"A brown dog sits in a field. There's a collar around her neck. It's three inches thick and attached to a heavy chain, which clips unto a car axle that's buried so one end sticks out of the ground. As the dog paces in the heat, the axle spins, ensuring that the rattling chain won't become entangled."
"The dog paces a lot, wearing a circle in the scrubby weeds and sandy soil around the perimeter of the axle. She paces because there's little else to do. Sometimes a squirrel or a rabbit or a snake crosses nearby and she barks and chases it, or she lunges and leaps after the dragonflies and butterflies that zip and flutter past."
"She flicks her tail at mosquitoes and buries her muzzle in her fur, chewing at the itchy crawly things that land on her. If she's lucky she digs up a rock that she can bat around and chew on, but otherwise there are just the weeds and the bugs and the hot sun inching across the sky."
"She is not alone. Other dogs are spread around this clearing in the trees. They can see one another, hear one another bark and whine and growl, but they can't get to one another. They can't run they can't play, they can't anything. They can get close to their immediate neighbors, stand almost face-to-face, but they can never touch, a planned positioning meant to frustrate and enrage them. For some it does; for many it simply makes them sad."
Fast forward to now. Today. You can meet Jim Gorant on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show on September 27, 11 am EST.