Making it through the bad to see the good

Two days ago, CNN posted a video showing a dog so tortured that he screamed before handlers could reach him.  I swear to you it was an agonizing wail.  They hadn't even touched him and he whined in terror.   Before this cruelty happened, the dog could have passed for a German Shepard but he was left with nothing but a rib cage and matted hair.  His back foot appeared twisted and his eyes were large and frightened. His ears were limp.


The formula must work for the majority of viewers but it is completely ineffective for me.  I'm talking about those pictures and videos of animal cruelty.  The horrific images of animals waiting to die, nothing left but scrawny tufts of hair, lifeless, sad eyes that seem like they are pleading to make the suffering stop.  Expressions softly screaming, what did I do?  Why wasn't I a good dog?

I accidentally soaked in five seconds of the video before I scrolled. I couldn't move my thumb fast enough.  I scanned a few more Facebook posts and tried to find something funny to distract me, but it was useless.  The abused dog was locked in my memory just as he was when I saw him in the CNN video. Five seconds of pain that will never leave.  My very own instant replay on endless loop.  

I can't make myself go through the bad to see the good at the end.  I won't put my weak, animal loving heart through seeing the effects of the abuse, the struggle during recovery and making it to the triumph.  The moment I see a photograph or video of cruelty, it's ingrained there and I flip the channel or scroll past it on my news feed.

I strip myself of the reward of seeing something bad turning into something good.  My mind is perpetually locked into the memory of the abuse that I never replace the bad memory with the animal's victory of overcoming it.  I'm doing myself a disservice because I am remembering the abuse without getting the reward of seeing the animal survive it.  Just as a good seed planted can flourish into something beautiful, a bad seed planted is permanently rooted in a memory thread.  God can turn something awful into something good but when I don't take the time to see the struggle, I'll never see the reward.

Living in the past - whether good or bad will not predict your future.  Where the mind goes the person will follow.  My mind works in reverse.  I think of all the things that HAPPENED to the animal in the past.  The horror they must have experienced for months or years.  My mind sees the same image of the diminished, tortured animal and replays it.  I see the animal in the most shocking grossly intensified way and that's the noodle on the wall.  That's what sticks.  By living in the past, I'm not giving myself or the animal hope for the future.  Doubting that better days are ahead, when there is just so much meanness.

I get locked in the torture.  The sorrow grips me.  The cruelty breaks me.  The inability to save them cripples me.  The injustice enrages me.  I do nothing except change the channel or scroll faster.  My mind tries to push it aside by telling myself that SOMEONE is doing SOMETHING to help these animals.  There are people stronger and better equipped to deal with this abuse.  I would be in the way, a blubbering mess, crying in the corner, blowing my nose in the bathroom after retching.  My stomach not steady enough to handle the sights and sounds of animal suffering.

The violence these innocent animals endured is obviously cruel but unnecessary.  What is the point?  What need is served by torturing or starving an animal other than to show dominance or control over something weaker? It a dark, twisted form of entertainment.  I can't wrap my head around why someone would do it.

If I gave the featured video a few moments then I could be a witness to the healing animal. I'm cutting short my celebration of their reward of overcoming.  I never give myself a chance to see them eating again, walking again, not being afraid to be touched again.   I deny myself the celebration of a wagging tail or a throat purring.  There's no opportunity to witness scars healing, weight gaining, chasing a ball or getting a belly rub.  I never get to see the animal become beautiful again.

I leave.  I never stick around to see the recovery.  I run and hide at the first sign of meanness and then I'm stuck.  That's the last thing in my memory.  I imagine that some of you feel a tremendous amount of "rally" when you watch an animal overcome the odds.  You are reminded of all the good in the world and animal lovers and compassionate people give us HOPE!

But how am I supporting the animal by hearing the backstory or watching the recovery?  Unless I donate to a charity which specializes in abuse recovery, then aren't we all just sensationalizing the horror of it?  Are we supposed to watch the news story then go eat dinner or start a movie?  I can't do it.  I'm stuck seeing the endless loop of the five seconds of what my mind recorded before I could turn away.

Thank you animal lovers for doing what you do.  You are brave and compassionate and perform honorable yet often unnoticed work. I applaud you and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart.  And from all the sets of paws my family has rescued through the years, they send cold wet kisses and tons of tail wags to you.


Seeds to Share:

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.