Who would have imagined I would fall so in love with Rapid City, South Dakota?
I connected with a lady in Rapid City before the trip began who helped me orchestra a Kindness Link there. We brought them new bras for the city’s new Dress for Success program and EMERGE (a group that has conversations about social justice and then does a service project) created over 170 friendship bracelets, packaged them into beautiful bags and sent them with us to take to the Refugee Empowerment Center in Omaha, Nebraska. I also got to speak to them about The Smile Project which is my favorite thing in the world.
We were flying high as we left that event bound for our lodge and a good night’s sleep. But I wanted ice cream. We pulled into the main drag of Rapid City, South Dakota – about 30 minutes from Sturgis, South Dakota – the town of motorcycle festival fame. We had been traveling with the Sturgis people since Idaho as we collectively made our way east. Rapid City was no exception. The restaurants and bars and parking lots were packed with cyclists and people. I imagine we picked a good time to visit South Dakota.
Zack and I parked and started walking toward the ice cream parlor when I saw a scared dog with a collar who kept running into the streets. I immediately snapped into “save the dog mode” and sat down and beckoned the dog over with the promise of a treat I didn’t have.
Myself and another passerby were standing outside a restaurant gently coaxing the dog to us when out of the restaurant came two motorcyclists and the owner with some bread. In a full team effort, the bread trap was laid, the motorcyclist grabbed the dogs collar. The dog yelped and cried in nervousness. I read the dogs tag to the restaurant hostess who said the number was just the general dog shelter number and that nobody answered. The restaurant owner flagged a passing police car who called animal control while the motorcyclist held the dog calmly but firmly by the collar on the empty restaurant patio.
In minutes, animal control arrived and the motorcyclist helped the dog into the car where I – unable to mind my own business – asked what would happen next. He assured me that the dog most likely had a microchip and would be returned to his owner. He promised the dog would not be euthanized and I was content. I may have promised to take the dog if that was an option. I do not live in South Dakota.
Our little rag tag rescue team dispersed, back to the restaurant, down the street, to the ice cream parlor and so on. As I swirled my cookie dough storm back and forth I kept thinking about how empowering that entire scene was. A group of total strangers seamlessly came together to help a terrified pup. More than that, nobody was looking. These were people who did the right thing without being asked, without expectation of reward. They did the right thing because it was the right thing to do.
About a month prior, my good friend Sophie had donated to The Smile Project to “do something good.” I asked her if she had any cause spaces of particular importance. She said something along the lines of feeding people or taking care of animals as those are two of her favorite things. Having bonded many times over dogs, I felt extra called to act in this moment.
I marched back to the restaurant and pulled the hostess aside. I paid the bill for the two dog rescuers and left the hostess, waitress, and motorcyclists with sea star pins and just as quickly as we came, we snuck back off into the South Dakota night.
Later that night, I received a message from one of our new motorcyclist friends. He said thank you. He said he would keep the “Pay it Forward” going. He said it was the highlight of his week/summer. Having the opportunity to reward someone and treat someone for doing the right thing was an amazing feeling.
It gets better. Rarely if ever do you see the effects of your actions like this. I left South Dakota with the reassurance that the dog would be okay. I had to believe in that. Then, on August 15th the day before the trip ended, I received an email with the subject line “scared puppy.”
It was from the hostess at the restaurant. She wrote a lovely email but the most important words were: “I also wanted to let you know that I contacted the shelter about the cute scared puppy the next day. His owners were local and they did pick him up.”
Happy endings do exist.