Some of you may have been following the recent story in the local papers about the search for a missing 17-year-old dog who was lost in Sleeping Giant Park.
Not only was the dog elderly, she was deaf as well. Over three days, countless volunteers came forward to search for the lost dog. There was much speculation that the animal would never be found, since she couldn’t hear the calls from the searchers. They included the dog’s owner and many, many strangers who just came forward to help. The dog, Sadie, was finally found wedged in a hole; a place from which she would never have been able to extricate herself. It was another story of people responding to the plight of an animal in need.
I wonder sometimes, what it is that brings us together to want to help in situations such as these. The animal, a pet, is somehow viewed a part of the family and the desire to assist in time of need is as genuine as if it were one of the two-footer members of the group.
I can only speak to the dog/human relationship since we have only had dogs in our family. When you add a dog to your family, you take on a complex relationship that only is revealed over time. The dog is not only a companion but a responsibility as well.
All of us who have a pet find out how that relationship plays out, and all of us are usually unprepared for how complicated it turns out to be.
At the dog park where I get to gather with a group of friends almost daily, it’s interesting to observe how our dog interaction mimics our human interaction. We all engage in small talk, but much of what we do is observe our dogs in their interaction with each other; watching how they play, or engage in friendly posturing, or ignore each other completely.
My dog Zoey, who is still trying to figure out what happened to her happy home, and in particular, what happened to her most favorite person, Angela, isolates herself from the other dogs, and even the humans are kept at a distance. I observe how kind and careful everyone is with her, reaching out, speaking quietly, allowing her to be who she needs to be right now. I can remember when she romped and ran all over the place, but that was back when her life was simpler.
Again, I see these behaviors as symptomatic of how animal lovers view the world; a place where we all care as much about the animals as we do about each other. Last week, Zoey, frightened by the sound of distant thunder, quietly retreated into the woods without anyone noticing. When I realized she was not sitting in her usual place, I called out to her, and within moments, everyone sprung up and began to search for her, understanding that it was panic that caused her to run. After a few frantic moments, she appeared and ran to me, covered with muddy water and sprinkled with countless burrs. We were all relieved, and happy to see her. I, on the other hand, had to deal with her showering the back seat of my car with the excess dirty water as I drove straight to the local dog bath facility.
What I learned that day, and what I have observed at the park, is how much animals contribute to our well-being, and indirectly, to how we interact with other through our pets.
The Hamden story, with its happy ending for Sadie and her owner is a wonderful example of the powerful influence a pet can have on all of us - how we can submit to an innate desire to help someone in need, and it makes the world a better place