I went to Walmart the other day with my brother, Gus, and my dog, Rudy. We left Rudy in the backseat of the car with two half-opened windows, and walked toward the store.
Gus was very disturbed by my leaving Rudy alone in the car. “Somebody is going to call 9-1-1 on you.”
“Why?” I asked. “I’ve seen lots of dogs left in cars in parking lots.”
“But,” said Gus, “their owners all get reported to the police. It happened to Katy Perry when she ran into Starbucks and left her dog in the car.”
“Really? How long could she have been in Starbucks for someone to worry about her dog’s safety?”
“Probably five minutes,” Gus said. “But that’s enough for some animal people.”
“I’m an animal person, and I have no problem with Rudy’s being in the car,” I said. “He loves watching people, which he wouldn’t get to do at home.”
“I know that, and you know that,” Gus said, “But there are a lot of do-gooders out there who will think you’re being cruel.”
“But, I’m not!” I said, apparently in a loud voice, judging by the stares from people walking past us. “He’s happy and comfortable. People call the police when they see a dog in a car with the windows up during the summer, when it’s hot. It’s winter now.”
Gus shook his head. “I know it’s winter, but it’s a warmish day. Someone is going to think he’s too warm.”
“The windows are open and it’s almost 50 degrees. He’s not hot and he’s covered in fur, so he’s not cold. Nobody is going to report me.”
“Let’s just wait and see,” Gus said. “If we come back and the car is surrounded by crying women and flustered police, then we’ll worry.”
“Things sure have changed since we were kids,” I said. “Mom said that when I was ten-months old, she and Dad parked outside a store in New Hope, during the summer, and left me in the car for an hour, with the windows rolled up. When they came out, she said I had sweat pooled under my eyes and my face was beet-red.”
Gus rolled his eyes. “It’s a good thing that they raised us in the 1960s. If they did that today, they’d both be in prison.”
“You’re right,” I said. “And since I’m the oldest, the rest of you would never have been born, what with them being locked up. What would have happened to me? I could have been put into the system and become a passed-around foster child.” We walked up to the store’s entrance pondering this.
“Or,” I said, as we went through the automatic doors, “I could have been adopted by millionaires who would’ve bought me a BMW and sent me to Harvard.”
Gus laughed. “Don’t laugh,” I said. “It could’ve happened. But probably not. Anyway, isn’t it interesting to think about how one action can change the course of many lives?”
Gus looked at me. “I think I’ll go back to the car and sit with Rudy,” he said. He turned and went back through the automatic doors.