Imagine returning home and finding a note that will turn your world on its head. You leave your property thinking all is well, but later, you discover something so tragic and heartbreaking, it takes you and your family months to recover.
Cynthia Wakelin lives on four acres in Bellingham, Washington; her home is on a remote road and out of the way, so it takes time to reach her property. Wakelin lets her two dogs roam free, allowing them to enjoy the scenery and outdoors.
‘I live on a mountain. I moved there for a reason,’ Wakelin said. ‘They roam or go down the back to the lake. Full freedom….most of the time they sit on the porch.’
The note Wakelin discovered mentioned her 14-year-old shar-pei-terrier mix, Toby. It was left by the UPS driver who is familiar with her property because he often delivers packages. ‘He comes all the time. If you see my Instagram, I have all these Louboutin shoes, and he delivers them,’ she said.
‘Sorry, but I backed over Tobey [sic]. He’s dead over where I turn around,’ the letter read. ‘I didn’t see him behind me. Sorry.’
Wakelin couldn’t believe what the note contained. She recalled the first time she read it: ‘All I saw on the note was “Tobey” and “he’s dead, ” and I just started screaming.”
‘I told my girl friend to get my kids in the house. My son was asking what was wrong and I said I needed to find Toby. I guess I didn’t believe it was true. ‘
The driver left the note on Wakelin’s front door. He wrote the heartless missive on a ‘missed package’ slip instead of calling Wakelin personally. Her number was on Toby’s dog tags, and on the box he left behind.
‘If he had called me, it would have lightened the blow a little bit,’ she said. But now, Wakelin doesn’t even want to see his face.
It took Wakelin some time to locate poor Toby’s body. She described the horrible moment she found him behind a log on the path leading up to her house: ‘When I found him he was split down the center,’ Wakelin said, adding that there was even a part of the driveway where the dog’s intestines were smeared.
That first night without Toby was the hardest, Wakelin recalls. Her two young sons were hit especially hard with the loss of their old family member.
‘Landon is six, so he understands. He had a hard time that night. But Asher just doesn’t understand; he keeps looking at Toby’s empty bed,’ she said.
After a terrible night without Toby, Wakelin called her local UPS office and spoke to a supervisor.
The employee’s callous response left the grieving mother even more mystified, but no less angry: ‘The supervisor told me, “At least he had the heart to leave a note and didn’t just leave your dog dead on your driveway,”‘ Wakelin said.
Later that same day, a different supervisor from UPS visited Wakelin. He tried to intercept the same driver who killed Toby to see if the other man would apologize in person.
Wakelin said this second UPS manager was a little more sympathetic as they had dogs of their own. Since his visit, she’s heard nothing from the company.
Here’s what Wakelin posted on her Instagram account about the loss of Toby: She first posted the note the driver left her along with this caption: ‘PLEASE SHARE! A @ups driver killed my 14 y/o dog, Toby, and left this note on my door! He also put his body where I had to search for him. My phone number was on the package and my babies collar. You took my baby! You couldn’t even call and tell me or give a sincere apology? You thought you could redeliver my package the next day and apologize? Weren’t we worth your time that day? I had to come home WITH MY KIDS and find a note! Do you know how traumatizing that is for a six-year-old boy?!
I’m sick. My whole family is sick. This is not acceptable! I live far off the main roads. You failed to pay attention and have no heart! You ripped my family into pieces. I didn’t get to say goodbye to the first dog I have ever owned. He was my family. He was my child’s best friend.’
Wakelin has been in touch with an animal rights attorney. It’s not about the money, she says, but the company teaching its drivers compassion: ‘I just want UPS to make it a point to tell their drivers that they need to care about the people they are delivering these packages to. And if their pets get hurt – even if they don’t care – they should act as they care.
‘This is my family. They have ruined my family. I mean, my dog was 14, he was the first dog I ever had.
‘It would have been nice to have a little bit of remorse. I wouldn’t be so angry about it,’ she said.
For Wakelin, losing Toby was like losing a family member. The UPS driver didn’t get that: ‘I can’t even have any deliveries. It’s, like, crippled us as a family, you know?
‘We don’t even go on a walk by the lake anymore because Toby used to go with us,’ she said.
Toby’s death, though an accident was still horrible. Should the UPS driver have handled the situation differently? Of course. His supervisor should’ve been at Wakelin’s home that very afternoon offering condolences and making things right.
The driver? That’s a matter of opinion. Was it his responsibility to call his customer or his manager’s? How would you have handled this situation if you were the driver or his supervisor?