I thought I would tell you a story about something that happened to me years ago. At the time, my father’s home was by the side of a river. One day, while I was visiting, I decided to take a walk down his street and after a short while, I came to railroad tracks that crossed the river.
As I started to follow the tracks to the river, I saw a Doberman pinscher lying down on the sandy riverbank. As I got closer, it became obvious that one of the dog’s paws was caught in a hunter’s trap. My first instinct was to get help for the dog. If I didn’t, she could have died there.
I returned to my father’s and called the local Humane Society. Then I returned to the tracks so that I could help them locate the dog. The young man driving the Humane Society’s truck decided to drive alongside the tracks as far as he could, because he would have had to carry the dog a good distance back to the road once it was freed.
The ground along the railroad tracks was very sandy and before long, the truck was spinning its wheels in place. Now there was a dog to be rescued and a truck that needed rescuing as well. Minutes later, we heard a train whistle. The train would not have enough room to pass the truck and it seemed inevitable that we were heading for a collision.
Thankfully, that isn’t what happened. We were able to flag the train before it got to the road and it had enough time to come to a stop. It was a fairly slow moving freight train. The engineer and a crew member jumped down from the train to find out what was going on. After accessing the situation, they tied a rope to the back bumper of the truck and to the front of the train’s engine. Ever so slowly, they began to back up the train. It was a little tense because we were afraid the bumper wouldn’t hold. It did. One problem was resolved. But, the dog was still in the trap.
The three men came up with a plan to rescue the dog. I don’t know if you have ever approached a wounded dog. It doesn’t jump up and wag its tail, grateful to see you. It is hurt and afraid. It is suffering. How does it respond? It growls and threatens to bite the very people who are helping it. People aren’t that different.
Sometimes suffering people lash out and make other people around them suffer. Like the dog, they are operating from a place of hurt and fear. When that happens, it helps to think about a wounded animal like the Doberman. We did not leave the dog to suffer. We showed it kindness and helped to free it from the trap that it was in. And that is something I try to keep in mind when people hurt others by their actions or with their words. They might be imprisoned by physical, emotional or spiritual pain and suffering. I try to understand where they are coming from and why they act the way they do. It is possible that they act from a place of fear and they are in need of loving-kindness.
At the end of that day visiting my father, I felt good about everything that happened. I found the injured dog and was able to call the Humane Society. The Humane Society truck was rescued by the train. And all three men were able to rescue the snarling, growling Doberman from the hunter’s metal trap, so that it was going to receive medical attention and its physical wounds would be healed. I know that it was brought to a no-kill shelter. Maybe it was reunited with its owners or possibly another family adopted it and showed it love so it would not ever have to suffer or feel afraid again.
Be kind to one another.
*This is a reposted from a former blog. The photograph are train tracks in Staunton, Virginia, and not the train tracks from the story.