Julie Lyles Carr: It's Always the Last Place You Put It....

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's Always the Last Place You Put It....


We lose things around here--as a matter of fact, I would say it ironically is the permanent state of things. Socks divorce, shoes wander off, toothbrushes remember they had other appointments....I'm not really sure that I believe in inanimate objects; objects around here tend to stay in motion, much to Newton's glee. And then of course we have the parade of legitimately animate objects which also tend to stay in frenetic motion and are also somewhat difficult to locate. Take for example....

In a moment of sheer exhaustion or romance or 'Dog Whisperer' fantasy, I gently shoved my husband into dog ownership last fall. We had drug the kids through a move, lost a beloved kitty in the process and 4 of 8 is a devout animal lover (as long as they belong to other people, we've now discovered--but I'm getting ahead of myself). Some friends had become puppy grandparents when their two dogs discovered an attraction for each other and whelped 5 darling offspring. The puppies were tagged 'poma-weenies' for their dachshund-pomeranian lineage. We believed this cocktail of canine DNA would yield adorable small dogs perfect for lap-sitting, companionship and the benefits of pet responsibility. What this hybrid actually yields is a whole lot of cute with generous yapping skills and undersize grey matter--not being critical here, just stating the facts. The two we adopted were quickly named Katie and George and came home with us in all their wriggling glory.

Many promises and proclamations were made by our new pet owners, our children. They agreed to as many conditions as listed in the Geneva Convention. Yes, they would take out the dogs without complaining. No, they would not forget that live animals tend to have the pesky habit of needing hydration and nutrition. Yes, they understood that Mommy and Daddy already have a stable-full of small creatures called children and Mommy and Daddy would not be the primary care givers for these newest additions. Schedules were developed, training websites were consulted, assignments were made. Just like so many business plans professionally printed and smartly bound in color-coordinated binders, this endeavor looked sure to succeed.

Trouble was, we far overestimated the talent of the new team members, kind of like the LA Galaxy. Katie and George do not liken bladder control to moral superiority--they are not bothered at all to discover they have tee-teed on the porch. They don't even act guilty. It's sort of a, "Hey, we are seriously inbred dogs who left to our own would still be living in the woods going where ever we wanted. Why are you trying to saddle us with your Western human expectations? Have some respect for the aboriginal impulses, will ya?" Katie and George also find collars and the subsequent tags on those collars to be repugnant and not in keeping with their au naturale tendencies. They have, to date, chewed through five or six collars EACH. I know, you're thinking, "Big deal", but I would submit that having to re-purchase 12 collars at a cost of $4-$5 each has a way of getting on your budgetary nerves. They've also eaten leashes and have chewed through their food bowls at an alarming rate. All this under the watchful eye of a confirmed non-dog person, my husband, who is of course thrilled to be financing all this pooch parafinalia.

Then there have been the renegotiation attempts on the part of the caregivers to be released from some of the tasks that had been previously assigned. There is a general frustration that dogs have to go potty, that dogs whine when they are hungry, that dogs will have some unfulfilled need at exactly the moment your favorite cartoon comes on. All to say that we have plumbed the complaining, whining, blame-shifting depths of puppy ownership. Mix in there yet another move and the birth of twin humans to the family and you have an idea of the calm and orderly progression of events.

Katie and George have demonstrated, on occasion, that they would like to go on vacation, just the two of them, to escape the stress of large family living. They really have not demanded to go far, just under the fence to the neighbors--a quick trip, really, just for a change of scenery. We, however, have not been supportive of their need for a little vaca-time. We have witnessed and halted their flight attempts on several occasions--that's the whole dauschaund part of the deal--those little rascals can slip through any opening--something about how they were bred to dart down rabbit holes--now why would I need a dog that can ferret out rabbits? I don't need any more pets.

Anyhow, it was potty time for the pups and 3 of 8 and 4 of 8 took them out to the yard. I was in self-exile in the master bedroom nursing the twins (yes, at the same time; no, you can't do anything other than nurse when you are nursing two). I generally manage traffic control in the house from this position by screaming for updates as I hear various doors open and close. It's idyllic and sweet, kind of like Roseanne Barr singing lullabyes. So doors were opening and closing, kids were coming and going and I'm bellowing for updates from my post at Air Traffic Control. Things calm down a bit, time goes on, and then I hear it--a piercing scream and weeping sound from 3 of 8, our resident Laurence Olivier. He comes tearing into the bedroom, hands yanking at his hair, tears springing from his eyes with violent trajectory. "She's gone, it's all my fault, she's gone, she's gone, she's gone (more tears....)"

"Who is gone?"

"Katie, Katie, Katie---she got out of the yard! She's gone, she's gone.... (more screaming, more self-incrimination...)"

At this point, all the siblings were rallied and a search party organized (okay, 'organized' would be a bit of a stretch--kids just all started screaming "Katie" and running out various doors--but it was a unified effort). 1 of 8 grabbed her cars keys and a couple of kids and they began to drive around the block, windows down, calling for the erstwhile pup. 3 of 8 and 2 of 8 began running to neighbors' houses and checking yards for evidence of escape. Neighbors joined the search and calls of "Katie, Katie" could be heard all down the block, similar to what it must sound like at Tom Cruise's house when his Katie gets away from her Scientology handler. The search parties searched vigilantly, all to no avail. 4 of 8--wait, backup, important scene information--this all occurred with 4 of 8 dressed as Cleopatra, Egyptian eye makeup running, snake crown and all, yes we homeschool, why do you ask?--okay, so 4 of 8, Egyptian kohl eyes streaming, discovers anew her love for Katie and has now discovered that it may be impossible to go on without her. 1 of 8 returns to the house with no news, loads up more siblings and the search begins again. 3 of 8 stays at the house with the twins and me and retires to the back porch to further beat his conscience about his loss of this beloved companion.

I hear a new sound begin after a period of quiet. It sounds like a mixture of hysterical laughter mixed with gulping sobs--no wait--it may be gulping sobs with the giggles...as I'm trying to auditorily disect this new sound it draws closer- and through the door walks 3 of 8, Katie in his arms, laughing and crying in relief. "Mom, this is the stupidest mistake I ever made...Mom, this is so goofy, I found her, I found her..."

"Okay, I can see that, great--where?"

"Oh..she was in her crate the whole time--I guess I just didn't see her because her fur is black and it was kind of dark in the crate...."

I began calling 1 of 8 on her cell phone to bring her back in from the search field. As she was talking with neighbors on streets further over, she didn't hear the phone until more time had passed and more neighbors were on the hunt. She arrived back at the house to discover her brother standing in the yard triumphantly holding the Not-Lost Katie. Neighbors witnessed a touching reunion as 4 of 8, still dressed as Cleopatra, eyeliner dripping off her chin, scrambled to her dog and clutched her for dear life. Nothing like not actually losing your dog to make you think about and appreciate how much you would miss your dog were she not actually resting comfortably in the house in her crate with her blankie and her chew toy....
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