There were stretches where I didn’t feel like showing up at the pound and giving my time. I had other things on my mind. A girl left my life. My writing career wasn’t working out. The Bears sucked again. Well, the first two got me down. The last item I’ve become accustomed to.
I trudged through my mornings touching fewer dogs, interacting less than usual, unable to recall the last dog I took to the play area in back of the shelter. And after a while I noticed that there was a Pit Bull who was starting to look familiar. I checked his cage card and found that he had been in the pound for three months— and I’m the guy who allegedly prides himself on taking out animals doing hard time in order to maybe stave off the inevitable cage craziness?? But someone had named the dog on his cage card and put a blanket in his kennel, so he was getting some attention. I found out that it was one of the county workers. In fact, it was two of them and a volunteer. I ripped myself for being mentally AWOL for the past three months as the Pit Bull barked at me like I was a stranger because I was. Still, there was something to be learned because I was spinning and that’s my cue. The universe works in mysterious ways and when I got over feeling sorry for myself I discovered that underneath those feelings of self-pity were feelings of gratitude to the much-maligned county workers as well as the other volunteers because I don’t do much at the pound and that’s a fact. But together, everyone who cares does do something significant. While I’m down in the dumps and sleepwalking through my shift, others are up on their energy. And while I’m up, maybe someone else is down. It’s a team, working independent of the system that seeks self-preservation mainly and is concerned with the animals only marginally. Even dogs don’t live on chow alone.
I started to feel better. My energy returned. Gratitude bubbled up within me to be a part of this team, the greatest underdog team of all time, with a pantheon of history that stretches back for thousands upon thousands of years, a team that has survived everything and is incapable of sucking. My job: I come off the bench on Sunday mornings and go kennel to kennel, one dog at a time. Just check in, say hello and take it one kennel at a time.
That’s what we do, only what we can, one kennel at a time.