Monday, October 02, 2006

Curbed Service

Please bear with me because I'm going to get on my soapbox for a paragraph. Summer is nearly over and many regions in the US are experiencing slightly cooler weather. It's very tempting to load your best four-legged friends into the car when you head out for errands. What a lot of people don't realize is that it's still pretty warm and your pup could get mighty uncomfortable waiting for you as the sun hits those windows and windshields and heats up the inside of your car. So please think twice and leave your bud at home and maybe bring them a nice organic biscuit or something.

Now, having said that, I've been subjected to two instances of well-intentioned people who just wanted to be sure that I wasn't leaving some creature in my car to roast. Fortunately, it wasn't the case either time, but they were not to be deterred. I salute them and offer their acts of heroism up for your amusement.

The first happened many years ago. My nephew, SproutBoy, was just a tot and had a stuffed platypus that he adored because it was colored just like the shih tzu who owned me at the time. PlattyBooger's permanent place soon became the place next to Sproutie's car seat. I would often forget it was back there until someone asked me about the gray and white fuzz ball in the back seat.

So it's late spring and it's kind of warm. I'm in a hurry to get two boxes of juice pops for the kids we would be subjecting to adventure-based therapy, so I was trying to get out of the car and sprint into the store when the woman loading her groceries in the car next to mine stopped me before I could get too far.

"Don't you think you should at least crack your windows open a little?" she asked.

"Oh, I'm only going to be in there for a minute." I gave a goofy sweeping gesture with my hands that I hoped she would take to mean that I wanted her to let me by.

She took a deep breath and then her lips disappeared.

"It's hot in that car." she barked at me.

"I really appreciate your concern but my windshield isn't going to crack. We're just barely into th 80s tempwise."

She strode to my car and tapped on the back driver's side window.

"What about this?" she snapped.

"What?" I leaned over to see what was upsetting her and it dawned on me that she thought Plattybooger was a live animal.

"Oh! It won't feel a thing!" I chuckled and started to walk away.

She drew a quivering breath and shouted at me "HOW can you be so heartless?"

"Ma'am," I said, "Look. It's not alive" I leaned over and tapped the glass. Platty didn't move.

"It's DEAD!" She began to cry.

A bag boy walked up to see if everything was okay.

"It's dead!" She said again, glaring at me accusingly.

"It's polyester!" I said. I opened the door and took Plattybooger and held it up for her to see, wiggling his pink felt beak and feet at her.

The bag boy blinked at me. "You mean to tell me you're leaving a stuffed platypus in your car with no water and the windows rolled up in 80 degree weather?"

The woman shook her head. "I keep trying to tell her..."

I'd had enough. "I'm going in. The two of you can sort this out any way you want to."

It wouldn't have surprised me in the least if I'd come back to find the woman had opened a carton of milk and a bag of Oreos and was having morning snacks with the bagboy and Plattybooger. She was gone. No one had smashed in a window, but I must have forgotten to lock the back door because Platty was sitting upright with a bottle of water between his front flippers. That'll teach me.

Okay, so what are the odds of coming across similarly inclined but well-intentioned loonies? It was almost ten years later. I had retrieved my dog, a large Old English Sheepdog mix, from his spa day at the groomer's and stopped at a Mexican place to pick up the dinner order I'd called in.

Because I knew it would only take me a few steps and as many minutes to get dinner, I turned up the AC, cracked one back wondow about six inches so he could poke out his snoot and sniff around, clipped off the door key and locked the doors. I was in there maybe three to five minutes when the couple who had been ahead of me in line came back to inform me my dog was shut in a car in the heat. I assured them that it was much cooler in the car than it was in the restaurant and stayed where I was. They left in a huff and then returned madder a couple of minutes later while the counter guy was ringing me up.

"He growled at us! We were trying to help him and he growled at us." The girl looked very angry and a bit shaken.

It wasn't like him to growl at anybody. Then the boy spoke and cleared everything up.

"And he took our tacos."

What? I went outside to find O'Neill still in air conditioned comfort, happily tearing into a bag of tacos.

"Every time we reach in, he growls at us." The girl complained.

"He thinks you're going to take his tacos." I said.

"They're OUR tacos!" The boy corrected me.

"He did leave you a couple." I said. There were a two tacos still in their wrappers on the ground next to a piece of the bag O'Neill hadn't managed to pull into the car when they were probably trying to "liberate" him.

They snatched up their tacos and went back into the restaurant. I saw them point at O'Neill and me as they talked and then I saw the counter guy laugh. Who knows? Maybe they entertained him sufficiently that he comped them some more tacos.

My point, and I do have one, is that it's always a good idea to speak up if you think an animal is in danger. However, use some common sense. The dinner (and dignity) you save may be your own.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

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