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.