Thursday, June 4, 2015

Have Mercy... Now I Understand

I can't, I simply can not get that sound out of my head.

I have a two year old German Shepherd Dog named Bella. I bring her in at night but she spends the day outside in our fenced yard. We live on a dirt road  in a rural area, our house sits literally in the woods. It is not unusual for us to have visitors in the back yard as it isn't fenced and I do have a tendency to toss leftovers down the hill. Many times I've heard the dogs barking at the sounds they hear telling them the raccoon or opossum have arrived in search of a free meal. Deer have a trail that runs just inside the wood line and goes from the main road all the way down to where it meets the dirt road a good half mile away. We've had visitors come around and sit on the outside of the fence teasing the dogs, knowing they were safe. Today, was a different story.

Around five this morning I fought with my alarm clock trying to get the thing to shut up. Dragging myself out of bed I grabbed my housecoat and made my way around the bed. Bella waited patiently for me to move the gate that insures she will stay in the room and not go into the kitchen and steal the cat's food,again. She beat me to the front door as usual and waited none too patiently for me to open the door. When I finally pushed the storm door open she shot out and into the yard, ready to seize the day. I on the other hand sleepily made my way to the coffee pot. I no sooner had cup in hand when I heard the strangest sound. To the best of my memory I had never heard a sound quite like that before so I moved to investigate.

It was still dark outside and with Bella being black she is almost impossible to see until she starts moving. Which is exactly what she was doing, and she was ever in a hurry. When she suddenly stopped I heard that sound again. It sounded exactly like something screaming. Not caring that I was barefoot and still in my nightgown I shoved the door open and went out onto the porch. Shouting at Bella she looked up which gave the victim a chance to make a run for it. Bella immediately again took chase. I quickly set my coffee cup down on the first flat surface and ran to see exactly what Bella was after. It was a young rabbit. Every time Bella caught up with the rabbit it screamed and I shouted. I knew the neighbors had to be hearing me but I didn't care. I grabbed for Bella, but I missed the first time and she kept after the rabbit. Several times I heard the poor thing scream, in fear, in pain, both probably. It was a horrible sound. I finally managed to grab Bella by her by the collar and get her inside the house. By this time the young rabbit was on the front porch and under a chair. As I went to catch it, the rabbit had moved behind a doghouse that sits on the porch. I pushed the dog house out of the way and gently put my hand on the rabbit. It flinched but didn't move away, it had nowhere to go anyway.

Lifting the rabbit I ever so gently stroked its back. It didn't fight with me, it didn't try to get away. That in itself was not a good sign but I carefully carried it across the yard and over to the edge of the woods. I was still in my night clothes but I didn't care. It was still dark, but even if it wasn't. I had just witnessed something I didn't want to see. I don't care if its nature's order of things. To me, my dog had just been a horrible bully to an innocent creature. I could only hope the rabbit would be okay but I doubted it.

I kept Bella in the house for almost an hour. When I finally let her back outside she went straight to where she last saw the rabbit. When I left for work, I glanced over to where I had placed the rabbit earlier. It had died as I feared it would. There were no external injuries so I don't know if it was due to internal injuries, fear or a little of both. I knew that I would bury it when I got home, because I couldn't do otherwise.

All day long, I heard that rabbit's screams. They can not be described any other way but screams. They were nothing less than the sounds of terror. Real terror, not the overly exaggerated sounds that you hear in the movies or the pseudo fear screams coming from those on some thrill ride at an amusement park. Those were the real thing, that were coming from a being who knew their very life was in danger, who felt the physical pain of being attacked. I heard it repeatedly as my dog chased it, I heard it over and over again during the day, knowing I was hearing the sounds of death. And there was nothing I could do. All day I hoped that those last few minutes were comforting as I gently stroked its back as I carried it from the yard. But I do now understand better, to a very tiny degree, how members of the military can be affected by their service. I can better understand the post traumatic stress brought on by hearing the screams of those who are hurt or dying. Brought on by witnessing the death of others, or causing it. Yes, I watched a rabbit, and those are people, I know there is a big difference. But just as the screams from a rabbit echoed in my head, how much more so most the screams of people echo in theirs.

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