I don't know if this is a rant. It's really just a I'm-too-sad-to-keep-this-inside kind of true story.
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I am leaving work late. I am tired. I had prepped and tensed and strung myself out with worry over the morning's presentation and my body aches as I drive home.
The last stretch of my commute is always the hardest. Through the red light (I thought it would never change!) and over the railroad tracks (remind me to do a "Rant" on SUV drivers that cross the railroad tracks like their car can't handle going off road!) and I can finally see, on the left side of the road, the entrance to our neighborhood! I am speeding. There is a car coming on the opposite side so I hit the gas and quickly turn left to avoid having to wait and then...
Puppy. Cute, laborador mix, floppy ears, big pawed puppy looking straight into my eyes (my HEART!) as she stands transfixed in the middle of the road. Without thinking (not one over-analyzing, doubtful thought!), I pull over and jump out. There are treats in my trunk from when I took our dogs to my parents' house. I run to the back (quick, before she runs away) and pull out three treats in a little bag. Milkbones. Her eyes widen and she tentatively takes a few steps forward and then a few steps back. She's scared. I speak soft words ("baby", "sweetie") and toss half a milkbone at the ground near her oversized puppy paws ("She'll grow into them," I think). She swallows it down and takes the next one from my hand. I ask her if I can pick her up and then, sensing that she probably won't bite me (I am stupidly optimistic sometimes), I gently pick her up and put her in my car.
"I'm going to be a little longer," I say into my cellphone as I pull into the driveway. "But I'm coming in to get more milkbones." My husband says, "Okay, but you better find her owners." He is scared. Recent heartbreak in the doggy arena has him nervous for us both. He paces, hands on hips, in front of the car. I grab the Milkbones (toss one to the puppy in my backseat) and we are off to find her home!
First stop is one of the two houses closest to the neighborhood entrance. The door has a big oval cutout with glazed glass. I knock. Dogs barking, lights flashing, but no answer. I knock again (maybe they didn't hear me) and a forehead and eyes appear in the window of the door and then quickly disappear. I smile real big (I'm not selling anything!) and no one answers the door. Weird.
Next house smells like old people even on the outside. No sidewalk. Weird again. Look back at little puppy, but can't see her in the car. She's too little. I lift the hem of my long skirt so that it doesn't trail the ground as I walk through tall grass to the front door. Two doorbell buttons, but only one looks new, so I press that one. The door pops open and a woman peers out. I explain, with smiles and questions, and she agrees. The dog is her daughter's.
We walk outside. She is unconcerned. She says, "Oh, he got out to the road again?" First, the dog is a girl. Second, why doesn't she seem more concerned? Where's the "Is she okay? Where was she? How did she get out?" This woman seems only mildly interested. I want to say it's a mistake and I haven't seen the puppy. I want to take the puppy home. One of my dogs is crazy so we can't keep another dog in the house. We have a doghouse. She could live in there.
I go to the car, reluctantly optimistic that maybe these are good dog owners. Not everyone lets their mutts sleep in the bed with them, but that doesn't make them bad people. I open the car door and see puppy-butt. She has climbed halfway over the armrest so that her butt is still in the back and her head is reaching for the milkbones in my cupholder. Her tail wags and I smile. I tell her I see what she's doing and, laughing, I gently pick her up. Whispering, "What a good girl. You are such a sweetie," I slowly carry her to the back of the house. There is a small crate in front of the garage door and under a high deck. It's an open space. A long and lightweight cord connects the dog to some cinderblocks. It looks humane and I guess it's a makesift home since the puppy's new. My heart aches. She'll be so lonely. But she will be fed and taken care of and maybe they'll get a fence. Reluctant optimism...
The woman looks down at the dog and says, "My daughter's father got the dog for her. I don't know why." The daughter is on the phone on the deck, looking down on us with a lack of concern that mirrors her mother's own apathy. I motion to the puppy and she runs to me. She jumps on my skirt, rubs her face on my hand. She wants to play (I want to take her home!), but I have only a few warm and playful pats to give her and then I have to go (I'm already plotting to kidnap her). I drive home.
The next night I slow down as I drive by. It's late and dark outside, but I see the small figure sitting stationary behind the house. She looks so sad and I begin again to formulate my kidnapping plots.
Two nights later, I am working late. I call my husband.
"Hey! I'm on my way to the car. What's for dinner."
"Red beans and rice as I told you earlier. Where are you?"
"On the way to the car. I'm still in the building."
"I have something to tell you that's upsetting. No one in our families is hurt and it's not about money."
I'm on the street and the cars are loud. "It's about money? What?"
"It's not about money, but it will upset you."
"Hit me," I say as I think that it can't be that bad if our family is okay.
"That dog you helped the other day..." he pauses.
"NO!" My free hand rises to my head as if to keep it in place. The world is starting to spin. "No."
"She was hit by a car today. I saw her on the way home near the neighborhood entrance ."
"NO! Don't tell me that! No! Are you sure?! Did you tell the owners? Is she still there?"
"I couldn't tell them," he pauses, "you know I can't deal with that right now."
I do know, but I don't care. "You have to tell them! Or I will have to tell them and I don't want to do that!" I can't. I'm so selfish.
"You know I can't..." he continues but I don't hear him.
"Then I will if I have to," we exchange good-byes and I hang up.
Tears sting my eyes and the drive home is hard. Through the red light (Was it red? I didn't notice) and over the railroad tracks (stupid trucks getting in the way) and I can finally see (swallow hard), on the left side of the road, (Please don't be there. Please let the neighbors have found her.) the entrance to our neighborhood. The dog is gone. They must have found her. The woman and her daughter have company and they are loading stuff into a car, but I don't pause long enough to notice. Bad pet owners. I curse them all.
This is a true story. It breaks my heart. She was so sweet. My husband said she looked...well, I wouldn't let him finish and I don't want to think about it. God gives us this amazing opportunity to play Him as we hold the fate and well-being of these tiny creatures in our hands. How we treat others (people, animals, whatever) is a reflection upon ourselves and our own character. Compassion for animals is necessary like water is necessary for survival (sure, you can just drink sodas all the time, but eventually your insides are going to rot). I can't believe some people don't see that.
She was so cute and sweet. She'd have made a great pet. Loving and, once I gave her a milkbone, trusting. *Sigh* Thanks for letting me share. Good night.
QUOTES (just 'cause I'm in the mood):
Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to.
If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
ONE MORE ('cause ain't it tha truth!):
To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.