The Kindness of Strangers

Posted: Oct 15, 2013
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It’s been well-documented, but I’ll say it again: I’m an introvert. While capable of talking to strangers, it wears me out. I also hate talking on the phone. I have a love/fear relationship with my phone. Texting has opened an entire world of avoiding human contact (love) but sometimes you just have to TALK to someone when they call (fear). I fear it because I can’t plan on the talking part, it just happens. One more insight as background for this blog – I’m independent to a fault. I’m a two-year-old. I can do it MYSELF! I have a hard time asking for help and an even harder time accepting it. I’ve gotten better in my work environment, but in my personal life I hoard my independence like a towering stack of yellowed newspapers.

This past weekend my princess dog Phoebe went on a walkabout.

Phoebe, Megan Brashear's dog, wearing a princess crown

Phoebe's noise phobia is well known to me, but in the middle of the night a freak thunderstorm caught her unaware and she escaped the backyard. Independence runs in my household so she has a dog door, but for some reason instead of running inside when she heard thunder, she ran out. I slept through the entire thing. I woke up, grabbed my phone and saw 25 missed calls and three voicemails. This could not possibly be good. All three voicemails were from two dudes, Louis and AJ, and contained drunken ramblings about Phoebe, saving her from traffic, and she was going home to North Portland with Louis. For some reason I'd turned my ringer off and missed out on the entire party. Phoebe, on the other hand, attended the party of the summer (literally, it was an end of summer blow-out, they even blocked off the street). Six hours later I finally roused Louis from his passed-out slumber and got his address.

This complete stranger made his buddy sit in the back of the truck so Phoebe could sit in the cab. He let her sleep in his bed (alongside his own dog) and even fed her breakfast before I picked her up. For the minor cost of a carton of cigarettes (it does say ‘reward’ on her nametag and  I don’t judge!) I had my dog back. She smelled like she’d been partying all night – beer, cigarettes and a faint whiff of weed – and she was a little embarrassed, so we headed home for a bath and a long nap on the couch. I got to thinking about the small world of animal lovers and how we don’t hesitate to do crazy things (like take a strange dog home for the night) for the sake of their well-being. This guy never thought twice about it. He has a dog and would want someone else to do the same thing; he hopes the universe will pay it forward if he ever needs it.

I had a crazy foster dog, Miles, who was a runner. He would jump the fence WHILE I WAS WATCHING and take off. His nose took over for his brain and he was gone. This happened on an almost weekly basis (he chewed through a cable that was supposed to stop airplanes on aircraft carriers… he was determined) and he was always found and returned by strangers. One woman found him, put him in her backyard while she called me, and when he escaped her yard she drove around until she found him again, called me back, and refused any money for her troubles. Amazing. She only wanted someone to think about doing the same for her dog. In a society where we hear awful stories of murder and stealing and war and human rights atrocities every day, someone going out of their way to keep my crazy dog from running in traffic is a beautiful thing.

It’s not unheard of that people will offer to pay part of the emergency bill for a stranger’s dog in our lobby. I see people volunteering their time at our DoveLewis events, show up to transport a stray kitten to a shelter on the other side of town, or take responsibility for a sad, geriatric stray cat. This small, animal-loving community takes care of its own and is willing to go way out of their way to help a wandering dog. I’m proud to be a part of this community, especially in a city (Portland, OR) where we take animal-loving to new heights. I will continue to pay it forward every opportunity I can, just in case Phoebe ever decides to go party-hopping again. She’s proof you’re never too old for a good time.

Phoebe, Megan's dog rolling around on the floor in the DoveLewis offices