Dogs don’t get irony or lying. They don’t understand politics.
They get heat and cold and hunger.
They understand cruelty, and even upon reaching safety will wince at a raised hand or voice. They will retreat. They will try to hide.
They understand fear, and loneliness, and the absence of love and of touch.
Dogs who have been on the receiving end of torture or beatings or prolonged neglect recover their spirits and natural affection more often than one would imagine, and this realization, this happy fact, is one of the deep joys of working at Lamancha.
Those volunteers who have put years in here can recount the stories of dogs who have been resurrected from near starvation, from grotesque abuse, from human neglect verging on indifferent sadism.
They are restored to health through good food, vet care, and shelters kept warm in winter and cool in summer. They come back to their spirits through dozens of volunteers talking to them, stroking them, training them, releasing them from their fear.
Diesel carries scars on his face. A thick cord of blank tissue circles his throat where a chain grew into his skin. He cannot be trusted with other dogs, not yet. But when a volunteer approaches him, his tail vibrates like a metronome, and he will sit huddled within an embrace and reach up for a face.
These are difficult days for many, and they will grow more desperate, I think, but here, in this small place, day by day, humble benedictions take place, and the lives of pits and pyrs and shepherds and hounds, collies and labs and wild mixes are all treated as an absolute good. There are righteous lessons here on daily display for how to live in a cruel time.