I frequently blog from my dog’s point-of-view, both in my blogs related to health coaching and in the blogs my husband and I write on our vacation.
I have offered Pepper’s view on water served in plastic (he does not like it), on friendship and on hiking with us up very steep terrain (he enjoys the walk but resents that his view is largely of tall grass, as he is after all only 12 pounds and about 10 inches high). I even have a few friends convinced that he stealthily emails them when I am away from the computer.
Pepper travels with us almost everywhere. He has been to the northern tip of Newfoundland (he didn’t understand the big deal about icebergs, but loved the friendly Newfoundland dogs and their owners). He spends hours cavorting on the beach and he loves visiting our friends in Maine where he can play with their dogs and romp in Casco Bay.
Frequently, we find ourselves in the position of deciding what to do with the dog as we are wandering around our selected destination and the conversation turns to when it is appropriate to leave him in the car. In the summer, the answer turns out to be almost never, unless we choose to spend our summers in Newfoundland where it is so dog friendly, he was welcome everywhere and there’s no point in leaving him in the car.
The past summer was telling for me. My husband wandered into a store to shop and, bored, I sat in the car with the poodle—for two minutes. I was shocked when, on that relatively cool New England summer day in the high seventies with a gentle wind, in the car I overheated in moments, and I can sweat! Pepper and I quickly left the car and sought out shade. I had read and believed all of the articles I had seen, but for me, this was quite the wake up call.
I understand the feeling of being in the car with the dog and wanting to stop at the grocery store, or to get a coffee, or run into the restroom. It is easy to think that it will only be a moment, dogs are hardy, he’ll be fine, but that is not the case. Once, I snuck Pepper into a rest stop bathroom when driving alone and there seemed to be no other choice.
I like to believe that people don’t willfully leave animals in the car to harm them. I actually once literally, and somewhat ironically because it was in a Whole Foods parking lot, saw a man with a gun block a car from pulling out as he yelled at the driver for leaving the dog in the car. While I disapprove of the tactics, I support the emotion.
I think it is easy to be preoccupied, to think that it is not that hot, or to forget or not realize the dangers. Like many people, I ascribe human qualities to my pet. When he looks at me mournfully when I leave, I really believe he’d be happier in the car with me. When he doesn’t want to get out of the car, I wonder if he would be happier staying behind. When he gets excited to go out on 95 degree days, I forget it is because he does not know how hot it is out.
Here’s Pepper’s call-to-action to humans:
1. I trust you to care for me, please don’t betray my trust
2. If you see me in a parked car with the windows open, please consider if I am safe (here’s a list of state-by-state regulations of what you can legally do for me. In some states, it is even legal for you to break the car window to rescue me, just as you can for a baby.
3. Offer me water on hot days, I can’t really tell you when I am thirsty.
4. If the weather is really hot, don’t make me go on a long walk or force me to spend time in the sun. I know you like my company; I’ll be here for you and happy to see you when you get home.
5. If I lie down on a walk or try to get off of the hot sidewalk, consider that I am tired or my feet hurt.
6. If I am among strangers or in a strange situation, pay attention to me, so I don’t do something stupid or get scared.
7. Maybe you should consider these rules for humans, too
Author: Wendy Kuhn
Editor: Travis May
Image: Author’s Own