Marc Hedlund's Blog

The Work of Dogs

I watched the clip on today from ”God Grew Tired of Us,” a documentary about Sudanese refugees coming to the United States. There have been a few documentaries on this topic in the past few years, perhaps inspired by this great NY Times Magazine article from 2001.

In that article was a moment that has stuck with me for ten years, from a visit newly-arrived refugees take to a large grocery store:

The next aisle over, Peter touched my shoulder. He was holding a can of Purina dog food. “Excuse me, Sara, but can you tell me what this is?” Behind him, the pet food was stacked practically floor to ceiling. “Um, that’s food for our dogs,” I answered, cringing at what that must sound like to a man who had spent the last eight years eating porridge. “Ah, I see,” Peter said, replacing the can on the shelf and appearing satisfied. He pushed his grocery cart a few more steps and then turned again to face me, looking quizzical. “Tell me,” he said, “what is the work of dogs in this country?”

My friend Jon made one of the documentaries about the refugees, Lost Boys of Sudan. Highly recommended.