The Great Escape


by Bryan A. Townsend-El

I love going to new sides of towns and exploring and experiencing new things with friends and family. On one such occasion I was with my friend Jon, who is basically my brother, and his fiancé Myrra. We took a pit stop at the humane society, much to my surprise! We are going puppy gazing. Awesome right? That’s what I thought too, until I got to the first puppy. Adorable to the fullest. Just so happy to see a human face and wanting just to be touched and played with. Never happened! It’s basically in jail, clawing at the glass/plexi, wanting to get out, the sound cutting to my heart.

I walk away because I can’t take the sight. I know the feeling. I was just there myself; locked up. I go one to the next puppy. Yay! This one has bars. I can get a finger through to poke and scratch at the pup while she tries with all her might to push her body as close to the bars just to get as close and as much contact as possible. I walk away while the pup whines. This is starting to startle me. More dogs and I go through the same process. The whole time my happiness is fading. A little pup at the gate I’m sitting at wakes up and runs to the bars so quickly I think it seriously injures himself. He is trying to push his paws through the bars just to touch me!

That’s when I realize these dogs want and need us more than we want or need them. This for them is torture, day in and day out. Each time someone walks away it’s rejection. Each time someone stops it’s a promise. They are basically orphans in an orphanage waiting to get adopted. I find the dog has my finger through the bars, but I don’t remember putting it in. He has my finger between his paws in a hug with his head laid on my finger. I try to pull away to leave. He cries loudly like I’m hurting him…I am because I’m leaving a sentient being who’s in need of connection and love.

My heart breaks at that moment. A woman walks up, I get her to pet the dog, and bam, I take off. She screams, “That’s not fair.” I say he’s now in your hands. I leave without looking another dog in the eyes. I just played the pass off game, I’m told. Apparently it’s a learned reaction that grinds my gears. I haven’t been back since.

The next time I go I’m getting a puppy. I won’t go back until I can. Anyone else feel this way?

Marc Bekoff