In February of this year, those of us in rain-drenched Northern CA. got a reprieve from the rain gods, and the Princess and I decided to take a drive over to the coast. It was one of those beautiful, CA sunny days with temperatures in the 60’s and cloudless, brilliant blue skies ripe for beach walking, biking and anything else you could imagine doing with a gorgeous, sun-filled day.
We headed to Half Moon Bay to stroll on one of our favorite walks that looks out at the ocean from a path above the cliffs, and were doing just that, when we spotted a stranded baby sea lion cornered against the side of one of the bluffs below us.
Crossing paths with the ranger that was trying to help it, we asked if he knew how the little bugger got there, and he told us that a couple of unleashed dogs had sent him scurrying for his young life. By the time the ranger had tried to intervene, the pup had gotten himself stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” and couldn’t get himself back out to sea. Realizing the pup needed to be rescued, but unable to help him without assistance, the ranger had put in a call to the people from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. We happened to be there when they arrived, so we watched as they carefully netted and prepped it for the ride to their facility in Northern Marin.
The little guy was clearly distraught and made quite a fuss before he was caught.
The Princess, concerned with its well-being, and wanting to know exactly what they’d be doing, asked one of the volunteers what the protocol was for this pup, and if they thought it would eventually calm down and be ok.
He acknowledged her concern, but really couldn’t predict any outcome. All he could say was that they’d do their best to help it. We’ve been to the Center a number of times and are aware of their meticulous care and involvement with the animals, but were concerned with its young age, and if it would thrive without its mother and ocean community. Sea lions are highly social creatures and currently an endangered species, with humans as their primary predators; so we were extremely concerned about the fate of this little one.
As we stood atop the ridge watching the volunteers and ranger as they cautiously corralled the animal into their nets and eventually the holding cage, we heard the pitiful muffled barks and grunts from the anxious pup, and I suddenly got a lump in my throat and started to tear-up.
Standing there in the bright sunlight, attentive to the waves breaking against the side of the cliffs and listening to the muffled cries from this sweet, frightened little baby, I couldn’t help but get a little upset with the dog owners who created this heart-breaking scene.
I totally understand a dog’s need to frolic and run and can appreciate dog owners who like to have their dogs enjoy the beach unleashed, but the beach was well-signed, and the owners informed: Dogs are to be leashed while walking the beach.
They chose not to obey and let them run free. And I’m sure they weren’t bad people, and their dogs were just being dogs. But now this infant pup is without a mother and was carted off to a home totally unnatural and unfamiliar to him. We don’t know if he’ll make it and have no idea if he’ll thrive, and I can’t help but think: how sad for this little guy and how sad for us, too.
As we go forward with our week, let’s try to be respectful of one another and mindful of the world around us, and I’ll catch ya the next time; looking at life from my shoes.