A Brown Dog Vanishes

A drama has played itself out in our neighborhood over the last several weeks, after the appearance of a brown dog.

'Brown Dog', as we came to call her, appeared out of nowhere.  Most probably abandoned by her owner in our neighborhood.  She was larger than Momo, but not real big. A sort of medium sized dog.  Didn't fit the description of popular breeds.  "Just" a mutt.

For us, she entered out lives by wandering into our yard and approaching Momo.  Being much larger, she intimidated Momo who would yap and cry on her approach until we came outside to see what was the matter.  Upon seeing us, Momo would get courage and start barking in earnest as we chased "Brown Dog" away.

Even with our front accordion gate closed, Brown Dog would enter the yard through the one weak link in our perimeter - the west side of the property which is protected only by a camellia hedge.  So for many  a night I would have to get up and chase the intruder away. Finally, I bought some animal netting, stakes, and lock ties and sealed off the hedge with it - or so I thought.

For several days Brown Dog would find weaknesses in our defenses and I would have to go out - often at night - and reinforce the places she had found to slip through.

We felt sorry for Brown Dog.  She was not mean.  She would supplicate herself before Momo.  We were sure she was just looking for a place to sleep and a supply of food and water.   One night, when Momo was brought into the house to sleep in her cage because of cold/wet  weather, Brown Dog slept in Momo's house.  And on that and another occasion, she stole one of Momo's toys.  How sad.

It was not unlike the situation that brought Momo to us.  An apparently abandoned dog seeking food and shelter, Momo had found us, and we welcomed her - grudgingly  at first - into our fold.  We saved her, and in a major way, she saved us.  Now we cannot imagine life without her.

Brown Dog was a nuisance, but we empathized with her situation.  We wished that someone would step up and adopt her, as we had Momo.   We discussed taking her in ourselves, but we really couldn't handle a second dog, and to attempt it would have been unfair to her and especially to Momo.

The other option was to catch her and turn her over to the authorities.   In Japan, this is usually a death sentence, as such animals are only given a three day reprieve.  There are some "no-kill" shelters around the country run by NPOs, but mostly, a stray that is captured is put down within three days.  We could not be a party to that either.

The other day a cage appeared a street away.  It was from the "authorities".  On the cage was a sign which read (to the effect) "if you catch a stray animal and put it in this cage, the authorities will deal with it".   I told K that I would not be the one to sentence Brown Dog to death.  K was in total agreement.  One does what one can.  On the one hand we needed to protect Momo.  On the other we did not want to harm the poor abandoned dog which was, after all, only trying to survive after being abandoned by a thoughtless human being.  (Do we do much for homeless humans?  Why not?).

Last night, on their afternoon walk, K returned to say that the cage was gone.  It could only mean one thing.  Someone had put Brown Dog into the cage and she had been taken to "death row".

Today, for the first time in some weeks, there was no sign of Brown Dog.  No slipping through our hedge or nets.  No coming in the open front gate.  No shadowing Momo and I on our morning walk.   Brown Dog was gone.

We are saddened by this course of events.  Yes, I no longer have to wake at three in the morning to chase a dog out of our yard.  I no longer spend hours - sometimes in the rain - tying animal netting to a hedge.  But the certain death of that dog is not a fair trade in any sense of the word.  Nor does it bring me any ease of mind.

I was never angry with Brown Dog.  Anymore than I was angry at the sweet weed-covered puppy that appeared on our step in 2005 - Momo.   I am angry at the person who irresponsibly  let her into this world with no support.  Who abandoned her to die, or for others to take care of, or to execute.

Momo as she chose us in 2005

Humans pretend to care about animals - cats, dogs, horses, other pets; cute seal pups, polar bears, pandas, tigers, rhinos, and other cute or exotic species.   At the same time, in the USA alone, some 157 million "live stock" are slaughtered for food each year.  Something like 9 billion chickens, 260 million turkeys, 27 million ducks, and 6 million rabbits are likewise dispatched.  How different are these sentient beings from Brown Dog, or Momo?    Not very, I'd say.

So tonight I am thinking, once again, about Brown Dog.  An animal I have shouted at,  tossed sticks at to shoo away, and built fences against.  And I am sad.  I am thinking that there must be a better way.  Why can't humans be more responsible?  How is it that we claim the right to dominate the planet and all the creatures on it, yet don't show the least level of competence to properly, ethically, manage that which we claim as ours?  Especially when one realizes that a totally plant based diet is more healthy and there is no reason what so ever for the slaughter?

Ironically, eating animals leads to the most common causes of death among humans.  Nature is exacting its revenge with bacterial diseases, cancers, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

I am still puzzled by why it must be so.  Can't we learn?  Why cannot humans exercise reason and figure it all out?

The answer is with each of us.  And if Brown Dog's life and death helps to enlighten us, then we owe her a debt of gratitude.  Thank you Brown Dog.  And thank you Momo! 

May all beings be happy.
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All living beings, whether weak or strong,
in high or middle, or low realms of existence,
small or great, visible or invisible, near or far,
born or to be born.
May all beings be happy.

-A Buddhist Metta


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