Why dogs need rescue: A prime example

So yesterday was Cocker Companions Rescue’s final day of wrapping at Borders Books in the Turkey Creek Shopping Center in Knoxville. Did I tell you about this? Borders Books is very generous–every Christmas season they offer free wrapping to their customers, and then they invite various not-for-profit groups to come in and do the wrapping in shifts, allowing the volunteers to keep any tips for their organizations.

Borders furnishes the wrapping paper, tape, bows, and everything else, and all the volunteers have to supply are the materials explaining about their group in particular. What a fantastic opportunity for us as a dog rescue group to make contact with people who wouldn’t ordinarily hear about Cocker Companions Rescue!  While we wrap, we can explain our mission and talk about why cockers need rescue, and make some money to pay off our bills at the same time!

Plus, it’s a neat way to try to get into the holiday spirit, which I’ve really been lacking this year: Just try being bummed out while you’re wrapping gifts for someone else, and seeing everyone rushing around to find the perfect gift! We’re gonna hafta send the people at Borders a REALLY NICE thank-you card.

Anyway. Yesterday was our last wrapping shift for this season, and about half-way through, an ELDERLY GENTLEMAN was standing in line at the register when he asked me (me!) “why you’ve gotta have those dogs outside harassing people who just want to shop?”

You’ll notice ‘elderly gentleman’ is capitalized. That’s because I don’t know this man’s name and any other descriptive words I’d use for him would need lots of asterisks in the middle to mask their true nature from some delicate minds out there in Interwebz Land, Gentle Readers.

The ELDERLY GENTLEMAN proceeded to question me (again, why ME?) why we have to be so invasive with our ‘rescue stuff’ and WHY rescue is necessary for dogs. “Whose business is it if I’m abusing a dog, anyway? It’s just a DOG, after all. It’s nobody else’s business what I do with my dogs. They’re JUST animals.”

Honest to Pete. That’s what he said. I don’t know WHY he chose to address me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a terrible temper and very little patience for ignorance.  And there were three other CCR volunteers behind the wrapping table right then, including Karen–ANY of those people would have been far less potentially violent than I am. Maybe he’s an adrenalin junkie, and recognized my thinly-masked potential for extreme violence. Maybe he was actually hoping for a fight, and knew that I’d be the most sporting opponent of all the dog lovers there.

My first impulse was to hurt him terribly with the tape dispenser clenched in my left hand. Since I’m right handed, I realized immediately that this would be far less effective than I truly desired and not worth the assault charges, and put that impulse behind me. He has no idea how close he came to genuine, extreme pain.

My second impulse was to explain to this ELDERLY GENTLEMAN that attitudes like his are the main reason that rescue IS necessary, and that thankfully most people do NOT share his cavalier attitude toward animal neglect and mistreatment.

But since I’m not very good at thinking or talking in a pinch like that, I probably would have just unloaded a garbled stream of explicit verbal abuse on him. Luckily I stopped to consider that I was in a business which was being overwhelmingly supportive to my beloved organization, and that I was REPRESENTING said organization, and that anything other than a civil reply would reflect badly on both the aforementioned. Therefore I chose instead to fix a cheery smile on my face, terminate this pointless and brainless discussion, and wish the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN a happy Christmas. Very loudly. And with several additional, unspoken wishes for his future health and happiness. But the strain was telling, and even though I was still technically smiling, (muscles at each side of my face contracted, showing teeth) I was officially done talking with this man.

Karen noticed at this point that my expression was no longer a legitimate smile but rather something infinitely more frightening, and when she intervened I advised her that it was pointless to try to explain our concerns to this asshat and just let him go upon his jaundiced little way.

The ELDERLY GENTLEMAN continued loudly expressing his views, that dog rescue was foolish and unnecessary, as well as an invasion of privacy and that HE’D never come back to Borders if they were all foolish dog lovers like the dog rescuers.

Karen ran outside to check on the volunteers who were showcasing fuzzies, and found that they’d already had an encounter with the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. They agreed to keep our darling furkids far away from this troll when he exited.

Back in the store, the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN had finally been rung up and was on his way out of the building. What was truly gratifying is that all the customers who’d been standing in line around him came back to us and apologised for his rudeness, many of them making a contribution to our donation jar. Thank God for wonderful, caring, open-minded people like these, because they help to balance out the rest of them who cause misery and suffering wherever they go.

Not everyone is like the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN. In fact, his type make up a minority of the population. But there are enough of them, and the damage they do is sizable enough, to keep rescue groups in business.

And thank goodness for all the others out there who help to balance him out–the people who care and contribute, who stop to share the stories of their own beloved pets, and who empathize with us in our efforts to help make life better for these noble beings. They give us hope that maybe we are accomplishing some good. So thank you for YOU, Gentle Readers, you know who you are.

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