...I'd seen death in pictures, on the side of the road, but never so immediately or violently. It wasn't pain by degrees, the bumps and scrapes we accrue every day, lessened by love and whatever gives us comfort. It was final, irrevocable. I stood there for ten minutes,unable to look at anything but this nameless dying dog.I really suggest you read the whole thing - it's not long. You'll find: the empathy of a nameless narrator. The indifference of passerby. The character of our community. The almost-humanity of a dog. The finality of death.
I'm a big fan of any newspaper that puts this kind of thing on its front page.
I say the almost-humanity of a dog. It's interesting to me - if dogs possessed nothing like humanity, the article wouldn't be evocative at all. If dogs possessed complete humanity, it would be too horrifying to view in a detached manner.
Something about other mammals is just right - they're like us enough to be loved, but unlike us enough that their loss isn't crippling to us. And their experiences are a great proxy for understanding our own.
Is that why they sent chimps into space first?