It’s no secret to anybody who knows me that I love animals — almost all animals. I can usually find something endearing about even the most toothy and scaly specimen. However, my favorite non-human mammal is the domestic dog, and my life has been enriched by a long line of them.

My mother died by inches over a number of years, and she used to distract herself from her own deterioration by remembering the dogs she had loved over a lifetime. It was her fondest thought that when she left this earth, she would be greeted on the other side by the entire contingency of terriers and mixed breeds that had passed on before her. I have no doubt at all that dogs have souls, and I also have no doubt that my sweet mother is currently wearing out the patience of St. Francis as she demands to know, “What is happening to all the dogs in New Orleans?”

My own horror at the events brought about by Hurricane Katrina is divided between the almost unfathomable human misery that the storm has brought about, and the misery of the pets who depended on their now-helpless human beings. The broadcast image of the tiny white dog scratching to get into the bus behind his master of 9 years as the bus prepares to pull away will haunt me for a long time. I can only hope that some kind hand reached down to pick up the dog.

I know that human beings must take precedence during rescue efforts, but the choice to leave the dog behind would not have been mine to make. I would have been one of the old dead women found floating with her pets. I would never have left without them.