This is not going to be about political passion or opportunism, nor even about the idea that we can help each other by offering our time to try to fix social woes. Of course the second are mostly noble pursuits (the first has lost most meaning in the internet age, if not well before) and we need plenty more people giving of themselves to help make the world a better place. But this piece is going to be about a personal experience and my generally misanthropic nature and grim outlook towards the future of humanity has caused me to offer my services to a different endeavor.
Anyone who may have read some of the past essays here on Recording Editorial History (or anyone occasionally following me on the numerous other social media platforms I promote this site on (https://medium.com/@asphlex7, https://www.facebook.com/lance.polin, https://www.pinterest.com/asphlex2/, among others; my Twitter account has been permanently banned for several reasons, but that is discussed in an earlier piece called “Lou Dobbs: The Cartoon Prophet of Irrational Blindness”)–those people probably know that my particular soft spot is for animals–dogs in particular, but not precluding virtually every other species on our planet.
This is Marley, my sweet, lovely dog (she already knew this to be her name when we adopted her from the shelter, a rescue from a North Carolina dog-fighting pit.) While I have always loved animals (grew up endlessly with cats–
this is Francis, our current cat, also a rescue–and a long time dog caretaker as well), it is Marley’s grim circumstances that led me on a sort of crusade to challenge both the stereotypes of so-called “vicious dogs” (she is a Boxer/Pit Bull), as well as the scourge and stain on humanity that is animal abuse.
The last image comes from a dog meat factory in Asia. Most dogs given to these ghoulish places were killed in fights or donated by evil people who care nothing for life.
Recently I have begun volunteering at a local animal rescue shelter–the same place, in fact, where I met Marley. This is mostly a dog and cat adoption center, caring for and training abandoned, sick and seriously traumatized animals until most of them are not only ready, but excited to meet a hopefully new family and move into their “forever home.”
I work with the dogs, mostly cleaning their kennels in the morning, drying their beds and the floor down, filling their bowls with fresh water and giving them treats once they return to their cages. Sometimes I even get to take them for walks around the lovely, luscious grounds of the place, but being a volunteer, to use an exact description of my job, I generally do the shit work.
And then when the dogs are resettled, after a few minutes of anxious howling, we walk around and greet them, talk to them, even play with them. Many the dogs are very unhappy
some are even clearly insane
But most of them are joyful creatures, sure to be adopted before too long.
Dogs at most shelters are some form of Pit Bull. Their bad reputation has consumed so much of the public’s perception of these intensely loyal, extremely loving animals that they are quickly given up upon. Sure, they can be intimidating, big and strong with that underlying threat in the back of your mind because you believe that somewhere you may have read about a Pit Bull eating an infant in their crib, but it is important to remember that, as with people and every other species of living thing, some of us are simply assholes.
There is something so gratifying about spending a part of my day (three days a week) caring for and talking to these lonely dogs, all of them seeking to be loved. Of course there are some of them who have entirely given up hope, their lives such an endless refrain of disappointment and horror that they have become catatonic–even seriously mentally ill. And yet these animals are far more resilient than people who find themselves in similar circumstances.
And now I will offer some conciliatory promotion to several of the great advocates of animal rescue and the genuine heroes who actually do make the world into a slightly better place:
There are thousands and thousands more animal rescue organizations. You can find one locally, nationally, or internationally. And so I will finish by asking, please: if you are looking for a pet to care for and who will care for you, look no further than your local animal shelter. These animals know what you are doing for them. No one will ever love you as much for saving their lives. Give if you can; volunteer. We might not consider this issue quite as much as many of our immediate concerns–worry or obsessions with money, what other people think, the brutal cynicism of world politics and the hollow core of escapism in all its forms. But this is about life, about the reality that so many suffer from. And truthfully, seeing the change in a rescued animal might give you an idea of how much you might be able to rescue other people, those unable for whatever reason to achieve the level of success and comfort you have in your life. Animals matter–all of them. If you want to hear a real horror story, check this out:
This is not a propaganda scare tactic. These are actual facts. And we can even discard those creatures we do not like (the millipede personally comes to mind), but we lose sight of the consequences on the wider world should this life disappear, both environmentally and as a reflection of the changes to the nature of life itself on planet earth.
Thank you for spending the time to consider these issues. Tomorrow I will return to something less urgent and no doubt in my usual tone of bleak, satirical viciousness.