Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Dog Catcher
There is a little black, furry cur that hangs out on the pavement near to my office; I pass him on the way to work, most mornings he’s lying on his side in the shade of the tree. He is a scrofulous, scabby sort, but something about him, makes me pause for a second look. On the occasions when his eyes are not tightly shut against the intrusion of morning, the look he gives me makes me want to sweep him up and hide him from the danger that lurks. He was a member of a larger pack of abandoned dogs that congregated on the front of the library building but now, he is all alone, the others are gone.
It happened a couple of weeks ago. Late one evening, after the streets had grown quiet, after the hectic rush of traffic had gone and all that was left were the few stragglers, making their way in the twilight. That evening I was without my parking lot comrade, the pair of us usually left behind after most of the rest of the office has gone for the day would make the trek to the silent, forbidding car park together. He had stayed behind to finish something and I was too hungry to wait for him. In the half light, the streets were eerie, like something in a movie or reminiscent of something you read.
A clanking, grinding noise heralded the arrival of the pickup dragging behind it, a cart, covered in BRC wire. There coming slowly up the street, the City Dog Catcher on the prowl; it was a Dickensian moment, the poor benighted souls trapped within the confines of the cage being carted off to the workhouse. Except, in this case, it was the furry denizens abandoned by their humans who were encaged. Strangely, they suffered their fate in silence, nary a bark nor even whimper from any of them as though all resigned to their sinister fate. We know there is no animal rehabilitation in Trinidad. It froze my soul, as many pairs of eyes stared at me, not accusingly but with a wary look that said, could you have been my master. The pack that for weeks had greeted my passing them by with varying degrees of tail wagging or hopeful looks that said, “do you have any food”. Who banded together and would be seen grooming each other, sleeping in a heap, or just hanging out, like men in a rum shop.
Their grubby countenances, these orphans, several with matted fur, maybe never knowing the reassuring touch or affection of a human, and their eyes, sadness, resignation, incomprehension. In those moments as the vessel of doom drove past, I thought of my pampered pooch, who at that moment was probably lying happily on the bed, waiting patiently for me to come home, to go walkies, maybe toss around his ball. His body, a transport of joy at the sound of the key in the lock; for these poor characters it was the end of the road. In my guilt that I could not offer any consolation, I scurried across the road, but there was no escape, there it came clanking past again. Sitting calmly on the floor, a little fluffy character, his fur stained grey from lack of care, the kind of dog you see in the homes of the wealthy and yet, he had become a street dog, A victim of circumstance. I confess, things were different, they would have been a different result, but I've learnt the hard way, I cannot save everybody.
In the long traffic ridden drive home, there was much time for introspection. The image of those dogs stayed with me a long time, yet another example of the randomness of life. How easily we could slip from one position to another.