Well, I never anticipated there would be a day when anything related to my family would “go viral”…or as close to viral as we may ever get. LOL
I’ve always been extremely conservative on social media, setting my page to private and carefully selecting the parts of my life I allowed people to access. So it was a great surprise when yesterday morning a friend called to let me know that she had seen a post about an abandoned dog that looked very similar to ours on the Internet.
It turns out we did make an awful mistake 2 nights ago when my husband inadvertently left our furry friend tied up outside the grocery store. It was an incredibly unfortunate oversight, mostly for our dog Moose who ended up having to spend a night in the doggie slammer. But the experience that we’ve had since with the community of people concerned for his wellbeing has been truly eye opening.
When my good friend called to tell me about the Internet post containing the picture that someone had taken of our dog tied up outside of the store, she actually didn’t want to tell me where it was posted. She said, “Oh honey, there are just so many people judging and criticizing a situation they know nothing about. I don’t want you to have to read all that. You are an awesome mama and I know that you give nothing but the best to your family. You’d never do anything to intentionally hurt your doggie.”
I agreed with her that I probably didn’t need to read all that and so we hung up and I tried to forget about it. But as is common with human nature, my curiosity got the best of me and I went searching for the post. Here is what I found.
When I first saw this on the local police department facebook page I was shocked to find that there were 82 comments and that over 100 people had already shared the story. I sat back and said to Conrad “oh shit babe… the entire internet hates us.” Over the next couple of hours the post collected 156 comments and was shared more than 600 times.
Obviously I didn’t need to engage with any of this. I could’ve just let people go on with their theories about how this beautiful dog ended up tied to a post at closing time, seemingly without anyone noticing his absence. One of my favorite postulations was the one proposing that Moose’s owners were probably in the first stages of dementia and had forgotten about him due to the rapid decline in their mental faculties. I loved this one because with the extreme sleep deprivation of the last 4 years and due to the over abundance of stress in our life currently, it seems that we often function similarly to someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. (Which by the way, I don’t mean to make light of in any way. Our close friend does in fact have actual Alzheimer’s and there is nothing funny about this tragic disease.) But anyway, the comments spanned a wide range of ideas and many people simply expressed concern over what had become of his owner and why this pooch was missing his people.
I wanted everyone to know that Moose was beyond loved and that he did have a good home and that we felt absolutely horrible about our mistake. So with Conrad’s encouragement, I sat down and wrote this response…
“Although I know that stepping forward to take responsibility for this will likely bring upon me the great wrath of the internet community, I believe whole heartedly in accountability for one’s actions. So here it goes…
Thank you to everyone here for all the support and concern for this AMAZING pup. My husband and I were awake the entire night worrying about how scared he must’ve been to spend a night alone at the Humane Society and raking ourselves over the coals for allowing this to happen.
If you have a second to read, here is the story of how Moose was left at Bristol Farms.
First of all, let me say, that there is no excuse for leaving a member of your family anywhere and the following story is not intended to remove blame from we who are responsible.
Last night we got home late from my son’s therapy session. It was a mad rush to get the nighttime routine going and so I frantically searched the kitchen for ingredients. Realizing I was short a few things, I asked my husband to take our boys and walk up to Bristol to get what I needed to finish dinner. He loaded them in the stroller and Moose started whining at him because he wanted to go along too. So he grabbed the leash and took him along like to get him out for a little walk. When he got to the store, he tied him up in a different spot than usual and ran in.
He rushed through the shopping as quickly as possible so that he could get back here with the ingredients I needed to finish dinner. Our older son is disabled and uses a wheelchair but Conrad had taken a stroller instead and Oliver was very uncomfortable. He is non-verbal and so he expresses his discomfort by screaming when he’s not ok. If any of you are parents, you’re well aware of what the sound of a screaming child does to your brain. It can make concentration extremely difficult. Last night at the store he did just this. By the time my husband finished his shopping, he was absolutely focused on soothing our son. He left the store and rushed home so that we could ease Oliver’s discomfort.
When he got home, he handed over the ingredients, I finished dinner, we tried to get Oliver back to a calm state of being, gave the boys their baths, completed Oliver’s nighttime routine of medications, breathing treatments and stretching and then finally got them to sleep. During these couple of hours I had just thought Moose was in the backyard playing as he often does.
When there was finally peace in the house my husband asked me “where is Moose?” And then it hit him. He said “oh my god! I left him at the store!” He was raced out of the house in his pjs, jumped in the car and frantically rushed to find him. When he got to Bristol they were closed but he banged on the door until someone came and told him that they had just had him picked up by the Humane Society. So he jumped back in the car and raced over there to find that, of course, they were closed for the night.
There was nothing we could do until the morning.
We literally lied awake the entire night picturing him alone on that cold cement floor, wondering why his family had ditched him.
This morning we got up at 6, got the kids ready and loaded and were waiting outside the Humane Society door by 8:45. It was the best we could do.
Moose is now home where he is fiercely loved and was sorely missed. We appreciate everyone’s concern and sharing of this post to make sure this sweet soul found his home.
The only thing I’ll ask further is your understanding and compassion for 2 incredibly sleep deprived parents just trying to stay afloat amidst a sea of chaos. Much love <3″
I actually felt sick to my stomach as I was uploading this to the police department facebook page. I said to Conrad, “I’m about to get ripped apart for this.”
I could NOT have been more wrong.
When I checked back a few hours later, I found over 40 responses of love, support and offers to help us. I couldn’t believe it. People DID show mercy and understanding. They told me of similar things that had happened in their own lives. They said I was doing an amazing job and encouraged me to forgive myself for what had happened. They encouraged me to ask for help, told me they were here for me as a community and some even offered to walk our dog. As I read them the tears started falling down my cheeks. What a wonderful world in which we live.
I clicked on the shares button, which at that point had reached over 700. It navigated me to a page called Hidden Los Angeles where the writer had updated their original post to include my story of what had actually happened. They reminded people to take this opportunity to remember to act with compassion and non-judgment in life because often times, there is a far less nefarious truth behind pictures of situations which seem so negative.
Sometimes things like this just hit me. They restore my faith in the goodness of humanity and our ability to grow and evolve as a species. In a world that so often feels cold, judgmental and unforgiving, these experiences of warmth and real connection go far to pry back open closed hearts.
So, the moral of the story today is
Believe in the goodness of humanity… when we are transparent and accountable for our actions, when we come together, lay judgment aside, walk a mile in another’s shoes, real connections are made.
Oh… and don’t leave your dog tied to a post out side the grocery store….