Don't leave your dog closed in the car, especially when the weather is warm.
This is a pretty simple rule to follow, and yet, I am simply amazed at the number of people who absolutely love their dogs but have no idea how much suffering they are causing their best and most loyal friend.
Case in point -- yesterday Mrs. IowaScribe and I went to a nearby market to pick up a few groceries. Names and places have been withheld from this story to save some people from public embarrassment.
We pulled into the parking lot and parked right next to a pickup truck. The back end of the truck was covered with a topper. Inside the front of the pickup truck was a cute, lovable little white dog. She looked a lot like our puppy. She was panting.
The big sign by the nearby bank posted the temperature at 80 degrees. My National Weather Service App on my iPhone said the temperature was 76 degrees.
The temperature inside a vehicle raises almost 20 degrees in 10 minutes. It raises 30 degrees in 20 minutes. This is the same whether the windows are cracked or not. (The windows in this pickup, by the way, were not cracked.)
I have no idea how long the truck had been parked there before we pulled into the lot. I do know that it was 20 minutes before the owner of the pickup came out, loaded up and drove away.
So, the temperature inside the pickup truck was at least 106 degrees, possibly 110 degrees or higher. No dog can handle this kind of heat for any length of time.
In the meantime, before the owner came out and drove away, I asked a few people who were outside if they knew who owned the truck. No one did, but they all expressed anger that someone would leave a dog in a hot truck.
I found a store employee and told him about it. He wasn't sure what to do. Neither was I. A few people told me I should call the police.
I really didn't want to bother the police, and I really didn't want this person to have to deal with any legal problems. I simply wanted to get that little dog out of that hot car.
Millions of people are suffering in the world every day, and millions of animals as well. But there isn't one damn thing I can do about it.
But this one animal, in this one hot vehicle right in front of me -- surely there was something I could do about that, wasn't there?
So I took a photo with my iPhone of the truck with the little doggy inside, posted the photo on Facebook, and asked my Facebook friends for suggestions of what to do.
I received several in just a few seconds. Most of them told me to call the police. I didn't want to do that, but was considering it.
Before I could decide, the owner came out. He said "hello" and stepped into his truck, and his dog was happy and excited to see him. I didn't have the nerve to say anything to him right then and there, I gave him a rather disapproving look as he drove off.
I live in a small town. The personalized plates on the truck were visible in the photograph. So it is no surprise to me that we share about a half dozen friends on Facebook. No doubt one of those friends saw the photo, recognized the vehicle, and contacted this guy to tell him his truck and his little puppy were on social media.
The message he sent me was full of F-bombs and he called me a lot of nasty names. He even threatened to "stomp me," whatever that means. He told me that the cab window in the pickup was open and that there was water in the truck for the dog.
I wasn't surprised that he was angry at me. I wasn't even surprised that he threatened to stomp me.
But he needed to know that, first of all, having the cab windows open in a pickup truck with a topper on the back does absolutely no good at all. The temperature goes up anyway, and the heat is much too high for any dog to physically endure.
He also needed to know that having some water there for the dog, also, does absolutely no good at all.
Dogs do not perspire to cool themselves. Dogs in hot cars to not die from thirst, they die from heat stroke. They cannot handle the high temperatures.
So I told him these things, and asked him to please tell other dog owners the same thing.
He demanded that I take the photo down, which I immediately did. But I told him that if he continued to threaten me and call me names, I would put the photo back up, and not just on my Facebook page.
And now that I knew who he was, his name would be attached to the photo wherever it went.
In the end, after some inane, off-topic, unrelated and slightly incomprehensible remarks about Constitutional rights and who had lived in this town longer -- and after he called me a couple more names and hurled a few more insults at me, we agreed to drop it. I'd made my point, he'd made his.
I don't expect to hear from him again, and I do expect that he'll give it a little thought before he closes his dog in a hot car again.
So -- to all you dog owners out there, who love your dogs -- don't leave them inside a closed car in warm weather. You are causing them to suffer. You are quite literally risking their lives. Opening windows, leaving them water -- none of this does any good. You are killing your best friend.
Plus -- there very well may be a sanctimonious asshole like me out there who will take a photo of your car and put it on social media for the world to see.
Living things suffer every day. I know I can't stop it.
But I won't just watch it happen.