Last weekend I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of persistence. While gearing up for a whitewater rafting trip, my family and I discovered that one of the other participants had his dogs with him. Because the dogs couldn’t go on the rafting trip (he assumed they could), he was just going to leave them in his van. For 3 hours. On a day that was supposed to get near 100 degrees.
The rafting staff had tried to talk him out of leaving his dogs, but he said they’d be fine. The staff shrugged their shoulders and figured they’d done their due diligence. It was clear they were concerned, but they didn’t know what to do. Everyone was getting into the vans to drive to the put-in spot. I asked about the dogs. “This isn’t okay. We can’t just leave them there. It’s going to get too hot. They could die!” My husband also expressed concern and said that, if nothing else, the staff could call the sheriff. One of the guides said they’d done their best and there was nothing more they could do.
When we got to the put-in spot, I approached the guides, who were busy unloading the rafts, and said that we had to do something. I emphasized that I wasn’t blaming them, but that we had to step up and take responsibility for helping those dogs. I felt like a pest, but I persisted despite their resistance. Finally, they insisted there wasn’t really anything they could do. My brother-in-law went to talk to the young guardian of the dogs, who assured my brother-in-law that the situation wasn’t ideal, but that the dogs would be fine, and that he’d left them some water.
We were standing around fretting, deciding what to do, when a couple of the guides came up. One of them — who would be driving one of the vans and taking photos of us along the way — had volunteered to get the guardian’s keys and check on the dogs a couple times during the trip — making sure they had water and could get out of the van if it was too hot. It still wasn’t ideal, but at least someone would be checking on the dogs. The guide said he shared my concern and was really upset at the guardian. I think he was relieved that I had continued speaking up.
If I hadn’t persisted, if my husband and brother-in-law hadn’t joined me in expressing concern, there was a good chance those dogs could have died in that van.
There are plenty of times that I have given in when I’ve met resistance. (And there are times when persistence isn’t appropriate.) But last weekend’s experience has reminded me how much the world needs us to persist in speaking out and taking action to help people, animals, and the earth. Even when we’re afraid, even when we’re met with hostility, maintaining compassionate yet firm persistence is vital.
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