I feel it is important to stand up for myself and for those that don’t have a voice. It could be children, animals or nature.  When I see someone’s inconsideration, destruction or cruelty, I feel a surge of heat through my body, and I have to say something to address it.

Taking a walk at a local park one hot summer day I noticed a large group of ducks sleeping soundly in the shade of a tree. I admired their colorful feathers and the way they all slept with the heads tucked under in the same fashion.  Then I noticed a man and woman talking as their two young kids, say about five or six years of age, walked ahead of them towards the lawn with the sleeping ducks.  To my dismay the two kids took off running through the ducks scattering them and raising alarm.  The parents watched this and continued with their conversation.  I was outraged at their behavior and at the missed opportunity their parents had to teach them to look without touching and to be considerate of the birds resting.  As the parents watched their kids scatter the birds with glee I raised my voice.  My voice has always carried well and it is deep, especially when I am angry.  “Hey,” I yelled to get the parent’s attention.  “Teach your kids some manners!  Those ducks live here and we all guests.  Act like it!”  I stood still making eye contact with the woman as her two kids went to her side and looked at me with puzzlement.  I stood still for a few moments to see if there was to be any comment or if we needed to have a conversation about teaching children how to behave around wild animals.  I think I got my point across and walked on. I hope they all remember to be considerate of wild life.

Twice while walking around Green Lake I have noticed a man and his buddy with their two dogs.  One man, mid-fifties and tall, takes his leash off his dog and encourages it to take off after the wildlife. First it was a flock of geese grazing on grass and the second time it was a baby squirrel.  The geese honked, flapping their wings to escape danger.  The squirrel thankfully made it across the grass and to a tree before the dog caught it.  I was appalled.  Who is this man who thinks it’s okay to terrorize the local wildlife for his and his dog’s entertainment? If I were someone who carried a Smart Phone with a camera I’d have filmed him and posted it on social media. Perhaps public humiliation will stop him.  As it is, I don’t usually carry a phone with me when I walk the lake.

Instead, I raised my voice and caught his attention with a strong, “Hey!”  He looked at me guilty both times, ashamed at having been caught.  “Lease laws, buddy.  Keep the dog on the leash!”  I only hope other people call him out when he sends his dog after the resident animals.  I wish he could be banned from the lake if he is going to act like that.

The last experience that comes to mind involved being at the Zoo.  I have been going to WPZ for over 50 years and appreciate the vast improvements made for the animal’s welfare.  Because we are members my husband and I drop by often throughout the year.

On a side note, I don’t approve of the changes made to the sign hanging on the wall of the bear exhibit though.  When the Grizzly Bears come to the Zoo over 20 years ago as cubs a plague explained that they had been orphaned by a hunter and taken to Eastern Washington University before coming to live at the Zoo.  The new sign says they come from EWU as if the college raises Grizzle Bears.  Too much political politeness to keep the truth where it belongs.

Because I have had a good view of all the animals over the years I always stand a foot or so back from the front in case a child, or someone shorter than me would like a good view.  One day I was standing by the fence looking at the bear brothers interacting.  Two teenage girls, about 16 or so, excitedly ran to the fence in front of me. They were both shorter than I, so it was fine.  Then to my surprise their companion, perhaps their grandfather, joined them. He stood over six feet, dressed in well tailored clothes and about 70 years old.  He stood directly in front of me.  I was now looking straight into the back of his wool jacket with perhaps a half inch between us.  A crowd began to form to watch the bears.  When the very tall man and the teenagers were done looking he turned to go but was sandwiched in by the crowd.  And I wasn’t moving.  I looked right at him and told him he needed to be more aware of his surroundings, that he had stood right in front of me, blocked my view and anyone behind me.  He looked around embarrassed as others were listening.  I think he apologized before taking the girls away.  They looked very surprised that anyone had spoken firmly to him.  I had the impression that he was someone who was used to telling other people what to do and had forgotten his manners and basic consideration for others.  I hope he’ll be more aware of others, to be considerate.