Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flashback: The Dog Story

See where nostalgia gets you?
This was an email from Octoberish of 2005 (that long ago??) A couple months before I got pregnant with Khubz.


Hello beloved family & dear, dear friends,

What is going on? Your good, though reclusive, friend has emerged temporarily from her isolationism with a story of unwavering and wavering love, faltering devotion and (ultimately) compassionate indifference. Please do not fret. This is a happy story.

Before I launch let me say that I miss seeing everyone, care very much about you all and hope to permanently emerge from my shell some day here soon. Many thanks to everyone for their patience.

The (almost entirely true, barely embellished, practically sworn-testimony of the) Dog Story

(after having completed the story I can now add the qualifier: "way, way too long & detailed" Dog Story. Any of you who lived through this with me are welcome to skip. The rest of you darn well better read it and be glad you're not getting a verbal retelling which takes about an hour and a half.)

So it had been a rough week. My loving partner and my loving sister were both of the same mind: Get Ffemme a hot dogdog to ease her sadness. We went to the pound, searched pet finder high and low and eventually decided it is not the right time to get a dog. Why? Though I love my (small) house we don't have a yard, neither of us can come home every day at noon to let the dog out, Scully & I both travel a lot for work--we don't really have a life that will support a dog.

Instead I am off to Iowa. Joe cancels the appointments she made to see puppies. We plan a picnic at Branwen & Rhiannon's old school Roosevelt. It has a great playground for the kids, places for the old people (Jim & the like) to sit and is close to Joe's house if we forget something. It was quite nice and the whole clan turned out.

While we are eating our bologna sandwiches we see this old DOG walking towards us. And the dog is in bad shape. Its front legs are kind of bowed and it seems to have arthritis in its back hips so it hobbles, not unlike a young bear. She's a very sweet girl with a very pretty face although the rest of her seems mangy. Someone had shaved her but her hair had grown back in all matted. It took a while to figure out she was a Keeshond (thanks go to Kirsten.)

She is hungry and guess what? She likes bologna. Her tags say her name is Storm (terrible name for this dog) which she does not respond to. Maybe she's deaf? There's also a phone number. And what is a picnic without everyone bringing their cell phones? So Joe calls and the conversation goes like this:
Joe:Hi, we are at a park and we found your dog
Him: What? What dog?
Joe: Um, your dog
Him: What kind of dog? What does it look like?
Joe: It looks like a dog that had your phone number on it--exactly how many dogs are you missing??
Him: Well, we used to have some dogs in the frat but. . . I'm in Arizona.
Joe: Uh, great. Thanks.

This tells us all we need to know about him. Pissed off at people who abandon their dogs in general and at irresponsible college students in particular, we call the humane society. Though they are closed there is a cop who is willing to meet us out there and let the dog in.

Is this my dog? I ask. NO, replies everybody. I am unsure so I jump in the car with Kirsten and Joe who are taking the dog. The poor old dog has a hard time getting in the car but settles right down. She's very, very sweet. The cop that meets us out there is really nice and Kirsten remembers him being very good to battered women. This is a good sign. We know this dog won't be around long at the shelter, and not because she'll be adopted either. She looks like she has seen better days.

This nice cop cannot open any of the doors at the shelter. He tries all of his keys in all of the locks and though the keys will go in, they do not turn the lock. This has never happened to him before. "Is this a sign?" Joe asks him. "Sure," he replies. "He thinks this is a sign, Ffemme!"

At this point, the sweet old dog receives a name: Mi Osa "my bear". She is coming home with us.

We drive past the house that is listed on her tags. She sees her house and gets very excited. Joe goes up to the door and finds that the house is completely vacant. These people have left their good, old dog. Bastards.

At Joe's house the dog gets a bath. Though she clearly did not want one, she sighed and said "Oh, okay." I am massaging shampoo into the neck and chest of a dog that doesn't know me and she is so sweet & gentle that she just stands there. There are also two yappy neighbor dogs barking! barking! and this good old dog is absolutely silent.

After the bath she goes to the back door. "Isn't this where we go in?" she asks. So we let her in. She has a hard time with the stairs and it isn't long before she is actually carried up and down them. We soon discover the dog has perfect hearing. Not much time elapses in any Faisal household before you hear some Faisal crinkling open a package of something in the kitchen. And this dog hears it. She hears the small suction of a refrigerator door opening. She knows the squeak of the kitchen floor and can tell if you're in front of the dishwasher or in front of the stove.

She is also extremely smart. Unsure if she was fully housebroken, we lavished treats and rewards upon the dog when she successfully went outside to pee. She quickly learned the easiest way to a treat was to act like you need to go out, someone will CARRY you down the front stairs, you pee and get a treat! She had us trained immediately.

And Scully, poor unsuspecting Scully, gets a phone call. She is quiet on the other end of the phone. "So you're telling me that you're at a park and a hot dogdog just HAPPENS to walk up to you. . ." It did seem like a set up & Joe is known for occasional good-intentioned sneakiness. When she heard that it was not a hotdogdog and especially when she heard that, actually, I would NEVER have picked this dog she believed me. And I would never pick this dog. This dog picked me.

"Did she tell you, with her eyes, that she's your dog?" Scully asks. "Um, I'm not sure, but I think so!" replies the ever-decisive Ffemme. And then, "Okay, bring her down" a brief pause, " I will not be the only one responsible for this dog." That's how I knew Scully was serious. If she was being all la'a di daah I would have doubted her. But if she went immediately to the "accountability" discussion, she was for real.

Mi Osa did really, really well that night. She's an old girl so she mostly sleeps and lays around. She didn't have a single accident in Joe's house. Still, by morning I was vacillating again, because--see--I don't have a *life* that will support a dog. Kirsten could not take her. Joe can't breathe around dogs. It was Kansas or certain doom for this good old dog. And she deserved to have someone love her in her old age. She had to be at least 12.

Ultimately, I decided we should not take her, because I really can't have a dog.
And then, ultimately, ultimately, I brought her down to Kansas, because I just couldn't take her to a shelter.

She does so well in the car. Lets me know when she needs to stop, waits the 19 miles before I get to the next rest area. She's a good old dog. We get home and she immediately craps all over everything in the house. I don't think she could control it. We'd fed her bologna & god knows what she ate before she ran into us! So I don't blame her but I did call SKM to share my frustration. She gave me back a very empathetic, "Welcome to dog ownership" Thanks.

Scully says she has a sweet face but the rest of her looks awful. Really, the only thing that would have completed the look for Mi Osa was if she'd had one of those giant paper collars. One was sure to come soon, too, because she had some kind of growth or skin tag on her leg and she had licked it absolutely bare of hair. There was a storm and she worried about the thunder but everything was so new--of course she was a little needy. And then she would rub her body against our couch and I'd think, "do I want a dog??" It's all a little late for that question but remember, folks, I can't make up my mind about ANYTHING.

Its time for bed and there is no way this good old dog can get up our very steep wooden stairs. So we pen her in downstairs with a baby gate and we go up. She would have none of it. She knocked the baby gate over and got out. Then we hear the sound of a dog climbing stairs using only her front paws to drag the rest of body up to be with us. With a small amount of pressure Scully agrees that Mi Osa can sleep in our room on the floor. Neither of us want her in our bed. This, however, just does not work.

She lays down and we hear the constant licking, licking, licking. She won't settle down and I have decided that I should not have a dog. I'm taking her to the shelter tomorrow, we don't have to worry about establishing any kinds of patterns, I will sleep downstairs on the couch so the dog can sleep downstairs. I carry her down the stairs and we have a good night overall but are still destined for the animal shelter Monday.

The shelter doesn't open until 10. I look at Osa (now just simply called "Osa" because it seems terrible to use the possessive "Mi" in her name when I'm so ready to abandon her at a shelter) and she looks at me. So this is the message I leave for Scully at work. "If you have time and patience for me, please call me back to talk more about the dog. But if you don't have both of those things, please don't call. So, time and patience, call. Otherwise, don't worry about it." Good woman. She calls me back right away.

And I am crying. Is this a test? Is the universe testing me? I don't want to take this dog to shelter. She already looks at me like I'm her designated human. She's already been abandoned once. I feel like I'm supposed to have this dog. But I don't want a dog. I don't want my house to smell like dog. This dog has massive amounts of hair & shedding. My neck is hot and itchy. I'm having some sort of reaction to the dog or to something that she's been in. Am I supposed to prove that I'm compassionate and capable of love and responsible? Once again, I am very worried about making the wrong decision. The problem with taking her to a shelter was that if it turned out to be the wrong decision it would be very, very wrong. The problem with keeping her is that I don't seem to ever feel like I've actually made the decision. And I don't want a dog. And I am still crying.

Take her to the vet, says my girl who has both time and patience. That will tell us more about what we are signing up for.

I make a vet appointment for later in the day. They don't usually take walk ins on Monday because they have surgeries but it just so happens that there are no surgeries scheduled today.

And that's sort of the basic story of this dog. "It just so happens. . ."

Back in Iowa Jim calls Vet Med in Ames because Mi Osa (possessive returned) has a vaccination tag from there. So he calls to get some medical records and discovers. . .

Mi Osa has an owner. And she's looking for her dog. And she's not sure how her dog got to Kansas.


She had recently moved. Her 10 year old daughter has been worrying about their dog for days. The dog "Storm" figured out how to open the screen door at her mother's house and got out. She (allegedly a "he") headed back for the old neighborhood and happened upon a bunch of overprotective dog-lovers who decided the dog should come to Kansas.

The bad news is: that very morning, the day after I just returned from Iowa, I got back on I-35 and headed north. The good news is she met me in MO so I was back in my house by 4 o'clock instead of 8. Additional good news, this was all discovered in time to cancel the vet appointment which would surely have cost quite a bit.


And yet, perhaps this was all choreographed by the universe.

I learned that I did NOT want a dog and no one got hurt. That's amazing. I could have easily spent hundreds of dollars and broken the heart of some hot dogdog trying to discover that self-truth.

The other life lesson was that when your dad says "Ffemme, this dog is not your problem. This dog is someone else's problem" sometimes he's right. Sometimes.

And the final lesson is: if you move or break up with some jerk who moves to AZ, get a new damn dog ID tag. They cost $2!

Okay, thanks for working through all of that with me. Much love to anyone who is still reading at this point and (of course) love to those of you who stopped reading already as well.

:* (kisses)


Anonymous said...

A says that re-runs don't count. But I say I love the dog story so thanks for putting it out into the ether.

Anonymous said...

I love that story. You are too funny. I wish you would re-create the Wichita nonsense email.


J said...

S: you can tell A that I haven't seen any new posts on her blog. :) Cut me some slack.

Sally: Do you have a copy of that Wichita email? It was perhaps the most funny thing I've ever ever read. I've tried a verbal retelling of the story but it never comes close to what you wrote up.

Anonymous said...

I don't have one. That is like 5 email addresses ago. I seem to recall that you had a hard copy at some point, or thought you did. Do we know anyone who was a recipient who thought it was as hilarious as we did and may have kept it for so many years?


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