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Through the Kindness of Strangers

by Staci Roberts Beam

The other day I took our two English bulldogs to PetCo on Ashland Avenue here in Chicago. Bulldogs are, as a rule, very lazy dogs.

staci and the bulldogs
Staci with her bulldogs

As the sales associate, Erik, was helping me put a new collar on my bully named Georgia, craziness happened. We took her old collar off and before we could put the new one on she traipsed toward the front door. The door automatically opens. And it did. During rush hour.

Georgia moseyed out but then took off like a greyhound. I dropped the leash of our other bully, Humphrey, and went racing after her--in flip flops, no bra on, a fleece shirt in 80 degree weather. Erik followed and soon passed me. Georgia ran through traffic, zig-zagged into the neighborhood, ran down an alley--racing like, well, a race dog. She then raced back into traffic on Ashland.

I was screaming, running through traffic, holding up my hands to stop traffic. Erik from PetCo was running much faster than me and could track her better. It was if she was on a drug. I came across a gentleman as I was running frantically, and he said, "Can I help?" I shouted, "Please, yes!" He raced to his SUV, parked it, and joined in the chase. We ran for 8 or 9 blocks.

Georgia crossed back across Ashland and I heard tires screech. We kept running. Now three people were in pursuit, shouting at people to "stop that dog!" She was running like a bat out of hell. Far ahead, I could see Erik waving to me, I could tell someone stopped Georgia. I came across two other people, a man and a woman, whom I don't think knew each other. But they stopped Georgia. The woman lives on Ashland, so we took Georgia to her house to hose her down and force water in her mouth. Bulldogs can easily die if they get overheated-- and she was just that.

The gentleman from the SUV saw we had her, so he just walked away after doing his amazing deed. The lovely lady brought out a water bowl for Georgia and GAVE us a leash for her. THEN, a young couple with two young girls pulled over and asked, "Hey, does your husband have a white t-shirt on and gray-flecked hair?" I felt I was in Twilight Zone. Apparently my husband Bill had been getting his city sticker at a locale on Ashland and saw me racing by. He looked so perplexed that this couple asked what the trouble was. They had apparently seen me BEFORE they saw my husband, and asked if I had on a green shirt. I did.

As I'm wondering how to get Georgia back to PetCo, this same couple pulls up and offers to drive me back there. Erik from PetCo got a ride from his co-worker who was driving by at that moment. I got back to PetCo, got my other bully (whom they kept there, thank God), and the lovely couple put Georgia in my car. I don't know any of these people; they saw me on the street, looking frantic, and took the time to help me. I feel such gratitude for the kindness of strangers.

Georgia the bulldog
Georgia, the star of this drama

So that's 6 people who helped me get Georgia back home. I wish I knew all of their names, but I only know Erik because he had a nametag on--and Erik chased Georgia the ENTIRE way with me. As I was leaving PetCo I said, "I guess we learned to leave the old collar and leash on until we get the new one on."

What amazing people these folks are. I wish I could send them all a thank you note. BTW, I felt this entire ordeal lasted an hour. But it was approximately 30 minutes. Still, that's a lot of sprinting for humans and dogs.

Can you IMAGINE?

staci and bulldogs on sofa
Staci and the dogs during a more relaxed moment

Staci Roberts Beam is Director of Strategic Communications at Northwestern University in Chicago.