We had a heat wave recently, and it snuck up on me. It stays cool in our house, so when I stepped out to run to the supermarket I wasn’t prepared for the heat inside the car I wanted to use.
Which was my first mistake—after giving in to the hounds, who watch my preparations to leave and crowd my knees at the door, begging to go. I herded the canines into the vehicle that had been sitting in the sun, and as soon as we hit the road it was time to roll down the windows.
And they were fine in the car, enjoying the breeze on a hot day, but I soon realized what I had done. There’s precious little shade at the Oakland supermarket I was visiting, and sure enough, once I got there that shade was taken.
I can’t leave Edie and Ernie under direct sun, even with the windows cracked and the half-full water bottle emptied into the collapsible water dish. I never would have, anyway, but a few years back we had a tragic dog death in Alameda. A police officer forgot to take the heat into account when he reported for three hours of training. When he found the dog suffering heat prostration in his vehicle it was rushed to the vet, but died at the pet hospital. It made for quite the topic, locally, with lots of angry letters to the editor. Of course you feel terrible for the dog, but I imagine the cop (who was never identified) felt pretty damn horrible about it, too. And now you can get a ticket for leaving a pet in a vehicle exposed to the sun without water and the windows rolled up.
So I patrolled the neighborhood around the market for shade, the whole time thinking, how am I going to get a shopping cart full of stuff out here? I found a spot under a tree about three blocks away and hustled over a slight hill and down to the supermarket, scheming.
I figured out my strategy. I wasn’t going to dawdle this time—I got what I really needed, then sequestered the shopping cart off to one side, and went out to bring the car around. The dogs were panting, but not bad, and were happy to see me. Water dish still 2/3rds full.
I drove to the supermarket lot, but I still couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t leave them in the car, not knowing how long the check-out would take. One side of the parking lot adjoins a warehouse, so I poked around over there, hoping to find some shade—all the way around on the other side, the building cast enough shadow. So I left the hounds and went back to the market, got in line, did the checkout and was congratulating myself on getting what I needed while not giving the fur-bearers heat stroke. I left the store and chugged along with the cart, little wheels frantically making the clattering shopping cart wheel noise as I approached the edge of the lot when WHAM! Two little plastic hoods snapped down over a couple wheels, grinding me to a halt like a Denver boot imposed while motoring along. WTF?!
I looked the little things and tried to figure out how to snap them back. Had I been wheeling too fast? I think not. Although I saw no evidence of advanced electronics, I think they have some radio-transmitted mechanism that clamps down when the cart is on the edge of the lot, to prevent theft by homeless people.
So there I was, two blocks from a pair of panting dogs in a car, with just under $200 of groceries, including the usual refrigerated stuff, in an immobilized shopping cart. All on the kind of day where I could have cooked a meal on the asphalt.
On the bright side, it wasn’t going to be easy for anyone else to haul it away, either. I jogged off for my car, found Edie in the driver’s seat (her favorite spot), ordered her to get in the back, and got in. Now we were all panting.
As I started the engine and pulled out, a car took the driveway entrance in front of me. I followed while he slowed as he approached my shopping cart. So I’m thinking, I’ve got a German Shepherd and a feisty Black Labrador Retriever in the car, pal, and I know how to use them—don’t even think of it. He continued toward the lot but turned as if to circle back, while I stopped with my trunk by the cart, and got out to load. The driver of the other car glanced back to check, then continued on to the parking lot. He must have been thinking What was that all about?
All in all, more of an excursion than what I’d planned. But when we got home and I unloaded the car, both dogs plopped down happily on their living room dog beds. Just another shopping safari successfully concluded.
I’ll bet they think it’s only their constant vigilance that keeps me safe.