Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Chase

          On Thursday morning, we woke up thirty minutes early to walk the dogs before heading to work and school, leaving Sam locked in the bathroom, Thorin shut in the kennel, and the cats still banished to a bedroom. 
          When Lexi’s friend arrived 45 minutes later, Thorin had already broken out of the kennel but luckily did not have time to create havoc.
          After I taught two classes, I received a frantic phone call during office hours.  “I ordered pizza and had a hold on Sam when I answered the door, but he slipped out of the collar and is running all over.  I’m chasing him, but he keeps running away.”  
          Sam running around with someone chasing him…he was living one of his all time favorite dreams.  Yet, one of my worst nightmares had come to life, and I was 30 minutes away and powerless to act. 
          A black lab dashing here and there, running up to strangers to say hi, in our neighborhood, a place where you never see stray animals or pets without leashes.  A teenager chasing after him, barefoot, and only holding a chain collar and cell phone.  No treat, no leash, no hope.
          “Go back and get the leash and a treat.  That’s the only way he will come back to you.” 
          I waited for close to an hour, terrified that the dogcatcher would nab Sam, a dog just arrived who isn’t tagged and registered and doesn’t have up-to-date shots.  I would be facing a stiff fine and loads of money I don’t have to get him back.
          Finally, I received the call that reassured me.  Sam back home—he returned to the condo on his own volition.
           That evening I drove Lexi’s friend home and finally opened up to some of my friends about the situation.  Brainstorming with them helped me identify the main problems we now face but provided no immediate solutions; my friends hope to help me find a way to keep them…a noble quest and what we wish for but don’t know how it would work in our current reality.

          First, I am concerned about Sam and Thorin’s health, shots, and tags.  Forty-eight hours later, they are starting to look much better and healthier, yet they desperately need a visit to a vet for the basics as well as Sam needs to be neutered.  When he was younger, we had visions of him, a purebred, breeding, but life took a turn and that never happened.  Now it’s time for him to get fixed.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any extra money right now for this, let alone money to feed two dogs on a regular basis.  Until I find a full-time job, I do not have any extra cash. 
In fact, with rising gas and food prices, it is already so tight that we are often scrambling for money before the next pay day.  A month ago, I threw together what I had in the kitchen and created a new recipe:  pepperoni spaghetti.  It ended up tasty, but you never know.  A couple of weeks ago, we were out of cat food and had to feed the cats pieces of lunch meat for a day.  It’s difficult for me to share these examples because I don’t want people to know about them, and I wonder if I’m the only one facing challenges like this.  After talking to my mom on the phone about the dog situation this week where she expressed surprise that people would help with the dogs but not with these other things, I realized that I was able to ask for help for the dogs but do not want to ask for help for myself.  It feels too private, too vulnerable, to admit that I put pepperoni in with spaghetti noodles as it was the only “meat” left in the house, and I wonder how many of us could use help right now but are too ashamed to ask. 
          Besides money to finance the vet visit and monthly dog food, I am troubled about how to resolve the issue with our cats.  I believe Thorin could learn to tolerate the cats, but Sam is used to running wild in our huge backyard in Kansas City where he hunted and killed any smaller creatures that ventured into the yard (squirrels, rabbits, birds, moles, snakes).  My ex is allergic to cats, so we didn’t think we could have cats and didn’t think to train Sam around them.  As of now, the cats have been locked up in a bedroom for 48 hours, and they are frantic to escape, longing for attention and freedom. 
          Furthermore, I am worried about the condo and our property.  We live a very busy lifestyle and are not home much during the week and some weekends.  I am terrified that the dogs will destroy the place.  They are sweet and loveable dogs, but they become upset when no one’s home for a long time and destroy the things around them (walls, doors, tables, chairs, blinds, lamps).  They need to be in a home where there is a backyard, so they can run around outside, especially when left alone.  Also, we could lose our place, if we keep too many pets here.
          Finally, I am alarmed at the possibility of both dogs getting out and running the neighborhood.  They are both escape artists and could get run over or captured.  On Friday afternoon, we took them back to my friend’s fenced-in yard, and Sam found a loose gate, pushed it open, and took off.  Luckily, we had treats and ignored him, so he came back quickly that time.  Plus, he’s stressed that we are going to leave him, so he doesn’t go far away.  

          Right now, I am typing on my computer and the dogs are sleeping at my feet.  In moments like this, I start to think that everything will work out, that I could manage somehow.  Then, the cats throw themselves at the shut door and meow to remind me of their neglect and outrage.  So, I play with them for ten minutes and reassure them of our love.  By the time I return to the dogs, Thorin has peed in the living room to let me know that he is mad at me for leaving him, and I despair about my options.
          Then, Sam pads over and places his head on my lap, looking at me with those big beautiful brown eyes, and my heart melts.  I love him so much and detest the thought of leaving him again, of letting him down.
          Having the dogs and cats here is confusing for us on an emotional level as well as it’s a mixture of our old life and new life.  The dogs remind us of what we lived before and of what we lost and gained.  For me, the condition of the dogs when they first arrived here matches how I felt when I first arrived in Florida three years ago.  How do we reconcile what was with what is?  How does it all fit together again?
          Ideally, I would have a full-time job right now and a house with a backyard, and we would adjust to a new life that included our dogs.  Unfortunately, that’s not our present truth.  So, I am searching for someone who is willing to foster the dogs on a temporary but long-term basis.  I realize we will probably have to separate them, which breaks my heart as they have been together for the past seven years.  Still we cannot even contemplate dropping them off at a shelter where we will never see them again and not know what happens to them.  I feel like I am in an impossible situation with no positive outcome.
          God didn’t create one person to do it all alone, to take on all of the responsibility for one family, and I felt so alone and overwhelmed. Until I started reading more about Nehemiah.  The second week of study reveals so many parallels that I am astounded.  Like Nehemiah’s call to rebuild the wall, I feel called to help our dogs but am not sure where to go or what to do, so I pray.  Similar to his story, I research and investigate options and take action.  Like him, I am reminded that God is with me and that I don’t have to do it alone because when we work together, we can rebuild and repair so much more.  Finally, comparable to him rebuilding the wall, rehabilitating the dogs and repairing our lives require removing the “rubble” of the past to make room for the present.  

Note:  I wrote this post yesterday, and since then, there has been a steady flow of help, of people working together with a common goal of aiding the recovery of Sam and Thorin, and my heart is full from the love and compassion of all of you.  One sweet soul brought over medicine for them, and not just Frontline and heartworn meds, but almost anything they might need right now (spray for their rashes, rescue remedy for pets, etc.), while another offered to pay for a vet visit and yet another mailed money for dog food or other necessities.  Not to mention many of you have shared my blog, sent up a prayer, or asked others if they knew someone who could help.  I am overcome with gratitude for all of you and for all of these blessings.  When we work together, we can move mountains and we can see God’s hand in our lives. 
I thank you.  Sam and Thorin thank you.  Lexi and Laina thank you.  May God bless you and yours.

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