ambulance had passed going double the speed limit only moments earlier,
causing me to wonder who was ill or injured.
a speeding car passed, obviously unimpressed by the fact that the
ambulance likely was on the way to an auto accident.
a pickup stopped at the corner, ready to turn onto my street.
of my Labrador retrievers was taking me for a walk, enjoying the
cool air that temporarily made August seem like October in Arkansas.
ambulance had caused me a moment of anxiety. The speeding car had
irritated me. The truck made me outright angry.
girl about 4 years old was riding in the bed of the truck, unrestrained
by anything but her own instinct to sit low and her questionable
ability to cling to a slick metal sidewall.
all the restraint in my being, I motioned to the pickup driver and
stepped near his open window.
him that riding in the back of a truck is extremely dangerous and
recommending that he get his daughter inside the truck was the least
I could do. The man stared blankly at me and did not respond.
doubt, he was angry and surprised. I knew I was being pushy, maybe
bordering on rude. But the child's safety is much more important
than my dignity.
man drove around the corner and stopped a half-block away. I stood
watching, wondering whether he was about to walk back and try to
improve my manners.
obviously, the man, however he felt about my interference, realized
that my advice was correct. He helped the child into the cab of
the pickup and drove away.
a year has passed since I last got on my high-horse about people
and animals riding in open truck beds.
incident, however, made me realize there is no way to emphasize
too often that unrestrained pickup passengers are at risk.
time has come to begin refreshing the training of hunting dogs,
and such cool spells as we had this week are perfect for exercise,
both for hunters and dogs.
owners of quality pointers and hounds allow their dogs to ride free
in trucks. Far too many owners of retrievers, however, seem to believe
the beauty of a big dog hanging over the side of a pickup bed is
something that will last forever.
any veterinarian and you likely will learn that a great many dogs
are thrown from trucks each year. Many die, many are crippled.
I ask a person driving a pickup with a dog in the bed whether he
will sell the dog. The answer is always negative. Then I say, suppressing
the sarcasm as much as possible, that it would appear that the driver
doesn't care for the dog and ought to be happy to sell it.
same sort of comment could have been directed to the man with the
child loose in his truck. Did he want to put her up for adoption?
Obviously, he wasn't thinking much about her safety.
of us rode in pickup beds years ago and thought nothing of it. And
maybe adults ought to have the right to ride in open truck beds.
But children ought to be protected. And so should animals.
note: In the years since this column was first written, the city
of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has passed a law requiring animals in
the beds of pickups to be in a cage or tethered. What's the
law in your town? What is the law for human beings riding in pickup
beds? You might be surprised!