Thinking of dogs

This has been a week of sadness for so many. Sad enough that it brought back words I’ve put away since writing my last blog post two years ago when my mother died. So the words are back and the first two are “I’m pissed.” Not elegant perhaps, but on-point for how I feel about many things right now.

With a world besieged by tragedy and darkened by untimely death, I’ve been thinking about dogs. The erstwhile companions of so many of us. If you’re not a dog person, you may want to stop reading now.

Two police officers were killed a week ago during a routine call in a nearby town. Their tragic and untimely deaths brought Central Ohio to it’s knees. The first glimpse I had of something amiss was last Saturday night when walking through a parking lot I saw flashing lights on the highways in every direction. We later learned that they were accompanying the officers’ bodies to the morgue. The story unfolded over the next few days and it worsened with every detail. Ambushed and killed by a career violent offender,  they left behind families and friends who loved them. Three little children will grow up without their daddy, a daughter will get married without her father because a criminal with a gun killed them.

One of them was a canine officer. Told you I’ve been thinking of dogs. His canine partner, Sam, was a trained narcotics dog. Sam was in the back seat of the cruiser when the murders occurred. Sam wasn’t there with his partner. He lost him. If you’re a dog person, you will understand this. Police dogs are trained to protect their partners. Sam didn’t get to do that. In the midst of the tragedy, the city that owned Sam retired him and gave him to his partner’s family. I didn’t know the young officer, nor did I know his wife and three young daughters. However, I know this – Sam will care for them and watch over them. Within his canine super powers, Sam will protect them with his life. God bless your mission Sam. Every girl needs a dog – the four girls in that sad house need one more than I could pretend to know.

Another young woman I know took her two (now three) little girls to the country. She and her husband have worked harder than anyone I know to establish a farming business raising and selling heritage breed hogs. While the husband maintains professional employment during the week, the farm is operating every day at the hands of the mom, the wife, the farmer. She had options, she had a career, and she chose to create, from nearly nothing, a sustainable farm.

She has enriched my life not only with her supply of the best pork I’ve ever eaten, but with her lively, often hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching posts on social media. She writes about the challenges and triumphs, the minutiae of daily farm life and the glimpse of a world with healthier food; a healthier planet and a the benefits of clean eating, clear thinking and creating the world the rest of us want to live in.  Honestly, she’s one of my heroes as she rebuilds a farm, rewires a wagon, butchers hogs, throws axes and builds fences. Sometimes with an infant strapped to her body. She is raising resiliant, funny, vibrant little girls. She trudges through the mud and rain; loads pigs on the trailer and posts photos of a glorious vista on their farm. Generally before I’ve gotten up in the morning.

This week, someone who had no right to be on their property opened a gate for no reason other than to do it. In doing so, they roused her family’s beautiful Anatolian Shepherd guard dogs and somehow, in some senseless act of cruelty, left the gate open. When her husband got to the gate in the middle of the night one of the dogs was dead in the road. They were littermates – the male and the female. They weren’t a year old. I’m sure they were a hard-won investment for the farm. Anatolian Shepherds are ferocious protectors of livestock. And children. They were working dogs and they were the bonny pets of the children. They were doing their job and someone’s trespassing and carelessness resulted in the death of one of them.

And of course, there are all of the dogs anxiously waiting for the children in Florida who will never go home because a murderer went into their high school and killed them with an automatic weapon. Our hearts are broken for the children. For their families. For their dogs.

So I’ve been thinking about dogs in the midst of human tragedy. Perhaps because thinking about the humans is too hard to bear.

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