A stray, hungry dog that finds a bone to gnaw, is understandably selfish should another dog approach. So too, might be the homeless man on a bone-chilling night, be unwilling to share a warm blanket. Yet even the homeless dog-men see first to the needs of their furry companion. With a tendency to be more selfish than I care to admit, I am grateful to the dogs I adopted, one in Virginia and later, one in San Diego, for helping me change my mindset over time. With four dogs during the past 25 years to help me be more hospitable, I credit them as much as a spiritual influence and loving marriage.
“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”Dean Koontz, author, via “www.goodreads.com”
For almost a year, we have hosted a monthly potluck with a group of friends. And what began with an opportunity to mourn Dexter and Comet last summer became a social time with our next-door neighbors. As dog-people (though we are, temporarily, dog-less), warmed by a heater, a firepit, and blankets, we enjoyed talking dogs and our families. Wives talked about the nursing profession and our dogs; husbands talked cigars, home maintenance and our dogs. They talked about adopting one of their dogs from a man who has made rescuing neglected, stray and injured dogs and cats in Tijuana his life’s calling. We all agreed that people have become more self-focused; more people run red lights, or irritated with clerks in shops or in doctor’s offices.
Yet I do not recall being flipped off by a motorist with their dog poking out a window, nor seeing a dog-person texting while driving. Fewer people seem perturbed by shoppers accompanied by their dogs. I believe these differences are due to a dog’s influence. While some say that tough times make tough people, a dog often rescues their human living that perspective. Like onetime homeless dogs we and our neighbors adopted, their “gratitude-attitude” makes us better people.
Ed: Were there innovative programs in more countries with large numbers of stray animals, such as in India or Mexico, or with unregulated breeders and relinquished or strays warehoused in shelters as in the United States, the need for these to find ‘forever’ homes would not be dire. In the Netherlands, described by a Dutch blogger, Rafal Sulowski, they have taken a different approach resulting in no stray dogs in their country.