Joy: Whats bad about leaving the dog on the street?
Ken: Youre leaving the problem for some other person that you think is going to not do what youre doing, which is keep walking. The other is the dog shouldnt be on the street. The dog needs to be taken care of. The other a dog on a street might get sick; it might spread disease; it might get hit by a car; it might bite someone because after a certain point its so terrified at its own predicament that is an understandable behavior almost. And so there are a million reasons beyond I want to save this little animal” to do something when you see an animal on a street. Yet for the most part people dont want to think about it. And I think part of it too is that people dont want to think that poor animal needs my help because any time we acknowledge that other people need out help we also need to acknowledge in some way that we need others people help. So its easier to think that everything takes care of itself. And that way I dont need to worry either about whether or not there is anyone in the world that will ever help me because everything is going to take care of itself.
Joy: Carrying that forward, whats bad about thinking that everything will take care of itself?
Ken: Because thats not the way the world works.
We all rely on each other in our communities and in the world at large to take care of each other that way. Every decision we make or every decision we dont make affects everybody else. It affects people we know and people we dont know. So when I rescue a dog I dont know who its going to end up living with but at some point someone on the other end of the equation gets this dog who is incredibly grateful to have a home and that will always be grateful to them and be their companion until the end of its life. I dont know who that person is and in most cases Ive never found out specifically who it is, but theyre there. The fact I dont know who it is doesnt mean it doesnt matter, that Ive done this favor for them.
Ive got three dogs that somebody passed on to me in some way. I got Brando by adoption. I have Zephyr, who someone picked up after she fell out of a truck on the highway in Florida and Ive got Sula who really is the only one who came to me completely on her own. I think particularly with Brando and Zephyr, Im wondering: who are these people in their lives who took the time to get Brando off the street in Brooklyn where he was living and take him to a shelter where I eventually found him or take Zephyr off the highway, get her fixed up at a vet and bring her to a foster group where I eventually found her. I feel like I should send them Christmas cards.
Joy: How does that make you feel that you can be one of those people?
Ken: I guess it makes me feel useful. This is the thing is I dont really think about it that much. What I think about is that individual moment between me and the dog; the moment where I see, for example, Valentino at a gas station in Mississippi and I could get in and drive away but instead I chase him down the embankment and invite him into my van and have him kiss me the entire way to New Orleans. Thats a dog that I think about almost every day. Not for hours at a time or anything but thats a dog that is a part of my life, even though I havent seen him since then. I saw him once after that when I checked the home he was staying in and I recognized this dog has found his home and its not with me and hes incredibly happy where he is.
I need to move on so he can move on too. But I think about him all the time. Its as if Ive seen him every day since, even though I havent. Thats how I think of it. I dont think of it like Im such a good person to have helped him and hes so lucky and so are the people who have him, even though they are. I think of him almost as a part of my life, a part of my extended family in a way.
If you have the opportunity to do some good, why not do some good?
Excellent question Ken! Join us tomorrow for the 9th intallment of Ken’s interview!
If you want to check out Ken’s tour schedule or read more about his life in New Orleans, visit his site.