Cartoon of Daisy and a bellringer

Daisy loves car rides. Just being invited is enough to set her tail fanning the air as she jumps into the cargo area of my old Land Rover. She quickly finds the plush blanket we’ve put onto the back seat for her comfort, scoots it around with her paws until it’s properly bunched, and then settles in for an air-sniffing adventure. She knows that we will lower the windows a bit—just enough for putting her head through. She knows that the curvy route we drive holds many interesting scents and that the Starbucks at the end will give her a pup cup (tiny taster cup with a dollop of whipped cream). She knows that when we stop at Home Depot, Walmart or Safeway, she will get to explore the green areas on a leash. And she knows that when the walk is over and we tell her to be good and shut her behind car doors, she can watch our path crossing the parking lot until we disappear into the store.

We recently followed this described routine until it became something of an unexpected adventure. “You be good, Daisy,” were my final words to her as I grabbed my list and we headed into Walmart. We passed the Salvation Army bellringers on the way in. It was a small group of bundled and smiling adults and a sweet-faced Bernese, surrounded by the seasonal sound of that ringing bell. It should be noted that the bellringers you see around town are volunteers and the money they collect stays in the community, which, in the case of Evergreen, includes Idaho Springs. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s a worthy cause, you can feel good about donating to the Salvation Army. Plus, the ringers are probably people you know, so you might as well stop by and say hello.

Meanwhile, my husband and I were successfully going through our list in Walmart. We were just strolling through the produce section when we heard a voice on the loudspeaker. “There is a Lab dog at Subway, so if you’re missing a Lab dog, please come get her.” Hubby and I looked at each other. “Did she say lap dog?” We shrugged. “Daisy can’t get out of the car,” I declared with confidence, and we continued shopping. Considering Daisy’s track record, that was a cavalier attitude. She’s opened the pantry, escaped the yard, and generally surprised us with her ingenuity. That she could somehow get out of the locked car at the far end of the parking lot and come inside the store should have felt like a sure thing coming instead of an impossibility. While we were busy in self check-out, my cell phone rang. “Uh-oh,” I thought, lunging for my purse. You see, before we ever left the shelter, we printed out a red, heart-shaped tag with her name and my cellphone number. I answered, cautiously. It was one of the bellringers we passed when we entered the store. “I have Daisy here out front,” she said. I slumped. Of course, she does.

I abandoned my husband to finish the chore, grabbed my purse and ran for the front door. The same group was there ringing the bell. The Bernese was gone, and Daisy was in its place on the end of a leather leash, seemingly part of the bellringing group. She spied me and stood, her tail swishing wildly. “Daisy!” I exclaimed, taking in the scene. “I can’t imagine how she got out,” I said among a blur of thank yous and apologies.

They let me borrow their leash to get back to the car, where I discovered the back window rolled down 6 inches—no more. Daisy is a healthy and lean 65-pound dog. How on earth did she get out of that window? Since adopting her and observing her antics, we have alternately assigned her lineage to being part goat or part cat. We can now add hamster to that dubious lineup for her ability to contort her body into unimaginably small proportions. I rolled up the back window to a 1-inch stopping point, told her to “stay,” and locked the door—twice. On my way back in, I stopped at the bellringers again with more expressions of gratitude. I felt the need to offer an explanation that since we’d only recently adopted her from a shelter, we were not clued in to all her tricks. We’re learning fast. I returned the leash, feeling guilty for the Bernese that must have been dumped into a car so Daisy could use its leash. What a good sport.

Back in the store, I found Hubby bagging the last of the purchases and we steered the cart out together. We stopped at the bellringers. The Bernese had returned. We petted its big ol’ head, dropped five times our usual donation into the swinging red kettle, thanked them once again, and headed to the car, shaking our heads at yet another adventure with our Daisy.

Since the folks who volunteer to be Salvation Army bellringers are most likely members of the community, and obviously dog lovers, it is also likely they might read this column. So, I would like to take a moment to thank those Salvation Army bellringers, who were so fortuitously situated in front of Walmart that day, for going out of their way to rescue our sweet Daisy, who felt the need to follow us into the store. Your kindness kept her good intentions to a simple day out adventure, whereas it could have been a disaster of injury or loss. May your kindness and willingness to go the extra mile to keep our Daisy safe be rewarded over and over in this, the season of giving.