The Hoarder Within

The Hoarder Within
December 5, 2014 by Steve Duno

The great crusade: to rescue every noble cur in the world, to march on dog shelters like wild knights and claim abandoned mutts who, while they wait, recall sad times and good faces, and stare through chain link at others like them; dogs who have forgotten who they are, and who are literally willing to take on new names if it means a warm spot in a good home with love and fairness. Dogs with infamy in their blood: blood of the fighter, the herder, the protector, the hunter. Tiny dogs, and angry ones too, and worried ones, side by side with with the blood of cozy lovers, worried and blustered with fear and regret, and with distant memories of someone good and fair, who might have passed on or gone mad or turned against them, the betrayal too much for the little ones, now pressing fence, waiting, wondering.

Yes, I too want to invade these places, like a soldier at the end of a war. I want to surround myself with their smell, see the roiling backs of playful, orphaned puppies, stroke the wizened gray beards, calm the fighters and the soothe the lovers, feed the gaunt epicureans, and help the dogs with nails so long they look like Confucian warlords. I even want to be with the ones who have gone insane, those who cannot possibly live in peace again.

Like hoarders, I want them all. I understand the hoarders who, trapped in their own cages, cannot bear their loneliness and grief, and so do the only thing left to do; they collect the lost and lonely and nurture them, though they be incapable of doing so even for themselves. They create another shelter, thinking that they must love, mother and save these innocents in order to endure their own imprisonment.

I get the hearts of hoarders, I really do. Though countless human beings suffer lives of hardship in this world, there is something particularly wrenching about the utter helplessness and servitude of dogs that makes us want to help them. But in their rush to help, hoarders end up, more often than not, hurting those they most want to help. In a bizarre psychological haze of personal tragedies and failures, they have arrived at a place where the only way they can feel substantive is to collect dog after dog, no matter the space limitations, no matter the cost, until their homes become worse than the most detestable shelter, worse even perhaps than a lonely yard or a brash, uncaring owner.

The homes of hoarders are a testament to the phrase: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Driven by a need to insulate themselves from old pains and fears, they stockpile animals over time, until the home is overwhelmed. Feces covers the property; the acrid stench of ammonia from urine hangs in the air. Dead bodies lie beneath garbage. Fleas, ticks and other insects infest the home, which slowly becomes a disease-ridden trap for the dogs, who do their best to conform. That’s what they are famous for, after all.

Most hoarders completely lose connection to reality. A “non-profit shelter” run from a woman’s home in Van Nuys California was found to have over six hundred animals, many of them dead when authorities arrived. One hundred ninety-nine animals were found in a Lynnfield, Massachusetts home, most sick, diseased, dying or dead. Fifty pets were discovered in the home of a Whittmann, Arizona man, whose body was discovered, partially eaten, among the chaos.

The irony is that hoarders, though all well-intentioned, loving people, are as lonely, isolated and damaged as the pets they adopt. In the end, it becomes not a failed attempt to help animals, but an absurd exercise in obsessive-compulsive narcissism, often ending in the clinical treatment of the person, and the euthanasia of many pets. Better they would have stayed in the shelter.

Here in my own small home, I have two large mixed-breed dogs- one big and old, the other, a medium-sized dervish. Though I could easily take in another unfortunate, I’ve decided to resist that temptation, and stick with what I have for now. It’s not so much number as it is activity levels, I suppose; three lazy Greyhounds would be a piece of cake, while three Border Collies would wreck the status quo and make everyone nuts.

I get it. I know my limit is two or three, tops. That’s why I avoid trips to the shelter, or visits to certain websites that display local dogs in desperate need of homes. I avoid these, because of my space and time limitations, and because I know that, deep down, a weak, well-meaning crazy person lurks within, ready to don a cape and swoop down on the nearest shelter, to rescue, liberate, stockpile. I know he’s in there; I just keep him well contained. Until I get a bigger house.

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Comments (1)

Good site you have got here.. It's difficult to find good quality
writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people
like you! Take care!!
Sun, 08/19/2018 - 16:52

Dog of the Week!

Meet: Misha