I didn’t come here to talk about our dogs …

 

This is our dog Daisy:daisyWe adopted our first dog, Daisy, from a rescue organization when she was 13 months old. She had been owned a woman who had to flee an abusive partner. The woman was able to stay with her aunt and uncle but they insisted the dog stay outside. So, for four long months, Daisy was chained up outside. All day, every day. Eventually (and thankfully!), her owner realized this was no life for a dog and gave her up to the rescue organization.

When we took her in she had lost almost all of her hair from the stress of living outside. She looked like this:daisy2

This is our dog Eddie:eddie

Around this time last year, a friend invited us to go to the shelter so SHE could meet a dog to see if he would be a good fit with her other pet. Work was going kind crummy that week, a visit to a shelter seemed like a good pick-me-up. “Sure, we’ll come with you. We love dogs and we won’t be tempted to take them all home since we already have the best dog ever.” Our friend played with a few dogs but none seemed quite right. Then I heard my partner say, “I’d like to see the one in the first kennel.” And, that’s how we met Eddie.

He had lived with one family for seven years before they left him at the shelter. He was “too much” with their two year-old. Because he was older, he had already been at the shelter for four or five months. The stress was really starting to wear on him. He was so afraid of everything. It’s only been a year, he’s much better but he’s still pretty afraid of most things. Except snuggling. He has no fears when it comes to a lap (or shoulder) and a blanket:

eddie2.jpg

They both started out in some pretty dire circumstances. They both had trauma. They both weren’t guaranteed a future, let alone a future that included a loving, peaceful home. They needed someone to care if they lived or died.

Today, they are doted upon relentlessly by a pair of empty-nesters and all our friends. We buy them really good food, take them out for at least four walks a day, play with them every day, sing them silly songs, knit them colorful sweaters, make sure they see the vet yearly, we tell them all the time that they are very good dogs. We cover their basic needs and more.

We do it because for one short moment when we first saw them, we cared deeply if they lived or died. Once you really care if another living being lives or dies, everything else — love, compassion, generosity, kindness, service — flows easily and effortlessly.

Yesterday, more than 3,000 homeless dogs died in shelters because there was no room for them anywhere. 

But I didn’t come here to tell you about my dogs. I came to talk about the refugee crisis.

If you can read our dogs’ story and think “aww” at their plight, if you feel empathy for their situation, if you can understand that an abandoned or abused DOG deserves a second chance at a decent life, I feel like maybe you can understand that an abused, battered, starving, terrified PERSON also deserves the chance to live. I feel like you can maybe understand what it might feel like to be in a horrible life-or-death situation you did nothing to cause or deserve, to need help getting out of it.

Every day, refugees are barely escaping all kinds of danger. They are leaving everything (and in some cases, everyone) they know behind on THE CHANCE that they will make it, that they will live. Plenty of them don’t make it all that far. But the ones who do?

They need someone to care if they live or die.

They are not coming to take over your neighborhood, to take over the country, to make a bomb, to steal your job, to impose their culture or religion or language on you, to commit crimes. They’ve lived through more violence than you will probably see in your lifetime. They are coming because they want a chance to live, to live in peace, to rest. To sleep through the night without worrying if they will be killed before morning.

They need someone to care if they live or die.

It is not the time to close borders, to build walls, to turn desperate people away. It is not the time to station guards with tear gas at the border. It is not the time for more drone strikes, to make more children fear a sunny day. It is time to station ambassadors with food, water, medical care, and a hug at the border.

It is time to be the kind of person who cares if someone lives or dies.

 

 

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