I'm thinking of not talking impeachment today. I don't want to be responsible for someone's poor health. According to a recent University of Nebraska study, the politics that divide us have not only gotten worse, they've gotten so bad they're affecting our health. The study identifies this as a national health crisis induced by politics. It's not so surprising really. We've long been aware that stress is detrimental to health. The Nebraska study found that 40 percent of us report feeling stress over partisan battles (and this was before impeachment). Twenty percent of those surveyed report losing sleep. Another 20 percent report lost friendships, while 4 percent report suicidal thoughts connected to political turmoil. Imagine someone so upset by our president's last tweet that they kill themselves. So I'll change the subject before getting into it. Impeachment can wait. I have a feeling it will be around for a while. We could talk about dogs instead.
Telluride, if you hadn't noticed, is a dog town. Many of our best citizens are dogs. They are placed high on the social scale here. They're not kept at home, out of sight or out of mind. For someone like myself who suffers face blindness, and, yes, that's the actual technical term for my condition, having your dog with you when I meet you on the street helps me remember who you are. I may not recognize you until you speak, but chances are I know you by the dog on the other side of the leash. I may even know its name, which is more than I can say about you.
Dogs are basically wolves, but they're different from wolves; outstandingly different. Dogs will mourn for us when we pass on. Dogs will attempt to dig us out of collapsed homes. They'll become agitated when we cry out in distress or pain, and try to rescue us if they have an idea of how to do that. They'll fight off any other animal that threatens us, even if it endangers their own lives. I read a news story recently about a dog that fought off a poisonous snake to protect its families small children. It was bitten four times and succumbed to it's wounds. In North Wales, there is the village of Bedgallert, named after the faithful hound of a Welsh king, who was left to protect his young son. A pack of wolves attacked the boy and killed him, despite the dog’s best efforts. The king found his son torn apart and his dog covered in blood. He killed the dog Gallert assuming Gallert was responsible. Almost immediately he realized that the blood on the fur of his dog was Galllert's blood. He pieced together the story and was overcome with shame and grief for this rash act of misplaced vengeance. Gallert is memorialized with a plaque in that village from which I learned this sad story.
Dogs demonstrate extreme loyalty and even affection for whatever animals they're raised among, even humans. There's a small colony of penguins in New Zealand that was rescued from annihilation from marauding foxes by bringing puppies to the colony that quickly became their protectors. Sheep dogs, especially the Pyrenees breed, that are raised with sheep from a very early age, take on a similar role. Wolves are another story. You can gain the affection of the wolf you raise as a pup, but don't expect it to bring you your morning newspaper or howl it's terrible cry when you leave this veil of tears.
So here we have two species of animal, each with an extraordinary capacity to care for others, even outside normal bounds of similarity, family, species, tribe or faction. I doubt if any dog ever cared about the party it's master belonged to; it doesn't concern them in the least. There's a fine example there if only we could follow it when our politics have become so extreme and divisive. Let's not confuse differences among us as barriers. If you want to rise above the political nonsense and partisan skirmishing that defines our times, be more like a dog. Care for your fellow humans like their dogs care for them. Care about their politics about as much as their dogs care.