I am keeping this post separate, from my other vacation post, because it should stand on its own. This experience profoundly affected me and, though painful to discuss, I wish to share it with you.
We were driving to Sedona from Utah on Highway 89 going South. For much of this time you are actually driving through the Navajo Indian Reservation. At Highway 89 and Route 20 we pulled off the road to get some gas and duct tape to try and fix the broken car (see other post). I stayed in the car while Sean ran into the store and before my eyes I saw a dog sitting near the side of the building. She was a reddish colored dog, either full Chow or Chow mix…and her sad eyes burned into my soul. She was in poor shape and upon closer inspection, it was apparent she was suffering from mange as well. Both of her sides were balding badly and bleeding in spots. Her nipples were large, showing that she may be nursing or at least has given birth to many litters. Her body was ravaged by the severity of life. She walked with an obvious limp…no one acknowledged her, petted her or even looked at her… and I watched frozen in shock and horror as she slowly made her way across the garage and lay down in a puddle of watery mud. I wanted to leap out of the car and hug her, love her like she had never been loved before, give her the tenderness she needed because of her pain and neglect….but I sat there frozen.
I sit here today, hating myself, for not being able to move. My sorrow took over and I was unable to do anything. Sean, who had not seen the dog, got back in the car and we drove away. He looked over and saw large tears streaming down my cheeks. When he asked me what was wrong, I lost it. I dissolved into a complete blob of sorrow. Unfortunately, I have been blessed with an extremely keen sense of empathy combined with an all-too-vivid imagination. I could literally FEEL her pain. I could see her life before my eyes and it was too much to bear. “Stop!! Turn around!! We have to save her!!” I literally screamed. Poor Sean…though muffled sobs I told him what I saw….but we didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to “steal” her and get in trouble with the Navajo Nation…so I called the nearest Humane Society in Flagstaff. The woman on the other line literally told me, “There is nothing you can do. We can’t do anything because the dog in on a reservation. If you tell the tribal animal control, they will shoot her in the head”. Well, I lost it again. For about 45 minutes I sobbed and sobbed like I have never sobbed before (Actually the one other time was after seeing Earthlings). I felt so helpless for this dog and Sean felt helpless for me. I bitterly hated myself for not going out and petting her or taking her away.
I called my mom, another emotional vegan, who sprung into action. To make a long story short, we began to make phone calls to different local animal rescue organizations. We found out that there is a true problem on Indian Reservations with dogs and other animals. Because they don’t believe in animal OWNership, they provide no spaying/neutering or any veterinary care. We were told we could simply go back to the gas station and pick up the dog without any fight from the owner. The concept baffled us. We really didn’t know what to do. Sean had already had to get painful rabies shots when we rescued another loose dog about a year ago and we didn’t know anything about this Chow. To be honest, if we had been in our own car and had access to a good pair of work gloves we would have gone back immediately to help her. However, we were lucky enough to stumble upon several groups in the Flagstaff area that are non-profit organizations that help “rez dogs” (reservation dogs) for this exact reason! We couldn’t believe our luck! (Thanks to Blackberry and the ability to search the internet while in the car!) I made multiple phone calls and finally got through to one. I am still trying to follow up with them so I can make sure this dog was helped. Even if she had to be put to sleep, she will be at rest and free from the pain she endured while on earth. Please keep this dog and other rez dogs like her in your prayers.