It's easy to forget the link that makes me human is the same one dividing me from the community and putting me behind a fence. Inside of this pen my days are like that of any dog. Whenever it's time to eat the glands in my mouth secrete saliva in a Pavlovian response to the call for chow.. Chow, what a disgusting word that brings images of flies feasting on uneaten, unclean morsels discarded on the floor and tables. Filth and grime and . . . I loathe it and this very human thought ends with a curled lip and silent snarl.
Gone is the link and it's back to the cage. The difference between whether I am treated as a man or beast is ephemeral -- sometimes it reminds, teases, and torments -- then it doesn't. Is this how a scent rides the wind? Here, then not. There again in stinging, pungent clarity -- no. That is another odor, a different stench.
When they open the door to the yard, my pulse quickens. Exercise . . .playtime. Barking and chasing squirrels, snapping at birds and cats, growling at other mutts and sniffing other curs like me. There is only the desire to expend as much energy as possible until my tongue hangs and breath pants. For a moment there is no comprehension of "I", no separateness or isolation, only an increasing need to run as fast and far as my legs will allow. Until they call me back in. Come back. Back inside or you will not be fed. Back to the cage where there is no running or tail wagging or even a half-remembered pat on the head. Or the ultimate: a belly rub..
There are no belly rubs or bones to gnaw in this place for bad dogs, abandoned and neglected dogs. There is only sitting, laying standing, pacing, and waiting in this place that stinks of emptiness and hate. What awaits us besides punishment and reproof? Adoption? Escape? No, something dark awaits and there is no way to understand what it is. Many have been taken against their will. A leash had to be used, their hind legs dragging down a corridor smelling of fear and despair. Some whine, others growl and bite, but as I sit on death row it is my fate to contemplate how much in common I have with a dog in a kennel. Won't somebody save us?