A Word in Edgewise

On Valentine’s Day, one may harbor—even openly express—feelings of love and affection. Back in grade school, a kind of democratic forced affection prevailed by which we had to provide a card for each kid in the class, boy and girl, to ensure no one was left out. Despite grumblings, the wallflower and the unpopular kid got their share, and everyone thus was able to send one card—sub rosa—to the object of the heart’s desire.

What do kids do today? Text messages? Put it out to the wide, wide world on

But Hallmark isn’t hurting, and Valentine’s Day is still a “license to like.” You may send a card, proffer a flower, or give a hug.

It’s a lot like the weeks in the dark of the year that have been amalgamated into “The Holiday Season”—that bleak span when the ancients looked in the sky, and prayed for the sun’s return.

Religious or secular, I enjoy the festive lights and music, giving and receiving—another occasion when it’s OK to show love and affection to those of whom we are fond.

While musing on these forms of love (take this as a seamless segué), I ran across a concrete expression of love perfectly embodying the selflessness of that elusive entity. Ironically, it emerged out of the horrors of Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Theater of Cruelty.

Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds, hearing about Vick’s arrest for his part in a dogfighting ring, moved to save the 50 animals that remained in his kennels. The California-based husband and wife, founders of BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), negotiated through the prosecuting attorney to have the animals evaluated, rather than put down.

The couple not only managed to save 48 of the 50 dogs, but also brought 13 back to Oakland. The animals, predominantly pit bulls or pit bull crosses, have responded to human love and affection, and a number already have been fostered or adopted.

Even more promising is that many shelters and humane societies, having witnessed this transformation of Vick’s abused animals, are changing their attitudes toward pit bulls, many of which are put down summarily once confiscated.

Thousands still are involved in the lucrative dogfighting business, like the puzzled handler quoted anonymously on ESPN as saying, “They shouldn’t be really upset, OK? Because it’s only just an animal.”

Vick’s prominence, however, and the attention it drew to the Bad Newz inmates, may have spared not only the lives of the 48, but of other pit bull terriers as well.

Racer and Reynolds’s love and determination—the two must be yoked to be effective—have changed the lives of people and animals.

So, send a card, a text message, or roses to that special person, but look to see where your own love and action can make a difference.

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