Monday, May 24, 2010

Scarred But (Hopefully) Smarter

Part I: In Which We Discover Ruby Is Gone

So we had some family drama on Friday afternoon. Normally when either Donna or I get home from work we are attacked by an overzealous but well-meaning pit bull. But on Friday we were met with silence. After a couple of minutes, Donna realized that we had left the window open when we went to work. Said window had a loose screen, the result of years of Ruby pushing on it while tryhing to watch life pass by on the sidewalk.

The theory is that she was trying to look out the window, spotted a rabbit and decided the risk was acceptable as there were no parents around to harsh her groove. Of course, being Ruby means defining "long-term planning" to mean "what would make me happy this nanosecond". This leads (again, so the theory goes) to her being hopelessly outraced by the rabbit, coming back to the door and wondering why no one would let her in. Now what do I do? I hate being outside alone.

Thankfully most people in this area rate a pit bull roaming the streets right alongside Godzilla attack as Most Dangerous Thing I Could Encounter While Taking My Trash Out To The Curb, and so the police were called. Unfortunately, the pound closes at 5:00pm on Friday and remains closed all weekend. We discovered Ruby was missing at 5:15pm.

Part II: In Which The Fargo Police Department Is No Help At All

I assume that animal control arrived on the call sometime Friday afternoon and discovered mass panic in the streets as residents fled in terror at the sight of a grizzled, fifty-five pound pit bull trying to figure out how to work a screen door. I imagine the dogcatcher approaching Ruby gingerly, saying things like, "that's a good girl, don't rip my face off" while a S.W.A.T. team hovered in the background, ready to serve and protect. I envision terrifed neighbors peering around doorways and curtains, puddles of urine pooling at their feet as they wonder if the back door is locked.

I have to imagine these things because the Fargo police department was no help whatsoever. Donna called them to see if anything could be done to get Ruby back before Monday. Nope. She asked if they had picked Ruby up or if she was still roaming the neighborhood. Well, we did get a call and we did send animal control and the police out there. She asked if she could talk to the officer who responded to the call. He's no longer on duty. She asked if animal control took her to the pound. We don't record that sort of information.

Now, it seems to me that when you send police officers (not to mention animal control) out on a call, there would be some record of how that call was disposed of. That doesn't seem to be the case in Fargo. Nope, in Fargo dispatchers send cops out and then never hear from them again. Hey, Flo, how was the shift? Oh, very exciting! We got a call about a bank robbery in progress. Four units arrived on scene about six hours ago. Wow! What happened with that? How should I know?

After getting no help from the police we had to assume Ruby might still be out there roaming the streets, perhaps strumming a guitar for loose change. I headed out on my bike, executing a concentric grid search like the trained soldier/spy/ninja that I am. Donna jumped in her Jeep and searched a bit farther out. After about an hour, we gave up. Privately I was pretty sure that Ruby had been apprehended by animal control and was already becoming acclimated to life in the joint. Smoking, lifting weights, playing the bulldog and german shepherd gangs off each other in a desperate bid to stay alive. I reasoned with Donna that with the way the public views pitbulls (as unrelenting killing machines bent on destruction, like Stalin or Jay-Z) the police department wouldn't rest until they found her.

Part III: In Which The Mystery Is Solved

On Saturday, after enjoying a night in which I didn't have to fight for position in bed with a pampered mutt, a man came to the door at let us know that he was present when animal control came to the neighborhood. He explained that he thought he recognized Ruby as belonging to us (or at least, that she lived at this address) and helped the dogcatcher get Ruby into the mobile death wagon van. He said Ruby was more scared than anything else and was very docile. While this may have surprised both him and the dogcatcher, it didn't surprise me. After all, this is a dog that once bolted from the bedroom when the wind knocked over a lamp. This is also a dog which looks distrustfully at pillows, has nothing nice to say about remote controls, and is absolutely terrified of dinner plates, skateboards and keys. She hates it when you talk to her in a Darth Vader voice through a paper towel roll. Coupled with the fact that she had been cut off from her couch for God knows how long and it's more surprising that she didn't offer to drive herself to the pound.

Part IV: In Which We Come To The End And Lessons Are Learned

First thing this morning we headed over the pound to spring Ruby from lockup. We heard no reports that she had been involved in any riots or untoward gang activity. Once we paid the fee and left the building it became obvious why: she had gone on some sort of bodily function strike. Based on volume, it's obvious she didn't relieve herself all weekend (in any form). I borrowed a 30-gallon trash bag from the dogcatcher and that is all I will say about that particular matter.

We got her home and she was beside herself. It's apparent she at some point during her ordeal figured she was a goner. Well, that's it. I jumped through a window, got kidnapped by a lady with a van, and now I'll never poop again. She raced from one end of the house to the other, checking the furniture, the door, the kitchen, us, to make sure this wasn't some sort of Prisoner-type mindscrew.

In time, she will forget all this and it will be as though it never happened. We will forget to close the window and she will be tempted, perhaps by another rabbit, perhaps by a dog being walked by an owner who doesn't forget to close windows. She will be tempted to jump through the screen again and give in to her immediate desires. Hopefully she will, for one brief moment, feel a sense of unease. I shouldn't do this. Then she'll do it anyway, because that's what dogs do. But if she does have that single moment of hesitation, all of this will still not have been worth it.

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