Breaking the Bubble: A selfless act to benefit lonely dogs

Alethea Buchal

So we all know we live in it –– the Whitman bubble. I think I’ve had about fifty conversations this year so far about the bubble and what it means to different people. While some find it comforting, most find it debilitating, because it makes us forget what’s happening beyond the borders of our beautiful campus and the events that are shaking the real world or even our immediate surrounding community. Thus, I propose a solution, a new column called “Breaking the Bubble,” which will feature student experiences outside of Whitman and in the general community, nation, or world. I’m open to submissions and will simply start this experiment with a recent personal experience.

 We cannot forget that once we leave Whitman, the world won’t necessarily be devoid of kindness or charm, but it certainly won’t be easy. For example, consider the work of the Blue Mountain Humane Society: one of our community service members.  

The weekend before last, I went to the humane society with my friend Jennifer Farley, who spends at least 2 hours every week at the humane society, and witnessed true suffering. The Blue Mountain Humane Society actually looks quite beautiful on the outside: it appears clean, white and fresh: but on the inside, in the back, there’s a room that smells of pee, poop, vomit and every bodily function you would never want to inhale in your life.  

The room is filled with maybe forty cages altogether, in each a huge dog. The room is never silent. Well maybe at night, or when no one is around. But the instant Jennifer and I entered the air was on fire with a barking cacophony. My ears burned with the mixture of high- and low-pitched burning barks.  

It was painful. Yet it was more painful to see their faces. Their eyes were incredibly intense. It was like they were trapped in more than the physical sense. Jennifer grabbed a leash and opened the first cage to release a skinny, large brown lab. Immediately the barking intensified.  

Jennifer tripped forward as the dog lunged at every other dog in the surrounding cages snarling, barking and gnashing teeth. We ran for the door. Outside, Jennifer gave me the leash and I stood there as the dog peed for a minute straight. I didn’t have a watch, but I bet if I had counted it out completely, it would have been 60 seconds.  

The dog was so skinny, it seemed impossibly that it could retain so much fluid. Jennifer said that the more well-trained dogs tried to hold it completely, while others just released their bodily functions in the cages spontaneously.  

I thought about the smell of piss in the room and felt sick.

That day we walked a total of 8 dogs. Some were hyper and gave us rope-burns, others just wanted to breathe in the fresh air or roll in the grass, but every dog attacked the other caged creatures on its way in and out, seeming to glory in the inequality of their fellow sufferers.  

I don’t know the statistics, but I do know that there were many dogs we didn’t walk that never get walked. So the next time you got a big test or a paper, just imagine being stuck in a cage with only a bowl of water and a bowl of dog food, waiting anxiously for someone: anyone: to give you the chance to be free, if only for a minute.  

Got bubble breakers? Email Alethea Buchal at [email protected]