What happens when our best friend says something about us

Last Saturday, while returning home from dinner near Palmetto with visiting students from North Carolina and New Jersey, our conversation was interrupted by something brown and white in the middle of the road.
It turned out to be one of the friendliest and most lovable dogs I’ve ever come across.
This is a story with what I hope will be a happy ending by the day this column is printed, though it still has a sobering message.
The adorable canine made friends with us immediately. He’s got the pearliest white teeth and eyes that look right through you. About a year old I’d guess, he slobbered and wagged in the back seat as we knocked on the doors of a dozen homes within a couple miles of the Sardis Baptist Church. No luck, so we brought him home to spend the night.
And now, as of this writing, it’s been three nights. “Milton” (the name bestowed upon him by the students, David and Chet,) seems to think he’s found his home. He sleeps on the deck, wrestles and fetches in the back yard, swims in Lake Redwine and won’t otherwise leave my side. No wonder someone once said “there’s no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
I’ve lost count of how many vets, shelters and rescue services I’ve called. There are many heroes among the people (often volunteers) who work at such places and try their best to help even when it costs them personally. I’ve had the dog scanned for a micro-chip but none was detected. I’ve posted notices on half a dozen web sites and Facebook pages. On Monday and Tuesday, David, Chet and I put nearly 40 posters on poles in the area of Sardis, Tommy Lee Cook and Hutcheson Ferry Roads.
This dog stares me in the face and speaks volumes without making a sound. He seems to be saying, “Keep me, please. I like it here, and I like you.” But I can’t keep him, given that I have a busy schedule and two other dogs already. He looks so healthy I can’t imagine that his owner doesn’t want him anymore. I think he probably just slipped his collar and that some loving man, woman or child out there is really missing him.

Sadly, I’ve been told it’s not uncommon for people to dump off their no-longer-wanted dogs along the road. An estimated 1.5 million of them were euthanized in shelters in 2010. What a terrible commentary that is — and so utterly unnecessary. Spaying, neutering and micro-chipping costs a few bucks but hey, what happened to old-fashioned responsibility? That doesn’t cost much and for any decent person, the return can be immense. It comes in the form of a clear conscience, unconditional love and happy critters.

Don’t worry about Milton. I’ll either find his owner or a good home for him. What should worry us all, however, is what it says about too many of our fellow humans that so many of our proverbial best friends don’t have a happy ending.
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(Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, N.Y., and Atlanta.)



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