Friday, May 3, 2013

Panic! In the Household



As you can see by the recently reposted previous entry, we got a dog. After some confusion over transfer dates, she came to our place on Monday night.

And by Wednesday afternoon, she was gone.

Life hasn't been easy for Lily, either before the adoption or after. I think we see videos and photos of loving animals and it's easy to think they're all these little furry balls of unconditional love. Had a bad day? Dog or cat will take care of that! Bored and want to play? Hey, so do they! But that's not always the case. And with a rescue animal, it's certainly not likely to be the case, especially not right from the start.

I'm learning that. But it's a hard lesson.

Since Lily's had some issues going to the bathroom outside (or at all, really. Little girl has my camel bladder) TB asked if I wanted him to come home at lunch and let her out. I said, sure, if he had time. He did, so he did.

Lily has this thing about people right now. She won't leave our side, but she also cowers when we try to pet her sometimes. Same with the door, she bounds towards it, but then backs away whenever someone enters. I mean, granted, we'd only had a chance to open the door a half-dozen times with her so far, but it pretty much always went the same way: excitement, back away, retreat. Except for this time. As TB gently opened the door, she backed away then darted around his legs and ran out the door. And her stubby little legs might not show it but she is a runner, that one. TB is pretty quick too - he's all leg - so he ran and ran until he had no more breath in him and stopped. She was gone.

And she didn't have tags yet. And she's so small. And she doesn't know how to get home.

TB called me, and it had to be one of the worst calls I've ever received, up there behind the phone call I got when my grandmother died. Even just recalling it now makes my chest tight and painful. He was so upset, and his voice and words were equal parts furious, heartbroken, worried and despondent. I've never wanted to hug a phone receiver harder.

He'd asked a bunch of strangers if they'd seen her but no one had. He went back to the office to make posters while I had to continue working, deadlines looming and a coworker to cover for. I did not produce my finest work that afternoon, let me tell you. In between printing jobs, I emailed the rescue organization and asked for any help they could provide. They Facebooked and Tweeted Lily's information and contacted the Humane Society - they were very quick, it was great. I shared the information on my Facebook wall, all the while letting my mind wander to the terrible things that could happen to her. Balanced with a healthy dose of self-pity for her hating this place so much that she had to run, of course. TB was worse, apoplectic anger at her, teary at the whole situation, blaming himself for the escape. I never blamed him for a second. How could I? She wasn't really "our" dog yet, just a fuzzy roommate, feeling her way. We didn't know how she'd act - and we had no indication that she would make a run for anything that wasn't made of beef. And he'd done everything he could - run after her, asked strangers, made and hung posters - I was so proud of how he launched into action.

Finally, at 3pm I finished what I needed to, peaced out, and took a cab to meet TB and his mom.  A hug never felt so good, or so sad. We put up posters and people wished us luck, asking if we'd contacted the Humane Society, smiling sadly. Friends shared my status on Facebook, coworkers texted me to help look for her - after TB's frustration at the dozens of people who didn't stop her from running, we shared wobbly smiles over the kindness people can show in times of trouble.

I know that in cases like this the first few hours are really critical if you want a happy ending. And as the unseasonably hot sun beat down we started to lose hope. Then, around 4pm, as we reached the end of our poster stash, TB got a call. As soon as I heard the first "Really?!" I felt like all the blood returned to my limbs. Someone had found her.

We started texting and calling people who were on their way to help, letting them know all was well, typing (and talking) in all-caps. And as she came prancing down the street, tongue out and ears flapping, I felt like I was waking up from a terrible nightmare. I've never been so happy to see something I was so irritated with.

It turns out, she'd done this before. In fact, the woman who found her had been her first foster parent and during the transport from Montreal she'd pulled a runner into the woods and was only picked up because two guys on snowmobiles managed to snag her. They said it was like a movie. I kind of wish that this information had been passed onto us, frankly, because I had no idea a) she could run so fast b) this is sort of her M.O.

I mean, it makes sense - if I had been cooped up my whole life then I'd want to run as soon as I got a taste of freedom, too. Well, probably more like a canter. Speed walk at the very least.

We got her home, let her drink all the cold water her smushed face could handle and then pretty much collapsed. We ate our packed lunches for dinner around 9pm and were in bed by 10:30. Somewhere in there she peed on the floor (instead of, y'know, the backyard, where she'd been for an hour with us) but we scolded her like pros and cleaned it up even faster. We're getting the hang of this.

And we told ourselves in sniffly voices, that tomorrow will be better, that things will get easier and that this is the kind of stuff that can happen when you take a chance on a dog with a past. But make no mistake, it is hard. It's hard accepting that some of the stuff you really like will be, if not ruined, then at least negatively affected. It's hard watching a dog shy away from you, when all you do is give it food and attention. It's hard waiting for things to improve.

And I know we have to be patient, and I know she's trying her best, and I know it will get easier and I know it's worth it. But I like things to be good RIGHT NOW and like everything else I've wanted to excel at right from the start, I get super frustrated when things aren't simple and easy.

Basically, I'll be fine if I have kids because my bargaining techniques and attention span mirror that of a 4 year old.

So we keep on keepin' on. I found myself taking my voice to new heights of falsettoness today as Lily dutifully peed outside by herself in the backyard this morning. I even did a little happy dance when her droopy tail curled up into a perfect spiral and then wagged back and forth. And I'm choosing to ignore the peanut butter it took to get it there. One paw in front of the other, little girl. Until you reach the baby gate. Then back the hell up, hound.

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