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Social Issues: Stray Rescue
Have you ever wondered why it is so easy for us to rescue and love a stray dog and yet feel so detached from our own species? One of the social issues in our world today is the abandonment of both humans and animals.
As a child, I was always on the lookout for stray dogs. They seemed to find our neighborhood when there was no place else to go. We lived in the county and dogs roamed freely. There were no leash laws and no one really worried about vicious dogs back then. Maybe it’s because all our dogs were rescued from somewhere. We didn’t have pure-breed dogs; not back then. My stray dogs were always mixed-something or others. Sometimes Collie, sometimes Shepherd, but always – mixed. I loved them all.
Many of my friends tell stories of the dog they rescued from the pound or found on the side of the road. I am always so proud of them for taking a dog that no one wanted and giving it love and shelter, medical care and food that it desperately needed. They love their shelter dogs and are proud to share that they rescued a dog from the executioners.
These stories are not unique to dogs. Back in the day, we were just as likely to take in a stray cat and just as often they would give us a litter of kittens within weeks of coming to live with us. Then off to the vet they would go to get spayed or neutered. We were always responsible pet owners and we loved those stray cats just as much as the stray dogs. They were part of our family.
All our strays went straight to the veterinarian within days of us finding them. Oh, some of them were a mess, but we loved them anyway. Flea-bitten or covered in ticks, it didn’t matter. We would lovingly bathe them and treat the problem, often spending hours picking the ticks off one by one. We treated sores and combed out matted knots of hair from some less than pleasant places but we did it with love.
So, why is it that we aren’t as kind to people as we are to stray or rescued pets? Have you ever thought about it?
Loving the Stray
Once, a very long time ago, I was doing what young people from the country do - riding with friends up in the mountains. It’s all we could afford and was our way of entertaining ourselves and feeling the exhilaration of exploration. On the way home, we spotted a very mangy looking dog wandering on and off the roadway. One look at it and I knew this one would be a project. He looked like a terrier mix, gray in color, shaggy, wet, and – stinky. I could hardly stand the smell as I picked him up and put him in the car. My friends said I was crazy and maybe they were right but, we were miles from any civilized population and I couldn't leave this dog on the road. So yes, he came home with me. After a good bath and clip job, he looked like a new dog. He didn't live with us long though. One of my friends fell in love with him (after we cleaned him up) and offered a forever home. We accepted.
I’ve often wondered if I had found a stranger on that road, instead of a dog, would I have offered them a ride. I want to think I would have but I’m not sure.
The question haunts me sometimes. I want to know why it is so easy to pick up a stray pet on the road and still turn a blind eye to a human being in the same circumstance? I want to know when it happened, that we became so jaded about our own species. Did it happen because the media remind us every day that people are no good? Do the stories of robbery and rape, assault and drugs erase all that we know to be good about people? Is it fear or anger or perhaps even our own guilt that makes us look over or past a human being in need?
Making Things Better
- H.O.W. - Organizing for Human Rights and Social Just...
H.O.W. - Humanity One World, is organizing writers to promote social justice and end human rights abuse. Take a look at what we want to do and then get involved.
- H.O.W - Care At Home
H.O.W. can you be a care-giver for someone who is providing care at home for a loved one? It's not so hard and it doesn't have to cost a thing. But first, you have to know who they are.
- To Change This World
To change this world, we have to begin with ourselves. The common thread among humans is that we all have strengths and weakness. We all want our children and grandchildren to have a bright future. If we do not want to live in a war-torn country, the
Are we too busy to be bothered? Is that it? Are we afraid of the commitment or is it that we don’t want to get our hands dirty? Is it arrogance? Or, are we ashamed? I have more questions than answers.
I wonder, if we felt a little safer in our world, would we be more trusting? If our newspapers and televisions told more stories of kindness and caring deeds would we start to believe in the human race again? What if we celebrated random acts of kindness like we do professional sports or Hollywood, would it make us better people? More questions.
It’s easy to love a pet, isn’t it? They demonstrate the true meaning of unconditional love. They ask little more of us that food, shelter, and a little attention. But aren’t those the basic needs of every human being too? When we have those things, food, shelter, and a little attention, everything else seems minor. With those things, we can face another day with hope of things getting better. Can’t we?
The stray dog or cat that comes into our life is grateful for what little we offer them and they become a loyal friend who asks for nothing more than that we notice them. Do we notice the homeless, the tattered and tired, the sick or the oppressed? Do we still judge the color of someone’s skin or the manner in which they are dressed? Are we turned off by long hair or tattoos? Are we so judgmental that we can’t see beyond the surface to recognize the pain or sadness in the eyes of a stranger?
This is not the way our world is, is it? Don’t we want a better world, where all people are safe, fed, and appreciated? I know it’s asking a lot and some will say I’m dreaming too big. Maybe I am but if we can overlook the shaggy exterior of a stray animal, I hope one day we can do the same for people. So, I’m a dreamer. I’m’ okay with that. I dream of a world where all species are treated with respect, dignity, and, where pets and human beings are seen for what they are on the inside, not for what is visible only on the surface.
I dream of a world where we have the same amount of heart for people rescue as we do for animal rescue.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.