5

No Clever Title – Sad Afternoon :(

It’s been a serious minute since I’ve blogged; did I really only blog once in June?!?!

Part of the reason why I haven’t been around is because I was researching and preparing for presenting my research at the AIS (Association for Israel Studies) Conference, which I’ll probably recap in a post soon. This was my first conference, and it was on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley. I spent a whopping 12 days in the Bay Area, mostly due to getting a cheap flight on American Airlines, which included 4 days in San Francisco where I met up with Ciara and did quite a lot of uphill walking by my lonesome; 4 days in Berkeley where I finally saw the university’s campus for the first time, spoke and moderated a panel, and made a ton of new friends from around the world; and then 4 days on an island hotel in Burlingame where I attempted to have a work-ation, and was somewhat successful, but mostly ended up entertaining myself in Burlingame, San Mateo, and Palo Alto, where I paid a visit to Stanford University. I got back at about midnight last night.

Now back to today.

I guess everything happens for a reason. This afternoon, I went grocery shopping at the Pick ‘n Save on the West Side, a different Pick ‘n Save than the ones where I usually shop, either the one in Middleton or the one on University Avenue. I was feeling annoyed at having so many heavy groceries and at a mom in the store who couldn’t get her kids to stop crying for the entire 15 minutes I was inside. I had just responded to a text from a friend and was about to close the car door on my groceries, when I heard a giant BOOM.

At first I didn’t know what it was, because it didn’t quite sound like the impact of two cars crashing, but it didn’t sound normal, either. I turned around to face the street, and saw what looked like a brown lump in the middle of the road. I walked toward it, thinking it might be a dead animal…but it was actually two lumps, a large chocolate lab and a small terrier, lying on their sides in the road.

They were still alive and breathing, but they’d clearly just been hit by a car.

All of a sudden about eight other people descended on that spot in the road. For some reason, as people drew near, I decided to stand in the middle of the street and direct traffic as other people tended to the dogs, both of whom were wet and bleeding in the middle of the road. Quickly, two people (an older man in a blue shirt, and an Asian woman in a blue dress) carried them gently out of the street and laid them on the grass across the road from the supermarket. A young couple who were nearby with their own dog went to their car and brought out towels and water bottles, which, being dog owners, they fortunately had in their car. The Asian husband/boyfriend of the Asian woman took pictures and videos on his phone, while his wife/girlfriend held the smaller dog (the terrier) down. He was able to walk and was very jumpy, but was also wet and bleeding from his mouth. The man in the blue shirt was holding the larger dog, the chocolate lab, who was still very much breathing, but extremely bloody, with her front legs trembling. We looked at their collars, and upon learning that their names were Kassi and Oliver and they had the same phone number on them, we surmised they had the same owner. I was holding my phone, so I was the one who called the number and deliver the bad news. The phone rang three times, and just before rolling over to voicemail, a man picked up, and the conversation went like this:

ME: Hi, are you the owner of a dog named Kassi?

HIM: Yes, that’s my dog…

ME: My name is Jacob. I’m here with her, and she’s been hit by a car. She’s alive but badly hurt. Are you also the owner of a dog named Oliver?

HIM: Yes

ME: He is also here, he’s been hit too. They’re both ok, but bleeding a lot. We’re outside the Pick ‘n Save on Maple Grove, are you at home?

HIM: I’m at work right now.

ME: Okay, can you come here? There are about eight of us with your dogs right now, we are taking care of them. When can you be here?

HIM: Ten minutes…

ME: Okay, see you soon. Again, I’m Jacob, and I’m with your dogs and a bunch of people. I’m the one in the red shirt.

Down the road was the car that hit the dogs. Fortunately, the driver had indeed stopped, but didn’t get out right away as he was probably upset and scared that he’d killed the dogs. He was a young teenager, and as he came over to us, I made sure to ask if he and his car were okay, rather than point fingers. Another couple had shown up by this point, a couple who had been a few blocks down the road and called the police on the dogs because they had passed them running around in the street and narrowly avoided hitting them a few minutes earlier. Someone else called the police and an ambulance. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, a large black pickup with its hazards on pulled up next to us, and a police car right behind him. The owner, a tall Latino guy, got out of the pickup. I probably said something stupid, like “Hi, I’m Jacob, and these are your dogs (well, duh) and they’re hurt (again, duh)” and remarkably, the owner was not too upset, just a little dazed and sad but overall grateful that a bunch of strangers (six at this point: me, blue shirt, Asian couple, and down-the-road couple) were there. Another car pulled up, and it was the mom and grandma of the driver of the car. We gave the dogs back to their owner. Oliver sprung up and jumped into the truck, but it took some coaxing from the owner to get Kassi on her feet. Once she was upright, it was clear that all four of her legs were shaking, especially her front paws, and she half got into/half was lifted into the truck. Everyone else (couples, owner, driver, mom, grandma, and police) went across the street to the parking lot of the store to exchange information, and not knowing what to do, I stood beside the truck and watched the dogs to make sure they were OK in there (Oliver was jumping up and around; I didn’t see Kassi but she was probably lying down on the back seat). After a few minutes, everyone came back across the street and went their separate ways. I told the owner to call me if he needed me, since mine was the number he had, and that I hoped his dogs were OK. Fortunately, there is an emergency pet clinic a little farther down the street so I don’t think that they had to travel too far.

On the whole, it was a sad experience for the driver, owner, and dogs, but it was good that so many random people stopped to help them. It’s not really clear who’s to blame here; the driver was clearly not expecting two dogs to charge out of the bushes and in front of his car, and the owner was clearly unaware that his two dogs had gotten loose. Either way though, two dogs were hurt and a guy’s car was dented in the front. It could have been worse though, and I’m glad it wasn’t.

Two things to take from this experience.

People, drive safely, and make sure you know where your dogs are when you are not at home.

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13

Driving Miss Doggy

So, today, one of my Facebook friends shared this fun news report, which you may have seen, about Eclipse the Dog, who rides the bus like a person does.

Eclipse, a black lab-gold mastiff mix, knows how to ride the D-Line in Seattle without her owner. <span class=meta>Photo/KOMO</span>

The dogs on the bus go arf, arf, arf…

It was just the thing to perk up my morning. I had to watch the video a few times, because this dog is adorable and smart, and has better public transit manners than most riders of the Madison bus system.

Apparently, it started when her owner took her out to catch the bus to the dog park and took a smoke break. When the bus came, Eclipse was tired of waiting and was so ready to get on with her day that she left her owner behind and took the bus herself, recognizing the stop at the dog park. Her owner, Jeff Young, said that “if we get separated, she gets on the bus without me and I catch up with her later” (Hayden, McRady).

I’m no expert in psychology, it’s probably not that difficult to figure out why Eclipse does what she does. Ever since Pavlov, we’ve known that animals such as dogs can respond well to classical conditioning, which leads to recognizing patterns. What impresses me more is the spatial and geographical knowledge that this dog seems to possess. The variables of travel vary every day, and so many things could lead the dog astray. For example, the dog could be distracted by a small animal, someone on the bus could offer her a treat and cause her to miss her stop, or the bus could get caught in heavy traffic, prolonging the ride, making Eclipse get off a stop too early because she feels that she has spent enough time on the bus that day. The fact that she sits in a seat and allows people to pet her, potentially distracting her from her task, definitely puts her in the top percentile of non-human intelligence. I mean, think about it; she can’t see color, read words, or ask directions. That would be like putting me on a bus full of locals in Thailand without my glasses and telling me to get off at “the square with the big tree.” I would probably end up either in Cambodia or attempting to make conversation with local trees.

Now that I’ve spent about an hour watching videos of animals on the Internet, here’s something I found about other animals who use public transportation. Spoiler alert: some of the stories don’t have happy endings 😦 but it does go to show you that maybe we’re underestimating what our animal friends can do.

Oh, and today has been my first six-continent day of the year! Thank you so much for coming and visiting today: from North America – USA and Canada, South America – Venezuela and Chile,  from Europe – Ireland/Germany/UK/Czech Republic/Cyprus/Austria/Turkey and Gibraltar (for the first time!), from Africa – Kenya and Egypt, from Asia – Israel/Azerbaijan/Philippines/Kuwait/Bahrain/India/Taiwan/UAE/Jordan (for the first time!), and Armenia (also for the first time!), and from Oceania – New Zealand and Australia! Thanks for reading, come again soon!

Ron Weasley applauds you!

Works Cited

Hayden, Jan. “Seattle dog masters public transit, rides bus alone to the dog park.” The Daily Kos. 13 January 2015. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/13/1357476/-Seattle-dog-masters-public-transit-rides-bus-alone-to-the-dog-park?detail=facebook

Lammle, Rob. “Public Transportation is for the Birds (And Dogs And Goats).” Mental Floss. 18 August 2010. http://mentalfloss.com/article/25504/public-transportation-birds-and-dogs-and-goats.

McRady, Rachel. “Dog Rides Bus to Dog Park in Belltown, Seattle By Herself: Watch Eclipse’s Viral Journey!” Celebrity News. US News. 13 January 2015. http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/dog-rides-bus-dog-park-belltown-seattle-video-2015131.