This ends well but begins in a nightmare.
For me, cruelty mated to rage produces a pathological mystery. I understand something of the sociology and psychology of the two, of how history, both personal and societal, will play a part in the brew. But the thoughtful nature of such actions, their premeditation, their choice by ‘normal’ individuals, leaves me with nothing but a blank inside, an emptiness I cannot see through. What furies can so possess a person as to bring him to do this: threaten a woman, strike her, then corner a dog and beat it until the woman agrees to his demands? When I was told this story, all I felt was a red fog inside, a combination of moral disgust and a desire to protect and, truth be told, to punish. How could one do such things, not just once but often?
I do not know what happened to the woman. I can only hope she found safety, but the dog was rescued and arrived at Lamancha. Phoenix — as appropriate a name as one could hope for — is a full grown Pyr. His head is massive and his white coat full. He looks like a white bear cub, but place your hands on his ribs and you know he is thin. Inside his kennel, he keeps his distance. His leash has been left on to spare him the stress of having it looped and then removed. He cannot bear a hand raised over his head. He visibly flinches and backs away. So one must kneel and turn away and allow him to come close and sniff. One speaks to him in a low voice. Lots of long vowels: “OOOOOOO Helloooo sweeetieee. How’s my biiig boooy.” Gently pick up the lead. Allow him to pass through the door first. Outside, he relaxes just a bit. Perhaps he has memories of corners. Now he is freed from them.
He becomes something else other than his fear. There is slack in the leash — he is not trying to run away from me. The more distance we cover, the more he seems to release his anxiety. He allows me to stroke the soft spot under his jaws and behind his ears. Finally, after minutes, only a few minutes, he finds the notion of the dog he is beneath the fear, and he begins to do half turns and little bows where he bends himself like a sliding board, and when he does these in rapid sequence he looks all lunky, like a clumsy 100 pound slinky toy, and what comes pouring out is the purest kind of joy in this movement, this rallying absent his dread — he is frolicking as if he is auditioning for a Disney movie, and in this moment, I reap the generosity of his delight, and the volunteers this evening too, and the ones tomorrow and the good man or woman who adopts him, all of us reap his version of forgiveness and the good cheer of his presence.