[ Part 2 ]
Margaret and “Ginger”
The only good thing that came out of my three months as an employee of that animal
“protection” organisation, was when a retired teacher – a woman named Margaret –
came in to adopt a dog.
She was sent out of the office having being told that there were no dogs
matching the description of what she was ‘looking for’.
I had heard it before.
Like a script.
And I could take no more.
I ran after the lady in the parking lot; told her that I was ‘through’, and told her
about “Ginger” – a Golden Retriever who had her single barred door covered
with a piece of plywood because she barked and lunged at dogs being led in and out
when their kennels were being hosed out.
“She’s crazy” said the man in charge of the kennels.
A dog confined in a concrete box for 23 hours every day –
no bed, no toys, no company,
no window to the outside world;
no mental stimulation at all –
Yes ! – I am certain that she WAS indeed crazy.
I am certain most of the other 20 or so dogs were as well.
I went in to the kennel, pulled on the rope that lifted the wooden hatch-cover,
and let Ginger out to the ‘viewing’ run where visitors were able to see the animal.
I told Margaret about Ginger’s … “life”.
And if ever I wanted to take a woman in my arms and embrace her, it was then.
The lady’s face set in a mask of resolution: she turned, marched back up the stairs and
(must have!) demanded to be allowed to adopt Ginger.
A half hour later, Ginger was in the back of Margaret’s car.
And my days were numbered.
I was despised by staff, dog-walkers, and agency ‘hangers-on’.
Sarcastic quips and ‘cold shoulder’ animosity was absolutely dripping off me.
Not a second of thought that there just Might
have been something in what I was saying;
Only that I had ‘stepped on’ monstrous staff conceit.
Which was Precisely what I had been warned about by the manager
– during my job interview twelve weeks earlier.
That same manager that hired me, had just accepted a new position
elsewhere in the organisation.
‘Wash your hands of the whole thing’, I suppose.
I left that animal “welfare” agency knowing that I helped one, but left 20 others
to continue their existence of solitary confinement in concrete isolation.
It torments me to this day.
I went to visit Ginger and Margaret at her beautiful country home – five acres of shrubs,
plants, and an enormous ‘pond’ that was nothing less than a small lake.
THIS was Ginger’s new home.
But, you see, this one bit of happiness does not end there.
One day, a ‘jogger’ passing by Margaret’s acreage,
made a call to the police … A dog had “attacked” her.
A Golden Retriever had jumped up on her as she was running past its house.
Yes … Ginger had “attacked” me, too – just the same way
when I was still at the SPCA;
every morning with joy and excitement at having contact with a human being
who hugged her, caressed her; and just showed her some attention.
What Ginger could not know, was that not everyone
was like that Irishman.
Margaret was given a legal Order … and Ginger
– a rescue dog on a ‘second chance’ – was ‘put down’.
She had known kindness and comfort for two years –
before some self-venerating yuppie decided that her ‘personal space’
being invaded by an exuberant dog – was an intrusion upon her ‘rights’
… and constituted an “attack”.
The 21st century mentality: the whole world revolves around Me.
Self. Vanity. Ego.
The religion of the Modern Age.
Animals suffer. People suffer.
And, in this case, a dog was killed.
I went to visit Margaret one January afternoon:
highly embarrassed at not having telephoned first, but
confident that she and I had been ‘made from the same mould’.
Ringing the front bell, I was surprised when the door was opened
… by a young, 30-something woman. I babbled some explanation
of who I was, and asked if Margaret was home.
The woman invited me to come in.
And told me that she would be right back.
I could hear voices.
A lot of voices.
The house was full of people.
After a few moments, the young woman came back … with another lady.
I introduced myself once again,
and explained that I was here to see …
And then the lady spoke.
“I have been sick” she said, “And my family are all here to … discuss … things.”
It was Margaret. I would not have recognised her.
Tears formed in my eyes – I could not speak.
Words – would not come out.
She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.
I slowly turned – stupid, dazed – and then
looked back as Margaret shuffled back to the sitting room.
The young woman had opened the front door,
and thanked me for coming to see her mother.
The door closed.
And I was alone.
I thought of Ginger.
I thought of those arrogant women
who refused to allow that lady to adopt a dog.
And of how she refused to be bullied by domineering tyrants.
As I walked up the little dirt trail from her front door,
to the wooded area where the car was parked,
I looked at the grounds … the trees …
the forest of rhododendrons … and the path that I last saw
when Ginger was bounding to meet me.
A tear fell from my eye.
Margaret DeWitt died on the 13th of April 2012.
She was my hero – a woman filled with compassion,
common sense; conscience and courtesy.
Qualities that are now almost non-existent in the world.
A caring lady was dead.
And mindless bureaucratic minions
were still wallowing in their authority;
dictating bureaucracy, rather than moral decency.
“The wicked walk on every side
when the vilest men are exalted.”