Come Tuesday, let’s hope we know who will be the next president of the United States. It’s been a grueling haul. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel slimed by this long, money-infected, vituperous “campaign.” Two sides insisting that if the other guys win, the world will end.
So I’m grateful to have been reminded recently that whatever our differences, we are all human — and we are better off when we act that way.
First, two old friends experienced the loss of an adult child. For most parents, the loss of a child at any age feels like a cruel upending of the natural order.
As the Bible story goes, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children. … for they were no more.”
But even as political debates raged in the world beyond, people of all persuasions came together to offer love and such solace as they could to the grieving parents. Disagreements and even old estrangements suddenly seemed unimportant.
That is humanity at its best.
And when there is a need, we quarrelsome humans prove time and again that we will come together.
Now a happier story. On May 5, a beautiful, shy black German shepherd named Raven disappeared from her adoptive home in Niwot. Raised in a puppy mill in Arkansas, she had known only a life of confinement and misery until Colorado Springs-based National Mill Dog Rescue took her in.
Understandably fearful and skittish, Raven came to live in Boulder with foster-caregiver Kristen Campbell, a friend of mine. At Kristen’s house, this 6-year-old dog experienced a kindly touch for the first time in her life. She was suddenly part of a secure canine-human pack. She was still shy around strangers, but her playful personality soon began to emerge.
Kristen loved Raven. But she always knows she must go through the sorrow and joy of placing a dog, freeing herself to help another one. So Raven went to a home with another rescued mill dog and two adoring guardians.
But one stormy night, she spooked and slipped away into darkness. Despite frantic efforts to find her, she was gone, a black and timid ghost. The only people to blame were the greedy, callous people who first turned her into a breeding machine.
Nobody called. As the summer wore on, everyone who knew Raven tried to accept that we would never see her again. Perhaps she’d been hit by a car, or shot, or had starved. Still we dreamed.
But in early October her guardians in Niwot received a startling phone call. A man living near Horsetooth Reservoir, more than 30 miles as the crow flies, had found her collar. The collar was a tricky oracle to read, but it meant she might still be alive.
As it turned out, Raven had been seen all summer on the lake. Kristen went up there and learned that Raven had become something of a celebrity, admired by park rangers and residents for her resourcefulness. She’d been seen lapping from the lake’s water, trotting along with a rabbit in her mouth, and swiping crusts from behind the local pizzeria. But any time she was approached she ran; she had no intention of being caught.
The rescue organization put out an alert on and Kristen began hearing from people who’d seen lost signs and wanted to help. The rescue loaned her a live trap to set in an area where Raven had been seen and total strangers volunteered to check the trap every morning and evening.
Still, we were chasing a phantom. Raven had become feral, living a life infinitely better than her brutal beginnings, despite the comforts she had known in between. Yet winter was coming; how would she survive?
So when Kristen called me early on the snowy morning of Oct. 25 to say a volunteer had seen a black animal in the trap, my heart began to race. She picked me up and we drove north to Horsetooth.
Almost miraculously, 6 months later and 30 miles away, it was Raven, lying calmly on her old dog bed, still bonded to Kristen. The rangers who’d admired her pluck were all smiles. The rescue slapped a big red FOUND sign on her online photos. Everybody had been pulling for Raven; her summer vacation was over.
She quickly slipped back into her old pack at Kristen’s house. Other than a slightly injured leg and pungent coat, she was in good condition. Her adoptive guardians were thrilled she’d been found, and all agreed that she should live with Kristen’s family permanently. That is, clearly, Raven’s choice.
As we drove away from the reservoir where she had made her stand, I couldn’t help noticing the dueling political yard signs and bumper stickers. Divided, just like everywhere else. But when this dog was in need, people came together. A little like what happened after Sept. 11, 2001.
After Tuesday, we’ll still be a divided nation, but we’ll survive, whatever the outcome. It would be nice if we could marshal our collective humanity instead of indulging our divisions.
Not a ghost of a chance, right? Chasing phantoms. Maybe. But why not dream?