One of the things that I asked for, in prayer, before my trip to Mexico, was to feel at peace about the animals there. When we went to Costa Rica a few years ago, there were so many straggly and skinny dogs and cats around, that the only way I could mentally feel at all at ease was to buy small bags of dog food and carry it with me, so I could at least give the hungry animal a meal. This time, we arrived at our beach house late at night and I heard dogs nearby.
The next morning I was walking past the home on our left and saw 3 well-cared for dogs (all were mixed breeds and seemed like they had pit bull in them). Our neighbors introduced themselves and I discovered that they were animal lovers and did a lot of work locally, and back in the states, to help animals in need. They also told me about a lot of good work that was being done by others in the area to get medical care, spay/neutering programs in place. I knew that they were a part of my answered prayer.
It was also interesting to me that my perspective had changed somewhat, thanks to the writing of Jon Katz. Even though a lot of the animals were very thin (by my standards) as I tried to observe them (without judgement), I saw something that I hadn’t seen before; many of them seemed happier, on their daily missions to get food and attention, than I remembered. In the past, I just wanted to scoop up every uncared for animal, take them home, feed them and keep them “safe”. I didn’t really look at them as whole beings, I saw them through the filter of a negative label; “abandoned animal that needed/wanted my help”. As I became more observant on this trip, I could see that this, in many cases, was not the truth.
Many years ago, I worked for a community of monks (who also raised dogs) and often phone calls would come in from desperate dog owners saying that the dogs were unruly or tearing up the apartment. When the full story came out, it was clear that these dogs were just bored to distraction from living in “our world”…a cushy apartment in New York City might seem like heaven to us, but to an active dog, it can be a lonely and difficult existence.
I still love supporting shelters and feeding hungry animals, but my eyes were opened to seeing in a more expansive way on this trip. Thank you Jon.
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. Dalai Lama