If you live in the New Jersey area chances are you have heard about the intentional crate drowning of a 10 week old Golden Retriever puppy who has been given the name “Jenny”. #justiceforjenny.
It can be very difficult to hear the details and see the graphic photos of Puppy Jenny, especially knowing her story is NOT the exception. Puppy Jenny is the face of millions of animals who have endured torture and abuse at the hands of a demented human. When hearing these stories, I’m sure most of us can sense the echo of our own grief and losses stirring about in the deepest recesses of our psyche, knowing these feelings will eventually come to the surface. This reminds me that grief is not a disease or disorder that can or needs to be “fixed”. Grief is a natural and expected human (and sometimes animal) reaction to the loss and/or death of something or someone we love. Over time grief changes shape and most certainly changes us along the way but it never truly leaves. Grief is like a gentle echo that is always in the background and sometimes makes a front and center appearance.
Professionally, I know that sometimes it is collective tragedy which awakens and triggers our individual sense of sorrow and loss. Collective Grief is grief that is experienced by a group such as; a community, society, village, or nation as a result of an event such as war, natural disaster, terrorist attacks, death of a public figure, or any other event leading to mass casualties or national tragedy. This is also true in the case of companion animal abuse and cruelty. In today’s world of social media, every day we are bombarded with graphic images, reports, and stories of animal cruelty and abuse. If you find reports of animal cruelty to be a trigger for your own companion animal loss or unresolved grief know that you are certainly not alone and this is a very common experience. In addition to eliciting our own feelings of sorrow and loss, bearing witness to animal cruelty may offer us a reflection to the parts of our own tragic history and bring these unsettling emotions to the surface. We may find ourselves feeling; vulnerable, defenseless, helpless, powerless, fragile, and on the receiving end injustice. Perhaps we see ourselves in these defenseless animals and the parts of ourselves that need to be “rescued”. While our call to action can help bring awareness and sensitivity to animal cruelty, bearing witness to images and stories of animal abuse may bring the wounded parts of ourselves to the surface and serve to heal those injured and fragile parts.
In the case of Puppy Jenny, the animal and Golden Retriever community has joined together in solidarity to stand up and have a voice for the voiceless, to be the defender, rescuer, and offer reprieve from suffering for those who cannot. We can crumble under the weight of this and other tragedies or we can stand up and fight for those who have and continue to suffer at the hands of the wicked. Let our voices echo the love, dignity and respect they deserve; while at the same time possible saving ourselves along the way. Rest in Peace Puppy Jenny…
December 19, 2018
Transcendence in Suffering: A Brief Personal Reflection