Monday, July 29, 2019

Do the right thing

Each day during our walk here in Empire, the last leg of our path takes us up the road in front of our house.

Without fail, I have to pick up a cigarette butt, beer can, or fast food bags that someone has decided to
share with me. One day in frustration, I asked a rhetorical question – why do people insist on doing this?

Jilda made an astute observation when she said, “Some people will not do the right thing.”

Since the Tyson wastewater spill into the Mulberry Fork back in June, I’ve stopped at the river every day. Walking along the water’s edge, I look upriver for signs of fish or other critters in the water. So far, I haven’t seen any. This past week, I did see a blue heron sitting on a log at the mouth of the river, and this was encouraging.

What is heartbreaking is that every time I stop by the Forks, I have to spend time picking up cans, and other litter. This garbage was not left there by some faceless corporation doing business upstream. This was someone who lives here. One of us.

I would be willing to bet that those littering the riverbank were outraged by the Tyson spill, but see no problem with leaving their own garbage on the banks of the river.

I’m not sure what it will take to educate people to do the right thing.

It’s not just litter I’m talking about. Jilda and I live on a dead-end road. Ever since we moved here in 1980, people have dumped their unwanted dogs here.

Through the years, many of the dogs found their way to our house. I’ve written columns in the past about most of them.

One dog that someone dumped looked like a Labrador Retriever. It was a beautiful dog, but it wheezed and coughed constantly. I knew by the sound of the cough that he had heartworms.

We asked around if anyone had lost a dog, but I knew no one would claim this poor creature. Instead of euthanizing their old friend, which would have been the humane thing to do, his former owners dumped him on the road near our house.

He only lived a few months, but his last days were comfortable with plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep. He died in the doghouse in the backyard, and we buried him along with our other pets we’ve lost through the years. Wheezer was one of the most loving dogs we’ve ever cared for. How someone could have tossed him out like a used Dixie cup was beyond my grasp.

Here’s the deal: Doing the right thing is always the best path to choose. Having a dying animal euthanized is hard. I know this for a fact because I’ve done it several times. It’s brutal. But dumping a loving dog on a dead-end road to die alone is even more heartbreaking. Putting a sick animal down is not easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

It’s not always cheap to fix a plant so that it doesn’t pollute a priceless river, but it’s the right thing to do. Putting your garbage in a waste receptacle might make you take a few extra steps, but it’s the right thing to do. 


  1. This makes me so angry! I bet the morons who litter don’t know what happened to the river or simply don’t care. I would have them drink the water. That poor dog and those owners should never have a dog again but we know this won’t happen. I am sick of these people who abuse animals and simply say the6 can’t afford vet bills. They should not have animals then. I bet they see your home and think it’s quite right to do what they do...right for them not what is right. I grew up in the country and we got lol our cats and dogs from people who dropped them off. Once, when I was little, waiting for the bus by the deep ditch of our driveway, I noticed a garbage bag. Often people would throw out t(sir garbage as well so I went to it and saw it move! I opened it up and there were tiny kittens only a couple of days old. I got my mom (missed the bus) and she took the kittens and we cared for them and were proud owners of 6 cats. It was worth missing the bus.

  2. We always have beer or pop cans on the frontage by the street. I'll never understand anyone who litters. It was a major offense in our house if I saw any of my kids throwing stuff out a car window or dropping stuff on the sidewalk. Dropping off pets is an everyday happening on farms in our area. People think if you have property, or a farm you'll take an animal. We rescued Chubbs from a shelter that found him dumped on the road. He was the sweetest dog ever and I also don't understand anyone getting rid of him. He took a piece of my heart when he died.

  3. I suspect (hope) that spill will cost the company a lot more than preventing it would have, the river may come back but it will take years, very sad. I was just thinking the other day how seldom I see liter on our highways these days where it used to be very common, I think people may be getting more careful about that, but I have seen stream when I used to fly fish that had the cans, bottles and stuff you mention and winder how someone could disrespect something a beautiful and valuable as a fishing stream. As to dumping an animal, I have no words!

  4. Very good heartfelt post my friend. Habits taught by seniors are carried on by their off spring. Not everyone 'knows' the right thing and that is a shame.
    I'm with you on your logic, and you are right.
    Sherry & jack up in NC

  5. Sigh. And hiss and spit.
    Having a much loved animal euthanized is hard, but is the very least we can do.
    And there is no excuse for littering. None.

  6. My Mom and Dad would punish us if we littered. There needs to be more parental guidance with the younger ones now days. We see it along the roads when we walk. We even see it when it happens. People just seem to think its fine to throw their empty fast food bags out the window. I always wonder, “Do these people really enjoy living in filth?”.

  7. Hear, Hear! I agree, Rick!

  8. Some people think tossing rubbish on the roadside IS the right thing to do. It's exasperating beyond belief.
    As for abandoning sick or unwanted animals, that just makes me see red. I'm of the opinion that some one who treats animals badly will also treat people badly.

  9. My heart breaks over the actions of fellow human idiots. Whether it is litter or animals, so many do not accept responsibility for their actions. And I'm so afraid it will get worse. Thank you for loving Wheezer.

  10. Well said! I once saw two men in a pick-up abandon a dog at a gas station. When they took off at high speed that poor thing chased them for blocks. Luckily someone in that neighborhood took it in. Can you imagine all the emotions that poor dog felt while trying to let its owner know it wanted to go with him?

  11. I think too many kids are raising themselves these days and have no integrity to do the right thing. Our kids and grandkids have been raised to respect nature and to not litter.
    It's hard to understand why people abandon animals. It breaks my heart. People have abandoned pregnant cats at our farm many times and it's been difficult to control cat population. An old man asked if he could leave his old cat at our farm because he had gotten messy in the house.

    I hope the fish returns to your brook.
    Hugs, Julia

  12. Thank you for this post! In our youth, throwing trash was incomprehensible. No one would have done that. But then. things changed with the coming generations.

    In Switzerland, no one would think of littering. Country pride.


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