The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘dogs’


My first experience as an “animal rights activist,” although there was no such term at the time, came several weeks into my sophomore year in high school.  It was biology class and Mr. Donovan told us that the following week we were going to do a frog dissection.  I remember hearing that announcement and feeling that I was going to vomit.  The thought of dissecting a frog or anything else did not sit well with me.

I had spent many summers in Shandaken, NY with my grandmother.  Most of that time was consumed by playing in the Esopus River.  And a fair amount of that time was trying to catch bull frogs who were more elusive than I would have thought and watching their tadpole offspring swim near the shore.  Although I caught any number of frogs I never brought them back to our cabin.  After all, to my way of thinking, they had their tadpole kids to take care of.

After Mr. Donovan dropped this bomb in class, I debated what to do.  I knew that what I was not going to do was the dissection.  But before I did anything, I wanted to discuss this matter with my folks.  That was the subject of that evening’s dinner.  My parents advised me to speak with Mr. Donovan and explain my feelings, which I did.

Mr. Donovan was an MIT grad and a wonderful teacher.  He was an extremely heavyset man who was able to perspire on the coldest winter day but that never impeded his sense of humor or his attitude that making his subject “fun” would enable his students to become more interested in it.  And he was kind enough to listen to me and to excuse me from this exercise with the proviso that he would assign me as a “lab partner” to one of the other students and I would have to observe their dissection.  That seemed a reasonable compromise and I accepted his offer with gratitude.

When I finished college, one day an envelope was in my mailbox from an organization called, NAVS – the National Anti-Vivisection Society.  I read with a mixture of interest and horror about the experiments that were routinely conducted on laboratory animals.  Typically mice, rats and rabbits were the subjects of a variety of experiments, all of which were justified in the name of science and improving the lives of humans by developing new drugs which could combat human disease.  After reading the NAVS letter, I decided to become a Life Member but had to set the letter aside long enough for me to save up the hundred dollars to join at that level.

One of the tests which was routinely used was known as the LD-50.  “LD” stood for Lethal Dose – and the 50 referred to the concentration of a specific drug which, when administered to the animal subjects, resulted in only fifty percent of the subjects dying from the dosage.  That impressed me as barbarism at its fundamental level – irrespective of the purported good which these experiments were supposedly going to bring to humanity.

Other tests, primarily conducted on rabbits, involved putting drops in their eyes which typically would cause blindness.  There was no greater reason for the administration of these drugs than the development of cosmetics.  Somehow, blinding hundreds of thousands of bunnies so that we could develop new eye liners or blush was construed by those in the vanity business of cosmetics as sufficient justification for these acts of torture.  Thinking about this made me nauseous.

One of the basic premises of animal experimentation by researchers is that there is a trans-special relevance to the results that are obtained.  In other words, if there is “X” effect in rabbits there will be “X” effect in humans.  One of the drugs that was deemed safe was Thalidomide – manufactured by a West German pharmaceutical company.  It was extensively tested on rabbits and since it was virtually impossible to obtain the LD-50 level, it was deemed safe for humans.  Typically, it was prescribed for pregnant women to reduce the effects of morning sickness and as a mild sedative.

Thalidomide has since been described as “the worst disaster in pharmaceutical research.”  More than 10,000 children worldwide were born with serious birth defects including missing limbs as a result of their mothers’ taking this “safe” drug.  That was back in the late ‘50’s and early 60’s.  Subsequently, the FDA pulled its approval of the drug for use by pregnant women.

Thanks to high schools and medical schools there is a market for animal specimens.  For a mere $140 you can buy a preserved dog from Carolina Biological Supply Company (shipping included).  Presumably this will benefit those who go into veterinary medicine.  Notwithstanding, the photo below from the company’s list of products is disturbing to me.  In fact it makes my high school experience with frog dissection pale in comparison.


That there is a huge market for animal subjects for research is an undeniable fact.  And with the recent exposure of two separate Planned Parenthood’s doctors discussing how much it would cost for human fetal organs – well, should we be surprised?  But what should amaze is that when Hollywooders like Brad Pitt come out opposing the horrible conditions under which factory farm laying hens are kept they haven’t said a peep about PPF’s sale of human tissue.  And the silence is similarly deafening by those on the left who have no use whatever for business executives who make beaucoup bucks, hundreds or thousands of times the amount that the average Jane makes working for the same operation.

Enter Cecile Richards, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.  Up until a few days ago you might not have heard of her.  But she has made the news by responding to the two videos of the undercover interviews with two of her staff doctors.  In essence, Ms. Richards claimed in response to the first video, that the fees for human body parts which Dr. Deborah Nucatola was discussing were merely “reimbursements” for the cost of shipping those specimens.  The second video suggests that narrative may lack some credibility.

What has yet to be brought up is that Ms. Richards received compensation for Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ending June, 2013 in the amount of $523,616 according to IRS Form 990 which this “Not For Profit” organization filed.  So much for the glass ceiling to which American women are subjected.  And the year before, Ms. Richards earned $583,323.  Why the pay reduction?  That’s because Ms. Richards took time off from her duties at PP to campaign for President Obama’s re-election.

During the latter fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed 333,369 reported abortions as part of their service to their female clients.  That represents nearly thirty percent  of all abortions performed in the United States.  Or to put it another way, each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood resulted in $1.57 per head (yes, I used that term purposely) in the way of compensation to Ms. Richards.

When I was a kid I often heard that if you were to take a fully grown human and reduce that person’s body to the base elements and chemicals of which it was composed, the value of those would amount to $.98.  So I guess that if you take an unborn 18 or 20 week old baby and slice and dice it up for a couple of hundred dollars – well I guess we’ll just attribute that to inflation – and lack of conscience.


The Las Vegas Valley Water District has a motto, designed to remind us that each of us has the responsibility to conserve water.  “It’s A Desert Out There.”  The casual visitor to Las Vegas, had he been here last week, might have shaken his head incredulously at that slogan as we had a three day substantial rainfall.  It reminded me of being back in Chicago.

The rain continued for long periods of time throughout the day, would pause for perhaps ten minutes and then resume.  Because of the precipitation and the ominous and gloomy clouds which brought it, I decided to skip Gracie’s normal evening sojourn to the Dog Park and walk her through the neighborhood instead.  At least we could scurry home quickly should the downpour resume.

While Gracie is one quarter Golden Retriever, apparently the gene that accompanies fondness for water is missing from her DNA.  True, she does love to hit the fountain of the lawn sprinklers for a refreshing drink, but the stuff that falls from the skies doesn’t, in her estimation, have the same appeal.  Perhaps that is because the lawn sprinklers are a regular and predictable phenomenon – and rain is such a sporadic event.

In any case, we were meandering around the block and I happened to notice that, without exception, every home had a door mat at the front door.  And interestingly, most of those doormats had the word “Welcome” on them.  Gracie and I are the exception.  Our doormat says, “Please Wipe Your Paws.”  But for some reason, looking at these doormats caused me to think about both the issue of immigration and the allegations of police oppression which have become so rampant in some sectors of the media.

The United States accepts over a million people a year who want to immigrate to the country – more people than the rest of the countries of the world combined.  The process of gaining legal status here is onerous and rather Byzantine – but apparently enough people worldwide are willing to endure both the wait and the process to ensure that a continuous stream of newcomers arrives on American shores every year.

These people have a somewhat different view of life in America than some of us who are here legally by reason of birth.  I mean, who in his right mind would want to go to the trouble and expense of moving to a country where there was a high probability that when he got there he would be “oppressed” by those in law enforcement?  Basic logic would suggest that would be a place to avoid rather than one to which a person would seek admittance.

Now just because a person has a good heart and is welcoming to friends and guests, it does not follow that his kindliness would extend to everyone who presented himself at his door.  Most of us would probably call 911 if we saw a hooded man, brandishing a gun, rather than welcoming that person in for tea.  And while most of us who are here as a result of immigration reflect on our own and our forebears’ experience in coming to America and want to extend that same courtesy to others who are similarly motivated, that does not imply that we want to do so in an indiscriminate manner and open the door to anyone who presents himself.

If we look at the historical waves of immigration that occurred in America, we need to put in perspective that while we gratefully welcomed low wage people in the first and early part of the country’s second century, that in large measure reflected that the country and its infrastructure were under construction and needed those workers to build railroads and dig ditches for sewers.  Their arrival did not displace workers who were already here.  But the infrastructure, notwithstanding its deteriorating condition, and the railroads have been built.  No such need exists today.

Our manufacturing sector has greatly diminished and Wall St. no longer waits with baited breath to hear the U. S. Steel quarterly report as it did in the 1950’s.  Rather, the financial markets are moved by whether or not Google or Apple made their number for the most recent three month period.  Of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , only nine are purely involved in manufacturing and of those, two manufacture drugs.  The other twenty-one companies are primarily involved in providing services.

The problem with a stagnant, albeit slightly improving economy, is that those Americans who are at the bottom of the economic barrel face increased competition from illegal aliens (or if you prefer “undocumented people”) and nowhere is this more evident than within the inner city communities predominantly occupied by blacks.  That, at least in part, explains why the rate of unemployment among blacks consistently runs twice the “official” rate of unemployment – and among young black men runs twice that, nearing twenty-five percent.

If we truly want to face the issue of why there is unrest and despondency among certain groups of our population, racism is a convenient but dishonest explanation.  Let’s face it – the automobile dealer who is selling Ferraris doesn’t really care about the race of the person who buys his vehicle – and cares even less how that person obtained the cash to close the deal.  It isn’t a matter of race – rather it’s a matter of economics.  And the economic outlook for those in our inner cities is very bleak.

Riots and lootings solve nothing but in fact create additional problems for the business owners who are directly affected and potentially can lead to the arrest and incarceration of those who participate.  In truth, some of those who participate are simply out for ill-gotten gain – and any excuse will do to set them and their malicious intentions in motion.  Others probably have a sense of their own helplessness but see no path to extricate themselves from it.  And then there are some ideologues who believe that America is the most racist, despicable country in the world.

To those in the third category, remember that once there was a Berlin Wall – designed to keep the citizens of East Berlin from making their way to freedom.  America has no such barrier in place to prevent any willing person from leaving.  And there are countries which apparently are willing to give anyone, irrespective of background, an opportunity to start over.

The recent committal of five more Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay suggests that country might provide a more nurturing venue for them to spend the remainder of their lives.  And given the generous way in which our federal government spends taxpayer dollars, there’s probably a program in place to help facilitate their change of address.  Take advantage of the opportunity – please.

Via con Dios.


Let me begin by saying that I have far more confidence in our canine population than I have for any politician whom I have ever met whether in person or via the media.  Dogs are honest.

My Grandmother shared a bit of her old wives’ wisdom with me at an early and impressionable age.  Perhaps because I viewed her as a guiding light of both principle and common sense, I took her message to heart.

“Never trust people who don’t like dogs; and never trust people whom dogs don’t like.”

By and large, I put the most faith in the second part of that statement.  I realize there are some people who might have had a bad experience with a dog as a child and who have developed canine phobia as a result.  I can understand the reason for their fear.

But I have never seen my companion dogs’ instincts about people be wrong – and I’ve lived with some of the most docile breeds of dogs throughout my entire life.

Because it is the nature of our best friends to be gentle and loving, my dogs, if they didn’t care for someone, didn’t exhibit their dislike by snarling or attempting to attack the person.  They simply wandered off to avoid his or her company.  That was a clear sign that they sensed something that I couldn’t see about that individual.  Inevitably, they were correct in their assessment.

Now you might consider this all the mistaken ramblings of a dog lover – I admit to being that.  But consider how science has shown that the mere act of petting a dog helps with human health, lowering blood pressure and restoring a sense of well-being and an increase in endorphin levels.

And then there is the issue of how dogs provide us with greater personal security.

Over the years I have known many active and retired policemen and policewomen.  Everyone of them says, “Forget your burglar alarms.  Nobody listens to them and by the time we get the report, it’s too late because the crime has already been committed and the intruder has long before gotten out.  Get a dog.  Whether it is big or small, the mere sound of a dog barking inside your house will deter 95% of the burglars from breaking in.”

If my police acquaintances are correct, that’s a pretty impressive record of deterrence that our canine friends have compiled.

There are a lot of us who think that in our excuse-based America, where everyone is a potential victim and the plaintiff in yet another frivolous law suit, the eyes of justice are not only blind but stupid.  I put myself firmly in that camp.

It is not hard for me to imagine a scenario in which a burglar enters a home and the family dog attacks this intruder.  Of course, the intruder, suffering a few superficial bites, becomes the victim and the dog and his owner become the assailants.  Naturally, there is a waiting band of trial lawyers who are drooling to take the “victim’s” case.

If you think that this is hypothetical nonsense, please click on the link below to read a recent example of one woman’s plight in Toledo, Ohio after her dog bit an “alleged” intruder.  (N. B.  The dog has already been “convicted” of biting while the intruder enjoys his status as an “alleged” intruder).

If you read the story, perhaps you will agree with my sentiment, “Good for Duke”!  He did his job and he did it well and I hope that blind justice will prevail in his favor and in his owner’s.

As we embark on our emotion-laden discussion over guns and the rights of people to protect themselves from those in our society who are violent, I wonder if the next item on the agenda, as we attempt to disarm ourselves and make the world a safer place for the criminal element, will be a conversation about whether we have the right to share our lives with dogs.

Congress and the President better watch out.  If you think you’ve seen an emotional response over the tragedy at Newtown, CT, I’m here to advise you – don’t even think about tampering with our rights to have companion dogs in our lives.  We might be disarmed – but we’re 120,000,000 strong – and we could be dangerous to your health – and political futures.


During the Middle Ages there was a king in central Europe who wanted to educate the people of his realm. He heard of a renowned scholar and hoped this man would share his wisdom with the king’s subjects. So he sent forth emissaries to find the scholar and invite him to be the tutor for the kingdom.

The scholar came and met with the king who told him of his plan. He accepted the king’s invitation to teach his people all that he knew. The king was delighted that he was fulfilling the mission he had set for himself.

A number of years passed.

One day the scholar sought an audience with the king who granted his request. At the audience the scholar said, “Your majesty. I have been with you and your people for quite a few years. I have taught you all that I know. It is now time for me to leave and share my knowledge with other people.”

The king was sad to see the scholar depart but he understood that the scholar was doing what he believed to be the right thing.

He said to the scholar, “While we are sorry to lose you we respect your decision. But before you depart, we must have a feast in your honor – for all that you have done for me and for my people.”

The scholar agreed to remain until the feast.

The king ordered that a large wooden structure be erected – sufficient in size to accommodate both the nobility as well as the commoners who had been educated by the scholar. It was a very large building – rather barn-like – with no doors on either side in order to allow easy access to the many guests who were invited to attend the festivities.

The king ordered that a large and fine variety of foods be served at the evening banquet. The fare was exceptional. The king seated the scholar at his right hand at the table of honor.

As the meal concluded, a small bird flew in from one end of the open structure, spent a few seconds flying around the candles at the king’s table, and departed through the other end of the building as quickly as she had entered.

The king took this to be a sign of some sort. He asked the scholar to explain it’s meaning.

The scholar responded, “My Lord – this is the story of life. Abruptly we emerge from the darkness, we spend a brief moment in the light and just as rapidly as we entered, we return to the darkness.”

Today my beloved companion – my Golden Retriever, Spenser left the light. Those of you who have loved companion animals and have lost them will understand the grief and my deep sense of loss.

During our years together, Spenser was my “scholar”. He taught me that extending selfless acts of love is the way in which we should live our lives. He never asked for much yet he always offered everything he had to give.

Would that we would only learn those lessons.

Perhaps that’s what the scholar taught the people in the great king’s realm.

This is a reblog of a post published about a year ago.  Gracie and I lost Spenser on 11/29/11 and I wanted to offer him a tribute but it was too difficult for me to do on the anniversary of his passing.

He was a devoted companion and a wonderful friend – and Spenser, Gracie and I love you and still miss you.


I decided to take a few weeks off from blogging.  There was simply too much noise in the ether – and there still is.  But I think the ultimate catalyst was an anonymous email I received.  The title was “Get 3500 channels of TV – FOR FREE!”

I have to be honest and tell my dear readers that I didn’t open it – although I stared at the message for about five minutes before hitting the delete key.

As I looked at the title of this unsolicited missive strange and bizarre thoughts began ruminating.  I began counting up the number of subjects with which I was familiar and the smaller number in which I had an interest.  I don’t think I made it very far past 30 when I was running out of ammo.

I mean has someone invented a television channel devoted to discussions of gall stones; or one that extolls the virtues of exemplary professional athletes; or is there now a chess channel?  I imagine that if these exist, there is a great deal of time that can be devoted to commercials – with which I am already overwhelmed.

Fortunately, for most of this time, I have been enjoying Gracie’s and the three golden retrievers’ company which has enabled me to maintain some sense of semblance and sanity.  But it was because of them that I am writing this post (and another ten or so to follow which I have been mulling around during my blogging absence).

The five of us were at the dog park a few mornings ago when we ran into our friends who gather in the wee hours, just after the park opens at six o’clock a.m.  After the kids took care of business, we merged into the gathering when I realized that the conversation had turned to a discussion of various ways that we could receive our television broadcasts.

One of the members of the group turned to me and asked, “Who do you use for your television service?”  I responded, “Right now I have Cox Cable – but I’m thinking about cancelling it after the election.”

“Oh, are you going to go with DISH Network?”

“No, actually, I’m seriously thinking about cancelling it and not replacing it with anything.”

Despite the fact that the park has grass, the lull that came over every member of the group was so profound that you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.  I have never seen a group of people who were so dumbstruck.  Apparently they felt that anyone who chose not to spend their life watching television was at worst a cretin and at best mentally impaired.  Because they are, by and large, a charitable group of people, I think they gave me the benefit of the doubt and put me in the second category.

I hope that none of my readers is too aghast at the concept that there is life beyond television.  Sure there are a few things I might miss – but I suspect I will have more time to discover new and far more valuable ones.  Books, music, nature and all sorts of other wonders in our wondrous world.

In the meanwhile I’ll just enjoy the tripe that bombards all of us (with special emphasis on the political ads).  That should keep my blood pressure at fever pitch and my dopamine levels at record lows.

Go ahead, call me crazy.  I know my friends at the park are thinking that anyway – and I kind of like the appellation.  But remember, “Just because you’re crazy doesn’t mean that you have to be stupid.”


After losing my Irish Setter, Finney there was a definite emptiness in the apartment.  Acting as his seeing-eye person for over fifteen years had probably brought us even closer than the typical relationship between a loving companion person and their canine best friend.

A period of time went by when I debated whether it would be disloyal to Finney’s memory to consider finding another companion.  But after a few months I realized that he devoted his life to making me happy and I was sure that he would approve of my finding another friend.

I was able to find an Irish Setter breeder about forty miles from Chicago in a northwest suburb.  I called to inquire if she had any puppies that were for sale to a good home.  The breeder, Irene met my inquiry with a series of questions to determine whether I would be a fit companion for one of her dogs.

I could tell that she wasn’t impressed with my being a single person, living in an apartment, working long hours and attempting to raise a puppy.  But I explained that I had lost my blind Irish Setter and had been his seeing-eye person for 15 years and that seemed to thaw some of the iciness in her tone.  She agreed to meet me – to evaluate whether I was a worthy candidate.

After an hour interview with Irene she suggested that she had a puppy who was seven months old and it would probably be better for both of us to take a dog who was a little older than an eight or ten week old.  I agreed.  So she sold Tristan to me, but she had a lot of stipulations.

I was required, under the terms of the sale, to call her every day for the first two weeks Tristan and I were together to give her a progress report.  The next two weeks I had to call her at least three times a week for the same purpose.  After that I had to call her at least weekly for the next two months.  If I failed to make those calls, she had the right to “repossess” Tristan.

I thought this was a little bit much but at the same time I appreciated how concerned she was about the people who would be companions to her dogs.  And as it turned out, calling Irene became less of an obligation than an opportunity to speak with a new friend.  In fact, we became extremely good friends and she came to dinner several times.  I think she enjoyed seeing Tristan more than my cooking.

Tristan was your typical goofy Irish Setter – but more so.  If you’ve heard that Irish Setters are stubborn – you’ve heard correctly.  Tristan would always do what I asked of him – if he had a mind to do so.  If not, he would look at me with his beautiful mahogany face and beam an expression that I translated as “In your dreams.”  But like all the Irish Setters I had known he loved people – he loved everybody.  He lived to love people.

When he was three years old I had come home late from the office – but knowing I would be home late I had come home during lunch to take him for a midday walk.  I quickly prepared his dinner and then we went out for our usual mile long walk.  It was a crisp fall evening and we both felt invigorated by the gusting wind and the cool temperature.  As we were returning on the loop home, a man came up to us.  I sensed a threat in his body language as he approached us on a not particularly well-lit side street.

I thought about crossing the street simply to avoid a possible incident but as I started to take Tristan across the street, he rushed up to us, brandishing a large hunting knife.  He demanded my money and watch.

Having been through a mugging once, I wasn’t about to put up any resistance.  But as I reached for my wallet, Tristan pulled free of my hand and attacked the man’s left leg – viciously.  The assailant dropped the knife in the bushes and tried to kick at Tristan to free him from his leg.  I could see that Tristan had ripped the man’s pants and later, when we got home, I saw blood on his muzzle.  He had done some damage while protecting me.

I started to yell for help and at the same time tried to pull Tristan away so that the man wouldn’t be able to harm him.  I finally got him to release his grip on the man’s leg and my assailant, deciding that he had met his match, started running – or more exactly – limping away from us.  Tristan and I made our way home and I called the police to report the incident.

When the police arrived to take my report their first comment was that I would have to have Tristan impounded for observation for a two week period.  This was the ordinance regarding dogs who bit humans.  Obviously, I thought that this was ludicrous.  Tristan wouldn’t have bitten anyone if I hadn’t been assailed by a thug.

The good news was that I could keep him at my vet’s for observation.  Since I had a great relationship with the two vets who owned the practice, I knew that I could keep him at home and have them sign off on his quarantine after the appropriate time passed.

Well, the police never apprehended my potential assailant.  And Tristan came through his “quarantine” with flying colors.  I did have him examined as I was concerned he might have caught something from the man who tried to attack us.

Several weeks later I ran into a member of the church choir that I had directed several years earlier.  Isobella was a Hispanic lady whose family came from Guatemala.  She worked in the medical industry and enjoyed the usual socially liberal mindset with which most in my neighborhood felt comfortable.  I hadn’t seen her for quite a few months – and as it happened – this incident happened just a few doors from her apartment.

After describing the incident, Isobella looked at me and asked, “So when are you going to have your dog put to sleep?”

Naturally, this question not only disturbed me because I wondered about the state of my friend’s sanity, but it also ticked me off.  How had Isobella come to the idea that this loving animal should be destroyed for doing his job and saving me from what could have become a nasty incident.  So I asked her to explain that statement.

She said, “Well, think about it.  If you had been attacked and even stabbed, you have medical insurance.  You could have gotten treatment.  But the guy who was going to attack you is probably poor, most likely does not have insurance and will probably go through the rest of his life with a bad leg.”

I know that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that my Chicago neighborhood was in the Illinois State Senate district that gave President Obama his political start.  I can also say with one hundred percent certainty that Isobella would have cast her vote for him, not only for the Illinois Senate but subsequently.

If there is anyone out there who wonders why this President is presiding over the worst economy since the Great Depression I would refer you back to Isobella’s thought process.  People with her mindset are responsible for putting him in the White House.

As for me and my more rational readers, I would suggest that we might all be better off if we franchised the canine vote.  At least they have a realistic way of looking at how the world really works.


Once again Gracie and I get to enjoy the company of the three goldens – this time for two weeks.  I picked them up on Sunday evening.  Their companion person, Barry has gone out of town, attending a family reunion and spending some time with his brother and his family.

Barry asked if I would be able to drop him off at the airport this morning and that worked out fine with my schedule.  We agreed on a time and as I set out for his house a little early I decided to stop to get some gasoline.

As I was filling the tank my phone rang.  It was Barry.  He was running late and asked me to give him an extra twenty to thirty minutes.  At that point I was only about ten minutes away.  So I decided to stop at Pet Smart which was on the way and pick up some additional treats for all four of the puppies.

I know the store quite well so I went directly to the treats aisle and got in line with my two items.  A lady whom I thought might be a few years older than I was returning some canned cat food which apparently her cat didn’t like and had substituted different cans of cat food in their place.  Because all of the 10 cans were different flavors, the return for each one had to be rung up separately.

(If you ever want to kill an extra fifteen minutes, follow me to the check out line.  I guarantee you that someone ahead of us will have a complicated problem).

As I was waiting to pay for my purchases, a man in a motorized wheelchair came into the store with his service dog.  She appeared to me to be a Labrador mixture and was wearing boots on all four paws to protect her from the heat of the concrete pavement.  The man appeared to be in his mid to late thirties and had lost his right arm above the elbow.

He powered his chair and his dog to the other cashier’s station and when she looked at him he asked, “Could you please tell me how much it would cost to give my dog a bath?”  The cashier who must be new since I am in the store frequently and didn’t recognize her said, “You have to ask the people in grooming,” and she pointed to the window just behind the checkout lines where the grooming department operated.  The man thanked her and started for the door that opened into the world of dog bathing and clipping.

I realized that with only his left hand which he used to operate his chair, he was going to have some difficulty opening the door and navigating both himself and his dog through it.  So I stepped out of line and offered to hold the door for him which he appreciated.

When I got back to my place a few seconds later, I noticed that the cashier who had directed him to the grooming department was going on break because she had turned off her light and was leaving her register.

The lady ahead of me still had a few cans to get refunded.   She turned to me and said, “That was very nice of you to help that man.  People don’t seem to be very thoughtful of others anymore.”  I thanked her and just said, “It’s really nothing special.  It’s just the way that I was raised.”

But I went on and said, “You know both my parents were in businesses where providing excellent customer service was important– and that is how I spent most of my working life as well.”

“If I were the cashier whom the man asked for help, seeing his condition and realizing that there were several groomers who were available to assist him, I would have picked up the telephone by my register and asked one of them to come out to help him, rather than make him navigate through a narrow doorway in  a wheelchair.”

I said that for two reasons.  First, that is what I would have done if I were that cashier.  Second, I hoped that my cashier would pick up on the idea should a similar situation ever occur to her – or perhaps she might mention the comment to her co-worker.

The lady completed her transaction and I mine and I headed over to Barry’s.  Traffic was light and despite our delay in starting out he had more than enough time to catch his plane.

When I got home, Gracie and the three goldens were, as is inevitably the case, at the door to greet me.  You would have thought that I had left them for two weeks rather than little more than an hour.  Barking and jumping and tail-wagging and face-licking were the order of the moment.  And I thought about the lady’s comment at the store.  “People don’t seem to be very thoughtful of others anymore.”  Sadly, I have to agree with her.

I guess that’s why I’ve always surrounded myself with those who truly are my best friends – my dogs.  We could learn a lot about the way we should treat each other from the way that they treat us.


I didn’t enjoy putting up the original post,

because stories about animal abuse truly disturb me – almost more than anything else.  But I am pleased that this sordid story has a happy ending.

Apparently the people on whose ranch the victim named, Hope was found have agreed to adopt the young dog and provide her with love and a good home.

The terrorist who abused her is still free.


I realize that when most of us hear the words terrorist or terrorism we think about how some humans inflict injury on other humans.  Terrorism is intended to cause chaos because its targets are random and may include any one of us if we happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong moment in time.

Terrorists are bullies.  They consider themselves strong and prey upon those whom they consider weak.   It is the reason that children who suffer from physical or learning defects are four times more likely to experience being beaten or become the victims of sexual abuse than their “normal” counterparts.

Terrorism is the reason that the elderly and infirm are so often victimized.  Terrorism is the reason that animals are abused – and in their cases, the terrorist generally gets a slap on the wrist rather than a meaningful sentence.

The following story from Yahoo news is about the abuse one dog in Texas recently suffered.  It is disturbing on several levels.  The first is that there is someone out there who is so inhumane not only to conceive of this treatment but to execute it.  The second, in my opinion, is that this person is as likely to act in the same way toward any of his or her fellow men and women.

If we trivialize life in any form we trivialize our world and our own existence.

Apparently this story has gotten a great deal of attention and if you click on the link you might find that it is “currently unavailable.”  I apologize and ask that if you want to read the details and see a very disturbing video you try at a later time.

Below is an alternate link which shows the condition of this poor dog when she was rescued:


Chicago has a number of outstanding parks which provide a welcome breath of openness to the vertical sprawl of the city.  I was fortunate that I lived across the street from one of those, Jackson Park.

The park ran through a good portion of the southeast side of the city and incorporated the last remaining building from the Columbian Exposition, now re-named the Museum of Science and Industry.  It was the usual place that I took my dogs for their daily walks.

Because the park extended to Lake Michigan it was a popular venue for people to come and enjoy their weekends.  Picnickers appreciated the cool breezes during the summer and the well-maintained lawns that the Chicago Park District kept up with great diligence.

It was always difficult for me as a resident during the summers trying to find a parking space because of the inflow of people who came to the park.  But I learned to deal with it.  After all, these were public parks and I understood that we needed to make accommodation for all who wanted to enjoy them.

Some of those who visited on the weekend found their own solution to the parking issue.  They simply pulled their vehicles onto the lawn of the parks and left them there while they picnicked.  The fact that the city had installed “handicapped sidewalks” made access very easy as there were no curbs to surmount.  Of course, the city also posted signs that said, “No vehicles are permitted on park grounds,” but those went ignored.

Having your car directly by your picnic area was helpful in two ways.  It made it easy to unload the food the visitors had brought with them.  And for those who didn’t own a boom box they could simply crank up their car radio for their listening pleasure.  Generally the boom boxes blaring their “Gangsta rap” drowned out the relatively puny car radios.  The weekends always provided the visitors an opportunity to engage in a battle of “dueling cacophonies.”

The city had placed a large number of trash cans throughout the park, none of them more than perhaps twenty feet away from anyone enjoying a summer’s al fresco dining experience.  They largely went unused.  When I would take my dogs for their Sunday morning walk before church I had to watch carefully because of the debris that was left behind, littering the entire park within a few feet of the empty garbage cans.

On these walks I always saw a  few people carrying large plastic bags and wearing gloves, despite the heat.  They would sift through the trash laying on the ground in search of the valuable aluminum beer and soda cans which were the treasure they sought.

In searching the picnickers’ refuse they tended to spread it out even further through the park.  I had to be extremely watchful that neither of the dogs picked up any of the bones that lay all around.

The trash pickers returned early Monday, before the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation and employees of the Parks Department came through and cleaned up the mess that had been created over the previous two days.  By Monday evening the park was once again immaculate – ready for the next weekend’s assault.

After seeing the same scenario repeat itself summer’s weekend after summer’s weekend over many years my sense of anger about this callous behavior slowly faded away into acceptance that it was going to happen.  The picnickers never disappointed me.

I guess it’s old-fashioned but  I was taught to respect other people and their property – and the parks were the property of all of us who lived in Chicago.  We had laws prohibiting parking in the parks; the City had done its job in providing receptacles for trash; and there was a curfew in the parks which generally was ignored by at least several hours – sometimes until the early morning.

If each of us took personal responsibility for our actions and thought about their implications on others, we wouldn’t need most of the rules and regulations we carry on our law books.  I’ve said before that it’s impossible to legislate morality – or even acceptable behavior.  I learned good behavior from my family, not a book of statutes.

It was the luck of the draw – but I guess I was fortunate.  Apparently many others didn’t fare so well.  Perhaps they had a different game plan handed to them at birth and through their upbringing.  Maybe they think that their mission in life is to turn all the beautiful spots on earth into a garbage dump.

They seem to be well on their way to accomplishing their goal.


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