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July 3, 2022

Dogpaddling through Human Chaos

It’s been a not-so-quiet morning, stressing the senses. Intrusions of all kinds, both invited and not, steal away romantic ideals of a lazy Sunday morning. Friends longing to get away from the ills of urbanity, escape into the mountains and stick a fishing rod into our stretch of the creek, send the dogs into a frenzy. Muffler monkeys on packs of Harleys roar and sputter up Boulder Canyon. I haven’t yet seen a screaming bunch of testosterone-driven crotch-rockets treating the Canyon as though it were their own personal racecourse yet, but experience informs that it’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, I try to enjoy the soft tweeting and soothing melodies of the birds that are all raising offspring here in our mountain valley. Later, I’ll venture down to the shelter to walk dogs not mine, dogs without a couch or a bedroom chair to call their own. I’ll look for Athena, formerly known as Zena, and log more volunteer hours to qualify for GADAB – Give a Dog a Bone – training, so that I may spend physical time with her. I long to take her in, and the longer she has to wait for that specially-qualified, only-animal, no-young-children home, the more the longing intensifies.

And, I’ll visit the weirdly-named, sweet Dobie mutt named Royalty, if she’s still there. I’ll let her crawl onto my lap and tuck her head under my arm, explain her confusion and longing in her own way, as to how she got there. I’ll reassure her that she’s in one of the best shelters in the country, and I’ll try to hear her cries for her friends that failed to escape Texas’s brutal dog culture alive.

I’ll try not to think about the 54 dogs this past week in San Antonio who didn’t make it out alive for want of shelter space, or the dozen that will meet the same fate come Monday.

Or maybe Tuesday, as this is a holiday weekend, giving them an empty 24 more hours to live on this earth, wondering where they went wrong, and how they got there.

I’ll try not to feel anger and sadness rise up in tandem, as I pass along vehicles in the Canyon bearing Texas plates, and wonder that they didn’t dump the family dog in the shelter on their way out of town in San Angelo / San Antonio / Houston / Anywhere-in-Texas, only to put them at risk alongside their friends, for living through to realize the canine ideal of the American dream – a forever home or a place just good enough, in a culture as challenged socio-politically as it is spiritually or economically or morally, or in every other way possible in human existence.

I’ll try not think of my conspiratorially-minded Millennial friend who bought one of those ubiquitous Golden Retrievers recently, a beautiful mess of emotions and love, who has no idea the dog she helped depart this earth by being born to a breeder and sold to a young family with such longings for canine companionship. I’ll try not to hear his words in the back of my mind,

My perspective is that the dog created its own karma, that its fate was determined and he was bound to wind up in a kill shelter,

when I hold Royalty on lap this afternoon, for she did nothing to deserve being tossed out or never invited into the family home to begin with, except for taking her first birthing breath in the wrong place.

I’ll think of Ram Dass’s words supporting service work, to find satisfaction in the act itself and lift focus off destination, or that the pain, despair and frustration is one’s motives coming home to rest.

I’ll think of the woman running Gritty Pitty Rescue, who burned out and quit this past week, for the burden and despair was too great a cost, and of all the dogs that will be left without support or opportunity, as there is one more woman trying to save precious canine lives in a culture that is as sparse with support as it is with acknowledgement of the harm animal lovers suffer in the act of caring.

I’ll try not to think about people with greater resources than my maxed-out Visa, who could be donating to foster-based rescues or community shelters, but are spending their abundant resources on the fifth Harley motorcycle or Ten Thousand Dollar Viking grill for their Rock Creek back porch.

I’ll choose, instead, to think of my friend Melissa with Redfern Animal Rescue, my contact Marla with Central Texas Ruffugees, or my friend Richard with Sterling City Animal Shelter, all of whom are bleeding their hearts and resources trying to honor and save the lives at risk. I’ll think of the grant award I helped earn for one nonprofit this week, and explore where there’s just a little bit more, as every time I peer beyond this mountain valley to find like-minded good people in the s*!@hole of Texas doing good things for dogs, I feel just a little bit more heartened for the goodness of humanity. I’ll remember my friend Wayne from two years hence, who pulled Forrest out of the shelter in Houston on my behalf and found a truck-driving, animal-loving buddy to carry him in his passenger seat up here to the canine-loving, recreationally-inclined State of Colorado, to give him a second chance at life.

These days, one has to look hard to find such goodness in the mess of human chaos, but it’s always there, if I look deeply enough and ask the question.

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Denise Boehler  |  Contribution: 17,490