Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009

So, Sarah’s taking an ethics class. It seems she has us discussing ethical issues (or seemingly ethical issues) wherever we go…pondering questions like “What is cultural relativism? Should we make a comment when someone steals our bath soap? What if their culture doesn’t have the same beliefs about property as we do?” Etc.

People aren’t that much different here in Spain than they are in the States. The unemployment rate is high here too. Almost twice the U.S.’s actually. So when the weight of the world gets too heavy to bear, what’s a brother to do? That’s right. Take it out on the dog.

There aren’t any leash laws in Spain. (Nor do you have to clean up after your dogs, so watch where you’re stepping in Madrid.) The other day Sarah and I were walking back from the grocery, enjoying all Madrid had to offer, when a dog (boxer? lab?… I don’t know – they’re all mutts here) runs past us. Fido was then quickly followed by an older Spaniard, chasing him at a pretty impressive clip across a couple of lanes of traffic. He caught up with his dog about a half a block on in the middle of the parkway.

As we got closer, we realized this stressed out little man was beating the living crap out of his wayward dog. It went on and on – scolding him, backhanding him, slapping him, grabbing his jowls, then more scolding, backhanding, slapping and grabbing again and again… over and over. Finally, when he kicked Fido and the poor dog yipped, well, that was it. We’d both had enough. Even though we hadn’t been in Spain quite two weeks, Sarah and I both felt at home enough to yell at the guy. “Hey, leave him alone!” Sarah shouted. I told him to “Knock it off!” both of which I’m sure were lost somewhere in translation. We’re pretty sure he got the idea though.

And he did knock it off. I think he might’ve even got the hint that he went too far with his corrective canine measures. I’m sure he cared very much for his companion. But why this need to absolutely crush one who’s made a mistake under his righteous indignation? I could theorize, but let’s just leave it as it simply being a human reaction. I find myself kicking the dog sometimes too. But when I do, I hope you’ll be that brash American who will yell at me from across the street. I’ll get the idea.

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