A question came up on this blog not long ago in the form of an accusatory comment: “When did you last hear him talk about loving his animals?”
As I work on this story and discuss it with people, I get that question a lot: “Did he love his animals?”
It is posed to me so frequently that a couple of months ago, I told Doug Spink what people were asking. I expected him to be offended. Most people with animal companions don’t get asked questions like that. It’s just assumed that we love them.
But he wasn’t offended. Just the opposite.
“That’s the question they should be asking,” was his answer.
In the course of our interviews, Doug Spink has spent many hours talking about his four-legged companions and how much he misses them. There has been tears, and intense mourning, and anger for what could have been if the raid never came. The other day, we sat down for a few hours with 600 photographs of his seven dogs and four horses, and went through them one at a time.
He talked about their personality traits. He spoke about the bonds they shared with him, and with each other. He told me who was inseparable from whom; which ones formed tight friendships, and which did not. He showed me pictures of the big bowls of high-quality food he mixed up for the dogs and horses at mealtime, “always a happy time”, meals which included vegetables he grew himself. He showed me favorite toys they played with, and the different colored bandanas he dressed them in day to day, plus the seasonal ones they had for the holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day. I saw the fuzzy warm coats he bought for them to wear when the rain and winter bite rolled in, and the cozy blankets he wrapped them in while they were sleeping.
Whatever you might think of this story and Doug Spink, the question of “Did he love his animals?” isn’t the difficult one to answer. There are other, more complicated questions that surround this subject, deep philosophical ideas about the bonds we share with other species on our planet, and the roles we should play in each other’s lives. But this isn’t one of those hard questions.
FYI: I still haven’t been able to find out from Whatcom Humane Society executive director Laura Clark if his dogs are dead or alive yet, but I will. New information is filtering in every day from a multitude of sources. Whether that happens before the book is published or after, I firmly believe the truth will become known. As it should be.
Did he love them?
View the photo gallery and decide for yourself.