I remember the day well, it had snowed the night before, something it rarely does in SC. It snowed several inches and it actually stayed. I spent the morning walk to Philosophy walking slowly, taking in the breath-taking scene. All of the grass and roofs were covered in a thin layer of powder-white snow. While the snow never stuck well to the walkways and roadways, it still made for a beautiful sight across the largely open and grassy campus.
However, by lunchtime the sun had come out and most of the snow had melted away. There were only a few patches of snow in the places that were well shaded such as underneath bushes and overhangs.
It was past time for me to be heading to my English class, I was going through my usual debate of whether I should skip it or not, I never did. At last, about five minutes late, my resolve broke. I grabbed my books, the soda I was sipping, and began the walk to the other side of campus.
I decided to take a short cut that took me through some of the more unsightly landscaping of the campus, so I could cut a corner and shave precious seconds. However, as I began to trudge through the mud formed by the melting snow, I heard a very faint noise. I stopped, tuned my ears and heard it again. It sounded like, whining…
I looked toward my feet and there, lying next to a small patch of snow under a shrub, was a small puppy. He was very thin and frail. I could easily see all his ribs protruding through his skin. He was white with black spots all over him and looked like a deflated soccer ball laying there.
I paused and hovered over him a second to study him closely. He looked up at me with a pair of big, dark brown eyes that could have brought an executioner to tears. I glanced around to see if anyone else was nearby, both hoping to find help and wishing a moment alone. However, despite the fact many of the dorms are nearby, this trail is well hidden and little used.
I knelt down and stroked him across the head and back. He let out a sigh of relief. I decided to offer him a drink of my soda and I poured a little in front of his face. He began to lick eagerly at the stream of cola. I soon poured the entire remaining contents of the can, but the dog wasn't satisfied. I could still see the thirst in his eyes.
I stood up and realized I was caught in a moral dilemma. I was already late for English and I had done all I could for the animal there. No one seemed to be around to help. I couldn't have animals in my dorm and there was nothing more I could do. But then I looked back down at the creature. His eyes were begging me for help a way no human eyes could. His eyes pleaded with me to spare his life. He must have gone through hell to get there. I couldn't let him die there.
I scooped him up in my arms and began the trek back to my dorm. I had no real plan at this point, no idea how to help it, but I knew that the only place where I could do anything was in my local base of operations, the dorm room.
I had an immediate challenge staring at me, getting the animal inside. I could have easily slid him in my bookbag and carried him in that way, but I was afraid the frail creature would be crushed inside there. I figured since most of the security guards during the day are students, I could plead my way by him or her.
However, I wasn't so lucky. On duty was the Hall Director from the floor above, a well-known bitch (Note: It's a co-ed dorm, the floors above me are all female and the ones below are all male). She halted me in the lobby and forbid me to bring the dog up to my room. I explained the story to her with all the emotion and imagery I could in attempt to thaw her heart but it was to little avail. I promised to keep it on my balcony and to call Animal Control as soon as I got there but she still held her ground.
Not knowing what else to do, I begged. I would never have begged for my own sake, but for something as innocent as this animal, I knew that the pain of it's death would be far greater than the dishonor of a plea. The combined patheticness of both me and the dog broke her will and her heart broke through the icy layers at last. She let me take the dog up provided I tell no one and keep it on my balcony, it also had to be gone in 24 hours. I eagerly accepted the deal and dashed for the elevator.
When I go to my dorm, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my roommate wasn't there. He hates animals. He hates them with a passion. Though I can't see how he would have hated this dog, I just knew he would loudly object to its presence, ruining the deal. I put him on the balcony. He was small enough to get through the bars, but he didn't have the energy needed to do that. I wasn't worried about his safety.
I got him some water, which he eagerly drank. I ended up refilling his small dish some three times before he got his fill. I still have no idea how such a small dog could inhale so much liquid.
While the dog was resting well on the balcony, I plotted it's fate. I had no desire to turn it over to Animal Control unless it was completely necessary.
I decided to call my mom at work, since my house was only thirty minutes away, to see if my family would take it in. I did the same pleading with her that I did with the security guard, but this time it was to no avail. I begged like a child to "keep him" and promised to take care of him and even pay for him. My mom would hear nothing of it. I then tried to make my story as tear-jerking as possible. However, ever the logician, she turned all of my emotional pleas into logical reasons not to keep it. She cited various diseases and other ailments the dog might have. I eventually had to give up.
I then set the phone down and began to think again. I knew no one in the market for a dog and my 24 hour limit was inadequate to find a good home for it. I looked out onto the balcony and saw the puppy looking back at me through the glass doors with those begging eyes that were tearing my soul up. I so desperately wanted to help him, but I had to call Animal Control. I was out of options.
I was on the verge of tears the entire time I was thumbing through my phone book. I took some confidence in the fact that the local animal shelter was among the best in the nation. But still, it felt like I was giving him over to death himself. Like I was failing him.
I made the call, a polite lady on the other end got some information from me and said someone would be by in about half an hour for the animal. About 45 minutes later, someone did show up and I had to meet him in the lobby, because the ice queen downstairs wouldn't let him in the building.
I took a moment to say goodbye to him, but his eyes of pity were never daunted. He seemed to have perfect trust in me, like I was the one to save him. I handed him over to the man, whom for some reason didn't bring a cage with him, laid the dog across his shoulder so that the entire way out the door I could see the dog's big brown eyes staring at me with complete trust and complete need. I could only hope I had done the right thing.
That weekend I visited my house. The entire time I was there we made no mention of the dog. However, I was anguished by the whole ordeal, I felt I had failed him, but I knew if I showed my parents my concern they would blow it off as a sign of my immaturity. I let it eat me up inside.
After I got back I called them and then the conversation turned to the dog. This time, through begging and insane promises I managed to break my mother's will and she agreed to take the dog in. I was overjoyed. I leapt around the room like a four-year-old on Christmas and once I calmed down immediately called Animal Control.
I told them who I was and what I wanted. I heard the lady on the other end clicking on her keyboard. Then she sighed and casually informed me that the animal had been "put to sleep," some two days beforehand. I maintained my composure, thanked her and hung up.
Then I cried. I cried like a child with a wound. I cared not if my roommate walked in and found me in this state of misery nor what the others on the hall might think if they overheard. I couldn't help it or control it. I cried.
Every night I go to sleep I see those big eyes looking back at me on their way out the door. I see them and I know I let them down. I'm the reason his fight for survival was for naught. I know I'm the reason he was destroyed.
I wasn't good enough.