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Social Issues: Stray Rescue

Updated on January 24, 2013
There is little that warms the heart more than the love of a pet.
There is little that warms the heart more than the love of a pet. | Source

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.

Rescuers

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?

The questions

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?

The Dream

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.

Read more of my hubs here.


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  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    wildove5, been there, done that, and I feel exactly the same. At some point in life I have learned to give the outcome over to God and the universe and listen to my heart. Sure, I've made some mistakes along the way but I simply refuse to live n fear of the "what if's". Thanks again for visiting.

  • wildove5 profile image

    wildove5 4 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

    Some may say I'm naive or just plain dumb, but I have been known to give rides to the human stray's. Not the dude on the side of the road hitch hiking, that would be too scary. However I have helped a guy running down the free-way in the pouring rain with a gas container in his hand. As soon as he got in the car I told him if the gas can was a scam and he tried to hurt me that my dad would kill him then me for picking up a stranger, he laughed, I survived! I think you got it right when you suggested that we have been told more about the bad people in this world that we started to look at everyone as a possible threat. It's really sad! I have reasoned it in my mind that if something bad happens to me because I tried to help someone, then at least I died Trying! Another great hub!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Eddy. Thank you for visiting. I appreciate you spending time here.

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

    A wonderful hub and thanks for sharing.

    Eddy.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Ardie, you are not alone. I often wonder what the world would look like to us if we just turned off the news for a month. I lapse into a bad habit sometimes of turning it on in the monring and listening to in the background all day. By mid afternoon, I notice my mood souring. But, if I turn it off and listen to music instead, I remain happy and optimistic all day long. It's an interesting experiment. Don't hang your head. We're human. Imperfect and rightfully conscious of the violence in our world. I think the key is to not turn ff the interest or concern for humans. And that, I don't think you are capable of. Thanks for your incredibly honest and heartfelt comment.

  • Ardie profile image

    Sondra 4 years ago from Neverland

    Wow - you pose a very deep question. I had to stop reading and be real honest with myself. If I had been in your position I would've snatched up that stinky pooch in a heartbeat. However, if it had been another human being (and this is where I hang my head in shame) I would have locked my car doors as I sped past. I know my reasoning is that the pooch will appreciate my efforts and return my love. The human on the other hand, well he or she just might have mental illness that would put me at risk. And yes, it IS because of the news stories about murder, rape, and drugs. I would gladly give the person the money to get to safety but I would be terrified to provide that ride. Ouch - that hurts to admit.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi shiningirisheyes. I understand, believe me I do. I wrote the article because I want to understand that fear; to know if it is founded or, is it a result of being brainwashed into believing there is so much evil in the world. I don't have the answer. Thanks for reading and providing an honest response.

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

    You write in important hub, one that I deeply ponder over. Unfortunately my reasons for hesitating to readily bring a person back to my home are purely out of fear. On many occasions, I have befriended someone who was down on their luck, and all though a few of those incidences did backfire on me, I still continue to seek out the one in the crowd that appears to need the help. Although, I do stop at providing them a bed. It is very sad but my fear that I or Mom may be hurt is too great to overcome.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    That brings me a sigh of relief. I don't like knowing that I'm not as giving as I sound! We are imperfect and that's ok.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    LOL Shauna, me too!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Excellent point, Linda! I rescued two of my three cats. I may offer a stranger some money or clothing, but would I bring him into my home as readily a I do animals in need? Probably not. I am human and I am flawed.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Carol. Thanks for the lovely comment. This comments on this hub definitetly demonstrate that a lot of us love our pets and have a soft spot for animal rescue. And, the comments prove the point I was trying to make in the hub; that it is easier to help or love a stray animal than it is a person. Did you notice how few of the comments focus on the "human"? Most of them are about an animal rescue story. I find that utterly fascinating.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

    I think this topic hit a sweet bone in most of us. I found a stray cat (rather a friend did) and he lived with us for 17 years. And giving a little guy a warm and loving home is one of the kindest acts. thanks for this lovely and caring hub.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks teaches12345.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

    When we do get pets, we adopt from the shelters. We are always tempted to adopt more, but know we can't give our full attention to more than one. Great support for this H.O.W. cause with this post. These creatures need our love and care. Blessings.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Jillian, what a gift you are. Thank you so much for understanding and being my spirit sister on the West Coast. You have raised your children the way children should be raised and I know you must be so proud of them. Your comment on this article gave me the warm fuzzies. I don't always do it right but I get back up and try again. That's all any of us can do really. Hugs to you my friend.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 4 years ago from California, USA

    Dear lrc7815,

    Why was I not surprised to read this beautiful article from you? If this were the only article that demonstrates your belief that each of us can change the world--but it isn't, and you are right! We can!

    It made me smile, because I remember the kittens and dogs that my kids would always bring home. They always said, "But, mom, it followed me home. What could I do?" And then, there were the times that they brought homeless people for meals, blankets, etc.

    They grew up and have remained that way. I look at them and think that they are changing the world, little by little.

    There have been times that I have had, like you, the "what if" feelings, but they were always unfounded.

    You are not an alien! You are what we all should be...

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Gypsy, Thanks for the vote up. You are so right about the children. And, it is about awareness. That's why I think this movement of Bill's is so exciting. Don't you? We get to expand our audience and reach so many more people. Thanks for the visit. Have a great weekend.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Voted up. You are right that people have more tender feelings toward animals however not all people. So there are pluses and minuses on both sides. We have an adorable adopted cat Sid. He is a darling and we got him from animal rescue when some people threw him out into the street. Well we adopted him and people do adopt children too. So I guess you could say that people have a very tender feeling toward animals and toward children because both are helpless and need lots of love and care. Now we must try to make the world aware of people who need help like the homeless, the poor, the elderly and so on. Then if everyone was wiling to lend a helping hand the world would be wonderful indeed. Passing this on.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Louisa. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. We are an interesting species, aren't we?

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Maria, I love it when I find you in my comments. You always make me feel like less of alien. I have done so many things that my family tought were foolish and risky but I do listen to my gut instinct. I have also called 911. Once, when I was pretty sure that a Vietnam Veteran was living on the street, I didn't quite trust the situation so I called the Vietnam Veteran's Group here and they took care of him. It pays to be smart but I refuse to hide from life out of fear of "what if". Thank you so much for being my validator and sister hero.

  • Louisa Rogers profile image

    Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

    what an unusual thought, and i've never thought about that, how much easier it is to show compassion to animals than to our own species. I read somewhere that we are one of the few species that kills each other. Thought-provoking, thank you. Voted up and interesting.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Linda,

    This is a beautiful reflection of questions that I have asked myself.

    I am a rescuer...of all species. I believe most people are capable of sincerely kind behavior. I still believe in most people. Animals are so loving unless they have been abused...and then it is a slow process but trust can be built again in a safe home.

    I can think of two instances when my husband was horrified...after the fact, like finding I had given a very lost man in a wheelchair a drive to his destination.

    And, yes, I weighed the risks and trusted my instincts. I have also simply called 911 for others when I have not felt safe in the environment or situation.

    You reach deep in my heart with your writing. Voted UP and UABI.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi oneyBB! I'm so glad you read my hub and left the comment. You are so right about the children. I should have included that in this hub and after it is featured, I am going to edit it for that purpose. It makes me wonder. Is it easier for us to adopt animals because we know if they don't work out we can get rid of them or euthanize them? Isn't that a sad thought? Oh, this world we live in is enough to drive you mad. I really am so grateful for your wisdom.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Claire. Thank you so much for letting me know you liked this hub. Some aer more easy to write than others and this one was easy. I felt the message all the way through it. I adore your assistant for his compassion. It appears that she and that coonhound have a special bond and that they were meant to find each other. Thank you for sharing the story.

  • HoneyBB profile image

    Honey Halley 4 years ago from Illinois

    Excellent article...and many of the questions I struggle with daily. I think about all the children waiting to be adopted or fostered just like these animals and I wonder why more people aren't doing more to help give them love and a forever home!

  • Claire Fenton profile image

    Claire Fenton 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    Loved this post, Linda! My assistant just moved to Boise from Georgia and drove their family dog across the country so he wouldn't have to fly! He's such a sweet dog- a coonhound mix- who was rescued 10 minutes before euthanization. He is so attached to them now and eternally grateful. She says he's the first rescue dog they've ever taken in and the best dog they've ever had.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Amy, your horrible story confirms what I was trying to say in this piece. The media (news, tv, radio) bombard us with the horrible stories and rarely tell us about the generosity and kindness. There is still a lot more good in this world than there is evil. I really do believe that. So, if we heard equal amounts of good and evil, would we be more willing to risk it? That's my big, burning question. I've been burned too Amy and it hurts. I do have a big heart but, like you, I am much more careful these days. We have to be. I have learned, like you, to trust my gut.

    Thank you for such an insightful comment.

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I find it far easier to trust an animal than a human, because animals do not make choices out of maliciousness. They live life on instinct, not by the hate, greed or deception that human beings often choose. The Catholic church deems a 7 year old child as having reached the age of reason, when we are capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong. Yet, I see evidence to the contrary every night on the news. The other night two men broke into a house one street over and, with children in the home, they raped and sodomized the mother and robbed the home. I would be too afraid to pick up a stranger, yet I have rescued many friendly, non-aggressive dogs without fear. A woman alone has to take care of herself. I am certain if I stopped for a stranger and something happened to me as a result, there would be little pity for me, as I would be seen as a fool for taking the risk. Before I was laid off, a young man would come into the office where I worked at the front desk. He came in most days high, saying he was looking for work. I felt sorry for him and let him help himself to the candy dish, gave him a few cigarettes and occasionally a couple of bucks. One day, on my lunch break when I left my desk for 10-minutes, he came in the office and stole my purse, hidden from sight under my desk. Even after a violating, distressful experience in the theft of my purse, I would have still helped someone struggling a smile and some measure of comfort, but I am far more circumspect with my trust since the experience. I help how I can, but I will not put myself in harm's way now. We live and we learn some hard lessons in life, Linda. Unfortunately, the innocent suffer, too. I follow my gut and help when and how I can.

    Very well-written, thought-provoking piece, Linda. You have a beautiful heart.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Michele, mine has beds in every room but guess where she sleeps? lol

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    Oh, just to let you know, we bought them little beds. But, got rid of their beds because they use ours:)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Michele! Congratulations for being a rescuer. I bet your pets are happy animals. Hope the little dog finds a home. Thanks for the vote up too.

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    Lovely way to rescue a stray. I did not mean for that to rhyme honest. We have three strays. One of them a cat, basically just moved in. My daughter loved her right away. The other two are dogs. We went to the pound on the "Dog day" Just to look. They came outside with us. My daughter was tired and sat down and one of them jumped into her lap, the other one, sat down by her side and kissed her.

    I think they took us in.

    Anyway, loved this hub, I hope more people read it.

    Voted up.

    By the way, if anyone near Columbus, Ohio wants a very sweet small dog that needs a home ( does not live with me) please email me.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jeff! I could have guessed that you were a rescuer. Aren't those dogs the best? So much love and appreciation in those happy eyes. Thanks for being who you are!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Randi. I think you and I share many of the same philosophies. I am grateful for our new relationship. I understand your concerns about the woman and her children. I can't say what I woud have done but I do think it is sad that our first thoughts are fear. That's what our changing world has done to us. You fed the children and offered transportation and that's a lot more than many would have done. Good for you. It will come back to you too. Believe it.

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    JThomp42 4 years ago

    Awesome Linda! I have 3 rescue dogs and love them all. Great read!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, my friend, thank you. You are a samaritan for sure. The questions raised in this one have haunted me for quite a while. I may never know the answer but I keep searching. Thank you, as always, for being there with me. It's a good feeling.

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    Up+++! A woman after my own heart! I have written about my 4 current rescue kitties, ad nauseum, and a little bit about my friend, Jackie who has rescued 100's of cats. Her birthday gidft this year was a cage to trap her latest group of kittens!

    Sadly, I know that I probably wouldn't bring a stranger in my home. This is because I don't want to help, it's because there are so many horrible things going on, it may not be safe. Not too long ago, a young mother and 3 babies stopped me to ask the time. They clearly needed help but her story, involving police chase and drugs was a bit fantastical and daunting. I gave her some food for the kids, let her use my phone, gave her the meager cash in my wallet ($10) and offered her a ride to a bus station. She refused and I always wonder how they made out and should I have done more. Thank you for this hub!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    You just keep right on dreaming my friend; I'm right there with you.

    I have often wondered if Jesus came back to Earth in today's world, would anyone take him in? Scruffy individual, a rabble-rouser...who would have the time or love for him?

    We have three dogs and three cats....so yes, I love animals....the questions you raised are excellent ones for sure.

    Great job Linda; a wonderful addition to the movement.

    hugs,

    bill

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you Joseph. I do think we are influenced by all the negative news about people and it instills fear. We are so easily jaded, aren't we?

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

    There you go Linda! This was powerful! I think people care more about animals for their loyalty, and in our case, we hardly trust our own family. Lots of food for thought!