Just a coupla hounds out on an evening stroll. Hamlet and Fiona, practically husband and wife, beloved Beagle-children to my mom and dad. Rescue dogs who have rescued my parents from boredom and from loneliness.
You might think this would only give me joy. Knowing they are adored, knowing they are safe. But it gives me lastima, too. Because in their howls, I hear the celebration of freedom. And it reminds me of all those furry gems who don’t sing the same song. In the tracking of scents, I see their delight and their thrill for getting to just be dogs. In the burrowing of covers, I feel their warmth and their gratitude and their loyalty. The recognition of luck. They got a good life. They got the life every pet should have.
We walk together in a balmy Texas night and I try to exhale my grief, the one I carry around like a big purse, because we make animals suffer and I know it. I never unknown it. And for what? For a detergent? I try to focus on the stolen glances between them, and imagine that they have a solution. Some answer us humans are too dense to admit. Something so pure, only they could offer it.
I whisper, “I am not queen of the universe. I am not the karma police. I cannot hate the world.” I try to let go. Because I do my part. And I pray others do their part. And what else is there to do?
We head home, them leading the way, and suddenly I’m overwhelmed with love. The one they share between them, for us and for each other. It’s so strong it will heal you if you let it. It will carry you when you need it. It’s like nothing else, the love from animals, and doesn’t it deserve the right to be here? So powerful that it drowns out my lastima. In fact, it’s the only thing that can.
p.s. Beagles are commonly used for animal experimentation in research laboratories. Check out Beagle Freedom Project if you want to know, if you want to be inspired, if you want to change things for the better.