I was washing the dog kennels today at the RSPCA. I stared into one of the pens and was appalled at the amount of feces on the floor. It was a small Maltese. She was cold, wet and skinny. I glanced at her chart. She was a senior dog, sent to the RSPCA by one of the charity animal hospitals. The Maltese was placed on oral broad spectrum antibiotics; i am not sure for what condition.
I entered the pen and started hosing furiously at the feces on the ground. This dog must be having diarrhea or something. The feces were jammed on the ground. The force from the jet of water i was brandishing was not enough to dislodge the feces. I had to resort to scrapping some of the shit with my gumboots. Throughout this time, i noticed the Maltese was very quiet and instead of avoiding the water jet or the feces; she just came straight up to me and sat right on the mess, in the path of the water. I was a tad astonished. Is this a real stupid dog, or a dog who is in desperate need of affection that she would brave water and shit to come close?
I patted her and focused on the task at hand. When i finally cleaned the pen, i turned off the jet. I squatted beside this small scraggly dog and stroked her. Gently, i tipped her head towards me to look at her. I was startled when i saw her eyes. Those eyes…eyes that i recognized, eyes that i have seen before. Cloudy white eyes. Eyes affected by cataracts. Eyes that my very first dog had. Eyes that no longer had sight in them. Eyes of a very old dog. An old dog who does not belong in a pound; an old dog whose loyalty and age should have demanded she spend her last few years in a warm cosy house, not in a cold wet pound surrounded by a million other howling dogs. And i felt so sad, so sad for the Maltese, so sad for my dog who accompanied me through my childhood till medical school and no more.
I stopped hosing the rest of the pens to fetch a new jumper and a dry towel for this Maltese. The other dogs suddenly became quiet because they sensed a change in routine. Dogs are so sensitive; i love them. I dried the Maltese and despite her age, she gave a few noisy grunts of appreciation. I put the dry jumper on her, replaced her bedding and carried her to her bedding. She looked at me with those sightless eyes and i understood her gratefulness. I stared at her for a while more before i resumed cleaning the rest of the pens. Last i checked, she was fast asleep in her warmer, snugger bedding.
I hope she gets a second chance in Life; i hope she has the privilege to live out the rest of her life with someone who appreciates her. Feeble old dogs in dog pounds always make me very very sad. Just like old patients that have been abandoned in nursing homes. Age demands respect and kindness.