Old Dogs and Karma
December 30, 2018
An insistent knock on the door and the resulting persistent barking of my little doggy shocked me out of my morning reverie. “Who in the world could that be?” I wondered, as I placed my coffee cup on the nearby table. The blanket covering my body decided now would be a good time to play a prank and thought it would be quite funny to catch my feet by surprise, while I rose from my recliner to go put a stop to all the racket. I stumbled, but didn’t fall, thank goodness, and made my way to the door.
Now, a knock on your door may not be such a shock to you but in my neck of the woods, which is pretty much out in the boonies where people mostly keep to themselves, visitors are few and far between. There on my front porch stood my neighbor, with a very old dog in tow.
“Can you help me with this?” she asked. “I found this old dog lying in the bed of hay I made for my dogs. I think someone may have dropped him off, but I can’t keep him at my house. One of my dogs doesn’t like strange dogs and would eat him alive. Maybe you could keep him here until someone from the animal shelter can come get him.”
I knew right away why she came to me. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a dog lover and a bleeding-heart animal rights activist. I invited her in to wait while I attempted to contact the animal shelter. The poor old guy had already laid down on my porch and seemed content to stay there, so she agreed to come in. Unfortunately, we found out the animal shelter is currently closed and will not reopen until after New Year’s Day. My significant other, while he’s also a dog lover, doesn’t have a heart that bleeds quite like mine, and therefore, doesn’t roll with taking in strays for more than an hour or two.
Now what to do? I can’t leave this poor old dog to fend for himself. I made a spontaneous decision. I would ask my neighbor to walk with me to take him to my mother’s. My mother lives fairly close by and there’s already a dog-bed and dog-food in her garage that I had put there for my brother’s dog, who wanders back and forth between her own home and my mother’s.
So off we go. The old fella’s breathing is labored and he can barely walk. My neighbor had put a leash around his neck and was practically dragging him along. Instantaneously, the white-hot searing heat of anger crept up my toes and exploded out the top of my head. “How in the hell could someone do this to this poor old guy? How could someone who owned a dog for as many years as it appears this guy is old, just drop him off to fend for himself when he’s obviously on his death bed?” I raged. “Look at him! I don’t think he can even make it much farther!” I boomed. She agreed, wholeheartedly.
Suddenly a noise interrupts the temper tantrum. All heads, except Old Fella’s which is still hanging low from fatigue, turn toward the sound. A car engine. At that precise moment, a small gray truck approaches and pulls to a stop beside us. A window rolls down. “Do you recognize this dog?” I ask.
“Yes, it belongs to my father-in-law.”
“Oh my Gosh! He was found at her house.” I pointed to my neighbor. “We were just taking him to my mother’s. We thought someone had dropped him off and we were taking him there to stay until the animal shelter opens. I’m so glad you came along!”
“I don’t know how he got out. He must have found a hole in the fence or something. Let me turn around and I’ll come back and get him and take him home.” He drove away.
The old dog, no longer able to stand, laid down on the road to rest. The man returned with a woman beside him. Old Fella, hearing the motor return, raised his head slightly and then immediately lowered it again. The woman got out and stepped around the truck. “Hi, Riley,” she said. The dog simply laid still. No movement or acknowledgement, just laid completely still. The short distance we had walked had taken a huge toll. “He looks like he may be on his last legs,” I said. “Yes, he probably is. He’s 16 years old,” she said.
They picked him up and placed him in the back of the truck. The woman climbed over the tailgate and sat beside Riley, cradling his head in her lap. The man returned to the driver’s seat and they drove away.
I stood there, in the middle of the lonely country road, and stared after them. My anger, now diluted, simultaneously evolved into sorrow and happiness. I know, in my heart, that Riley probably left home to find a place to die. I know, in my heart, that he was all alone and his humans, occupied with the events of the holidays, probably didn’t even realize he was fading away. I know, in my heart, that the events that transpired today alerted them to the fact; and I know, in my heart, that he will now be taken care of and will not be alone during his last hours or days on this earth. Tears stream down my face.
Karma. They say she’s a bitch. Right now, at this very moment in time, I think she’s an angel.