In a split second I knew finding the dog was more important than exercise so I drove around the block uncertain how I would coax it to me and into my car but determined to try.
Nearing a complete loop of the block, I discovered I was not the only one. There on the sidewalk sat the man in the SUV, Steve a Vanderbilt resident new to Nashville and just off from work, realized the dog was alarmed. Rather than force himself on the dog, he sat down on the sidewalk and the dog came to him.
Just as I got out my phone, up walked a young woman from across the street. Lupine, a shelter dog, had lived with her for two weeks. She thought his owner had died. Unaccustomed to being outside, he had gotten out an gate left accidentally open moments prior.
Lupine returned home as Steve and I talked about dogs and the students in his prior town who would leave on fall or spring break and abandon their pets in neighborhoods hoping they'd be taken in as well as the earlier rescue of over 100 puppy mill dogs not far from Nashville.
I eventually made it to my work out having worked out my attitude gifted by this little chain of interactions starting with the girl I'll never know who initially found Lupine at the stop light and continuing through Steve, me and Lupine's new owner. I feel for this dog adjusting to new life without his former owner.
I flashed on another dog encounter a mile down the street when a neighbor strolling her son came upon Foxy darting in and out of traffic as drivers yet again seemingly oblivious passed. My neighbor got Foxy and was strolling her son home while calling the owners when Foxy ran into our backyard. I happened to hear my neighbor outside talking to someone so I stepped out. I stepped out as Foxy in just a few seconds walked up the steps into my house. Having been stuck writing, I welcomed the diversion, quickly shut two doors to keep the cats away and sat on the floor as Foxy first nuzzled her face under my arm then lay down exposing her belly so I could pet her.
That day I was reminded of how blessed I am to have neighbors who are kind, thoughtful and love animals. This day I am reminded of how blessed my neighborhood and the world are to have people willing to exercise their heart's and extend themselves to animal kind, nature and human kind. Both days I've been struck by the many people who seemed oblivious and drove past, not even slowing down. These are the people with whom I am impatient. Does speeding past keep them from presence and from feeling? These folks and the recent events in Ohio were why my attitude needed a 'work out.'
It's hard at times to extend myself to humankind when any animal is hurt or neglected be it by random drivers or as happened with the man in Ohio who freed animals he should have never had (in my opinion) then killed himself.
While out of town, I periodically saw a tv headline referencing "Wild animals". As usual when I see this phrase I thought, 'Man could learn from so-called wild animals.' We could learn lessons of getting along from the wolf valuing family and the pack or from the multitude of internet photos that circulate of seeming 'enemies' as companions like my favorite of the the baby bobcat with a fawn during a West Coast fire. I often feel the animals and Mother Earth are trying to wake us up and get our attention to what's really of value in this world yet most of us, including myself drive past like those in their cars of whom I complain.
I was deeply sad to learn more about what happened in Ohio. I've since read the man was in much debt yet I still considered his letting the animals out such a selfish act. Surely he suspected they would be killed which outraged me too, that and how people panicked rather than just shut their doors and keep their kids inside. To read of the tigers, bears and lions killed by the authorities got my day off to a really bad start which continued until meeting Steve and Lupine, seeing the girl with the bike on the corner and recalling Foxy, Jo, Clare, the Humane Association where Lupine was left, the Animal Rescue Corps and all the folks I know who value, care for and love animals in our world.
Those who exercise their heart's compassion in a myriad of ways bring me back to a place of peace and gratitude for this walk on Earth.
How will you exercise your heart today?
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 21 October 2011