The urge to rescue is sometimes irresistibly strong. It was a bright December day, early. Winston and I walked to the end of Ogden Road, where it joins the parkway at a right angle, as do many of the side streets in the neighborhood. Across the two lanes, which were busy with morning rush-hour traffic, I saw a big dog, black, pushing its nose into leaves in the ribbon of soft grass and dirt between the sidewalk and road. The dog was so deliberate and calm, staying in place, that it took me a few moments to realize it was alone. No leash, no owner.
I stood where I was, and I looked up the parkway and down. Winston seemed to look in unison with me, but really it was the motion of the passing cars that fascinated him. I don’t know if he really looks.
“No, Jane,” I said to myself inside of my head. “You don’t have to save this dog. Keep going.” I am aware of my desire to help even when it is pathological. I can resist, I thought.
“Well, what’s a reasonable thing I can do?” More internal dialog. I thought of calling Grace, at home in bed. “Bring me an extra leash,” I would say to her. “We have to save a dog today.” She’s like me and would get excited by such a mission. Still, I didn’t call. I mustered my self-restraint.
Down in front of the library, I saw a man looking up the parkway in our direction, shading his eyes. I started walking then trotting in his direction. “Sir! Sir!” I was waving my free arm. Winston on leash trotted beside me. A big man in a blue tshirt (no coat!), with a full head of gray hair and black-rimmed glasses, he started walking toward me. We were the only people outside not in cars; we had to walk toward each other.
“Sir, is that your dog?” I kept yelling as I walked closer. He walked in my direction and didn’t answer. I was confused, not only by his lack of response but also by my own fervor to solve the unaccompanied dog problem. Why couldn’t I just walk away and go home? The dog had at least one other potential rescuer. It didn’t have to be me. Continue reading