I’ve been thinking of writing a collection of essays about how to save a life and on Wednesday of last week, I have another opportunity to save a life or two.

Wednesday, I was running behind schedule, but I needed to run the dogs and pack. My husband was coming in at about 3 p.m. and after he came, I would be able to leave. If I left at 3 p.m., I could still make St. George by 9 or 10 p.m. where I already had a hotel reservation. First, I needed to take the dogs for their run. Each gets run individually for about 2 miles.

On my first run, I stopped one block from the major intersection that I need to cross. There was a little white dog, looking very forlorn on the sidewalk with one foreleg out of the neck opening of a green shirt. I stopped and tried to get the dog’s interest. He backed away. So I sat down and talked to my dog and slowly approached him. I was eventually able to get the other side of my dog’s leash into a loop around its neck. I got to him and put his leg back through the shirt sleeve and went to the door checking for the owner.

I was able to get the attention of the neighbor who looked over the fence and saw another dog with a green shirt on. We determined that the dog was able get through a hole between the fence and the ground so he agreed to take the dog in.

On the way back, I saw another dog in a green shirt. The dog had crossed the street and when pursued walked back across the street. Again, I got the dog on a leash and eventually dragged it and my dog back to my house. I put the dog in a crate with water and began running the second dog. I left a note on the door of the people and talked to the neighbor.

At that point, I knew that I would not be able to leave at 3 p.m. which meant I would have to wait until after rush hour. I would leave at 6 p.m. or even later.

The people were so happy about their dogs being found and cared for by neighbors they called us several times. The husband called; then the wife called. The husband and then the wife called again after my husband returned the dog while I was trying to take a nap. I didn’t leave until 3 a.m. the next morning.

Yet this is how it should be. A neighbor taking time for another neighbor and a dog owner really caring about their dog or dogs. This isn’t how it is in most cases. The first dog I returned, I expected the people to be happy. The dog was a buff-colored cocker spaniel belonging to an affluent couple in Pasadena. They didn’t notice the dog was gone. They didn’t care. They offered the dog to us.

At the time, I was living a few doors down from a park. Every year cats, rabbits and dogs were dumped in the park. I took in a rabbit and a dog that had been dumped. I kept the dog until she died at an estimated 14 years of age. When I found her on the street of our neighborhood,  the vet thought she was about 5 months and had been hit by a car.

In the different part of Pasadena, I found a large dog and because I could not take it into my house, I took the dog to the animal shelter where I volunteered. The dog had no tag with a phone number to call. When I went back to the Pasadena Humane Society and asked about it, I was told this neighbor lived several blocks away and was incredibly angry that I had turned the dog in.

Thursday morning of last week (Star Wars Day), I ended up driving to Salt Lake City, taking several stops to rest. I don’t regret saving the dogs; I was worried about two dogs that belonged to neighbors because those dogs had acted aggressively toward my dogs. A smaller dog wouldn’t stand a chance against them. I also worried about the dogs being hit by a car. In this case, it was easy for me to save the dogs. I just had to take the time, even though I was busy, even though I had other worries and concerns and even a hotel reservation.

My husband tells me that the couple sent us chocolate-covered strawberries. The moral of this story, if there is one, is that you don’t need to be a doctor or a first responder to save a life. You don’t need to be a super hero. You don’t even need to endanger your life. You just have to care about people and other living things. Sometimes all it takes is time.

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