The Man with Thirteen Dogs

The Man with Thirteen Dogs

If my wife had to name her very favorite people in the world,  I know that her cousin Warren would be right at the top of that list.  For as long as I can remember she has spoken so highly of him,  but because he lives in far off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – and is the chief of police there – we have not seen very much of him over the last twenty years, so I have mostly had to take her word for it that her cousin was such a great guy.    Well, after getting to know him a bit better this week,  I can say without hesitation that those words of praise are entirely warranted -excuse the pun- and that Warren is one of those guys that you wish you could clone because the world needs more guys like him.  He’s kind, smart, funny – a great listener- a hard worker- a veritable one man boy scout troop!

As we chatted this afternoon at a family get together at Polly and Mark’s,  I asked Warren what dogs he had back home.  (I knew he was a dog owner, but didn’t know the specifics.)  Imagine my amazement when he listed THIRTEEN of them.  It turns out that he and his wife are involved in animal rescue,  and ten of their thirteen dogs were rescued from ordeals of abuse and/or abandonment.   As he described some of these dogs and how hard it is both to take them in seeing how they have suffered- and how equally hard it is to let them go once they have recovered and are deemed to be adoptable- I found myself blinking back tears and shaking my head in astonishment that he and his wife would take that on.   And it’s maybe worth mentioning that life for them has included as well the challenge of raising a daughter with cerebral palsy. . .plus Warren is Police Chief in Myrtle Beach . . .  so it’s not like they were sitting around with nothing to occupy their time and energy.   But at some point they felt a strong calling to do this,  and I applaud them heartily for taking on something which is challenging on all kinds of levels. . . logistically, emotionally, etc.

I am so disturbed and appalled by the instances of animal abuse which seem to emerge in our news headlines more often than ever.  There is something so profoundly unjust about abusing an animal through abuse or neglect, and I have a feeling that there is an especially horrid corner in Hell reserved for the people who do so.  (The phrase ‘pick on someone your own size’ comes to mind.)

And then, as if to drive home the point,  I came across a commercial tonight for the Humane Society of the United States. . . with images of neglect which would curl your hair – including the photo you see at the top of the page of a dozen dogs crowded into a small cage to the point where they can scarcely breathe.  This kind of brutality is hard to imagine – let alone comprehend – but I found myself rewinding our DVR just to see these pictures again and to weigh the suffering which they revealed.  And then I did something which I don’t do nearly often enough in such situations. . . I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the phone # of the organization:  1-877-216-5896 – and its website address:

I have certainly seen such commercials before and felt a definite pang of sadness at what I saw and heard. . .  but my reaction was completely different tonight,  and I’m certain that it had to do with that talk with cousin Warren I had earlier this evening.  Having heard what he and his wife have done about animal abuse made me realize that sitting on the sidelines, content to do nothing beyond thinking some sympathetic thoughts from time to time, is simply unacceptable. If I care about this issue- and I really truly do – then it’s time to do something to prove it.   And I have Cousin Warren to thank for helping me to see that with such new clarity.