do something

There’s a dog chained up to a tree outside of a house down the road from where I live. He’s not tethered by a rope, but by a heavy chain-link steel chain, something with enough girth to pull in an anchor. Why does a dog need a chain?

I first noticed him this summer. I should have done something sooner. But what? I’m afraid. Afraid of what? I have no idea. Last week, sub-zero temperatures blanketed the are for days and days. That dog was still chained up outside to his tree. Yesterday I drove by and all I could see of him was the puff of black fur of his back. He was curled up and lying in the snow, still tied to his tree. I thought about stopping and knocking on the door and talking to the people that live there. But who am I to do such a thing? From the looks of the property—the abandoned trailers, falling down sheds, and piles of household items that clutter the lawn—these folks are probably not interested in my opinion on how they treat their dog. But I cannot stop thinking about this dog.

Yesterday afternoon, I took my dog for a walk through the woods and imagined what it would be like to have that chained up dog along with us. How would he feel being free to walk about? To sniff the ground and exercise his legs. Would he be full of fear, aggression, both? Would he come back when called or would he disappear into the woods forever? Who would blame him. I wouldn’t come when called by a human either, if being chained to a tree is all that I knew.

I emailed the local shelter and asked for advice. They suggested that I call the local animal control, and included the number. I wrote the number down on a sticky note. I’m staring at the phone number now, still fearful of making the call. What the hell am I afraid of? It’s as if making the call will be stepping over some invisible line that I will never be able to come back from. As if there will be some repercussion for making the call.

I must do something. I cannot do nothing.

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