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 had arrived at that SPCA office,
only to be 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, volunteer 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 specifically
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.
I cannot adequately express
how much 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.
Margaret ran it as a Japanese-themed,
Bed and Breakfast enterprise.
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.
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.
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’ –
and she would not mind my unannounced visit.
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 now barely exist in the world.
A caring, compassionate, no-nonsense lady
… was dead.
And mindless bureaucratic minions are still
wallowing in their authority; domineering people,
and dictating bureaucracy, rather than moral decency.
“The wicked walk on every side
when the vilest men are exalted”
in a world where
“… the tender mercies of the wicked,