I didn’t sleep on the 25th of December not because of the previous night excitement, or any particular present received. The motive of my insomnia was quite trivial: a television channel was showing home makeover programs and I lost all track of time.
That same night Paul had insomnia too. He kept complaining about the noise of some neighbourhood dog. I didn’t pay him much attention because: 1) I was focused on what I was watching. 2) I couldn’t hear any barking or howling, as sometimes happens.
Only when I was about to shut my eyes I heard a pungent cry. It seemed a bit far from the usual morning noises of resident guards and birds. It happened the precise moment I still had one foot on terra firma and the other well deep into the black hole of sleep.
I could only formulate a coherent line of thought when I woke up the next morning (better read afternoon): a) There was a dog after all. b) That dog was in deep pain since that wasn’t the occasional wining coming from distant backyards. c) I should have done something about it, like sending my guard to investigate where the cry was coming from. Despite those thoughts, I went through the day forgetting the incident. However, the moment I confronted the night guard he inexplicably said he couldn’t hear any dog.
Two days went by and I found myself walking my dogs. Keket showed a sudden interest in a tree which stands alone in one of the green spaces we daily cross. I approached a little, enough to recognize the shape of a dog lying on the grass. Though it was just an instant, I remarked the white brown-patched fur with a pink spot in the middle of the right side, the exposed one. It’s interesting how we notice details when we are trying to avoid facing the main aspects of a situation.
I dragged Keket out and signaled my guard to keep away from the green. I was trying to avoid disturbing the prostrated dog and at the same time protecting my own. I just couldn’t tell if that dog was still alive, but my guard told in a hopeless manner: ‘That dog is dying! It’s going to end pretty soon. Bad! Really bad!’
It was very sad. I knew hundreds of people would pass by and no one would do a thing about it. During the trajectory back home I was reflecting about our role in Pink Spot’s fate. A dog crying during two or three days in our neighborhood and nobody cared. The irony that led her to that small stretch of green, stuck between the Presidency and the head of Parliament’s official residence. If Pink Spot had complaints, and no doubt she had, I am sure she intended to present them to the highest levels. I suppose nobody heard.
In reality, the only one who had listened was half sleeping. Even so I knew that the last cry of that night wasn’t accidental the moment I saw her very quiet against the green grass. And for that I had to act, even believing it was too late. Hopeless.
My first call confirmed what I already suspected. Vets were out of town. Nevertheless, I got the contact number of a lady who could help since she was actually organizing the first animal protection society here. I briefly explained the situation and felt really bad when she said she couldn’t be of much help since she was out of the country. She gave me numbers I kept trying. I only got silence or fax signals. Really helpless.
The last thing I did was informing my contact that my démarches were fruitless. From that moment on I stopped. I wasn’t happy or conformed, I just stopped. I knew I should have done more, but in my heart I truly believed that she was dead or about to die, and any clumsy interference would make her suffer even more.
From Sunday on I changed my walk routine to avoid that square of grass where, in my mind, the lifeless body still laid. I know this town. Hundreds and hundreds would walk through without bothering. Dead or alive. The subjacent thought always present: ‘If we have such a hard life, why should we care about others?’ Indifference. As if indifference was a quick fix for social problems.
On the afternoon of the last day of 2009 I received a message from the lady I communicated with for a good part of Sunday afternoon. It said:
“Hello. Thought u might like 2 know that the dog u phoned about on Sun is doing well. She had a fractured leg and her uterus was damaged. She has been taken into a caring home and they will continue with her treatment. So 4 her will b a happy new year…”
How to describe my happiness? I avidly wanted to know more. I was further informed that one of their volunteers in Maputo managed to rescue her the next day and get her to a vet. That same volunteer decided to keep Pink Spot. So it all worked out pretty well.
Knowing a part of the story that nobody else knows, I was amazed by this little being’s resilience. Above all I was (I am) amazed how by doing so little for someone we can feel so good. Just a phone call saved Pink Spot’s life. Knowing that she is alive and cared for became the best present I have ever received.