Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh happy dog!

Benzo's ready to go running after the ball again.

If I allow myself to get too immersed in stories about animal cruelty, an odd psychological reaction kicks in.

I develop the overwhelming urge to hug every animal that I come into contact with. I need to put my arms around loved animals kept by loving people so I don't forget that they exist.

It happened last night when I crossed paths with Benzo. Lately I've been reviewing some acts by humans that make the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end. I've been reading their case files, poring over photographs, and watching news reports and videotaped investigations. Some days, the sea of cruelty threatens to drown me. People always ask me: Why would you put yourself through that? And then I'm accused of traumatizing myself needlessly.

I don't know any other way to write it. Viewing all the raw material I can find is the only method I trust. The purest way for a writer to tell a story is not to retell it through someone else's eyes. It's getting as close as possible. Experiencing it, and putting that into words.

When I write about what an animal has gone through, I feel like I'm right there watching it. My imagination fills in the sights, sounds and smells. I picture the misery and the pain, and then I explain what I'm seeing as I'm watching this movie in my mind.

Yesterday evening, the need to hug a random animal kicked in full tilt when I saw Benzo doing some master ball handling in a Bellingham, Washington parking lot with his guardian Bay Renaud.

As I watched Bay -- who is single, by the way -- playing ball with his dog, I began to wonder how secure Benzo's future was. Animals owned by single people often end up at the shelter when a new partner decides they aren't interested in the joys of pet ownership.

I wanted to find out where Bay stood. So I asked him. What if you met the perfect woman and she wanted you to get rid of Benzo? If she put down the ultimatum, the ultimate sacrifice if you will: "It's me or the dog."

Bay looked thoughtful for a moment, then came up with the perfect answer: "She wouldn't be the perfect girl then."

Good answer, Bay. I couldn't have said it better myself.

She's out there, and she's going to love Benzo.

Bay Renaud and Benzo share a tender man-and-his-dog moment.

I think all four paws are airborne in this one!

No comments: