When A Dog Teaches Us Virtue
Troy Whalen, a baseball coach for Grayslake Central High School credits his three-legged dog for saving his life. Whalen was talking on telephone in an upstairs room of his house in Grayslake, when it caught fire on Monday about 10:30 AM. The dog entered the room, barked, and acted in a strange way that was not normal of him.
Whalen ran downstairs and found that his house was on fire. The fire started from an outdoor garbage can closed to the home that caught fire when someone dumped hot coal in it from an outdoor fireplace. The side of the home caught fire and it quickly spread to a kitchen and great room area in the home.
When his effort to extinguish the fire with a blanket failed, Whalen called 911. Both Whalen and the dog escaped unharmed.
I call this a sweet story, and there are millions of stories such as this known to us all. Many instances have been recorded when animals sacrificed their own lives trying to save their master’s. I often wonder, the animals that we call dumb, where do they get this quality that is so unique that many human beings lack?
Why do ‘dumb animals’ beat humans repeatedly in providing service to whom they are loyal? The other day a story broke where a dolphin came between a shark and a woman swimming in an ocean, who was being attacked by the shark. The dolphin kept circling the woman in a way that she was able to swim ashore safely.
And yet, we treat animals so cruelly, and make fun of the animal lovers who fight to redress cruelty to them. What gives us power over every other creation, and consider ourselves master of the universe, when we repeatedly demonstrate that often we come short of even the rudimentary qualities that animals exhibit time and again without fail?
Life’s greatest virtue is observed in expression of compassion to nature; with all our religions, ethics, and discourse on humanity, are we ever going to learn to be compassionate to those who are weaker than us?