Saturday, June 25, 2005

Return of the Drug Dog

A warning: what follows is bound to be -- out of necessity -- a bit of a shaggy dog story. Pardon the pun.

A week ago Wednesday, on 6/15/05, my dog Cleo and her visiting escape-artist doggy friend Hobbes, who is staying with us for a month until his owner can gather his belongings from New York and get back to New Mexico (perhaps by wagon train, we're not sure), discovered freedom in the form of a not-secure backyard fence. My dog has been happy to trust that she can't get out of the backyard. Hobbes entered her life to show her a whole new world that starts first with the assumption that she must question her own perception of what the boundaries really are. He's a good postmodernist, that dog.

So the two of them went off into the big, bad world. Free and fiesty.

Hobbes returned the next night, waltzing in rather breezily through the back door, as though nothing untoward had happened. We were ecstatic for his return, because really, imagine the guilt of saying you'll keep a dog safe for a month only to lose him on the second day. Not good karma, but then, this story is full of not-good-karma. More on that in a second.

But Cleo was still nowhere to be found, so the search efforts focused on her. Hobbes' uncle -- a friend of mine from way back -- made multiple copies of color flyers, and he and his wife and daughter came over Thursday night to post them all over the neighborhood, as well as to fortify the backyard against further Hobbes break-outs.

I checked the pound website multiple times throughout the day (a fabulous community service, by the way: that gets updated every hour on the hour from both Animal Service locations as well as the Animal Humane Society) and posted flyers before and after work on my bicycle.

Days went by, and no word.

On Saturday, at about 3:30, a new dog was listed on the website: "Female tan pit bull. Age unspecified." Didn't sound to encouraging, but it's worth a call. This dog had been found by Paul, so they patched me through to his cell phone. He said he found the dog on Stanford near Lead with a purple leash tied around her neck. Strange. That's far. I don't have a purple leash, and I don't usually TIE a leash around her neck. He'd gotten the dog's chip scanned, and it was linked to a couple in the NE heights. Also not a good sign, since I'm just one person, and I live downtown. He asked me to describe my dog, and he said, yes, that sounds like her, but does my dog have brindle markings on her belly? No. But hell, I should just come by and take a look, or we would always wonder.

Good point. So I hopped on my bike and huffed up the hill from downtown to Stanford and Lead, near the university, a good 5 miles and railroads and freeway-crossings from home.

And it was her. Thank god. She looked happy as a clam, certainly not any more excited to see me than anyone else who will pet her for a good while. But she came home with me, and that was all I asked. Paul was pretty sad to see her go. Lots of his friends had told him he should just let sleeping dogs lie and keep a good dog when she wanders into your life. Everyone loved her, and she'd pulled him along on his skateboard for the ride of his life. But it's bad karma to keep a dog without checking for a loving owner, and Paul did the right thing. He hadn't known about the reward, but he was pretty happy when I brought it up. "I've never gotten a reward before," he said, thanking me. It was my pleasure. I had my dog back! I had told the universe I'd do anything. This was the least I could do.

Happy ending, right?

That was Saturday.

Sunday morning, the dogs were playing happily in the front yard, while I changed into shorts to take them for a long walk to the dog park, a little celebratory walk, as it were. I glanced outside my window down on the front lawn, and what do I see, but Cleo on the other side of the fence, walking free down the sidewalk, Hobbes leading the way. I run downstairs yelling and quickly corral them back into the yard. I notice Cleo's not walking on one of her legs. It hangs a little crazily from the hip, and she can't seem to fold it under her when she sits. Instead, she sits on her knees with her feet awkwardly splayed out behind her, holding herself up with her arms looking for all the world like a yoga upward-dog.

I look her over, and she's scraped up pretty bad. I think she's probably just sprained something, and it will get better over the next couple days. It doesn't. She looks miserable.

By the time I take her to the vet -- and to the surgery clinic after that -- it's been too long. They can't repair the hip. They have to cut the top of the femur off to stop the bones from rubbing, and she'll just have limited mobility for the rest of her life. Oh my god, right?

The surgery goes well, and Cleo comes home in good spirits but pretty clumsy with that big, silly cone on her head. Her hip is all Frankenstein gruesome, but she's already trying to put weight on it, so that's a good sign.

Alls well that ends well, right? A little worse for wear, but home. The adventure ends.

But there's one more twist. Oliver-style.

Today, I get a voicemail from a neighbor who sounds frantic. She just today saw the signs for Cleo -- and one for Cleo and Hobbes. She lives on Mountain and 7th, where the dogs wandered by on Wednesday evening. She put them in the dog run in her yard, but before she could figure out what to do with them, a neighbor came by when she was gone and stole the dogs. Apparently, they let Hobbes go (after which he hightailed it home, apparently) and sold Cleo for heroin. Not kidding. Whoever got the good end of the trade then must have taken Cleo to the university area, tied a purple leash around her neck, and tried to tie her up somewhere.

But never underestimate the power of pit bulls' strongest canine jaws. She can chew through most things in minutes. This includes leather. A bit of purple leash must have been like chewing through a fruit roll-up.

That's when Paul found her.

I knew she had an adventure, but good god! Drugs. Kidnapping. Escape. My dog's sordid underbelly life!

I hope she can be satisfied with our nerdy life here on Forrester Street. Here's hoping that she's had enough adventure to last her for a long, long while.


Blogger Maggie said...

Cleo is truly a wonder dog. And Hobbes is quite the trouble-maker!!! (although I have to admit I do think he is irresistibly cute.)

12:32 PM  

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