Q Recently my wife and I drove up to Bear Valley and decided to bring our beagle along. Our plan was to crack open the windows and let her stay in the car on a 46-degree morning.

Steve Gospe

Sunnyvale

A This would turn into a skiing trip you will never forget.

Q Our beagle is older, but still looks like a puppy and goes absolutely nuts when left in the car. She initially whines loudly, jumps from front to back continually. In short, until she calms down in about 10 minutes, she is quite noisy.

We left her around 8:30 a.m., and were on the slopes by 9. I'm pretty sure she had quieted down by then. I quit around noon and walked to the car. Once she saw me she started yowling.

Steve Gospe

A Flash forward a few minutes.

Q As I was walking to the car, I heard a car alarm going off and realized it was my car. Standing right beside it was a highway patrolman. Apparently people had been complaining about how I was abusing the dog, she was going to overheat and die and he somehow opened up the door and the emergency alarm went off.

As we spoke, people milled around giving me dirty looks. He told me that people were pretty upset with me and that they were convinced the dog was dying. To which I pointed out that two windows were cracked almost 4 inches and that it was 46 degrees. He shrugged and said: "I'm just telling you what people are telling me."

As I thanked him (although I started to question just what exactly I was thanking him for), an older man walked by and muttered something to which I said: "What did you say?"

He said loudly: "I can't believe you did that."

"Did what?" I continued.

"Leave him in the car. You could have killed him. I can't believe you did that!"

Still trying to be polite, I said: "Well, maybe you don't know the entire story (like the windows are down; I just checked on her)."

"No, I know exactly what is going on," he said.

Steve Gospe

A And ...

Q At this point I started to lose my temper, and won't bother to recount what I said. When I returned to the car, another "concerned" citizen had penned a long note also scolding me and saying that he or she certainly hoped my dog was "going to make it" and that I was a pretty poor dog owner.

My question: Is an officer justified in opening up a locked car door when an animal is barking? Particularly when it's clear that the animal isn't in any danger? What's your take? Am I missing something?

Steve Gospe

A Perhaps. If your beagle was making a loud ruckus, bystanders could think it was in distress. Yes, it was a cool morning, but the action of your pet obviously caused some folks to react.

Q My take: There is a huge difference between a dog parked in a car with windows all of the way up on a 60- or 70- or 90-degree day relative to parking with windows partially open and cold enough that you could see the dog's breath as she barked. Think a bit before you judge so quickly and harshly is the request I'd like to give some of the busybodies from that day.

Steve Gospe

A What do you think, folks: Were they busybodies or legitimately concerned?

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.