Two Dogs Without Recognition

Ava Grieco

As bystanders in life, we watch those suffering around us; unaware of what to do and unable to notice the pain living in the eyes of others. We stand here in life, questioning what is going on around us, focusing too much on ourselves, and leaving those in the shadows to die off without recognition.

In the thoughtful and eye-opening novel Hirut and Hailu and Other Short Stories, by Teodros Kiros, there is a specific short story by the name of Two Dogs that perfectly portrays the way we interact with other struggling beings in this world. In the short story, the struggling beings are put into the perspective of two dogs waiting for their owners on a cold evening outside a café. There is George, who is older, jet-black, tired of living, and then there is Shiva, who is eager to be noticed, dancing to the bitter cold. The owners point to Shiva and conclude that there is no meaning to this shivering other than Shiva wanting attention, so they go back to their actions regarding themselves only.

This act of ignorance towards compassion is the first example of the way privileged beings look and act towards less fortunate beings. When we walk down the streets, we have a tendency to ignore those who are struggling, asking for money and for food, because we try to convince ourselves that it is the attention that they want, and that their begging is solely for this attention, so we do our best to avoid that confrontation. But what Two Dogs teaches us, is that the perspective of the broken is not always wanting what we think they want. By the end of the short story, both dogs end up passing away; Shiva from a rare pneumonia, and George from a nameless disease. The conclusion we can come to here is yes, they died from a sickness, but also from lack of love. Beings cannot exist here if we are not validated and cared for in some way by another being, our souls will simply cease to live without love and compassion. We are creatures of connection, and we need to be social to survive.

George gives us a perspective that we, as privileged beings, do not normally jump straight to. He looks at the situation as the way one should, and questions the bystanders eloquently.

“George is gazing at the customers inside, as if he is wondering about them, amazed that they themselves are two ignored beings outside, long stereotyped, as if they were born to suffer the cold, the heat, and much else that nature has to offer, without complaint. George says to himself, ‘Oh, who cares about how we feel, just as long as we are petted though sometimes against our will. We can’t even say no. Just about anybody can touch us, even when we don’t want them to’.”
We are humbled while reading the thoughts of George, he brings us back to reality. We can relate this back to the way society and privileged beings treat the less fortunate: we feel that because we have more privilege, we have the right to just simply ignore them. When in this reality, no being is more important than the other, and every being deserves to be looked in the eye and told there is worth in their existence.

An important part from the quote above is when George speaks about how they are stereotyped, as if they were born to suffer these extreme temperatures without a second thought. This really ties into the way society stereotypes the homeless population on the streets. We walk by aimlessly as human beings are being placed into the extreme temperatures the dusk has to offer, and we say nothing at all. Society treats people on the streets as if this is what they had coming; but the reality is, no being deserves to sit in such extreme temperatures to simply rot away. Living being deserve love, care, and respect; things of which we are lacking in the times of today.

Nearing the end of the short story, George and Shiva are commanded to their small and unpleasant room. The lights are gone, and the night grows deeper. Shiva is getting weaker while George helplessly watches as his companion for the last four years is slowly dying. It becomes morning, Shiva has passed and George lets out a cry. Two days later George joins Shiva into the beyond. And we are left with the pieces, only to realize what we’ve done after the damage.

This is a mirror image of the point of realization for the bystanders to the pain and suffering in those less fortunate. Two Dogs short story really show us the importance of viewing things in more than just our perspective. We are gifted to see through the eyes of the less fortunate, being George and Shiva, and we get to watch as those around them chose to be unaware of the true situation. It is so symbolic to the way we attempt to read situations in our day to day lives. We walk down the streets, overwhelmed with our own senses, that we seldom recognize the true pain and suffering in those sleeping on the streets or asking for spare change. We try our best to avoid eye contact, as we walk by with our pride held high on our noses; but the truth haunts us deep inside as we walk by. Because if we continue to emulate the customers inside the café, we will constantly miss the signs of suffering, and we will continue to live with the regret of not doing something that might have saved a struggling soul.

We are in this universe together, and we all deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion. Whether we are humans, dogs, plants, trees, etc., each and every being that exists deserves nothing but love and respect. Living in this day and time, we may find that these very things that life should consist of, are what we lack the most. But reading through Two Dogs really opens up our perspectives to understanding life through the eyes of the less fortunate. Bringing us that much closer to recognition of the shadows in the corners; noticing those who have, for so long, gone unnoticed.

Work Cited:

Kiros, Teodros. Hirut and Hailu and Other Short Stories. The Red Sea Press, 2014.

Ava Marie Grieco was born in Boston, MA and raised in Andover, MA. She has just finished her first year at Berklee College of Music with a double major in Songwriting and Performance, and a double minor in Philosophy and Music Technology.
Featured Artwork: Joshua Veitch-Michaelis from Leamington Spa, England (Dead flowers, Pére Lachaise Cemetery) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons