Respecting our Animal Companions

While driving out of town today I hit bumper to bumper traffic on the highway not too far from my home. It seemed odd but I figured it was roadwork and found myself feeling annoyed and thinking “Why don’t they wait until Monday to do that?!”

As I made my way I saw flashing lights ahead…..cops…three police vehicles in the outside lane….and another one pulling up quickly from the other side of the highway over the grass median to arrive on scene.

I moved along with slowing traffic and when I got to the place where the police vehicles were stopped I looked over to the side of the road…..a rough looking guy sat on the concrete median. Visible were the upper half of his bicycle and trailer and collected junk…all were propped on the rock wall behind him. He was still, his head hung so low that all you could see was the very top of his dirty ball cap. About twelve feet away and facing him were two cops, one standing to the side and behind the other. The officer standing slightly forward had his gun drawn and pointed directly at the unmoving man on the median. Another officer was just pulling up on the other side of the road. He brought his vehicle to an abrupt halt and rushed to assist his fellow officers.

In that moment everyone seemed motionless to me. The tension level was sobering. All it would have taken for a life to be lost would have been one poor choice made by any one of the people involved.

Ten feet off to one side there was an officer and his canine partner. The alert dog looked around at the passing traffic, the officers, the immobile suspect…..assessing the situation… then looked back at his handler completely focused.…..and he sat, waiting, totally ready, totally calm.

I continued to move past with the flow of traffic and about 15 seconds later I felt my heart squeeze and a tear ran down my face….I was surprised….something struck a deep chord……

It hit me …it was the dog… he had an aura around him…like he was holding the rest of them together….holding space for them. To me this was profound because in middle of our human sadness and messed up world, in the midst of all the fear and anger and dysfunction…there he was… calm and capable…and willing to act on his training and “to do” for us. I felt gratitude and respect wash over me.

I have had a week of interesting personal events that have led me to reflect on the things we ask of animals and what they willingly give to us. It has been challenging and has left abrasions on my heart to see them treated as though they are inferior to us when they give us everything they have. I am heart sick that we humans don’t take more care with our decisions…… and that we don’t give animals more respect and more consideration when it comes to the long term. We have brought them into our lives and are responsible for making sure their lives are meaningful and satisfying.

While some would say “it’s only a dog”….I say it’s a reflection on us, our society and we owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never repay…ever. It would be a welcome change if we’d take more care and acknowledge this truth more often.

Much respect to all the animal companions, service dogs, assistance dogs and other four legged friends out there…thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your loyalty and thank you for your love. All of this I send you from the bottom of my heart.

Photo Credit

Photo is pixabay creative commons

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