THE DOG ON MUSGOGEE ROAD
There are numerous stories highlighting the loyalty of a canine, "man's best friend."
A good number are famous. For example, a loyal companion canine, a Japanese Akita known as Hachiko, was justly memorialized in Japan with a statue that honors his faithfulness in waiting every day at the Shibuya train station for his master, a professor at the University of Tokyo.
Hachiko could not be dissuaded to discontinue his vigil, even a decade after the professor died of a heart attack while at work. Legend has it that Hachiko died at his post in 1935, resolutely waiting, searching each passenger's face for that of his beloved master.
There is no such commem oration for one lonely, betrayed canine who waited in vain for an undetermined time at a vacant, garbage-strewn house on Muscogee Road in Cantonment, Fla. This dog was deserted, left behind — abandoned by his cruel owners. A mere handful of human beings mourn this dog's suffering and undeserved death.
None mourn so deeply as his would-be rescuer, Laura (undisclosed last name), who kindly reached out to this dog, after she spotted him close to the road, looking up and down, staring at every passing car.
Laura's photographs reveal a dog so severely starved, emaciated, that his ribs stuck through his slick white coat, pocked with sores, his legs raw and red, and most noticeably — his heart broken.
His eyes told his story, the heart-wrenching look of a dog who is waiting for the center of his world to return, ever willing to forgive the most brutal of masters, if he/she would only appear.
On Aug. 8, 2009, the last chapter of the short life of the dog on Muscogee Road, virtually disregarded and cut off from any source of aid, was written and shared by Laura to those who joined in the effort for one dog's life:
"It is with the heaviest of heart that I write this poor dog was killed along the road overnight or this morning. I am so filled with grief at his passing, but can take a bit of comfort in knowing that in his final week, he knew human kindness. Words can't express how much I have been touched by all the kind e-mails and words of encouragement you all have sent me regarding trying to save this dog. I never even knew his name. I'll always treasure the moments I had with him, especially yesterday afternoon. He laid down beside me in the shade after taking biscuits from my hand. He let me know that he trusted me and we shared a bond, a priceless one at that.
"Neighbors have said he did belong to the person who lived at the house where I took the pictures. Apparently, the person just stopped feeding the dog and yet, the dog was loyal to the end, staying close by though he was starving to death.
"I can't let the anger I feel toward this person take away from the joy I experienced in helping this dog. Though I was very scared (he was, too) at first from all the growling and barking, I wasn't going to give up on him.
"Thanks, again, for all who wrote me and cared about what was going on. I'm blessed to have 'met' you all.
"We buried him in our flower garden this morning."
When Americans cannot take the time to make provisions for their companion animals, when heartless owners forsake "man's best friend," isn't it time for every citizen to ask, as surely as the dog on Muscogee Road did, "Why? What did I do wrong? What kind of place is this?"
Sadly, it is too late for the Muscogee Road dog, but while you ponder if you should ask yourself his question, countless others wait. If anyone knows the whereabouts of the people who left their dog to starve, tell them that their dog is dead.