Sophie’s Choice

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“Capture their spirit with your camera, Inder.” My Grandfather had a standard answer for why my pictures didn’t look as good as his, as he peered through his top drawer lens on his Rollie flex camera.

Thirty years later, here I am; prostrate in the grass of a Clear Lake, Texas home- waiting for the dog to show me her spirit. How do I capture her spirit , Grandpapa? The ten month old tan and white pit-bull lies on her back, limbs akimbo; silly as a tart, goofy as a ball of yarn. Her mud brown iris that encompasses her black pupil enlarges as she locks her gaze through the camera lens into my eyes.

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Wait a minute; that is her spirit; a goofball.

A few months ago Sophie lived by the railroad tracks and a church in the Wayside area of Houston, Texas. A shattered front leg caused her to limp up and down the tracks but when Joel: a local factory worker showed her some love –she warmed up to him right away.

Joel and his colleague Danny brought her food and water and one day they took Sophie to a local Vet’s office. Such is the level of Sophie’s trust for humans that she willingly jumped into their car. Struggling to make ends meet themselves, Joel and Danny did what they could to get Sophie the help she needed.

The Vet was certain that Sophie would’ve been raised to breed bait dogs or a puppy mill mama when she was old enough, so he spayed her right away. He thought, when she had broke her leg (abuse or accident), she was promptly abandoned; discarded like garbage. Now she needed surgery to be a 100% healthy again.

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But she already is a 100% dog and 200% a puppy. She’s playful, careless, energetic and often forgets that her leg hurts. After being rescued by S.A.V.E  rescue coalition, Angela placed her with a charming family of fosters. Here she thrives amongst two other dogs, two energetic young ladies and a loving couple. They frolic and play in the lawn all day- and when they are tired; they frolic some more. In a few short weeks she will get her surgery and fully recover from it.

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That is Sophie’s spirit. Despite having to endure pain and cruelty, abandonment and starvation- she hasn’t forgotten how to remain a silly-goofy-puppy.

She’s a hand-me-down dog. A Sophie who wasn’t given a choice but her choice is very clear. She chooses love over hatred, a string of a sweatshirt over a dog-fight.

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Anyone who allow themselves to be touched by Sophie’s soul will be a part of her loving choice. The question is – Do you choose Sophie to give you a chance at her life?

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Gammy Saves Arse-Souls (like me)

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Her silver hair is ruffled by the wind again. She takes her frail hand off the microphone and straightens her hair. Then she places a hand on her knee and slumps into a chair.

“That’s my grandma”, I blurt out to nobody in particular. The woman standing next to me looks me up and down. My brown complexion which is in stark contrast of the pale Caucasian woman is the reason why she’s baffled. The gray bristles in my salt and pepper scruff defies the relationship too.

My grandma is frozen in time in my mind from fifteen years ago. This woman however is a pastor at a church. I’m attending an event called ‘Blessing of the Pets’ at The Church of Good-Shepherd in Tomball, Texas.

Somebody brings a dog to her. She places her palm on the dogs head and mutters a few words. My eyes are transfixed at hers. It doesn’t matter what she’s saying. Her eyes magnified by her glasses are flooded with love for the dog.

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I’ve never been to one of these events before. I’m just a volunteer photographer there. I’ve never been inside a church in session (or whatever it is the real expression). I’m not a Christian- I’m not even religious. However there is one language she is speaking that I believe in.

In her heart she’s not blessed a dog, she’s not blessed a cat. If there were a lion or a deer here- she would’ve blessed them too. She has blessed a soul. And I speak soul fluently.

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Is it my grandma teaching me a lesson in compassion or a pastor teaching me how to not be speciesist? I don’t know- but I think I’ve learned my lesson for today.

Have we all at the event learned some lesson? The joyous costumes and the cute children are out in numbers. My gaze hidden behind my lens wanders around till I observe a kids face getting licked by a pitbull.

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This toddler reaches out to the pitbull with his small arms and wants to be kissed again.

The answer is –Yes others have learned from the pastor as well. The hope that these animals have from being saved from the cruelty that’s meted on them rests with these kids. This boy in a fire-fighter’s hat; This girl with a dog by her side and this one with a dog on his lap. All of them are the only hope these animals have- and not just the pets; All animals.

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Amen to that.