I finally took down the "LOST" poster I'd hung at my daily coffee hangout. I'd created the poster about 3 weeks ago after rescuing an excited puppy from the middle of a busy road. I'm not sure why I was compelled to leave the poster up for this long. Was it out of pride, a trophy for a good deed done? Or was it out of a longing for the pup I'd grown so close to in less than 24 hours.
As some of you know, I have three dogs; Barley, a Soft-coated Wheaten, Posh, a Maltese and Sk8r, a Yorkie. All are rescues and have grown very close and comfortable with me and one another.
Three weeks ago we were on our way to the local dog park and there she was, stranded in the middle of a busy road at 5:45, the height of traffic hour. I made the block and screeched to a stop at the edge of someone's yard, (actually in their yard!) jumped out and grabbed the pup.
She was full of youthful ignorance, not knowing how lucky she'd been. I quickly put her in the back seat and took off, careful to keep my bunch at bay, as they were not quite sure what this meant, but they were sure to express their discomfort with a new dog in the pack. So keeping them apart was a bit tricky, but I figured once we got to the dog park, we could all get to know one another.
Short a lead, I removed the strap from my gym bag, clipped it to her collar, and off the four of us went into the park. The rescue, Prada as I later found out her name, was full of puppy joy and fit in well at the park. My three settled down and got to know Prada well enough to relax, and we all had a great time.
Prada appeared to be a female mix, probably pit bull and Labrador. She's tan in color and aside from being a little skinny, she appeared to be in good health with no issues.
I wasn't ready for a fourth dog, but quickly found myself hoping nobody would claim her. I vowed to stay focused on the process of finding the owner, picturing a sad little girl crying her eyes out over the loss. Spend enough time with any dog and it's easy to fall in love!
That evening, we took a few pictures, picked one and created a simple "LOST" poster and sent it to the local Fedex/Kinko's for printing.
Early the next morning, I took Prada to the vet to make sure she was clean; no worms or other problems that would affect my dogs. Then off I went to the copy shop to pick up the flyers; bright green paper with black print.
At about 10:00 am, armed with a stapler, tape and the flyers I set out to poster about an 8 block area around the location where I picked up Prada. I'd posted flyers facing both directions. I had made it halfway through my intended route when a pickup truck at a stop sign across the street honked at me and the driver yelled, "Are you Mike?" I returned "Yes!"
"I think you found my dog," he says. I cross the road and he describes her and her collar, a black and white collar with skulls and crossbones, something I'd not mentioned in the poster.
He seemed a bit panicked and relieved at the same time. The puppy had jumped out of his truck in the middle of the road, and by the time he'd made the block, I'd already rescued her. Yeah, I know. I know. Who puts a puppy in the back of a pickup truck! He wasn't too proud of that, he admitted.
I explained I'd taken Prada to the vet and that I didn't have her. So we planned an exchange a few hours later. It seemed he was a bit worried he might not get her back, or something like that, as he called me about 30 minutes before our meet to ask if I'd had her yet. A good sign, in my opinion.
We met at my office soon thereafter for the reunion. I was pleased by his reaction. As soon as I was in eye-shot, he started talking to Prada in babytalk - another good sign :-)
Moments later as I handed her to him, he was kissing all over her and it was clear a wave of relief came over him. He couldn't seem to get out fast enough, seemingly afraid I might change my mind or something.
My fear was that Prada's owner was a self-centered loser that had carelessly and seemingly with disregard lost track of the dog. But it was refreshing and pleasant to see someone who loved their dog as much as I love mine. It still makes me smile to think about the reunion.
Nonetheless, I still miss Prada.
So, I suppose that the poster was my leash on the experience. I am proud that I reunited a man and his dog, especially these two.
But I will miss seeing her face on the bulletin board at the coffee shop every morning.
I suppose I'll just have to plan a visit soon. Thank God for dogs and the people who love them :-)