It must be dog week on this blog. Caution: this post is going to deviate from my usual light-hearted banter, so be warned.
I just finished reading "The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tales of Rescue and Redemption" by Jim Gorant.
It's a gruesome story, but also heartwarming and hopeful. Much of the book focuses on the process the dogs went through to be evaluated, socialized and (most) eventually adopted. The dogs' desire to be "good" dogs, the work they did, the trust they gave and the love and joy they found is deeply moving, and highlights the rescue and redemption mentioned in the title.
The gruesome part is what the dogs went through at the Bad Newz Kennels. And who was involved, and how he's now celebrated by everyone from the Humane Society to NFL fans and President Obama. That would be Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles, this season's "Comeback Player of the Year."
A USDA report stated that Vick personally electrocuted, strangled, drowned, and shot dogs. He wanted losing dogs killed rather than given away. He hanged dogs from trees, electrocuted them with jumper cables, held them underwater until they drowned in his swimming pool, and even threw his own family dogs into the fighting pit to be torn to shreds while he laughed.
A person afflicted with a personality disorder characterized by a tendency to commit antisocial and sometimes violent acts and a failure to feel guilt for such acts.
Is he a psychopath, and has he reformed? I don't know. Michael Vick didn't stop fighting dogs because he saw the error of his ways. He operated his dogfighting ring for six years and only stopped when he was caught. He denied all involvement and confessed only after others blew the whistle. His carefully-worded repentent statements certainly sound like the work of his p.r. team.
I would like to believe in second chances. But there's a difference between offering a second chance and a multimillion-dollar NFL contract. And now sportswriters and others are calling his standout playing comeback a redemption. If he never played after jail, would he not be redeemed? And what does how well you play a game have to do with moral or ethical redemption?
I can't say if he's reformed or been redeemed. I can only look at what he was capable of and go from there. And on the positive side, having someone so high-profile involved in dogfighting and abuse has brought it into the national consciousness, and the results have redeemed pitbulls in some peoples' eyes.
It's complicated. However, this gives me chills:
In an interview with NBC News, Vick said he wants a dog. "I would love to get another dog in the future," Vick said. "If I ever have the opportunity again I will never take it for granted. I miss having a dog right now." What part was taking dogs "for granted?" And what part does he miss?
OK: let the comments begin! Please know that I'll delete any racist, profane or just plain obnoxious ones. 'Cause it's my blog.