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Friday, June 18, 2010



Today, Nancy, my friend of 38 years, came and picked me up to go eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant we frequent, though less often now that we’re in our sixties and take Prevacid.  When she parked the SUV, I climbed out of my side and glanced over to see her looking in the car parked next to us.  She wore a look of shock and fear.  I rounded the front of her SUV and looked for myself.  There, in a black car, two windows slightly cracked, on the passenger seat, was a tiny white puppy with brown ears .  She was mewling like a kitten, panting, her eyes wide and terrified, beginning to cloud over.  There was no water in sight.  I clicked The Weather Channel icon on my Blackberry to find that at that moment, the temperature was 95º with a heat index of 100º!

Yes, some idiot person(s) who should be arrested and made to sit in a black car with no water and inadequate ventilation in 100º heat had left that little puppy, who looked as though she were too young to be taken from her mother, in the car under the blazing sun, no shade in sight.

I was almost physically ill, choking back the taste of bile that rose in my throat.  We rushed into the restaurant and I went from table to table until I found the two teen girls whose combined IQ must have been that of a squirrel, who said the puppy was theirs.  I asked if I could take him some water before he died of heat stroke.

“The windows are cracked.”

“Yes, they are, but in this heat the temperature of that car is probably close to 135º.  May I please take the puppy some water?”


“We have a water bowl, the younger of the two said.”

More Shrugs.

“May I please put some water in it?”

“Okay,” the older of the two finally said. She appeared to be about 17, and she handed her younger sister the car keys.  Nancy had gotten a cup of cold water and handed it to me as the girl and I walked outside into the scorching heat, me praying that the puppy was still alive.

She opened the driver’s side door. The puppy was nowhere to be seen.  I was at the passenger door and had to ask her to unlock it, and she reached across to let me in.  The puppy had crawled under the front seat seeking shade, I suppose, and she was still crying, only much more softly.

I reached under the seat and pulled out the puppy and put the cup to her lips.  She drank weakly, hardly able to lap at the water, but as he continued to drink, her tongue started working harder at getting the water down.

“Where is the water bowl?  Will you give it to me?”

The girl, who seemed to be about 12, opened the trunk of the car and retrieved the water bowl.  Now there's an idea:  leave your puppy in a hot car and her empty water bowl in the effing trunk.  I poured the cool water in the bowl and placed it beside the puppy, whose name, as it turns out, is “Carly.”

“How long have you had your puppy?”

“I got her yesterday.  She’s a early birthday present.  My birthday is on the 25th.”

“Don’t you want this dog to live until your birthday?” I queried, coming as close as I would to losing my temper.  "Please, if you don’t have a safe and cool place for her, take your food to-go and take her home.  I’ll buy your lunch if you will take it to-go.”

She said not a word, and returned a blank stare in my direction.  I walked back into the restaurant with her, imploring her and her sister to remember how hot that car would get.  Another shrug.  I asked them to keep an eye on the dog.

Nancy and I choked on our food, so worried we were about the puppy. I got up and went outside to check on it and found it lying beside the bowl, a quarter of the water gone.  She looked a little better, had some shine in her tiny eyes.  The mewling had stopped.

The restaurant manager approached the girls and gave them a stern lecture about dogs in hot cars, and they finally got up and paid and left.

And that’s not the worst of it.  Carly is in for a tough life, and I wonder if she might have been better off to die right there than to go home with those careless girls.  

What kind of people raise children who don’t realize that puppies are not stuffed toys, that they have hearts that beat and lungs that breathe and that they need to be protected from the world around them?  I have been weeping all evening, every time I think of that puppy.

This feeling of helplessness is almost paralyzing.  Should I have called the Humane Society from the restaurant, written down their car tag number?  Shouldn’t I have done more?  

The awful truth is that it’s too late now to do anything.  All I can do now is pray hard that some of what the restaurant manager and I said made some impact on the girls.  Maybe, just maybe, they heard what we said.  I don’t think I can sleep if I can’t convince myself that they did.

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