All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Biking to Work and Saving a Dog...

Dear Readers,
During the warmer months of the year, I ride my bike to work most days. It’s a completely different experience from taking the car. Let me expand on that. In the car, I notice that no other driver has any interest in my existence unless they think I am going too slowly, at which point they may choose to tailgate, or gun their engine while passing, or offer me half a peace sign. (And based on their facial expressions as they deliver the message, I don’t think they are proposing I have a semi-peaceful day!) Keep in mind I do not drive like a little old lady. But these folks, like many on the road, aren't happy unless they can go at least twenty miles an hour faster than the posted speed limit. I’m sure you've seen these people too. They seem to be reproducing faster than cats these days!

Honestly, I am pretty tired of all the angry drivers on the road. Sharing my mornings with these clowns makes my day start on a sour note. So that’s why I ride my bike instead—and what a difference! I can actually hear songbirds everywhere, and it’s an amazing symphony. I can see the beautiful gardens that my neighbors have worked long and hard planting and maintaining, and smell the roses that are in bloom. When one whizzes by in a car, it’s impossible to appreciate or sense any of these things.

On a typical bike-ride to work, I see a few dozen people out and about. Each and every person I encounter, almost without fail, will smile, wave, wish me a good morning, or provide some other pleasant greeting. Outside of my neighborhood, I don’t know these people which makes this interaction that much more extraordinary and delightful. By the time I get to work, I've smiled more times than I can even tally and that is a great way to start a day!

One other noteworthy aspect of biking to work is that you notice all the pets that live on your selected route. I see them in their yards. I see them on walks with their owners. I talk to people about their animals if I have time, and make new friends. It’s a lot of fun. But it also leads to situations where I can help.

Most people who own dogs, no matter how careful they are, have experienced their pets accidentally getting loose. Sometimes visitors or workmen leave gates and doors open allowing dogs to escape unnoticed. Kids forget on occasion to make sure pets are secure before they head off to school. There are so many potential triggers that may lead to a pet getting out. In the past 6 months alone, I have come across eight dogs on my route to or from work that were minus their humans. I was familiar with seven of them (specifically because of my bike riding) and got them all back home—I always carry a leash in my purse. The eighth dog I did not know and could not get close to him. He was not wearing a collar so even if I could catch him, there would be no way I could call his owner.

Of course, I have Orange County Animal Control’s phone number in my cell phone and called them for assistance. In order not to frighten the dog, I followed him from a safe distance and made sure he did not get out onto a main street. I continued to call Animal Control to give them updates on the dog’s location. When the animal control officer arrived, he was able to quickly impound the dog and get him to the safety of the shelter where he was reclaimed by his owner the next day. I was about an hour late getting home that night, but I had called my family to let them know what I was doing. They know how I am so this is nothing new to them! The point is, had I been driving my car every day, I would have never seen these wayward pets who could have been injured or killed. I would not have met the majority of their owners. I would have never made my many “bike-route-friends.” And instead of starting my day with a lot of warm and friendly greetings, I would have only the experience of being in a metal box, surrounded by hundreds of angry or frustrated drivers.

Though I don’t expect all of the readers to start biking to work from this point forward, I do encourage all of you to give it a try if you are physically able and don’t have an excessively long distance to travel. It’s also important to map out a safe route for biking (which isn't always possible). But if you are in a position to give it a try, I hope you do. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. And you never know, you might rescue a few new animal friends too.

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