Today in Houston the weather was awful. Torrential downpours, loud thunder and lightning that filled the sky. During a quick break in the rain, I headed out to check on my horses so we could spend some time outside even if it was only brief. They’re staying with my incredible trainer Kim Simpson while our home is being built and I like to spend as much time as possible with them. As I headed down a 7-lane stretch of highway, a small Jack Russell Terrier type dog was frantically running the same direction I was headed, only on the opposite side of the road. He was headed into oncoming traffic.
I pulled alongside of him in the turn lane and opened my door, jumped out and crouched to the ground and called him. No such luck, he kept running. Another vehicle pulled in front of me and and forced the dog into a gas station, blocking traffic. I followed suit and we blocked the whole three lanes and off he went to the parking lot.
As I pulled my car off the road, someone yelled obscenities at us, I can only assume for making them more late to work. The woman and I tried to coax the dog to us with treat samples I had in the back of my truck. Still, nothing. This terrified dog took off again, back to the road, back to oncoming traffic. We followed on foot and it was likely our more visible size that protected him from an immediate death by automobile. We followed for half a mile and the dog ducked off the road and we were able to push him farther along. He was drenched and scared and didn’t know if he could trust us.
Eventually he ran back into the woods and there was no way we could find him with only two of us. We gave each other a hug and said thanks for trying and we both parted ways. All day long though, I kept thinking of two things.
1. If only we had one more person. With one more person, I know this dog would be safe.
2. Who in the Hell didn’t stop? Hundreds of cars passed this dog and then us chasing this dog and no one else stopped. All we needed was one more person to close all sides and we would be telling another story, networking a lost dog who needs his family or a home.
There have been times in my life, many actually, where I haven’t stopped. I was young, I was late, I was preoccupied, I looked the other way. I can’t do that anymore. All I could think about was “What if that was my dog? No one is helping. I would be hysterical. I have to do something.” The truth is we all have to do something. It doesn’t matter if you can’t keep the dog. A shelter is better than a highway. Do something.
I know we are all the same… It doesn’t really affect us until it’s personal. I have been thinking about animal welfare in general and I wonder why we are all so afraid to make the situation personal? It should be personal and we all just have to start to see it that way. My new rescue horses have taught me this.
Because of them I feel like I am further connected to the animal spirit and recognize the heart in all living things. In just a few weeks Lucille, the mother horse, has left the SPCA—who rescued her suffering from a gunshot wound—had a baby, and become accustomed to people again. She WANTS to be around us. She is learning the pleasure of soft human touch. As I sit in the pasture with them right now as I write this, it amazes me that this creature — instinctually flighty and not trusting of those higher on the food chain— has had a complete turnaround and shows me and anyone willing to be patient how much she has to give the world…. Even when for a time the world turned their back on her. It’s incredible to think that some people cannot recognize that potential in all things. Especially dogs… Many of which have historically been BRED for companionship and are known the world over as “man’s best friend.”
Today as I reflect with my horses (pictured at right), I am wondering how so many inspirational people do it. How do they keep fighting the fight in the face of such a lack of care sometimes? It’s because their hearts are big and they listen to their gut. They know they are doing the right thing, they know they are making a difference. Whether for one or many, every step is progress. It’s these people that inspire me to do better. To start small and get bigger. Thank you to a few tireless workers who inspire me all the time: Mike Arms, Ashley Owen Hill (pictured below), Mary Ellen Arbuckle, Teresa Bues and all of you reading this who advocate for animals. Together, let our voices grow.
So when you see a dog on the street or in a shelter that may no
t be your favorite breed, or have your favorite look, or may not have been by your side through thick and thin, remember that it IS all those things (and so much more) to someone. Or if it isn’t, it most certainly deserves to be. Reach out and DO something. Start small and grow. Talk to people about the problem. Volunteer once a month or once a year. Donate when you can. Adopt. Foster. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends to spay and neuter their dogs.
There are four million homeless dogs in the US every year and hundreds of millions of us. Start small, but go big. We can all make a difference if we try. Think if it was your dog. What would you want someone to do?
Share your thoughts by commenting. This is a place for dialogue!
This article was written by LIFE+DOG publisher Brett Chisholm.
To read more from Brett, visit his blog on our site.