Whenever I think about leaving South Africa I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. this place is my strange and wonderful home now … We have had lovely weather the past 2 days … yesterday I had off work b/c I couldn’t get a ride there, and I went walking to the gym, and looked up and saw the mountain – Devil’s Peak – that I’ve lived under for the past year. Since the clouds were gone I could really see it, and from my particular location and angle it looked even more spectacular than it usually does, with the shadows of the clouds lying on it and those african trees at the foothills and the blueblue sky and greengreen grass from all the rain and the greygrey stone pointing upwards. I will miss “My Mountain.”
Of course I will not miss seeing the suffering; though it’s strange to think that the United States is comparatively so suffering-free – it’s almost unfair, in a way. The most horrible thing happened the other day – something you wouldn’t see in the States. A man and his 3-year old daughter brought in a dog that belonged to his neighbor. You could tell he was once a stunningly beautiful dog – he looked exactly like a Golden Retriever, except that he was jet black. The man’s neighbor had had the dog in this condition for a MONTH and he hadn’t done anything and finally the neighbor took pity on the dog and brought him in. The dog’s front leg was completely mangled; his leg was swollen into the thickness of a cricket bat and ended about halfway down; there were a few folds of skin and sinew holding the remains of a paw on. It had been hit down by a car a month ago. It’s front leg was practically pancaked. It also had enough mange to turn part of its skin into elephant-like rough folds, and it’s bones were RAZOR sharp and jutting everywhere. It was in the most pathetic condition. There was a lot of discussion about what to do with it, because obviously it’s a cruelty case and we want to prosecute (not that the inept and overloaded South African courts will do anything, but it’s the principle of the thing) but you can’t just let the dog suffer until you can drag it to court. I wanted to euthanize him because he was obviously suffering horribly – he was listless and couldn’t stand and whimpered when anyone touched him. We tried to carry him to the mortuary so he wouldn’t have to walk, but that hurt him; even though he would have been within his doggy rights to bite me, he merely pressed his teeth lightly against my hand and yelped. You wish dogs could understand English or Xhosa or some language and hear some sort of apology or explanation. But we just euthanized him and told him that wonders awaited him in doggy heaven, which of course he could not understand.
I just wish there was less crime and poverty here – it’s much easier to prosecute when cruelty isn’t the backdrop of everyday life. We see a LOT of animals in HORRIBLE condition, but this one was the one dog I’ve ever felt like crying over.
We had some kids from the local squatter camps into the office yesterday. Well, all this week we’ve had them in, although Friday was the day that all the little gangstas chose to come in. (we were showing them around the vet office and doing nonviolence and humane education workshops and feeding them soup). (they’re all freezing and starving, nearly literally, so soup is a big draw.) But since yesterday was unofficially “gangsta day” (I think all the little soon-to-be-real-gangstas heard about the soup and came) the big kids where literally trampling the little ones in their rush to get soup, and then when we gave them bread and butter the big kids would punch the little ones in the head and grab their bread out of their hands. It was too bad, because it was about 1/3 gangsters and the rest were their younger siblings, little preschoolers.
Haha I’m making it sound worse than it is, the kids on Thursday were great and it was amazing to see them interact with the animals and with us. They were attentive and seemed to really care as much as they could at their age and considering their life circumstances.
One of the white people who works at the center was bemoaning the fate of these kids and said that these kids didn’t ask for their lives and didn’t stand a chance – which I agree with … but then she hit me with, “all people with HIV should be forcibly sterilized by the government!”
ummmm …. so, where do you even START with a statement like that?