Taking a stand

I posted awhile ago about the dog that barks incessantly when left outside. Tonight, he has been left in the backyard and he’s barking for long stretches at a time, then stopping, then starting again. I walked down to their house and knocked on the door but no one answered so I wrote a note and taped it to their front door. It said:

Your dog barks non-stop when you leave him outside when you go out. It’s cruel to the dog and inconsiderate to your neighbours. Please leave your dog inside. Thanks.

I don’t know if it will make any difference. I plan to go knock on their door tomorrow during the day and have a word with the adults. It’s cold enough outside that I could see my breath in big puffs – it is cruel to leave an animal outside in such weather. And he’s unhappy, and he’s barking, and it makes me unhappy because I can’t help him.

This part of me, the part that cannot disassociate from animals’ pain, the part that makes me cry at the animal shelter, or cry when I think of polar bears drowning, or cry at the plight of bears being “farmed” for their bile, or thinking about zoos and circuses, or bear baiting, or bull fighting, or dog fighting, or factory farms, or all the other ways that humans treat animals in inhumane way – this part, I wouldn’t change, because it’s a huge piece of who I am.* My compassion and my need to do something about these issues, is a part of me that I think is a good** part. But it wears me down and saps my emotional levels. Listening to this dog bark all evening makes me sad; I can’t mask that by putting on music or the tv to drown him out. Ignoring his suffering won’t make me any less sad; I would only flagellate myself.

* But it is so hard sometimes, when coming across a picture randomly on the internet can have me in tears in a matter of seconds. I’m not reposting it here – I don’t want to look at it again. But it was a polar bear picture with a simple caption: “We did this.”

**The ethicist in me makes me note that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not defining terms, and the hard determinist in me makes me admit that even if my actions or feelings can be classified as ‘good’, that doesn’t mean I can take any credit for them.

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