You don’t see much wildlife living in the city. There are birds , sure, little ones like sparrows and robins that build nests in city trees. Squirrels, too, that dig in my potted plants out back hiding their nuts for winter, swooshing dirt on the concrete ground. And alley cats, feral or stray, weak looking animals that need a hot shower and a good meal. Oh, and pigeons, munching tidbits in the city parks. And rats..
Lots of pet dogs on leashes and cats in windows, too. The cats rarely get out but dog walking is a major sport in South Philadelphia, where I live. All kinds of dogs — shapes and sizes — and all kinds of owners — young and old — equipped with ready when needed leash-it bags. Maybe someday dogs will learn to use the litter box.
Walked-dogs don’t bark, either. At least those I see in the hood’. That’s why, at work, the barking quickly got my attention. I remember when I first heard it. My office building sat on top of the Market Street sidewalk. Huge windows separating me from passing pedestrians.
The first time I heard the barking I was in a meeting. It started from afar, but grew in volume as it passed by, then slowly faded like a smog-induced Delaware River sunset. All in a minute or two.
Befriending David and Scrapps taught me something about the homeless. Before, I’d ignore the homeless — as if they were ghosts hanging around the city, down on their luck, with no possible connection to me; I hardly gave them a look. I think most people are like that.
They see but don’t see.
David and Scrapps changed things for me. Sometimes, now, instead of ignoring them, I’ll stop and talk to the street people, buy them a sandwich, a cup of coffee, or give them a dollar or two — if I’m sure it’s not for alcohol or drugs. You can never be sure. Like David and Scrapps, they all have a life and a story — a story that’s as important as yours and mine.