July 27, 2010

Jackson ran across a highway and got hit by a car yesterday.  The children saw it all.   Joe and I both understood exactly what was about to happen about 10 heart stopping and irretrievable seconds before it happened. And so, unlike the innocent children, we looked down.   Hearing it was bad enough.

A few days earlier we were all shopping together and I ran across a prayer.  A real prayer that begins with "Hear our humble prayer, O God".   Christian prayers, traditionally, aren't really my cup of tea.  I do believe in God but I lean to the East.  But this prayer stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes.  True, I've just been diagnosed hyper thyroid.  Maybe I'm hepped up as any pregnant mother?  Maybe I'm running high?  Clearly I am.  But I was so moved by this prayer, by the depth of the compassion, by the thoughtful care noted so publicly and firmly for such a huge population so generally ignored.  I wiped away a tear and trotted the five dollar piece of  paper over to my husband and suggested we buy it.  This was an odd and uncharacteristic move from me.  Him nodding and smiling was totally in character and we bought the silly five dollar prayer and it made me happy all weekend.

I am not one of those folks who leash dogs or keep cats inside as a lifestyle.  Do you all know that most animal shelters now ask that cats be kept inside their whole lives?  Going point by point through the absurd fallacy of this idea makes me tired.  I can link it to all that is wrong in this world, the breakdown of our relationship to Earth and reality, and to fear based existence.  We've spun off the planet into tiny neurotic self centered micro-worlds residing squarely inside our own skulls.   I may feel grand from time to time.  But I am pretty sure God does not reside in my skull.  Woe unto those whose hearts are so full of fear, they retreat to their minds.  Well, we see the state of the planet. I suppose that is enough said.

Anthropomorphising animals to the point they can no longer behave like animals is criminal.  Its abusive.  Its shallow and while generally well intended, its the opposite of loving.   But then I can't really say I felt full of love or pride when Jackson got hit by that car.  I did not have him on a leash.  I should have kept him restrained so close to an unfamiliar highway.  It wasn't just his life on the line and I see that clearly.  I was wrong.

But Jackson was not feeling unloved.  Jackson was feeling like a dog.  Which is an amazing thing, doggness.  The suchness of dog.    Its not even his first time getting hit.   Two years ago the children came and got me because Jackson was sitting on the kitchen doorstep obviously in shock.   He'd been hit.  But he was remarkably okay.  I consulted with some cow farmers.  I felt all his bones.  I poked at his gums looking for evidence of internal bleeding.  Then I kept watch over him for a day.   He slept it off and has never displayed the slightest fear of cars or the road.  Or fear of anything, actually.  Jackson is the least neurotic dog I've ever met.  He is always polite to everyone.  He almost never barks, unless a rabbit crosses his nose.   He has never displayed aggression.  Not one single time ever.  He is one of the nicest steadiest dogs I've ever met.

And apparently he is profoundly lucky.  Because even though he was hit by a truck doing at least 50, he walked away.  He dented the truck, was thrown a distance, knocked his noodle loopy for a while, but he walked away.   He won't sleep this one off quite so easily and we got him to our vet.   But he did not break any bones and it appears he will mend the rest.  He's made it through the night and is sleeping on the sacred forbidden couch.   Are his bones made of kryptonite?   They are made of raw milk, for one thing.  And his owner is a praying woman, for another.

Temple Grandin has run the numbers.  Since leash and fence laws were put into affect in the 1970s dog aggression and bites on humans have increased 36%.  We are making dogs into our own neurotic image right down to our selfish tendency to hoard and fight.   And of course this reflects on the whole planet.  Forget, for a moment, all the wars and environmental degradation.  Notice how children are responding similarly to the dogs.   Put them in captivity and bullying skyrockets.  These are our dogs and our future leaders.

Sigh.  I could start evangelizing.  But I think maybe prayer is more appropriate.

Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends, the animals,
especially for those who are suffering;
for animals that are overworked,
underfed, and cruelly treated;
for all the wistful creatures in captivity,
that beat their wings against bars;
for any that are hunted or lost or deserted,
or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all
Thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them,
we ask a heart of compassion
and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves,
to be true friends to animals
and so to share
the blessings of the Merciful.

Oh, and God, help us live from our hearts more than our minds.  And please help us live brave loving giving lives.  And help us stop being so selfish.  And also, please, help us stop being such rank consumers and so dependent on oil.  Thanks God.  Thank you a lot.  Amen.


val said...

Oh, Katherine. This is lovely and sad, yet we're so glad your dog is okay. The photo is gorgeous. love, V

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photo...I love what you said about domestic animals in captivity. I have a dear friend who believes in keeping her cat inside. It makes me sad. We've lost cats because they were outdoors at night. But they lived a cat life, you know? You put it so well, the feelings I have about keeping animals inside.

Give "Lucky" a pat on the head from us.


Cecelia (CC) said...

just another POV re the cats: they are vetted, petted & bedded, and then set free to participate in the wild food chain where those members/neighbors have no such advantage. Cats decimate songbirds & amphibians; they significantly impact populations. My son wants a cat. We refuse to lock one up in a house, for similar reasons you mention, yet we cannot set them free to prey either.

Cecelia (CC) said...

Thank God Jackson is OKAY - read a long time before I got the good news. PHEW! What bones! Sounds like he did not tense up.

Katherine said...

I'm glad you brought that up CC. A lot of folks say that but I don't believe its true. Cats catch slow birds and birds that wild cats would have been catching had we not decimated that population. I think the real problem with song bird decline is habitat destruction.

But I do understand that cats catch birds. Most house cats are fierce hunters for a year or two. Then they seem to get pretty lazy. I think Bramble kills a couple of birds every year. Olive hasn't killed anything in at least 10 years and I feel sure that is pretty typical.

But its nice to talk this over with a biologist I trust. (As an aside, I woke up this morning missing you and thinking how children change our lives so much. Remembering the Columbia Street days and missing all that leisure time to hang out.)

So a couple of years ago folks down in Katy Texas got on a mission about house cats and declining bird population. There was a big study or something. That area of Katy is important ecologically for birds. But the thing is, my Dad has been hunting down there since the 60s. In the 60s it was the wild land outside of Houston and it was full of wildlife. Today its a shopping mall farm. Everyone wants to blame the decline of songbirds on the house cats down there? Ugh.... house cats had nothing to do with the decline of the geese and ducks. I think the song birds went to the same place the geese went. They went away, in other words. Or they got lost behind Target or something like that. Ya know? Its like folks can't look squarely at the real problem - too many greedy people.

MOM #1 said...

I'm glad Jackson is OK. I was very worried for a while there.

Beautiful photo.

Katherine said...

"Often and often afterwards, the beloved Aunt would ask me why I had never told anyone how I was being treated. Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established." ~Rudyard Kipling