashire Heeler”. According to a website I found, he was an English breed, and people are paying $1600 for males of this breed. $1800 for females (in the U.S….since they are uncommon. In Brittain, probably less, since they are more common). Like you, Kathy, I am endlessly amused at what people will pay good money for. I’m absolutely not saying he isn’t worth it. Bu there I am, getting this dog for free…because I took good care of him…and people are out there paying that much money for basically the same dog…ok…there is no other Shadow, but you get what I am saying.

    And as a side-note…Shadow is the name he came with. I would probably NOT have named him that, but since he was used to it, I didn’t really care, and I didn’t want to force him to get used to a new name over my selfish preferences…so I allowed him to keep his name.

  5. Reta
    You broke my heart. Than k you, thank you for saving that dog. Anyone who puts a dog on a rope and leaves them out by themselves (even with food and water) should be put on a rope and left out, alone, in the elements so they can see how it feels. Every time I think about any animal left with no company, no escape, no food or water, open to the elements..it makes me sick, heartsick. Thank you for taking Shadow in.

  6. Thank you for responding. I love Shadow. I could never have left them out there, even if I had to have broken the law to take him. Thankfully, they just gave him to me. That is probably the kindest thing they ever did for that dog. Now, Vivie loves him too. 🙂 Everytime she sees a dog now, she says, “Jhadow” (with a soft ‘j’ sound at the beginning).

    The woman who did this to him…leaving her out on a rope would probably do a favor. She is huge. I am not picking on fat people her, but she was. She fed herself and her family terribly. She would probably have lost tons of weight on that rope, and would have probably been a lot healthier for it in the end. I agree with you…she should’ve been shown what it was like.

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