Wild Dogs and a little Philosophy

My morning meditation was interrupted by a sound no farmer ever wants to hear; the barking of wild dogs. It was still dark, and I could hear them close on the ridge behind me – quite a large pack in the paddock where my cows and their young calves are grazing.

Not long after, the dogs began a blood-curdling baying and howling. I gave up any idea of meditating, and sent love and protection to my animals instead. We have had wild dog problems in our shire for a few years now.  The dogs have maimed or killed much of our local wildlife, many farm animals and pets, and have also attacked humans.

When the dawn crept up, and the baying stopped I glimpsed seven dogs running along my front paddock in the rain, one limping, bleeding, lagging behind. These aren’t dingoes, Australia’s native wild dog, these are domestic dogs that have been dumped or perhaps run away from home.

One still had a tatty blue collar on. As much as my gut clenched, I felt enormous compassion for these animals as I looked at my own two dogs, curled up on the rug at my feet, patiently waiting for their breakfast. I wondered if my neighbours would be out with their guns this morning, and if any of the dogs would be shot, as so many of the wild dogs before them have.

As I made my morning pot of tea I pondered the plight of these wild dogs, and it led me back to thinking about people.

These dogs have fallen through the cracks. Dumped because their owners changed their mind, or couldn’t afford to feed them, or were neglectful and uncaring, irresponsible, or just didn’t understand what being a pet owner actually entails.

Dogs need a safe place to live, with food and care.  They need to feel part of a pack.  They need rules and structure. They will get by on the most rudimentary of surroundings and food as long as they have that love, guidance and bond.

The wild dogs in our shire have no one to care for them and no safe place to go.  In fact some of them are now so savage that it would be impossible to rehabilitate them.  They are traumatised and aggressive. Here are Labradors and Ridgebacks and Spaniels and Terriers, here are cross-bred dogs of all sizes and descriptions, and they are out in the wild, banding together to make their own pack, and it’s so much Lord of the Flies

They are running on survival instincts, there is no-one to give them safety or teach them manners and social rules and conventions.  They will never rise to what they could be. They steal to eat, they destroy out of boredom and anger, they turn on each other and us. And for that they are condemned.

It’s the same for people.

We all need to feel safe.  We need shelter and kindness and somewhere we can belong. We all need to learn the basics of looking after ourselves, getting along with others, having respect for the world around us, and learning our society’s fundamental values and rules. With security, guidance and love, even if our surroundings are rudimentary, and our meals basic, we can rise to find our best. We can grow and evolve in positive ways.

Not everyone gets the childhood they need to help them thrive.  But humans, like dogs, are resourceful and resilient.  We find ways to survive.

And thankfully there are good people in the world who step in to be the mentor, the teacher, the guide, the helping hand, the provider of safety for those who fall through the cracks.

But there are many, many wild dogs, and many, many lost children. There may be some among you who’ve grown to adulthood and look like they cope, look like they fit in a little.  And some will be openly wild dogs, snarling at the hands that come near.

Offer them all kindness, offer them all compassion, and if you are called to it, perhaps you may find a way to do more.

I hear the crack of a rifle echoing round our hills.  I hug my own dogs, and shed a quiet tear.

39 thoughts on “Wild Dogs and a little Philosophy

  1. So very well said Nicole, we have wild dogs in my area as well. The farmers can’t wait to either shoot them or bait them not understanding their plight like you or I. I always say we don’t have a wild dog problem, we have a human problem. If people desexed and took care of their dogs this wouldn’t happen. Here the stray, unwanted dogs have mixed with the dingos as well. All in all it breaks my heart and I too feel for those poor creatures and what they might have been!!!

    • When you see the destruction caused by wild dogs, the animals left mutilated and in pain but usually not dead, often happening night after night, I can understand why the farmers want the dogs dead. I am against baiting – it is the cruellest kill, and the poison gets into the food chain in terrible ways – but after seeing many of my neighbours skilfully kill a dog dead with one shot, an instant and merciful kill, I think that better than the endless suffering endured by the dog and its prey.

      Far better that they were never in that position to begin with…

  2. How true, it’s a real tragedy about our society that this happens, with humans and with animals. As you say, however, if we all try to show some kindness and compassion perhaps we can make a little difference. You just don’t know what other people have been through to make them the way they are, and it’s good to be reminded of that, thank you.

  3. We have many wild dogs/packs here as well – as you say, many of them probably dumped and abandoned. It’s heartbreaking. Thank you for a thoughtful post. I also think about how lucky our Ike is (he wandered out of the woods one day, probably dumped by someone).

  4. Hi,
    Very well written and I totally agree.
    I also feel sorry for these dogs that once were cute little puppies that ended up with no one to look after them or to love them. You are so right about survival instincts setting in, to be in a position like that whether human or animal is so very sad.

  5. Human beings do our best under difficult circumstances, and some of those circumstances are very difficult indeed. A neighbour of mine fosters children. She said that it was a good thing that the two year old she had bit her, it was a sign of returning self-confidence: and after that, the child will be able to notice and feel the love of her new family. She had been badly neglected before. What may we do? Live in love, live in the moment, do what appears right at the time.

  6. Oh Nicole…a huge lump in my throat as I type. You wrote this beautifully and echoed my thoughts on these issues. It seems to be SO black and white for so many people and the solution always seems to be the simple one…the one that lacks the most thought and empathy. I feel this way about so many things…animals, people, even insects and pests. Everything is doing its best to ‘survive’ and live in this world. At the moment we are having a big problem with toads in our yard. They get into our dogs water bowl and he tries to eat them as well which really concerns me. I can’t however, justify being cruel or unloving to these creatures. They can’t help that they were born a toad, they are just doing their best to survive. I remember as a child, my friend’s mother swerving to hit them on the road and everyone cheering when she squashed one, while I sat quietly in the back seat feeling sick, sad and bewildered. I feel the same for people that have made some wrong choices and have been let down by society. At one time they were a tiny innocent baby. Someone’s precious joy and love. Where did it go wrong, what happened? I think your analogy on wild dogs sums it up completely. They world seems too busy to have empathy and compassion and as much as I try to explain the way that I feel to even my closest loved ones, at times they just don’t seem to GET it. People often look at me like I am quite strange…perhaps I am, I definitely seem to be in the minority and this is one of the many reasons I was told whilst growing up, that I was too sensitive and that I should toughen up. It’s really, really nice to know that I am not the only one who feels this way 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Much love <3
    Michelle

    • I think there are lots of us who feel this way, Michelle. You’re right – its not the wild dogs’ fault or the cane toads’ fault, but when they are outside their natural environment they can do so much harm to others and themselves. No simple solution to any of it, but at least with mindfulness and by making aware choices we still have an ability to make a positive difference in the world. Much love to you too xxxx

  7. This is so true. I didn’t have a safe home, and didn’t know what it was to feel safe until I was 20 years old. It was when I first felt safe that I was able to begin growing into myself, who I truly am – not everyone’s expectations or shoulds – and also heal myself from the past. Now it is one of the things that I plan to create and promote in my practice and my life, because all things need safety, love, respect and to be honoured for who they are in that moment and accepted. Without judgements.

  8. This post touched my heart, I am an animal lover…. I work at a sheltered workshop for people with mental disabilities and I see daily the effects of people who had no love, security or care when they were younger. Humans and animals alike need nurturing and love to thrive.

  9. Reminds me of our own wildness. We are all too quick to be civilized and proper…nothing left to explore in our nature if it is all decided for us. Thank you for your story and wisdom.

    Blessings….Rachél

  10. “Dogs need a safe place to live, with food and care.” when i read that, and before seeing how you continued, I thought ” it’s the same for us human”. Food and a place to live are not always enough. I have food and home, but it’s cold and unsafe.

  11. I had a tear in my eye when I read your post Nicole, because we too had a very distressing situation and were responsible for the crack of a rifle severing stillness yet accompanying the wails of my dying angora goats.

    We had a beautiful herd of angoras until they were shredded and left screaming after two of our neighbours dogs went on a rampage of destruction. A month prior, one morning I went to collect the eggs from my ‘girls’ only to see and feel the horror of blood soaked feathers and carcasses with feint hearts beating strewn across their grassy enclosure. We thought they were protected by strong fencing with a runner of barbed wire along the ground….as we thought with our herd of angoras – but no – the dogs dug in a frenzy and tunnelled their way 60cm deep, leaving shreds of their own coat on the barbed wire.

    The crack of the rifle ended the life not of a wild dog…but of our neighbours… whose vomit after she was shot consisted of commercial dry dog food which she had been lovingly given the night before.

    I still feel a wave of nausea and sadness myself as I remember seeing ‘Jess’ laying there, and recognise that although well loved and cared for, Jess still had something innate in her which drove her to such destruction.

    And sometimes…. no matter how much Love and care some people are offered, they have something innate which cannot be soothed by Love or anything anyone else can do to support them, and they follow a path which ultimately leads to their own destruction.

    • Life is so messy, isn’t it, and not always for us to understand. People and animals will march to their own beat, and while sometimes we can find a way to harmonise with that or lead them from a crazy beat to a calmer one, there will always be others who sit beyond reach, and some who just suddenly veer off in unexpected ways. {{{HUGS}}} Feeling your pain on this one. ♥ xx

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