According to license plates in these here parts, Missouri is the “show-me state”. I’m flabbergasted as to what this means, exactly. Show me…wilting humidity? Rollercoaster terrain with the steepest grades of the trip so far? Five days in a row with temperatures soaring well above 100F? Our sojourn through MO has coincided with a heat wave, and there is an advisory in effect warning people to ‘stay indoors and avoid all physical activity’. As I huff and puff my way across the state, it feels like I’m being smothered beneath a steaming, soggy towel with every breath. Attention Nevada and Utah: I take back every single complaint and curse directed at the “heat” in the West – this trial separation has worked, I love you, I miss you, take me back.
But if anything can make up for such punishing riding conditions, it’s puppies. The other day Mel and I were biking along when we decided to take a snack break at this church. As we stood there dripping water out and drinking water in, we heard these piteous little yelps and saw this tiny black puppy bounding toward us. Then we heard more yelping and found another puppy, this one golden-colored, cowering in the ditch on the other side of the road, trembling and terrified at the traffic screaming by. They were labrador puppies, absolutely adorable, and once we got them away from the traffic and offered them some water, their spirits quickly revived and they happily bounced and flopped around as puppies should.
We figured someone had ditched them near the church, hoping that a pious church-goer would rescue them (this all happened on a Sunday). We asked this lady at the church what we should do with the puppies, and she said we could leave them out back and someone would probably take them home after the service. But this lady also said, quite forcefully, “You know, instead of abandoning those poor creatures to suffer, they should’ve just shot them.” She may have a point – death by bullet beats death by dehydration or starvation or transport truck – but Mel and I were horrified that this lady would do just that if we left the puppies with her.
So instead, we fashioned makeshift puppy carrying cases out of cardboard boxes and latched them to the rear racks of our bikes. Then we rode ten miles to the nearest town in the scorching heat with the poor puppies crying in the back the whole way. We took them to the sheriff’s office and reluctantly – very reluctantly – parted ways. These were THE cutest, cuddliest creatures ever, and we were totally smitten with them. We half-seriously toyed with the idea of trying to keep them, of getting a better container and bringing them home with us, but we realized it was completely unfeasible since we still have weeks of biking in brutal heat all day, every day ahead of us, and boxing the puppies up through all this would be terribly cruel. The last we saw of them, they were happily scampering about the sheriff’s office, and the dispatchers there were lavishing motherly love on them.
So parents, you’ll be relieved to hear I’m not bringing home any more pets to add to the Harris family zoo – at least not right now. But hopefully there will be other puppies down some other road in some not-too-distant future….