October 09, 2005

Have you ever experienced something that just didn't seem like it could really be happening?   That's what happened to us September 7th and 8th.  It all started while I was home getting ready for work.  I have been covering the late shift on Wednesdays for a co-worker that works my early shift so he can go see his son play football for O'Connor High School.  I turned off the shower about 9:00 AM when I heard Daisy bark and then growl out in the front entry.  Daisy is a Boxer, about 55 pounds and is the friendliest dog.  She loves women and children but doesn't like any man that comes around.  She'll bark and growl and just have a relatively bad day until the male intruder is gone.  It was then that I heard foot steps in the rock outside our bathroom window.   I thought to myself, "What the hell is going on?"

I grabbed some shorts and a shirt as the doorbell rang.  Daisy barked again continuing to growl at the front door.  As I was walking to the front door - I glanced out back and saw a man spraying our patio with a pesticide.  He was part of a pest control service.  By the time I got to the front door the person who rang was standing back at his pickup.  I loudly said, "Can I help you" to the young man at the truck.  He was in his early twenties wearing a polo shirt and khaki shorts that went past his knees, his short light brown hair lying down on his head.
He turned standing just in front of the truck and said, "We're here from Sunrise.  You ordered the pest control service."
"I already have a bug man - I didn't order your service" I replied.
"Oh really, how long ago was that?"
"I still have him. Our last service was about two weeks ago."
"Who was that?"
"Burns pest control."
As the young man slowly started walking up the drive toward the entry he said, "So you don't want this service?"
Getting frustrated I reiterated, "I didn't order your service."
This young man standing just at the edge of the garage at the end of the entry holds up the work ticket between the forefingers and thumb of both hands as though he's going to tear the ticket into pieces and again says with a strong stubborn tone, "So you're canceling this service."
"I didn't order your service! Where are you supposed to be? What address?"
He looks down at his ticket then up at the numbers on the front of the house.  Gestures with his hand upward motioning toward our numbers, "3303" with an arrogance about him.
"3303 what?" I responded strongly getting really frustrated with this kid.
He looks down at the ticket again, "West Daley Lane."
"That's one block that way," I said pointing back over his head.  "I didn't order your service.   You're at the wrong house."  And I firmly shut the door without slamming it.  I was so pissed at this guy's arrogance and attitude of his insinuating that I was being a jerk.  I'm sure he thought I was trying to pull a fast one to get a free service but why didn't he ever verify the address or name or something.  He was just right and I was wrong.
I opened the door one more time and asked sharply, "What company are you with?"
"Sunrise. I'm sorry for the mistake. Our driver made a wrong turn somewhere..."
I simply closed the door.

I finished getting dressed, grabbed a quick bite for breakfast and let Daisy out before leaving for work.

Fuming over the events of the morning, I just couldn't believe this guys arrogance.  At about 11:30 I finally looked up the number for Sunrise pest control and dialed them up.  I let it ring four or five times before hanging up with no answer.  I couldn't believe this guys attitude in a service business.  I just let it go after that.  I wanted to do something, but I didn't know what to do.  It was done and over.  I had to just let it go.

I'm not used to working the late shift.  I'm not used to the break and lunch schedules and at 2:45 I finally took my lunch.  I called and spoke to Carol for a few minutes and we talked about the mornings events again and her response was, "Well, I guess we got a free pest control service out of the deal.
She was taking it a lot better than I was but she didn't experience this guy's attitude.  She had no way of knowing as we hadn't really had a chance to talk about it.  I was running late for work after that and she was busy at work.  I left a brief message on her voice mail at work but that was about it.

I had just hung up the phone with Carol a few minutes earlier when I received an email from her stating she was on the phone with Tracey and she's crying.  She can't find Daisy.
I replied asking if she's looked all the way down her run as Daisy likes to go back in the dark area of the run and sleep.
Carol responded with "Yes, she says she has looked everywhere.  She's really upset."
I replied, "Should I go home?"
I waited a couple minutes thinking about where Daisy could possibly be?  Had I not let her out and she's locked in a room?  There's no way she could get out.  She's getting older - is it possible that something happened to her?  Was she hurt, or worse?  I headed out the door, down the stairs and out the door to my car.  I was going to check on Daisy and see where she was.   I called and left a message for Carol letting her know that I was on my home.  I had about 40 minutes left on my lunch hour and I was only 10 minutes from home.

When I got home, I came in the garage and looked in our room and closet.  It's the first thing off the garage.  I came out and I saw Tracey extremely upset and crying saying she's looked everywhere and she can't find her; the phone still in her hand barely able to speak through her tears.
I told her, "I know."  My heart sank seeing Tracey like this.  I don't think I've ever seen her this upset.  I didn't stop.  I checked all the rooms in the house before going outside.  I headed left to her run and went down the entire length.  I noticed the wheels stacked up at the end of her run - I had recently put some more back there and they could have been used as a form of stairs for her to jump over the wall - but Daisy has never done that.  I really started to feel horrible thinking that she might have gotten out this way.  I continued on retreating back out the run through the pool area to the other side of the house where we have access to the front.   What I thought was strange was the pool gate was propped open.  Then I noticed the front gate slowly opening and closing with the breeze and it hit me all at once.  I knew what happened.

When the Sunrise Pest Control people were there, they had propped open a self closing pool gate and left the front gate (two gates) wide open.  I'm sure with all the commotion earlier Daisy went out and started investigating and followed the scent of the man out the gates.  I don't know how long it took her to actually get out the gates - but she normally wouldn't think about it.  But that's also when we're there.  She usually will walk half way down the side of the house but stay about 10 feet back of the pool gate let alone the other 50 feet to the front gate.  I was livid when the realization of what happened hit me.

I closed the gates as I went through them and re-entered the house through the garage.  I sat down at my computer and looked up the number of Sunrise Pest Control.  I dialed the number on my cell phone and headed out.  I told Tracey, "Let's go for a drive and see if we can find her."   As I got to the door of the car, a woman answered the phone and my anger was at a fevered pitch.   I was almost yelling at this woman about their people letting our dog out of our back yard and they weren't even supposed to be there.  It took me more than a minute or two to calm down enough to get in the car and continue talking to the woman explaining what had happened and letting them know that I wasn't happy and that I had a 14 year old daughter in tears and I was about to have a 10 year old son arrive home and be in a worse condition when he finds out that our dog is gone.

We drove around our immediate neighborhood but we didn't find anything.  No site of Daisy at all.   I had to drop Tracey off at home as I needed to get back to work.  I told Tracey I was sorry that I couldn't do more now but I had to go and I asked her to call her mom and let her know what was going on.   I was still on the phone with Sunrise as I drove into the parking lot of work.  I hung up with them and headed back in to work.  I really didn't want to be there and I still had another three hours to go before I was able to leave.

I was so pissed.  My blood pressure was high enough to turn my face red.  I swear I could feel the blood pulsing through my forehead.  I couldn't believe that I had to endure the stupidity of the morning and that in turn it cost us our dog and the heartache that goes along with that.  I just couldn't believe it.  Daisy is one of the best dogs.  She's so well mannered and always loving.  She's such a good dog and been a part of the family for over seven years.   I just couldn't believe what was happening.  It was a nightmare.  My heart broke for Tracey and Tyler.  I was feeling mostly anger over the circumstances than feeling a loss just yet.

Carol got home around 5:00 and the three of them decided to walk the length of the dam behind our house in case she was back there in the desert instead of running the streets.  Carol tells me that when they were coming back home and came out from the dam entrance, they saw a truck that looked like a Maricopa Animal Control truck turning the corner away from them looking as though it was leaving the neighborhood.   When they saw it, they all took off running chasing this truck to see if they could find out if Daisy was in it.  By the time they turned the corner the truck was gone.  But it was a glimmer of hope.   Maybe she's alright and we can get her back.

Once I realized Daisy was gone - I had no clue what she would do.  Would she stay close to home?   Would she run in the desert never to be found again?  Would she get to 35th Ave and try to cross the street to the desert and be hit by a speeding car like we had seen happen recently.  So many things ran through my mind, but not one of them had us getting her back.  I've heard so many stories about people losing a dog and not getting them back so I didn't want to get my hopes up.

I finally arrived home around 7:00 that night and sat down at my computer to create a flyer to post in the neighborhood.  I searched through all of my digital photos of Daisy and some just made me sit back and laugh.  Think about the times when they were taken.  She was such a good girl, a great dog.

Daisy was Carol's dog.  But over the time Carol and I have been together, I have become pretty attached to her.  She is the best trained dog that I've ever seen.  Carol had spent a lot of time with her as a pup and Daisy is simply the best.  I am allergic to dogs so one rule we have is that Daisy can't come into our bedroom, the living room or the den as they are where I spend most of my time.  This keeps her hair out of the carpet and helps me survive the allergies.  Well it amazes me that Daisy, in the matter of a few days learned that she's not allowed in those rooms.   She's allowed on the tile that leads to them, but stops at the carpet.  However, she's allowed in the kids bedrooms which also have carpet. But she's a smart dog and learned very quickly.

She's just a great dog and she has personality too.  She knows not to bark and rarely does.   But she will talk to you.  She'll lift her head sometimes and let out a muffled howl with syllables.   It's hard to explain but it is the cutest thing to see.  She's learned that if she talks to me, I'll give her a treat because I love it when she talks to me.  I think that I spend more time with Daisy now than anyone else in the family does.  I don't know why that is, but she's a wonderful dog and I am always looking out for her.  I watch to see if she needs to go out.  She'll communicate that she needs out and I've picked up on that.  She's just a brilliant girl and I can't believe she's gone.

It took about an hour to put the flyer together.  Once I was done with this, we ran out to Kinko's and made up 20 copies to put up on all the mailboxes in the subdivision.  We got back home around 8:30 and grabbed Tyler so he could help us put the flyers up.  We hit all 10 mailboxes in the subdivision with hopes that someone had seen her and knew where she was.  I still wasn't sure it was going to do any good.  By the time we were done, it was close to 9:30 and I was beat.   The day had caught up to me and I had to get up the next morning at 4:00 AM to be at work by 5:00.   I went to bed but couldn't get to sleep right away.  I was thinking about Daisy and wondering if she was alright.  I hoped she was in the truck that Carol saw tonight.  That meant she was safe.  Slowly I drifted off to sleep still worried about our little girl.

About 7:15 Thursday morning, I received an email at work from Carol saying that Tracey just called after getting on the bus headed for school.  She was talking to a friend of hers and they told Tracey that her neighbor had found our dog but didn't know who she belonged to so she called animal control.  I replied and said that sounds promising.  I hope it is her and that she is safe.  Because of the sighting of the Maricopa Animal Shelter truck in the neighborhood the night before, I had already decided to work straight through lunch and head down to the shelter as soon as I got off work at 1:00.   I still wasn't going to give in and get my hopes up on the off chance that it wasn't her.  It was good news but I guess I didn't want to get hurt again.  I was busy with work which kept me occupied and that helped pass the time.

Suddenly at 8:45 my cell phone rang.  It surprised me because it never rings let alone at work.   But my cell was the number that I had put on the flyers.  I was hoping that someone had seen the flyer and they had Daisy.  I quickly went on DND (do not disturb) on my work phone so I wouldn't get another call there while I was on my cell phone.
"Hello, this is Gavin?"
"Hi, my name is Jennifer Malone and I found your dog.  But I didn't know she was your dog."
"You did?  Great."  I said overjoyed at the sound of this.
"Yes, she came running up to the kids last night and she was a great dog.  She was a little dehydrated - she drank five bowls of water after we got her but she is in good condition."
"That's great news.  Thank you" I said with relief in my voice.
She continued, "We looked around last night when we found her to see if someone was looking for her but we didn't see anyone.  She didn't have a collar on and we didn't know whose dog she was.  So we called Maricopa Animal Control and they were nice and good with her.  She got up in the truck and laid down.  It was a nice air conditioned truck so they took good care of her."

I was listening to Jennifer as she spoke and the relief that I was feeling just overcame me.  I got choked up attempting to hold back my emotions knowing that Daisy had been found and was safe down at the shelter.  Tears slipped from my eyes as she continued letting me know that she had seen the flyer this morning and had to call to let us know she was safe.
I thanked her again, but the emotions were overwhelming.  I slowly choked out that we had offered a reward and that she was welcome to it.  She paused before responding and then said, "I really just want to know that she will be well taken care of."
"She is and will be," I choked out and then took a deep breath in an attempt to compose myself.  I then continued with tears streaming down my face now, "Would you mind if we donated the reward to the shelter for taking care of her?"
A little unsettled on the other end of the phone she replied, "That would be fine."
I was losing it.  I couldn't control the emotions of knowing that Daisy was safe and we were going to get her back.  I thanked Jennifer again and hung up the phone snapping it shut and dropping it on my desk.  I put my head in my hands and continued to sob.

I couldn't believe my reaction.  I tried over the next several minutes to regain my composure but little things would set me off again.  I sent a note to Carol letting her know that the lady that found Daisy called and she's safe.  She's at the shelter.  I also sent a text message to Tracey to let her know as soon as she turned her phone on that Daisy was safe and that I was going to get her after work.  Each of these actions brought more tears.  I was shocked at my response.   I guess it was the final word.  Daisy was safe.  She was going to come home.  I guess I was so relieved at this news, for Daisy, for the kids and for me.

It took me about 20 minutes to regain my composure so I could get back to work.  I let everyone know at work that she had been found they were all relieved.  Some were worried at first if they saw me in person, but I explained that she was fine and I was just being emotional.  Daisy was safe.   The greatest news, the sweetest sound to here, Daisy was safe.

I got off work at 12:45 and headed down to the pound.  Once I got there, I was a little lost and there wasn't a lot of direction but after waiting about five minutes in the front office area, I saw a sign stating, "Looking for a lost pet? Look down the kennels to see if you find them."  So I headed toward the kennels.  I first tried the door for kennel A but the door was stuck or locked.   I couldn't get it open.  I was beginning to wonder if the kennels were locked and you had to find an attendant.  But I looked around and there wasn't anyone else around.  I started to head back toward the front office when someone walked out of the B kennels and I went in.

The kennels were made up of a long narrow concrete walkway with small 3 by 5 foot metal kennels side by side lining both sides of the walkway.  There were probably 100 or more individual kennels on either side of the walkway and it took some time to walk it.  Dogs barking, others were sleeping.  Dog poop in the kennels with the dogs, the kennels slanted so the urine would flow to the gutters that separated the walkway with the kennels.  This was prison for dogs and cats.  Cell block B was pretty depressing and after walking the entire length of the kennel, I still hadn't seen Daisy.  I walked out the door at the end and headed to "Cell Block C".  Another slow heart wrenching walk that didn't turn up our little girl.  I walked out the door of C and headed to D.  Cell block D was locked.  I found an attendant and told them that I had been told that our dog was brought in here last night and I haven't found her.  I told them that I needed in the D kennel to see if she was there.  The kind young lady let me in D block and I took another long walk.  I reached the end and I still hadn't found Daisy.  Where could she be?  I was starting to get worried and a little upset.  I walked back down D searching again as I went but nothing.   I again asked the lady about any other places to look.  She asked if I had been down all four kennels.  I said that I had been down three - the A kennel was locked.  She said, it should be open - go take a look there and if you find her, get the number off the top of the kennel and take that to the front office.

I went to the A block and tugged on the door.  It opened and I entered.  I began my walk down the kennel as I had the others, slowly turning from side to side looking in each and every kennel at the dog that was there.  About half way down I look to the right and glance in a kennel to see a boxer but it wasn't Daisy, this one's too old.  I look left at the kennel and the dog, not her.   I look back to the right and the old boxer that I had passed comes to the front of the kennel and sits down, a sad and sorrowful expression on its face.  I look again and I question, "Daisy?"  She whimpered.  It was her.  I almost missed her.  I squatted in front of the cage and put my fingers through the fencing and she stood and came close whining and wanting out.  She was glad to see me but she looked terrible.  The stress had really affected her.  Her eyes were large, saggy, bloodshot and dark.  She was greyer than I could believe.  It just really didn't look at her at first, but it surely was her.  You could see in her eyes pleading for me to get her out of there.  I don't think she slept at all while in there.  She looked the worst I've ever seen her.

I told her that I would be right back and I looked up at the top of the cage for the number.  I wrote the number on my hand and Daisy was active turning and jumping, whining just a bit.  I told her that I would be right back and headed toward the front.  Then she whined and howled as I was leaving her, "Wait, don't leave me here…"  My heart sank again.  I couldn't help her.   I started to run down the kennel the rest of the way to the door.  I could still hear her as it closed behind me.

I walked through the door into the front office again and most of the people were gone.  I went to an open window and they asked if they could help me.  I showed them the number that I had written on my hand and said, "You have my dog in this kennel."   The young Hispanic woman looked at the number and entered said that it didn't match their kennel numbers.   The number they need was at the top of the kennel on the cross bar, not on the fencing.  I had to go back in there.  I had the wrong number.

"Shit," I said.  "I'll be right back."  I hurriedly walked back to A block and down to where Daisy was.  She saw me and started to get excited again.  Turning and whimpering, jumping and pleading.  I found the number and wrote it down.  I turned and started running right away as Daisy started howling, "Please, why are you leaving me in here."  I told her I was sorry under my breath and "I'll be right back girl."  I ran out the door of Cell block A and slowed to a walk that was almost a run.  I entered the front office again the window was still available where I was before.  I went back to the same woman and showed her the new number on my hand and asked, "Is this the number you're looking for?"
"Yea, that looks better."
She entered it in the system and asked what kind of a dog it was, about how old and where was she lost.  I told her the facts and we processed the paperwork.  About fifteen minutes later I was headed down a different cell block so I wouldn't see Daisy again to the back of the kennels and the receiving and claiming area.  The same place I went to find an attendant to let me in Cell block D.  The door was closed.  A sign on the door stated, "If this door is closed, we are unloading a truck.   Please wait.  We will help you once the truck has been emptied."   "Damn it."  I have to wait some more.  I couldn't believe it.  Then the door opened and an attendant brought a dog out on a leash and led it off to Cell block C after slamming the door to the receiving room shut.  You could hear barking coming from beyond the door, I'm sure the dogs in there are just as scared as Daisy was.  But I'll bet Daisy didn't bark.  She's a big ol' scaredy cat.  I can see her shaking going through all of this.

The door opens again and a big man comes through the door with gloves on holding a five foot pipe with a rope run through it wrapped tightly around a big black dog's neck on the other end.  He was dragging the dog as it was resisting and straining against the man.  It didn't want to go where the man was taking it.  The door slammed again.  This went on for another 20 minutes before they would open up the door and begin helping us.

I was third in line and the same lady that helped me before in the D cell block was the one to help me.   She was great and I thought she resembled our neighbor Deb next door.  She could have been her younger sister.  The resemblance was uncanny and her friendly demeanor and mannerisms were those of Deb.  She asked with a smile, "You found her?"
"Yea" I said as I handed her the paper work.  She pulled up some info in the computer and then said, "Let's go get her."  I pulled out Daisy's collar and leash from my pocket as we were walking back to Cell block A.  When we got there, Daisy was on edge shifting feet back and forth.  She really wanted out of there.  The woman unlocked the cage and slowly opened it.  I grabbed Daisy as she darted out the door.  She didn't want to be there anymore.  I struggled a little bit to get the collar on her but we finally managed it.  Daisy pulled at the leash heading toward the back door, it was like she knew how to get out of there.  I stood and thanked the woman for her help as Daisy pulled me toward the door.  She smiled and said thanks.

Daisy pulled me out of Cell block A and then out of the kennels into the daylight straining against the leash.   She only wanted to go.  Get as far away from that place as possible.  She was going to get her wish as we live about 20 miles north of the shelter.  I think Daisy would have walked home if I hadn't stopped her at the truck and said, "Here girl."
She stopped, glanced at the truck and then looked at me with an expression that said, "This one?"
I said, "Yea, this is ours girl."
She moved to the door and then stared at it.  It's as though she knew.  Then she looked at me and the expression said, "Well, open the damn door! I want to go home."

I opened the door and she jumped up into cab and moved to the passenger seat and sat down.  It was hot and she was hot.  I started the truck and turned on the AC.  I grabbed my water bottle and poured a little water into my hand as she lapped up what she could.  I kept talking to her and scratching her head letting her know that she was loved and safe finally.  It took about 40 minutes to get home and she finally cooled off and relaxed enough to try to lie down.  She's not used to travel but does it rather well.  She couldn't get comfortable so she sat back up.  I kept scratching her head and rubbing her and I had hair all over the truck and me.  I didn't care though.   She was safe and I was elated.

We pulled into the drive and I hit the garage opener and said, "We're home girl."  She sat up straight and just looked at me.  She looked better already, relaxed and comfortable with a ton less stress.  She still didn't look like herself, but she was looking better.  I grabbed her collar and put it on again and then turned off the truck and opened the door.  We headed inside to Tracey who was home from school already.  I closed the garage door behind us and took her collar off and let her go.  She walked out of the laundry room into Tracey's arms.  She was headed our way after hearing the garage door.  Tracey hugged her and scratched her all over.   She was glad to see Daisy home too.

The first thing Daisy did was to go lie down.  She fell a sleep and slept hard.  Normally she's a pretty light sleeper raising an eye lid at sounds and movements heard, but not tonight.   When she fell a sleep, she was out for a while.  The reunions happened like this all night.   Tyler got home from school and gave her some loving, then she would go back to sleep.  Carol came in and had to wake her up for her reunion then she went back to sleep.  She slept hard that entire night and into the next day.

She was a spoiled dog over the next week or two but life has gotten back to normal.  We love her and she talks to us.  She tends to migrate from her talking into a bark now, but we're working with her to lose that little habit she picked up while in the pen.  She's getting better and I'm still a softy for her.  She'll come talk to me and gets me to give her treats left and right.   But that's OK.  I'm just glad she's home so I can give her a treat.

I was thinking about the events of those two days a few days later and it just seemed so unreal.   How could something like that happen?  The bug company going to the wrong house, leaving two gates open to the front including a self closing pool gate.  So many uncommon events had to happen for Daisy to get out.  It wasn't real.  It wasn't possible.  But it all happened.   And now there is a lock on the pool gate entering our back yard.