You may know that I have a dog. Ronan the Scottish Terror. And if you’re a dog person, you may understand me when I say that I love the dog more than I do a vast majority of people in the world.
No, I mean it – if a house was on fire and Ronan was inside with people I know, how many of them would I run in to save before I would the dog? When I look inside myself, I’m troubled by the fact that the answer is “not that many.” It’s good to love animals, but there should theoretically be a line in there that says that all humans rank ahead of all animals, right?
I’m thinking of all this lately because:
- on last week’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy they put a dog to sleep; he was in bad shape and it had to be done, but the whole scene really affected me;
- the next day, a co-worker comes in an I learn that she and her husband are going to have to put down the cat he’s had for 17 years;
- on Saturday, Preakness favorite Barbaro pulled up with a broken leg, something that with a horse can be life-threatening; I couldn’t make myself watch the video on SportsCenter. (The pic here is an “after” x-ray from his surgery.)
All these things, with animals in pain and their lives in danger (one close reality, one mediated fiction, and the third a reality brought into my home via the media) and I realize it’s affecting me personally in ways that not many human injuries or deaths affect me.
I suspect this says something about how I’m relating to the human race of late, and I don’t think it’s something good, either. I try to believe that it’s positive, that it really suggests how I feel this responsibility for things that can’t take care of themselves. I like to think it means I’d be right with Mercer (a ref that you’re going to have to read Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to grok), that I have an abundance of the uniquely human quality of empathy. But what I want to think and what I ought to think might be different, you know?
I also wonder if it’s just me, and if not, what does that mean? I’ll continue to ponder, I guess, and in the meantime maybe writing it down and sending it out in the world will help me a step or two closer to some answers.