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The Dog That Stood in a Landmine Field, and the Cow With the Saddest Eyes

10/19/2012 10:55 am ET | Updated Dec 19, 2012

Not long ago, there were people who feared the camera, believing it to be 'a tool of the devil.' They feared this 'evil instrument' that captures and imprisons parts of your soul forever.

Of course, the devil's part in creating the magic in a photo has long been discredited, but not the fact that indeed, a soul can be captured in a photo. Like the ones below.

I took this photo while on assignment in the south of Lebanon in 2005. I was walking around with my camera when I heard a bark. I followed the echo and saw this beautiful dog on top of a tiny hill.

"Hey cutie!" I said, taking its picture with my camera.

It is after I took the photo I noticed a faded red sign with a warning written in Arabic: "Algham" landmines field. The poor baby was standing on a restricted dangerous area cluttered with deadly landmines and unexploded ordnance left behind by the 18-year Israeli occupation of South Lebanon.

My heart almost jumped out my chest. Of course, the poor creature can't read, and doesn't know where it is standing.

I started to whistle, then making those kissing sounds I use to call my cats, and was beckoning with my hands: "Come here baby, come here." I called out in Arabic as well, thinking perhaps it understands that language better.

This whole time the dog was watching me, its back to me, head titled in my direction. It looked like it was listening, debating whether to come down the hill and walk to me.

I started to pray it would come over as I pretended to have a treat for it by waving a packet of gum.

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Whatever I did, this beauty just stood there. It felt like a lifetime, and I even went on all fours to try to see if that works. I placed my camera bag on the floor and moved away, hoping curiosity would get the better of it and the dog would come down to check what I just put on the floor.

And then, in a blink of an eye, it jumped down the hill -- but in the wrong direction. The poor dog ran further in, towards a boundless horizon of death at the tip of its paws.

I don't know what happened to the dog, but I hope it reached its home safely. If it ever had a home...

****

As a vegetarian, bordering on veganism, a sight like the one I captured below really hurts me inside.

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Small, thin, with patches of discolored skin, the poor cow had also signs of dried up blood where her feet and mouth were bound with ropes. The cow was to be slaughtered in a few hours for a "special dinner" for a family of six.

The butcher who was hacking away at carcasses just a few steps away from the cow didn't bother to give her any food or water for a few days.

"What for? We are going to kill it anyways," was his response.

If that wasn't bad enough, the cow was able to actually see the carcasses, some that belonged to other cows and a few of goats and sheep, hanging in an open window of shop. The smell of the dead consumed the area.

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No amount of pleading moved the butcher. I even offered to buy the cow, with plans to release her in a green open area. But nothing worked. He actually went and called the police on me for "harassing" him over his treatment of what he called, "a stupid cow."

This photo was taken in Lebanon, but such cruelty can be found almost everywhere and on a daily -- if not hourly -- basis.

Would it have killed him to be a little kind?

These are just two photos from my archives that still haunt me. And what is worse, nothing has changed since I took them.

Wars, violence, and use of landmines and bombs continue, as does human cruelty and their insatiable greed and selfishness.

Rym Tina Ghazal is a senior feature writer and columnist for The National Newspaper.

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