You think dogs will not be in heaven?
I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.
—Robert Louis Stevenson
I can’t come to the phone right now.
The answering machine, after all these years, still has its pros and cons. While some have come to prefer the silent convenience of checking their Caller ID, others are often happy to hear an old, familiar voice and a friendly message at the holidays, on birthdays or for no reason at all. On the flip side, there are days when, after listening to a few annoying messages, I could do a good impersonation of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and rip the phone right off the wall.
Then there is the ultimate insult: numerous unanswered messages, otherwise known as the “blowie.” I do believe that there are a handful of circumstances when the “blowie” might possibly even be reasonable: to buy a little extra time from a bill collector, to flat out ignore solicitations or to send a message, once and for all, that the calls are not wanted and won’t be returned.
Over the last few days, however, I have been baffled by a “blowie” that defies categorization—unanswered urgent messages. In the hours before 80 mph winds, torrential rain and flash flooding swept through our area, I spotted a little dog with no collar, wandering aimlessly at a busy intersection. Despite horn-blowing and rude gestures from other drivers not pleased with my rescue efforts, the tiny, playful terrier came willingly after I did my best begging. We drove to the animal hospital, which was closed, then to the police station. I was certain the phone would be ringing off the hook at either place once the owners knew this cutie was on the loose in a storm that ravaged several counties. As I write, it has been five days and numerous unanswered messages to the dog’s owner.
Apparently, you are allowed to neglect a dog for a period of seven days before any action can be taken, as a person might have a legitimate reason, such as being hospitalized, for not acting swiftly. Clearly, this does not compare to the oil crisis in the gulf, foreclosed homes or the death toll in Iraq. However, as my blood pressure escalates daily over the utter abandonment of a helpless dog I now call “Lucky,” I am convinced that there is a subtle common denominator among all these issues. I rest my case on the words of Immanuel Kant, an influential scholar, philosopher and author on matters of religion, law, history and reason, who wrote: We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
Ours is a world full of technological marvels, academic achievements and political prowess, yet the hearts of too many can be safely considered purely self-serving. In the end, there isn’t all that wide of a gap between people who unconscionably leave a dog to languish and those who can sleep soundly while the ocean fills with hundreds of thousands of barrels of uncapped oil. I posted Lucky’s picture on Facebook and it was encouraging, to say the least, to see the many posts from people with big hearts. They don’t even know Lucky and I may not be able to keep him but as Kipling wrote of his pet, somehow “he will be our friend for always and always and always.”