Secret Pop

Sep 12, 2004

What you don't know

So, I never really got around to telling the tale, but I suppose now is as good a time as any. A few weeks ago, I adopted a two year-old miniature pinscher. I call her Audrey. She was rescued from a puppy mill, where she had really only ever interacted with other dogs. So, she was terrified of me. And any other human being, particularly if there were no other dogs around. I brought her home and spent a very stressful lot of time with her trying to put her at ease and get her to trust me. It was like having a new baby, but one with all sorts of problems. She wouldn't eat. She wouldn't drink. She wouldn't go to the bathroom when I took her out. She just huddled over in the corner in my bedroom, shaking. She likes to sit in front of my full-length mirror. I think it makes her feel like there is another dog in the room.

She made so much progress that first week. I could see her warming up and settling down. She still ran away from me when I reached for her, but she was also very cuddly once she made it to my lap. And let me tell you, I was never prouder of a turd than when she made her first in the back yard. Getting her to go on the leash was a big triumph. It proved she trusted me enough to be that special sort of vulnerable with me only a few feet away. I was ecstatic. Anyway, before my first week with her was up, I was preparing for my evening, and I saw that she was sitting by the back door, so I applauded her for what I assumed was her way of letting me know she wanted to go out. I threw on a skirt and a tank top and slippers and took her out into the back yard, where she promptly did her business. And I cheered her for it.

When I was taking her into the house, up the four steps to my back door, she jumped off the side of the steps, and -- the leash being short -- I leaned forward to make sure she had enough slack to not hang herself, at which point she yanked a bit and caused me to lose my balance. I fell. Flat on my face. Onto concrete. Somehow managing to badly cut the bottom of my foot, skin my knee, my elbow, my palm, and my knuckle, all of which were bleeding. And just as I took stock of all this, I noticed that I was no longer holding the leash, and Audrey bolted. Right out across a very busy street and far out of my reach. I kicked off my slippers and went running after her, barefoot and bleeding. I called her name. Drivers called out to me and told me where they had seen her go. I ran for blocks. A fellow in an SUV of some sort with a young lad in the front seat with him rolled down his passenger side window and told me he would circle the block in the direction he thought he saw her go. When he returned, he had lost the trail. He said he would keep an eye out and asked for my number to call me in case he found her. I gave it to him. He offered me a ride home, and -- as was the case on the one other desperation-filled time that I accepted a ride from a stranger -- I reasoned that he wasn't going to murder me with that boy in the car, so I climbed in and let him drive me home. And when I got out, I felt bad, noticing that I had gotten some elbow blood on his door. He gave me his card and asked me to call him if I found her so that he would know to stop looking. I thanked him and went into the house and began making calls. The micro-chip place where she was registered. The L.A. animal control place (where no one ever answered the phone). The people I had adopted her from, because her tags and micro-chip were still in their name. And Beulah. And by the time I spoke to Beulah, I was crying my eyes out.

The woman from the min pin rescue tried to calm me down. Told me what I should do. Make some signs. Go out and drive around slowly. Bring a friend. Do you have someone you can call? Someone who can come be with you right now? In case you get hysterical? Someone who can drive around with you so you have two pairs of eyes? Bring a blanket, because Audrey will probably be cold. It all began to blur together. I think the needle in my brain got stuck on the part of the record where she asked if I had a friend I could call and I thought to myself, "No, I don't." Not that I don't have any friends. I just couldn't think of anyone I would call at this moment, when I'm terribly upset, when it's an inconvenient working hour, when they would have to drop everything to come to my aid. It made me feel so sad and alone to think that the answer to that question was no. Even if it wasn't. At that moment, it felt like it was.

In the short time after I got home, I had already told myself I probably wouldn't get her back. She's so small and so unfamiliar with cars and the road. She's scared. She will get run over. Or eaten. Or trapped somewhere. I was in quite a state. Beulah and Adam both reassured me that she would be found. People will see she is on a leash and they will know she got away from someone, and they will try and help.

I couldn't decide if I should call and cancel my plans for the evening. I didn't want to. But I wondered what sort of company I would be or what sort of person I would look like if I didn't say that this was more important. But within about two hours, I got a phone call. Someone had found her. She was at the West L.A. animal shelter. I could go collect her in the morning. The rescue people would have to come, too, since the micro-chip was still in this woman Jeanine's name. I would meet them. They would call me. It would all work out. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, just before I was leaving my house, I got a phone call from the woman I had adopted Audrey from, Sharon. Sharon let me know that Kim, the coordinator for the rescue society, was going to be calling me. They had some concerns. Apparently Audrey came right up to the guy who found her in the street. And everyone at the shelter said she was being very friendly and allowing people to pet her. Maybe she just didn't like me, Sharon was saying. Maybe they weren't going to give her back to me. This all sounded so ludicrous to me. I went out, but in a strange mood.

And the next morning, when they called my house, I wasn't home to answer it, but they never tried my cell phone, which was the phone they had been using to contact me all along. So when I got their message, I learned that Audrey had already been picked up and taken back to Sunland, to the home I had adopted her from, and some things needed to be decided. I was upset and frustrated and angry and confused. And I placed several calls in the hopes of resolving things quickly. But they didn't end up caling me back for seven hours. Seven excruciating hours, during which -- much like the afternoon before -- I had nearly convinced myself that I wasn't going to get her back. But in the end, I drove back out to Sunland and collected her. And she was frightened and skittish. Moreso than before. And it took another week of trying to work back up to where we had been. And I certainly had to sort through my own anxieties about taking her on walks and feeling that sense of panic that I was going to somehow lose her again. We spent a lot of time with Beulah and Justin, because Audrey really comes alive when she's with Tasha. Even though Tasha looks annoyed most of the time. And it's been a few weeks, and she is fine now. Sitting on my lap, as a matter of fact. When I type at my computer, she likes to sit here, with her chin resting on my left forearm, so that her head bobs around as I type. Martín says it makes her look like an animatronic dog. I believe him. Sometimes, things scare her, and I fear that she will revert back to that earlier state. But she still curls up against my lap when I sit down. And she licks my hands when I put lotion on them. And she's been eating her dinner -- even the dry food -- and doing her "business," and I see her tail wagging, and I know she's happy. Even though she still runs away when I reach for her. She comes to me when I'm sitting here at my desk. And I'm sitting here a lot.

I'm just summing the tale up, because I said something about the fact that I was bleeding (and in truth when I typed it, I got blood all over my trackball and my wrist rest), and people who read this speculated in a number of wrong directions. Believe me, if I was going to write about my period, I would totally just come out and say it. Check the archives. I'm not lying.

So the guy who gave me a ride home ended up calling me the next day to see if I had "found my dog." I didn't catch the phone call, but it's just as well. The same thing happened when I got a ride home from an off-duty police officer in San Diego many years ago. It amuses me that someone would look at a girl running down the street, barefoot and bleeding and not dressed in her Sunday finest, hair not yet styled, lipstick not yet on, and go: hot. But that's apparently what happened. I love that there are good samaritans out there. But I worry for them socially.

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