27 November

Bud’s Plea. Be Merciful

by Jon Katz

I might be fooling myself again, but I don’t think I’m overly sentimental about my dogs. They are dogs, not people, and  I try never to forget the difference for their sake and mine.

Bud has gotten to my heart in a way no other dog has. He has suffered as much or more as any animal I have known (except maybe for Simon.)

I love Zinnia to death, but she never gets her hands on my soul the way  Bud does. She has never suffered much in her loving life.

As many of you know, Bud was rescued from a brutal man in the South of Arkansas, and he suffered unimaginable neglect and cruelty and barely loved through it.

A rescue group saved him from death by buying him from his sadistic owner. His other dogs were already dead.

I won’t go into the details of his suffering; many people who are reading this know as well or better than me about what some people do to dogs and other animals. And honestly, I don’t think you or I need to review it again.

But it has gotten to me for sure. For years, Bud wouldn’t come close to me. Now, when I sit down in my reading chair and put my feet up, Bud often waits cautiously for a sign, and when I tap the footstool, he jumps up and stares into my eyes.

When he is satisfied, I pat him on the head, and he curls up into a ball and goes to sleep. We read and stream together.

I never know what is happening in a dog’s head.

They don’t have our words or vocabulary, and we don’t know what they think. to be honest.

But dogs awaken our emotions, and  what I see and hear is “Bud’s Plea.” I imagine him pleading with me, asking me to love him, scratch his head, permit him to curl up in my lap and be good to him.

I hear him asking not to be hurt.

That’s what those eyes keep telling me, even though I fully understand that I don’t have the words or the understanding to know what he is really telling me.

All day Bud rushes all over the place, looking for trouble and adventure, but not at night. At night he just wants peace, love and rest.

I don’t take it for granted. It took nearly three years for him to trust me to jump up next to me or curl up between or around my legs and knees and sleep. It only takes a sudden move or shifts for those eyes to pop open and he is ready to flee.

We are getting close.

This connection happens all the time now, and perhaps this is what he pleads for – a place to rest and be safe. It happens almost every day now, and we are used to it. It almost seems to me sometimes that Bud can’t believe what is happening.

Bud has that kind of eyes that everyone who looks into them can conclude what he is trying to say. That’s the thing about dogs. They are blank canvases; we can paint whatever we want.

I need to keep his trust and offer him safety and love. And I think he knows now that I will.

That is what the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas wrote about dogs. They are on this earth along with other animals to teach us mercy. That is the reason to be good to them.


    1. I’m not sure, Sally. Dogs are incredibly adaptable, I think they do forget most of the bad things over time, but I’ve also seen dogs show signs of memory after extreme or shocking behavior. Bud has forgiven rather than forgotten, I think. But he is still easily spooked.

  1. Have a friend who fosters (sometimes for 2 years) abused dogs……..it takes a long time to build trust with an animal that has suffered this. Her most recent *rescue* (a Catahoula/ Aussie mix that she opted to keep permanently). lived with 4 other dogs on large ranch property……*housed* only under upended trailer shells outside……with no human contact other than once a day food. He has prospered in his new loving home, but it’s been a slow journey, as it is for you. I applaud you every day for Bud’s *recovery* from his earlier experience. A joy to see how he has blossomed under your loving care. Time and love heals most wounds (mostly)
    Susan M

  2. Maybe we don’t share words with them, but I believe our spirits communicate with each other just fine without words. That’s my thinking, anyway. Who’s a good boy, Bud? You are!

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