Listen when people speak. Always get the other side. Don’t judge. Be respectful.
Last week when dropping Madi, our Fresh Air Fund Child, at her bus stop in East Hampton there was a tangle of strangers that rained on our departure parade. Because there were children present, I did my best to turn the experience into a teachable moment.
I wouldn’t normally share something like this, but it highlights an important issue for something I care deeply about…. dogs. I love dogs, all animals really, but especially dogs. If you know me, you know this. I can’t walk down the street without stopping to visit with every dog I see. If I am sitting at the window in a restaurant and a puppy wanders past it is a pretty good bet that I will leave the table to get my hands on the wriggling furry creature.
So, I write this post, in hopes of raising awareness on this important issue. What should you do (and not do) if you see a dog in a car on a hot day???…
According to the AVMA, hundreds of dogs die in parked cars every year. If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, follow these instructions from the Humane Society. What you should not do is what happened to me…
When we were leaving to drop Madi off, I made the last minute decision to bring along the dogs. Normally I don’t bring the dogs if the temperature is over 80 degrees, but Madi was so besotted with them I thought it would be nice to extend their time together via the car ride. Knowing that the drop off would take about 15 minutes we blasted the air conditioning until we were all a little blue, but knew the car would keep cool while we got Madi and her stuff settled. We parked so we could see the windows, but the front of the car was obscured by a giant climbing rock wall. Our plan was to get Madi checked in and settled, then go back and get the dogs for a final goodbye.
Not one of these precautions mattered when the concerned members of the East Hampton YMCA saw our animals in the car. We could see that Po was agitated (he is not a fan of strangers circling the car), but because the front of the car was blocked we did not see that a small gang had assembled within seconds of us parking, rumbling with concern for our trapped canines. The group immediately alerted security, who came at me guns a blazing screaming, yelling and threatening to call the police. This all took place in less than a 5 minute window.
I have no problem with concerned citizens and applaud their empathy, BUT when I went to explain my side and to give them my perspective they all scurried off, heads down, mumbling mean words in my direction with some seriously judgie scowls on their faces. This was all in front of Madi. So I used my outdoor voice and called out: “Excuse me but I think you should hear my side of the story!” When they returned my words with some really brutal scowls I continued, “You are not setting very good examples of being adults in front of these children. Come and talk to me about this.” They all walked away at surprisingly quick clips for being in their golden years.
These people had spent a couple of minutes of their lives whipping themselves into a frenzy over my choice to leave the dogs in the car, but refused to spend one more second of their lives hearing why. They definitely put a damper on the goodbye to Madi, but I did use the experience to bestow some life lessons on her and my children… Always get the other side. Listen to people when they speak. Don’t judge. And when you do want to point out a grievance, don’t scream, approach the person with the same respect that you would like to receive from others.
These people were trying to do right by the dogs, but they were so awful to the dogs’ human. Really awful and what’s the upside of that? Grab your group and be nice.