Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Rescue Dog

By Peter Rodman

When you get a pet these days, here’s the first question your friends ask you:
“Is it a rescue dog (or cat)?”
Your answer had better be “yes,” unless you want a stern lecture from your friends.
And that’s probably a good thing.
Peer pressure plays a very important part in saving the animals already out there. We all know it helps discourage the needless proliferation of countless more puppy (or kitty) mills.
But here’s the greatest 'animal rescue' story I’ve ever personally witnessed...and it happened just this afternoon--right here, on a busy street in Nashville, Tennessee.

As those of you here in town already know, Thursday was (by far) the hottest day of the year. (So far. Friday is expected to be even worse.)
Anyway, the ACTUAL temperature hit when my friends invited me out for a cool beverage or two at Nashville’s storied Sunset Grill, I was only too happy to oblige.
I arrived at around 6 o’clock, when the temperature was holding steady at 102.
The heat was impactful (to say the least) as I exited my 1990 freon-powered, 4-door Honda Meat Locker DX. (Note:  The Meat Locker is a rare model that very much resembles an Accord, with a few strategically ignored dents. In other words, I like to keep the AC up kinda high.)
And I have no idea what was goin’ on in Hillsboro Village, but it’s been a long time since parking places were so hard to find, at such an early hour.
The place was packed.

Anyway, I was pleased to find my friends Joe and Donna at the bar, so I plunked myself down next to them and ordered a drink. Four or five of their other friends were there, too.
I was sorta late to the party, you might say. 

Two of them went outside for a cigarette, and next thing I knew, there was a lot of animated commotion.
Apparently someone had spotted a small puppy alone in a sweltering car, across the street from the restaurant.
Although the windows of the car were open, the animal was lethargic, near-delirious, and very, very hot.
Normally, dogs don’t really “sweat”--but this beautiful little shepherd mix was soaked, scared, and pretty much trapped.

Within a few minutes, the bar patrons had literally rescued the dog--she probably wouldn't have lasted more than a few more minutes.  They brought her across the street, provided some much-needed water on a patio area (still mighty hot, but way better than a 150 degree car) and petted and nurtured her, tag-team style, as each of them canvassed the circuit of local establishments, to  try to find the owner. 
A discussion arose as to whether or not somebody should simply “abscond” with the dog before the jerks returned, and we all agreed we'd deny any knowledge of it ("Dog? What dog?") if that happened.
That’s where Joe and Donna come in.
These two, I know.
They’re some of the most solid human beings you’ll ever find, and though they’re an ‘item,’ each has their own place--and each of them happens to already have three dogs.
Soon enough, Donna had made up her mind to just take the little girl home. 
Then someone else at the bar began to offer to adopt her, and the ensuing discussion delayed things long enough that ‘guess who’ showed up.

That’s right: The idiots who already owned this poor pup.
Turned out to be three kids, around 19 or so, all of whom had been drinking somewhere in the area.
The girl who claimed to be the owner of this frightened and dehydrated animal defended herself thusly:
“We were only gone twenty minutes! I should call the police! You can’t break into my car and just take my dog. I rescued her!”
Where to begin…where to begin…
I watched from afar, as several friends tried to explain to this knucklehead that even five minutes on this record-setting 104 degree day in Nashville could be potentially fatal.
The yelling got fairly intense, until my old friend Joe intervened, in his even-tempered but highly persuasive manner.

Listen,” he began calmly. “Let me explain something to you: You aren’t leaving with this dog. Call the police, if you like. But if you don’t, I will. And trust me: You will be stopped, on your way home.” 
I decided to leave the patio and return to the bar, as nobody needed another voice in this situation.
My guess was that the police might come, cite the kids for endangering the animal, and return the dog to their (questionable) care. 

But here’s the most amazing part:
A couple minutes later, it was all over.
The know-nothing jerks who’d left the dog in their car (for nearly an hour, it turns out) had suddenly decided, based upon Joe’s advice, to relinquish the dog altogether!!!
Just left.  Gave up.  Split.  Game Over.
It was (literally!) the best possible outcome for all concerned.
But it made me wonder...
What kind of person has so little concern for their pet, that they not only jeopardize its life, but then…just give it away, rather than face the consequences of their actions!?
Obviously, this person had established no emotional no bond with the animal in their care whatsoever.
On the plus side, it was a truly unbelievable result.
I mean, this particular ‘rescue-dog story’ will stay with Joe, Donna, myself, and whomever else witnessed it-- probably for the rest of our living days.  I know I'll never think of the phrase "rescue dog" in quite the same way again.
But, for the dumbass dopes who did this?
It’ll probably fade from their youthful memory completely, within a day or two.

For a suffering little puppy, life began anew
at around seven o’clock this evening, outside a treasured local gathering place called the Sunset Grill in Nashville, Tennessee.  And as they held her up for my camera, I couldn’t help but ask Joe and Donna, “What are you gonna call her?”
They answered in unison:
Well, duuuuh!
God, I love a happy ending.
Copyright 2012 by Peter Rodman. All Rights Reserved.