Yesterday I found myself waking to a normally mediocre mood. Sure I was happy to be alive and in good health as I am every day but I was lacking some spark. The morning coffee didn't give me the jolt I had hoped for either. I chalk this all up to being day #2 of returning to work after a glorious week off.
Shortly after morning rush hour, I did a small grocery run at the local Walmart. I could feel my mood slipping south fast. Idiot drivers and some of those Walmart shoppers, hoo boy! The colorful word of the morning was "fuck face"
"Your turn signal don't work fuck face?"
"Really, you have to take up the whole aisle fuck face?!?!"
Of course this was all just silent thinking. And don't act so shocked, like none of you ever get in a bad mood.
Anyhoo, the Walmart trek was complete and as I neared home, I was suddenly compelled to go to a local park. I felt this need to go look for a Great Horned Owl I've seen there half a dozen times in the last 3 years. If something could break my mood, spotting this massive beast of a bird surely could. What is really weird is I didn't have my camera but I wanted to go look anyway. A quick peek, if I ever find him/her, it's always the same tree so this wouldn't take long.
I get to the park, it's a quiet morning. I don't see anyone around, minus one elderly woman seemingly looking for something. The lack of people is nice because this spot is famous for off leash dogs despite numerous signs from the city stating the bylaw about keeping them on leash and other signs about protecting some native plants, rare ones too if I remember correctly.
I've had some wicked arguments with a few individuals about their rambunctious dogs invading my personal space and ruining my bubble time with nature by barking at me, inches from my feet, never mind jumping up at me whether I'm holding my camera or not. How anyone thinks this is okay is beyond me. The arguments start off with just asking them to leash their dogs and keep them away from me but they quickly change to heated moments when someone tells me to "Fuck off and go to another park if I don't like it!" My last argument had me really lose it on two people, the f-word was probably one of the milder words and it certainly wasn't pretty. I don't blow up very often, I can count on one hand how many times I've lost it on someone in my 45 years, stranger or someone I knew, and I bet I still have my middle finger free to salute them in the end. Ha ha!
But that last argument, over a year ago, where I really lost it, made the impact needed. Sure these people still have their dogs off leash but at first sight of me, the dogs are leashed and the people go the other way. I'll take the thought of them thinking of me as some crazy asshole who hates dogs even if that is so far from who I really am. It's one of the most important things I've learned growing up... be happy, do something every day that makes you happy and who cares what others think of you. As long as you aren't hurting anyone or anything to achieve this happiness.
This bit about me and the park is rather important and by the end of this you will see why.
The tree I have seen the Owl in is not very far from the parking lot so I'm not concerned about the cold items I have in our basket sitting in the back of the truck. It's a warm morning but not hot. Here is a link about the Owl from a few weeks back if you care for another story after this.
I get to the tree and the Owl is not to be seen. Darn. Oh well, I tried. I am about to turn back to the parking lot when I hear some rustling in the foliage near me and I look to see what it is.
This is what I discover...
At first I think it's an off leash dog but I quickly see he's got 10 or 12 ft of leash and a harness on him. He is quite tangled in the foliage, so tangled he cannot really move at this point. I started untangling him and the light went off about an animal story coming of this, so I took a photo with my cell phone.
The light in my brain shone brighter now and I am assuming that older lady in the parking lot was probably his owner. She did appear to be looking for something, and I did hear her call out something a couple times as I walked to the tree. But now she is nowhere to be seen.
We get back to the parking area and I decide to sit and wait on a curbstone with the dog, in hopes she just went around another part of the park and would return soon. The dog was quite well behaved and sat with me. He kept looking here and there, probably for his "mommy".
As the minutes passed, and no sighting, the dog got a little more chummy with me. I had no idea how long he was out there, he was probably scared with his situation, and he found comfort with me. I forgot how trusting dogs can be. But I believe they can sense good people around them.
A short bit later this guy comes through the parking area with his Husky, on leash. My little friend got all up on paws and started freaking out. Did he know this guy and his dog? Nope. He just likes to bark at other dogs as I learned with our time together.
The guy calls over to me and asks if that is my dog or did I happen to find him. I answer and he gets rather excited, saying he met an older woman earlier here in the park, who lost such a dog, and the woman is rather hysterical. Great! But where the heck is she? How do we find her?
I learned at this point that the dog's name is Gizmo.
The guy offers to drive around the park and nearby complexes, buildings and townhouses in hopes of spotting her. I said I can wait a little longer with him before I must get home with the groceries.
Another guy comes on scene with his dog. He too knows the story already and is very happy the dog is found. But same situation, he didn't know the woman, or how to contact her. He offers to go to the complexes and ask the management offices if they knew her, or if she came in about her missing dog.
I give both guys my name and cell number to pass around. I also said I can't wait too much longer because of the groceries and I have to get ready for work.
It was suggested that I just tie Gizmo up to the lamp post and leave him there as surely she would return for another look here. I objected to the idea. I often concern over dogs I see tied up outside stores and restaurants in the city. Anyone could just walk up and take him. I know the city isn't full of horrible people but you never know. Plus, we are quite close to getting this dog home, we just need a little luck, or some extra effort in our search and this is a happy ending. Leaving him unattended could have another concerned citizen come along and take him and we'd be back to a search mission. He has no tags, he might be micro-chipped but probably is not.
My solution was since I live so close, I would take Gizmo home with me for a couple hours. I said I would return very soon and post a sign on the fence that I found a Pug dog and leave my cell number. They agreed that was a good idea.
The guys left and I took the Gizmo to the truck. It was funny how I opened the passenger door and there was no fuss with him to get in. Once again, holy crap is this a trusting animal.
I start the truck, turn on the a/c for us and get halfway out of the park when I decide to pull over and wait just a little bit longer. She may come over the hill, up the drive...
Meanwhile Gizmo made himself comfortable on Angie's seat...
and eventually went to sleep.
One of the guys returns without any luck. He said he was going to have another go around. I told him I was leaving and would hope for something in the next bit before I had to leave.
I get home and have to unload the truck. Gizmo wakes up and is rather upset at me leaving him in the truck. I told him it was alright, I would be back. He kinda calmed down and sat in my seat, looking out the window at me. I should have taken his photo then, it was a priceless facial expression with the look in his eyes and his bottom teeth sticking out.
Groceries unpacked, I go out and get him. He hops out of the truck and walks with me up the stairs to the front door. I open the door and he walks in like he owns the place. NOTE... Meadow was locked up in the bedroom at this point. She was sound asleep on the bed and while I am sure she woke up through this, it was best to keep them separated.
I led Gizmo through the house and out into the backyard. I'm wondering what my next plan would be if I don't hear back from someone in the next hour or so before I have to leave. I can't leave him tied in the backyard. Our house is rather an open concept and there is no where I could lock him up for the afternoon. Even if I could, then what? I'm sure Angie would find some thrill in baby sitting him but it would upset the whole house, Meadow's peacefulness, and Angie's relaxation as she would concern over him through the evening.
I called a neighbour and left a voice mail with a plea for help.
I had to get ready for work and put Gizmo in the shed. What else could I do? He went in no problem but gave me quite the look when I was leaving him there, shutting the door on him.
No sooner do I get back in the house does my cell phone ring. It's a private number. I really hate answering private numbers. But with what is going on, I have to take the call.
I say "hello" and get a voice on the other end spewing words out to me that I could hardly understand. It was the elderly woman, still hysterical, but now overly ecstatic that I found her dog. She spoke English well but her emotions overwhelmed her and had difficulty getting the words out between deep breaths and the tears.
I told her to meet me in the parking lot in 10 minutes and hung up.
I grab Gizmo from the shed, he was still sitting in the same spot where I left him. I brought out the good camera to try and get a decent mug shot of him for the blog that had been building in my head since this all started. A couple snaps with the camera and away we went.
There's those teeth!
As I pull into the parking area of the park, I see the woman I saw earlier that morning. I wanted to start blasting my horn to let her know I was arriving with her lost friend. But I see she is standing there with one of my enemies of the park. A woman I've exchanged some mighty harsh words with about her large unruly Sheep dog. And that dog was nearby, off leash as usual.
I can see this woman spots my truck, she recognizes it now, and doesn't even need to see me in the driver seat. I can see she is pointing to me and saying something to this woman who I am about to reunite with Gizmo. While I cannot make out the words, I am sure it is something very negative as her group think I hate animals just because I don't agree with off leash dogs. The two of them step back from the curb and she ties her dog to a tree.
I park a few spots away, still saying nothing as I get out of the truck. Gizmo is laying down on the passenger seat. What an exhausting morning for this little guy!
Even as I get out of the truck and go around to the passenger side, which is the side the two women are on some 25 ft away, neither of them look at me. I found this odd because if it was me expecting someone I never met to show up in the park with my lost pet, I'd be looking at every damn vehicle pulling in to see if they had my "fur kid". I never told the woman what I was driving, just said I'd be there. But I guess she took the strong words that I assumed were said to heart and kept her attention away from me.
I opened the passenger door, Gizmo looks up at me and I figure he's wondering "what now?"
I'm watching out of the corner of my eye at the two women. I see the elderly lady letting her hopes and curiosity get the better of her and she looks over my way. I look at her, smile and say "Gizmo is here" as I point to the passenger seat.
She came charging over to me, super ecstatic, crying away, and threw her arms around me with a thousand thank you's. Damn! I thought she'd be hugging her dog. LOL! But of course, seconds later, she grabbed Gizmo and hugged him so tightly, going around in circles.
I don't know her age, but she was much older than me. 5 foot nothing, maybe 80 pounds after a rain storm but she hugged like the Hulk. A very passionate woman about her dog.
I was quite excited myself at this very happy ending.
And it was even sweeter for me as this other woman got to see it was me who found the dog and got him home safe and sound to his mommy. Ya, the long haired asshole who hates dogs sure proved her wrong.
I spoke with the woman, who I learned is named Ann. We talked about what happened, how he got away, even with such a long leash, etc. The other woman tried to engage in the conversation but with all that has been said between us in a few awful encounters, I wasn't ready to just let it go. I chose the ignore option, and that wasn't rude really, because this story didn't have anything to do with her... although it did in the end. She ended up leaving without saying another word. I am curious how my next run in with her will be?
I told Ann I hope to meet her and Gizmo again in the park, and never be afraid to say "hello" even if I look occupied with my camera and binoculars.
One more look at that face...
This wasn't just about me being a hero as there were two other guys involved, one named Steve, not sure of the other, who played a big part in this. One of them found a way to get in touch with her, through one of these property management offices, leaving my name and number. But both took the time out of their busy days to help this lost dog. So a big shout out to them as well, eh! A mighty fine reason for my Whiskey Wednesday this evening, a salute to ALL the animal lovers out there and the great ending to this dog's misadventure.