I don’t really like to talk about my job. I’ve been there over 25 years and although I’m thankful (especially in this economic climate) to have a job, I look forward to the day six years from now when I can retire and do something I really have a passion for.  Until then, I get up every morning and go to work because that’s what I need to do to pay my bills and put gas in my car.

One of the aspects of my job is to interact with the public, whether it be at the courthouse, in the courtroom, in the office, or in the field. I was in the field today, traveling from one stop to the next to advise specific individuals that their presence would be required in court. For the most part, nobody’s home during the day so I leave a business card and hope for a call the next day so the appropriate arrangements can be made. The third stop on my route today took me to a condominium complex (always fun because there are many, many, many “streets” within a complex, making specific addresses very hard to locate) and as I approached the specific condo I’d been looking for, it was obvious that no one was home. I approached the gate and began to ready another business card and that’s when the smell hit me. Great. Someone living here owns a dog.  I love dogs, but I don’t make it a habit to approach someone’s front door if I know there’s a dog nearby; I’ve found that dogs don’t  like to be surprised and have issues with strange people approaching what they feel belongs to them.

Due to the nature of my job, I see and hear disturbing things every day and I’ve developed the ability over the years to focus on the task at hand and keep my emotions in another part of my brain while at work. The only time that technique isn’t successful is when it comes to animals. I simply can’t stand to see an animal that’s been hurt or abused in any way. That being said, I’m sure it’s obvious where this post is going.

He was in the corner of the concrete “yard,” attempting to shade himself under the leaves of a withered plant.  He looked tired and his muzzle was mostly white with just a touch of its original brown remaining. He was looking at me but made no attempt to bark or move from the spot he had found. There were droppings throughout the small space and it was thick with flies.  Near the front door, I could see a small bowl of dry dog food and a plastic container that had once contained water but  was now empty. Before I realized it he stood up and started to walk toward the gate. I expected to hear a growl followed by a bark, but I heard nothing. He made it half way between the front door and the gate and he stopped, looked up at me, and started to shake.

For a second or two I was able to stay composed but his large, brown eyes seemed so sad and lonely that I could no longer hold it together and I started to cry. I opened the gate and made my way around the droppings to where he was sitting. I didn’t reach out to touch him but I talked to him in a quiet, soothing voice and told him not to be afraid. I found the garden hose amidst the mess and filled his water bowl until it overflowed then gently set the bowl down in front of him. Still shaking and not wanting to look away from me, he finally began to drink.  I stayed for a minute or two more then walked away, knowing there wasn’t much more I could do. He continued to drink and as I walked away, I could still hear him lapping at the water. When I got out to my car, I debated about whether or not to call animal control. I know that most animals that are removed from a home are taken to the shelter and euthanized if they aren’t adopted. He was an older dog and he probably wouldn’t be adopted but I decided that while he was at the shelter at least he would get a comfortable place to sleep, good food, clean water, and be cared for by people who truly, truly, love animals.

I ended up making the call. As I drove away I thought about the dog and the fact that soon he would be in a safe, clean environment. I wonder if his “owners” will even notice that he’s gone.