Monday, November 13, 2006

Consensusless weekend

Mrs. Dada attended a non-violence workshop Saturday and Sunday, leaving me to run wild. So I watched a little basketball and football on TV, did some reading on the Web and in the newspaper, putzed around a bit in the yard and still had time to shop for shoes made in China!

I did read one interesting article in the paper. Apparently, through the diligent observations of U.S. researchers, elephants have now joined the elite group of animals that have self-awareness! Formerly this exclusive club was limited to we humans, the great apes and bottlenose dolphins.

It was a large mirror that gave it away. (Elephants had only been tested with little mirrors formerly.) Evidence of self-recognition by one elephant before the researcher's mirror was unmistakable.

The article went on to talk of other animal's reactions before a mirror. For example, dogs will react to their image by often looking for the dog behind the mirror. I was so awed at the amazing work these scientists are doing.

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to torment myself by driving over to the Humane Society. I knew I shouldn't, but I thought I was up for a little psyche self-mutilation.

Once there, I noted the usual number of medium sized dogs. Then I visited the "nursery" where the younger dogs and puppies are kept. There weren't a whole lot. I was glad.

You know there's a fair number of dogs that are very cuty and have winsome personalities. But there's always a few you're pretty sure aren't gonna make it outta there alive. Some are scruffy and not easy to look at. And there are some who haven't had a very good life and, as a result, they're angry. Flashing teeth and growling, I cringe and say something like, "Oooh, dear one, I'm so sorry. Please try to smile more. And wag your tail. Please wag your tail more." If only those could have gone to the anger management workshop with Mrs. Dada this weekend. Who knows? It could mean the difference between life and death.

The large dogs, the older dogs, have it extra hard. "They're losers" we most often hear from those working with shelter animals. That's because people prefer younger, smaller, cuter. Odds for big dogs aren't near as good as for puppies. I guess that's why I was most interested in seeing the big guys this day.

I was happy to see about half the large dog kennels unoccupied. Maybe that's because some were out in the exercise yards. But I didn't get to see all the big dogs. That's because the second or third one I came to was Kaysie. Kaysie was a gorgeous lab-shepard mix. Reason she was abandoned simply read "Moving." As I looked in at beautiful but timid Kaysie, she stared back, trembling uncontrollably.

I tried to imagine what Kaysie might be thinking. Maybe something like, "Where'd my family go?" "Why'd they bring me here?" "When they coming back?" "ARE they coming back?"

Kaysie was so frightened and as I knelt down and spoke to her softly, she started toward me, then retreated. I thought about her family who gave her up. We have a lot of military here. When transferred overseas, taking the family pet isn't always an option. Maybe that was Kaysie's plight.

I had to stop there because I sensed the water welling up in my eyes. There might be more Kaysies further down the line. Other people were present and I'd left home without a handkerchief.

I quickly headed back to the car and, as I did, I had one happy thought about Kaysie. "Thank god she hasn't self-awareness." Maybe she thinks this is all happening to some other dog.


D.K. Raed said...

oh dada, i'm surprised you made it out of the humane society alive! but you must've been pretty sure what to expect. heart string-pulls in every kennel. so, self-torment, or reeeally missing your greyhundts?

We adopted our Aussie from a shelter, as I'm sure I've mentioned many times. He'd been sitting in that concrete kennel for 5-mos, ever since the first camp pendelton marines deployed to iraq. The shelter people were very nice to tell us after that amount of time, many dogs, like incarcerated people, tend to mentally give up & lose their personality. Even though he wouldn't look at us or acknowledge our presence at the shelter, we took him home. And are we glad we did! He bonded within days (it was mutual, we all fell & fell hard, totally & completely). It was beautiful to see him coming out of his shell & getting his spirit back, his joie de vivre, chasing field mice, barking at horses, catching butterflies, & right now snoring beside the computer.

Kaysie at least stared back, so she hasn't given up hope yet. If she has the good fortune to find herself that second home, I'm sure she'll overcome the disorienting scary time in the 'pound. Where is that magic wand? I wish I could wave it to ensure all creatures we interact with are cherished & cared for.

Our other dog is mostly Black Lab mixed with Shepherd & we think some Boxer & Terrier. She showed up as a stray pup, looked right in my eyes & we both knew she'd found a home for life. Like most Labs, she has a very stable personality, is extremely intelligent, listens to everything we say & will do anything to please us once she figures out what we want. Very athletic too, powerful muscles. As she slows down in her old-age, rabbits & squirrels are finally safe again. She's my singing anchor, I'd recognize her bark anywhere.

Oh, and the mirror? When my dogs look in the mirror, they keep their eyes on me, they don't even see themselves. I interpret that as selflessness! ~~ D.K.

meldonna said...

I had an experience once, back in the mid-80s, at the pound in San Antone. Went with a friend who was thinking about adopting a pet, and spent about 45 minutes. She didn't find a dog that appealed to her; and unfortunately, as we were leaving, it happened to be just when they came by to get the ones sceduled for euthanasia that week. It still bothers me to this day. I'm just glad so many shelters have gone to the no-kill policy.

Change of subject ~~ I'm curious; there was a story on the ABC Evening News about how the wild hog situation is getting out of control down in Texas. The feature was out of Del Rio. Are y'all seeing the same thing around El Paso?

azgoddess said...

aww, you made me cry...damn

and it's weird - as last week i also traveled to the humane society to look at the kitties and pups...

and left in red bone hound is pretty hard to replace...

group hug!!!