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How Much Is That Doggie Trapped In the Car?

Priceless.

People can really piss me off. Especially people who neglect animals.

When I was a child growing up on Beverly Glen I used to come home with stray cats weekly. Fortunately for me my mom was, and still is, an enormous animal lover and so bringing in a homeless cat or dog was never an issue.

There was Blackie, Misty, Marsh, Mellow, Lucky, Chelsea, Kelton and on and on. I even wanted to be a veterinarian until I had to watch one of our cats get put to sleep. I knew then and there I would not be able to handle it emotionally.

Our dogs and cats were my friends, my siblings, my heart.

They would comfort me when I was scared, sleep with me when I was in tears, and play with me when I was lonely.

They were without a doubt the only ones in my house that truly knew me.

My love for animals knew no limit.

I remember playing in my backyard, looking over the neighbors fence and seeing that the dogs that lived next door were always left alone, surrounded in their feces and often without water or food.

I was seven years old.

Without asking a grown-up for permission I climbed over the fence with food, water, trash bags and a grooming brush and spent the day cleaning all the dog poop up, feeding the dogs, grooming them and singing songs to them.

And then I sneaked back over the fence.

A day later my mom got a knock at the front door. It was the neighbor.

Uh-oh, I thought. I'm in trouble. My mom called for me to come to the door.

"Susan, did you sneak into this woman's backyard?"

I looked at my mom and then at the woman staring at me. I had never seen our neighbor before. For some reason I pictured a big, grumpy mean ol' man who smoked cigars and drank whisky.

Instead, she was maybe thirty something with long, stringy brown hair, a lanky body and sort of sad eyes.

My mom was waiting for an answer.

"Yes."

The woman stared at me. I could see shame in her face. She looked at her hands then slowly looked back at me,

"Thank you. Would you do me the honor of coming over to my house for tea and cake?"

What? I wasn't in trouble? I wasn't about to be sent to my room?

We went to her house where she had baked me a chocolate cake. I spent an hour with her. She talked about how she lived alone and worked long hours and had no idea how bad it was getting for the dogs.

She asked me if I would come over once a week to play with her dogs and fill up their water bowl and she would pay me.

Pay me? I guess you could say it was my first job.

I climbed over to her yard almost every day. They were never without food, water, a clean play area and love. 

And then one day she moved. I never saw her or her dogs again.

But that same child grew up to be an animal-loving woman.

So, it's no surprise that when I was with my daughter at a Rite-Aid parking lot about to get in my car to leave and saw a small dog locked in a parked car with all the windows rolled up on a day where it was 90 degrees out that I saw red.

I was furious. Who would do this?

I found the parking lot security guard and told them to see if they could find the owners of the car. He nodded and slowly walked away.

I told my daughter that we weren't leaving until the owner of that car returns and I know that dog is safe.

Twenty minutes later two women licking their Thrifty ice-cream cones wandered towards the car.

And there I was. Standing, waiting, angry.

Well, I guess you can imagine what I said to them. And I'm sure you can imagine what they said to me. They drove off, but not without giving me the finger just once more before they went.

And the security guard? Well, he stood under a shady tree in the far distance doing nothing.

My daughter could see how upset I was.

"Was it worth it, mommy?"

I looked at her thinking about her question.

Was it worth spending an extra twenty minutes out of my day to sit in a parking lot so I could tell someone that their dog could have died? That the police could have come and arrested them? That something could have happened to their beloved animal all because they wanted an ice-cream cone?

I don't know.

But was it worth it to make sure that dog was okay? That he knew as I stood by the window watching him that somebody was concerned for his well being? That my daughter see that her mom is not the sort of person who looks the other way?

Yes. 

I will always be that same child who will climb over a neighbors fence without permission for the love an animal.

As I was driving home I thought about the woman's face as she walked toward the car eating her ice-cream. What was it I saw? What was it that seemed familiar?

Shame.

Iron Lady August 06, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I don't know if you've read this: http://www.mydesert.com/article/20120805/NEWS0801/208050328/Dog-left-vet-s-car-dies?nclick_check=1
Cindy Dunne August 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM
A lovely and also heartbreaking story. And you have given your daughter a valuable gift. Well done, Susan!
Laura August 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
As moronic as those women were, maybe they learned something. Good for you.
Thom August 06, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I felt this phrase in your article - "That he knew as I stood by the window watching him that somebody was concerned for his well being." You have touched our collective calling. For some inexplicable reason, we have been chosen to be the caretakers of this remarkable place, to watch over it and care for it. Every living creature responds to us differently because, somehow they know. The love that designed and created all connects it all together. In my minds eye that little dog locking eyes with you from the inside of a steaming car through those rolled up windows - well Susan. You can go to church all you want, but that is as spiritual of a moment as you will every find.
Susan McMartin August 06, 2012 at 09:36 PM
i hadn't read it. thank you for attaching it!
Susan McMartin August 06, 2012 at 09:37 PM
thanks, cindy! always love your comments. thank you!
Susan McMartin August 06, 2012 at 09:38 PM
laura, i hope so. thanks for reading!
Susan McMartin August 06, 2012 at 09:40 PM
thom, what a beautiful thought. thank you! your words always touch my heart.
Kelly Lester (EasyLunchboxes) August 09, 2012 at 12:28 AM
What a beautiful post Susan. The mother that your daughter saw that day is the person we all should be. I applaud you. But gggggrrrrr!!!!!!!! What IS it with STUPID, CARELESS people?! Something similar happened to me, only it wasn't a dog, it was small children in a van with the motor running(!!) while the mother took her time in the grocery story. I got much the same reaction you did. Shock and disgust doesn't even being to describe it.
Susan McMartin August 09, 2012 at 01:44 AM
thanks, kelly! children locked in a running car??! i honestly don't understand what's wrong with people! thanks for your sweet words, kelly. always love your comments.
Amanda Rogers August 09, 2012 at 01:48 AM
I recently saw a sign that said, "If you lock your pet or child in a hot car, expect to find a window smashed when you get back."
Susan McMartin August 09, 2012 at 04:27 AM
amanda, i seriously considered doing that! thanks for the comment!
John Emerson August 13, 2012 at 07:08 PM
This one really got me! My best friend and I are retired and he is a big animal rights advocate. I am thinking about he and I doing shifts waiting for the "ice cream cone brains" if we knew which Rite Aid and more info on the car. A woman left her 2 week old baby in a 115 degree car 2 days ago! She is in jail. WT?
feiji1991 August 22, 2012 at 08:50 AM
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