Everyone knows that in times of peril, dogs can be trusted to rise to the occasion and do something heroic. They will be the first to sense danger with their amazing canine senses, they will be the first to raise the alarm with a ferocious volley of barks, they will be the first on the scene to pull little Timmie from the well. Well, okay, the only thing I can trust my own dog, Joe, to do is to whine and do his best to interrupt whatever I’m doing whenever he feels hungry, but he’s still young. Or maybe he really is warning us about the terrible things that will happen if he doesn’t get fed.
Anyway, we are in a time of peril now, and a heroic dog has risen to the occasion. Sundance, better known as Sunny, a golden retriever in Manitou Springs, Colorado, has been delivering groceries to his next-door neighbor ever since the COVID-19 crisis began. Renee Hellman has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which puts her at high risk for the virus, and has been homebound for several weeks now. Every morning, Sunny runs across the yard to collect Hellman’s grocery list and brings it to his human, Karen Evelth. During the day, Evelth goes to the store to buy the groceries, and in the evening Sunny schleps them over.
It started as a test run, the humans told KRDO-TV, but Sunny turned out to be a better boy than either of them had anticipated. “He just did it, all of a sudden, and he was here, and that’s my job, and I’m gonna do it—so it was wonderful,” said Hellman. Evelth admits that one of his motivations is treats, but she believes most of the desire to help is inherent in Sunny’s nature. (He’s also been known to pick up trash on his daily walks.) “He’s really special to me,” she said, “and I’d be lost without him because he helps me so much, so I wanted him to help other people. That’s exactly what he did. I’m pretty proud.”
Last night I showed this video to Joe as a sign of the great things dogs can accomplish if they put their minds to it. He was unimpressed, possibly because Sunny just carried the groceries without trying to eat them. (Joe himself can’t walk past a person carrying groceries without stopping to investigate.) Then he looked up at me soulfully, as if to say, But don’t I bring joy to your life? You know you humans don’t deserve us.
And who am I to disagree?