In the daily list of barbarisms which engulf us, the electronic surge coming in from every direction as if every mother’s son and daughter of us must meet the news alone on a sinking reef, this story does not even possess the weight of “the shadow of a shadow”,* but those actions we see with our eyes hold on to us and occupy our minds. They belong to the here and now, to the physical world.
On a weekday morning recently, some unknown person packed two dogs into the car, both well-fed, (no ribs showing, their coats clean and whole), drove them to a parking lot, opened the door, gave the command for them to jump out and then told them to stay. The person drove away. The dogs looked after the car, perhaps uncertain, but faithful (in every sense of that good and tragic word). The German Shepherd, Lucy, is the older of the two, her hips wobbly. She depends upon the younger pit mix, Ricky, (walk them and she looks to him for assurance). They were in that same parking lot the next morning, still faithful, even after a hungry and waterless 24 hours. One piece of good fortune broke their way — they were picked up and brought to Lamancha.
I have tried to imagine why a human being would abandon two companions to the vagaries of fate — to the potential cruelties of others, to heat and stress, to fear, to the terrifying crush of moving trucks and cars. Perhaps he or she acted out of desperation and was not thinking clearly, or maybe only wanted an end to the responsibility: Close the door. Drive away. Do not look back. Forget.
Maybe these dogs resonate so with me (and I’m betting with others as well) because I know that they are helpless in their love — once offered and accepted, they are yours, and if they are abused, neglected or abandoned by their owners, they become for us one more example of the lost and innocent, the visible rendered invisible, the repository of deeply ingrained responses.
Ricky and Lucy are at the Refuge and being loved, fed, seen to every day by many volunteers. That is something at least, but in light of the murders of the all the innocents, of the eternal “blood-dimmed tide”,** not enough, not nearly enough.
For whomever picked them up and recognized their situation, they became the necessary emergency. That is not a redundancy — we turn our eyes away from emergencies all day every day — all those torn bodies tumbling into our news feeds and Facebook page. What are we to do — how are we to be the good Samaritan, the decent person who acts, when these tsunamis of sorrow and justified rage threaten us with drowning?
*Hamlet, II, ii.
**The Second Coming by W.B.Yates