Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Animals

My wife told me, a few years ago now in our 27 years of marriage, that her father hated to travel. The reason he gave was that he disliked seeing children living in poverty with no possibility of building a  future for themselves. I resemble my late father-in-law in several respects but on this one my sympathies lie with animals and dogs most specifically.
In this series of photographs I recorded a waterside death, a bird hunting for breakfast, darting into the water and flying away to kill and eat a fish. I suppose the whole incident occupied a minute or perhaps a little more and yet I spent a whole lot more time wondering about that fish. I cannot stand watching humans fish as it disturbs me to see them haul fish suddenly into the air, dump them in a bucket and allow them to flap and suffocate slowly to death. I was taught to knock the fish sharply on the head to kill it, a procedure that didn't endear me to the whole sport but that at least gave the fish a relatively quick death.
I know that on our travels the hardest thing for me will be seeing stray dogs, abandoned animals and yes I know there are plenty of badly treated animals in the US but the public indifference and shortage of neuter clinics in developing countries makes the situation if not worse at least more visible. My father-in-law Harold hated seeing impoverished children, a situation that hardly fills me with joy, but stray dogs keep me awake at night. I hold Rusty much closer, no doubt causing him increased puzzlement.
It has been brought home to me over the course of decades on this planet that human beings don't play well with each other, that kindness and generosity are tempered, even in myself, by fear of going short oneself. Were I to argue that the egret should not kill the fish I would in turn be condemning the bird to starvation which is no solution at all in the long run. 
Rusty has no generosity in him; he's got his and he isn't sharing with other dogs. He has no expectation of kindness, no rationalization about sharing. Rusty's harsh selfishness will save me from myself, he won't allow another dog in my life and the last thing I want to do is disappoint him
I saw a bunch of people fishing on the other side of the bridge and I avoided stepping in their excrement and their toilet paper even as I picked up after Rusty and dropped the plastic bag in a trash can. 
"I'm not an animal!" victims exclaim indignantly as they suffer some abuse or indifference at the hands of humans more powerful than them. I guide myself by asking myself if I would treat a dog like that because my gold standard is what would Rusty do?
Webb saw this picture and thought Rusty looked like he might be ready to snap at me. I took the picture by accident but I liked it. I saw love in his eyes. I dare say we are both wrong.