DECEMBER 8, 2005

Left out in the cold for the holidays

       This time of year as we prepare our homes for the holidays we start to think about togetherness with our families and loved ones. However, I recently started to think about those who are less fortunate.
       With winter brutally knocking on our doors and as we crank up the furnace, I can't help but realize there are some who don't have the luxury of a warm bed at night and are literally left out in the cold with no where to go.
       My brother is a junior high school teacher and recently came home with a puppy. He said one of the kids in his class had got it a week earlier but had to give it away because his family was moving. The student brought the dog in to show the class and told the story about the dog's brief history with his family. "My sister gave it a haircut (shaved it) when she was high," the teenager laughed. He added that he had to give the puppy away sometime during that school day or he would just set it loose to roam the streets.
       Compelled to "rescue" the partially shaved and very hungry, tiny dog, my brother brought it to his house where he introduced it to his wife and their cat. While the wife thought it was the cutest little puppy, the cat wasn't so sure. However, their cat was a stray and was used to worse conditions than it currently has. It took a little while for the cat to get acquainted with the dog but soon they were chasing each other around and seemed to hit it off.
       Having heard the story about this little dog's life, at only five-weeks-old, I walked over to my brother's house to meet it. On the way I began to think about the hardships this puppy already had and it still wasn't even old enough to be separated from its mom, according to veterinarians. Walking, bundled up in my winter clothes, I was shocked to see two examples of the effects of the brutal cold outside in my short 10-minute walk.
       First, I passed a cat dead on the walkway literally frozen in the snow. It looked as though the feline had frozen and just fell on its side. There was no blood or any other sign that it may have been hit by a vehicle. Second, as I walked down my brother's street I noticed a dog hobbling along in its front yard on three legs with its paws frozen. I immediately thought of what the puppy my brother had taken in may have been subjected to had it been tossed out in the street.
       I realized that these animals can't open up a door to let themselves in and they don't ask to be kept and cared for by us. Most of the time they didn't make the choice to live with us either. But at this time of year when we are so worried about spending time with our human loved ones, we should also take a moment to think about and care for those less fortunate who can't do anything to provide themselves a better holiday.
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