While Winter and I were out on tour, heading to New Orleans on a crisp October morning, we pulled off to a gas station somewhere in the South. As I headed toward the door, a very friendly dog came up to me, smiling and wagging his tail. He was obviously comfortable with people, yet his back left foot was injured so badly he was not able to put any weight on it. I wondered what the dog’s story was. A creature this well socialized would have “people”, would he not? People who would take him to the vet. His injury seemed to me severe enough that I would have expected him to be somewhat wild, snarling and baring teeth. Or at least wary.
I stepped inside.
When I came out, a homeless man walked past, and the dog fell in stride with him, looking up at him in absolute adoration. The dog had no concept that he wasn’t being cared for, or that he would have it better with someone else. Just utter adoration for his companion. It moved me with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I wondered – is it fair for folks to have pets when they can’t care for that pet? On the other hand, who knows what that dog’s situation would be without this man? Perhaps the dog had been abandoned, and they found each other. Perhaps they fell on hard times together. Whatever their circumstances, they were in it together, and each had someone to share a difficult situation with. It seemed, in that moment, that having someone to love and be loved by was the most important thing to each of them. If they were hungry, at least they were hungry together. If it was cold, they were cold together. If they hurt, they hurt together. The only thing I could imagine would make that dog sad was not losing the use of his foot, nor going hungry, but if his companion were to die.
In a circumstance fraught with hardship I can only imagine, that dog’s unmitigated spirit of love and friendship left a lasting impression on me as to the power of love and kindness to prevail over all things. I hope that we all may remember the power of kindness toward one another. And I hope those two unlikely companions are doing alright.