A dog rescue offers some perspective in constant outrage


By Rex Huppke



I was going to write about the chaos of the moment.

About the perpetual outrage machine of which I admittedly am a part. About a comedian making jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner and her targets — both members of the Trump administration and Washington reporters and pundits themselves — not being able to handle jokes.

About those who mock safe spaces needing a safe space. About those who would cringe if vicious comedic barbs were directed at a Democratic administration — don’t tell me you wouldn’t, you most certainly would — mocking everyone for overreacting. About those who work for a name-calling, crude, foul-mouthed president pretending such things are inappropriate from someone else.

I was going to write about the North Korea conundrum, in which a president who many, myself included, consider incompetent might possibly have blustered his way into a foreign policy success. It’s not that simple, of course, nor is it certain that peace will be kept. But for the moment, credit where credit’s due, right? We’d sing the praises of a less loathsome leader if she or he accomplished the same.

I was going to write about all that, about how lost America seems right now with endless what-about-ism and hypocrisy.

And then I read about about a dog named Finn and decided I’d write about him instead.

Frivolous? Perhaps. A cop-out? Maybe.

But there’s something about Finn’s story that might do us more good than all that other stuff.

A story in the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana over the weekend introduced us to Finn, a 6-month-old dog who was riding with his owner, Lucas Cardona, in a semitrailer heading west on the Indiana Toll Road on April 20.

Cardona lost control of the rig on a curve and it flipped over. Finn was in the sleeper cab, terrified. When rescue workers knocked out the windshield to free Cardona, Finn ran off before his master could grab him.

“Once he saw daylight, he took off and before I grabbed his collar, he was gone,” Cardona told the newspaper.

The driver was bruised but OK, more worried about his dog than himself. According to the Post-Tribune story, Cardona is “a veteran of the Marine Corps and Army National Guard who was injured in Kuwait.”

He moved to Michigan recently and he and Finn — a curious mix of Dalmatian, Labrador and St. Bernard — have been inseparable since he got the dog on Christmas Eve.

One of the paramedics who responded to the crash happened to be a dog lover. When she’s not saving lives, Mary Esserman works part-time at an animal hospital near Chester, Ind. She decided that Finn would not stay lost.

Over the next four days, Esserman led a search that at various times involved the Indiana State Police, Porter County Animal Control, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department and even a drone belonging to the Porter Fire Department.

Late Tuesday night, Esserman found Finn. Cardona had gone back to Michigan, but she called him on her cellphone so Finn could hear his master’s voice.

The pair were reunited Saturday in Indiana.

“The community was outstanding,” Cardona told the Post-Tribune. “I owe the community everything, and the tip of the spear was (Esserman).”

There are things in this story on which we can all agree: Esserman, and those who helped search for the missing dog, did a truly good thing; Cardona’s love for Finn is heartwarming; and Finn, I’m quite sure, is a very good boy.

We can agree on those things without knowing anything about the people involved. I know nothing about Cardona’s politics. I don’t know whether Esserman watched the White House Correspondents Dinner and took offense to anything comedian Michelle Wolf said.

I don’t know how Finn feels about North Korea’s promise to halt its nuclear program, and I don’t care. Because none of that matters. What matters is that an accident and a lost dog brought Cardona and Esserman and the Northwest Indiana community together and something good happened.

People did the right things. People cared about other people, and about a scared puppy who could have easily been forgotten.

Those are the things we miss in the chaos of the moment. Those are things I miss when I’m outraged.

Sometimes outrage is justified, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s hypocritical, and sometimes it’s born of frustration over things we can’t control.

But there are always stories out there like the one about Finn. Stories about people doing good things, finding dogs, helping others.

And we can’t overlook those stories, or the deeper message they convey.

For this column, I was going to write about the chaos of the moment. Instead I decided to write about a dog named Finn.

I think it was the right decision.

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By Rex Huppke

Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at rhuppke@chicagotribune.com.

Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at rhuppke@chicagotribune.com.

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