My Facebook news feed always shows me stories about hard-luck dogs: the ones abandoned, the ones surrendered to shelters by owners unwilling (or, so sadly, willing but unable) to care for them, the ones born wild and now starving / scavenging / suffering.
I’ve put most of those pages on a separate “interest group” so I’m not confronted with them every day, so I don’t start every day in tears as I eat my porridge before going to work.
But most of my Facebook friends care as much about dogs as I do, and the things they share still appear in my main feed.
I always care about these lonely and confused dogs, but at enough of a remove that the sadness doesn’t trip me up. Today, though, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. I am feeling tender and moved toward all the abandoned and unwanted creatures, from the senior dogs who will likely die in shelters before ever being adopted, to the black dogs and cats no one wants, to the children who don’t get tucked in at night.
And also the ones in fear and in pain. The dogs whose owners still believe in dominance and alpha rolls and prong collars. The kids who live in fear of those certain footsteps. The rats and dogs and rabbits in labs. The pigs and cows waiting for slaughter.
Most days, like most everyone, I set aside all the staggering pain and misery of the world so I can carry on carrying on.
But today, I see another picture of an abused and terrified old dog. I see more rants about how we should turn away refugees. I see winter coming in a city where children don’t have parkas. And I look at my dogs and cats, sleek and fed and safe and confident, and I wish every person—human or not—had a full belly and a safe bed and some love and kindness.
I don’t know why I am so open to this at this moment. I know it is far easier to edit out what is actually going on around me. But for now, my bones ache with empathy and helplessness.