Loading my groceries in the car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, a woman pulls in next to me, cracks two windows an inch apiece and is walking away when I spot little pointed ears, big brown eyes, tongue hanging out. I blurt “You’re not leaving a dog in there, are you?” “I’m just getting milk,” she tosses over her shoulder, ending it.
It’s 90 degrees at 10am. The National Weather service warns that an exterior temperature of 90 degrees leads to an interior car temperature of 120 degrees, with most of that spike occurring in the first 20 minutes. The dashboard and the seats can reach 180-200 degrees.
I follow her. “Please, miss? Can I stay with your dog and bring her into my air-conditioned car while you shop? Or can I take her into the shade and wait for you?” Reluctantly she turns toward me, her expression incredulous. “I’m not doing that, that’s ridiculous. It’s just milk, for God’s sake” pushing away the air in front of her with her hands, trying to shoo me away.
“I know but it’s just so hot. Please.” She sighs, exasperated. In the car the pointed ears dash back and forth, running from one window to another, paws and nose lifted toward one crack, then the other. I ask the woman to look, to see that the dog already seems distressed.
She stares at me instead, head shaking. Yes, it’s true: of all the people in the world she had to park next to me. It’s a bummer. “Fine! Now I’ll just have to go later! Oh man!” and she gets back in the car, slams the door and nearly clips me as she backs out.
Never leave a pet in the car. And never leave a pet in the car in record-breaking heat. Even if it’s just milk, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
There is so much suffering in this world, and more contributions make the news everyday. Practicing mindfulness means treating all beings with compassion, even the ones we don’t agree with or feel separate from. It would be easy to stand in judgment of the woman in the parking lot. On the other hand, she provided me with an opportunity to practice mindfulness in the parking lot on a hot August morning.