Sunday, January 23, 2011

Missing for a Moment

Danny worked hard to dig a trench around the edge of the yard, so as to prevent Buddha from hopping the fence, and so we haven't had to deal with escaping puppy incidents lately.

This afternoon, Danny let all three dogs outside for a potty break. Olivia was out and then back inside within a minute (she doesn't mess around when it's cold). Buddha came in a few minutes later. When Danny let Buddha in, he assumed Griffin was in the corner of the yard that you can't see from the back door. 

A few minutes later, he looked outside again and Griffin was not in the yard. 

When he told me Grif was gone, I looked at Danny like he was crazy, and asked if he was sure that Griffin was outside. I ran through my house, looking in every room and yelling at the top of my lungs until I was reasonably sure he wasn't inside. While I was doing that, Danny was walking around the alley and the yard next door.

No Griffin.

I put on my coat and boots and ran outside. I have always assumed that if one of my dogs went missing, I'd be a hysterical mess, but my adrenaline was pumping, my senses were heightened and didn't even notice the cold weather as I power walked around the neighborhood, determined to find my baby. 

In the back yard, there are three gates. Two of them are currently unusable, as the snow is so high it is over halfway up the gate. When I looked to the other side of both of those gates, the snow was smooth and there were no tracks, so there's no way he exited the yard from those points (seriously, adrenaline turned me into a crime scene investigator and I was noticing EVERYTHING).

The gate that leads out to the alley was closed and latched, so it was unlikely that he'd gone out from that point either. There was one area of the yard where the snow was as high as the fence, but Griffin has never been able to climb out the way Buddha does, so I just couldn't fathom him escaping on his own.

Danny and I both walked around the block and up and down the alley and didn't see Griffin anywhere. At this point, he'd been gone about 10 minutes and I was beginning to panic. I've heard of dogs being kidnapped from yards and Griffin is friendly enough that he wouldn't hesitate to go to anyone who called him. I didn't think it was likely someone drove down the dead end alley, in broad daylight and lured him out of the yard (because they didn't carry a 65 pound dog), but I also didn't think it was possible that he escaped on his own. I wasn't sure what had happened, but bulldogs don't just disappear into thin air.

Griffin doesn't wander, isn't smart enough to find his way and I just couldn't imagine my poor baby boy out on his own. I started to panic about someone having him and about him crying for me. And then  started worrying about him being hurt or lost or confused. If someone kidnapped my dog, I would obviously have to sell my house and move away from the neighborhood I love in the city and into the suburbs. And I would always wonder if he was okay and being snuggled as much as he needs. I would never be able to sleep well again, wondering what happened to him. And I would never again be able to let Olivia out of my sight... I was verging on a full blown meltdown.

And then, as I rounded the corner for the second time and neared the front of my house, from a distance, I saw him halfway down the block trotting towards me. He didn't look scared, injured or concerned. He didn't appear to have just escaped from kidnappers or be upset at all. He looked pretty happy and maybe even a little proud of his brave, adventurer little self. 

At that point, the adrenaline whooshed away and I burst into tears as I scooped him up and rushed him into the house, relieved to have him safely home. I went and found Danny and we shook our heads together, still unsure of how he escaped, both of us still panicky from the terrifying 20 minute ordeal. We still have no idea how he got out, where he was or what happened. Danny joked that Griffin was kidnapped but had gas inside the kidnapper's car and was let free after that. 

I have a feeling I will be standing outside in the cold, monitoring their trips outside for a while. I am ready for winter to be over!! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Camp Dogs Brave the Arctic

It is -27 degrees at camp today, which is where we have been since yesterday. I try to come to camp at least once a month to check in with my dad (who is the property manager) and because I love it here. If it's possible, I think Olivia and Griffin love camp even more than I do. They both lost their minds barking and jumping when I started packing and said, "do you want to go to camp?" They almost knocked me down as they pushed their way out the door and into the car!

They love camp because they get to wander freely, play nonstop, and their grandpi is the absolute worst person I know for giving them bites of anything he eats, which they love.

Camp is buried in snow and it is so cold outside it hurts your face as soon as you set foot out the door, but the puppies don't seem to notice.

Olivia has been obsessed with balls (chasing and then popping) since she was little. I buy them by the case. When I first brought Griffin to camp in June, I couldn't even get him to walk the 50 yards or so out to the field with us. Since his surgery, he's just as obsessed as Olivia.

Here's a video of our expedition outside this morning. Since then, we've been out twice more (and popped 2 more balls). It's brutal, but it makes them so happy that I can't say no.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Trouble at the Park

This is a video from a previous trip to the park.

I take Olivia and Griffin (and usually Buddha too) to the park every day (sometimes more than once) so they can chase the ball. It's not an actual dog park, just a really big open area on a quiet street with no traffic. It is about a mile from my house compared to the 20 miles of the closest dog park. It is not fenced in, but the dogs are pretty good listeners and I haven't had any issues.

Until recently.

Last week I took all three dogs to the park. They ran and played and were angels. When it was time to go home, Olivia and Griffin went right to the car and climbed in. Buddha went to the car, but then he changed his mind and decided to play, "chase me".

My experience with that game is that if you ignore him, he will come right back. So I pretended to get into the car instead. He ran back to the park. Apparently his recent tastes of freedom after jumping the fence have made Buddha a bit bolder.

I spent the next ten minutes alternating between chasing, ignoring, offering treats, sweetly coaxing and finally shouting at the top of my lungs, attempting to get him back. The problem with Buddha is that he's fast, really fast, and unlike a bulldog, I can't just pick him up and carry him when I want him to do what I want.

I was so frustrated I was shaking and almost in tears. He wasn't going far away, but I absolutely couldn't get him to come to the car, even when I walked away. Finally I took Olivia back out- I was very worried she would think we were playing and would bark for her ball. But for as demanding and self centered as Olivia is, she is also incredibly smart and intuitive. I think she could see how upset I was and she didn't mess around. I looked at her and said, "go and get him."

Olivia and I walked to the park where Buddha was and she walked up to him, and then we all turned around and went to the car. I brought them home, got them some water, and then went back to the garage where I yelled at the top of my lungs in frustration and anger (and relief actually).

Buddha continues to go over the fence, so now he's wearing his leash every time he goes outside and he's missed the last few trips to the park.

So today when we went to the park, I didn't expect any trouble. With just Liv and Grif, it should have been easy.

Wrong again.

The road that leads to the park is under construction and closed at the end of the street, so the city has been plowing a big pile of snow, essentially making the place we play a private area since it is now a dead-end. It's even better than before because now there are no cars.

Except today there was a car parked where I usually park. I thought maybe it was another person bringing their dog to play. But when I got out, I saw 4 men sitting in the car.

Very odd.

For the next 30 minutes, I watched 6 different cars pull up, park for a while, and then drive away. A few guys got out of their car and into another. All very odd.

I was getting cold and was ready to leave, but there were three parked cars around mine and all I could think was, "I'm not brining my dogs out there." If it had been just me, I would have taken out my pepper spray (which I carry on my key chain) and walked to my car with it out and ready.

But I didn't think it would be possible to protect 2 dogs (I couldn't carry both of them at once), I wasn't about to leave one of them out of my sight, and while bullies sometimes look ferocious, these two are the sweetest, gentlest dogs ever, so I wasn't going to depend on either of them to protect me (I imagined them trotting up to  the strange men, wiggling and wanting to be petted).

So I called the police and reported suspicious activity and told them I didn't feel safe going to my car. I live in Highland Park, which is a nice area, I was next to the golf course, on Edgecumbe Ave, which is all multi-million dollar houses, so I felt a little silly, but it was all suspicious, and I don't mess around with my dogs and safety.

The police came and there were still two cars out there. Apparently the car that was there when I arrived was stalled (although I'm not sure why it would have been there in the first place) and the officer was not sure why the others were there, but I didn't question it, nor did I stay there to find out the whole story.

I am hoping that this is the last trouble at the park for a while.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady

Recently I was at a friend's house and as it got later in the evening, and we decided to play some games, another guest who was there was asked if she wanted to join in as well. Her response was, "no, I really need to get going. With Lupe's needs, I just ca't be gone for hours at a time."

Lupe is her Bichon Frise.

After she said that, she looked at me and said, "well you understand I'm sure."


I know that dogs are supposed to be able to be left alone- they aren't babies, they are animals. But there has not been one day since I became a bulldog mom that I have not planned my day with Olivia (and now Griffin too) in mind. Dogs are incredibly social and need to be with people. They get sad where they are alone too long.

Does that make me a "crazy dog lady"? Maybe. But anyone who makes that claim has never had a dog.

Last week was difficult for me as I planned a memorial service for a young man who has been on my summer staff for the past two years who died tragically in a car accident. For days, I'd been numb, focused on talking with staff and families and working out details. But as I sat on my couch, one dog on each side, typing away, the sadness came all at once and I burst into tears. Not quiet crying, but wailing sobs.

My normally very needy, demanding dogs watched me for a minute and then Olivia climbed onto my lap and rested her head on my shoulder, while Griffin snuggled in next to me, wrapping his body around me and leaning his head on my lap. They sat quietly embracing me as I sobbed into them and held onto them. They seemed to genuinely understand pain and offer compassion.

Again, "crazy dog lady"?


Dogs have the ability to feel, to comprehend, to communicate. I feel sorry for anyone who disagrees, because it means they haven't experienced that connection. And if they want to call me a crazy dog lady, I'm okay with that.