Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jail House Blues

I always viewed pet ownership as a good baby-step towards parenthood. If you have enough patience to raise a pet, then you might stand a chance at surviving colic, potty training and temper tantrums in the candy aisle.

I long ago accepted that that thinking, though well intentioned, was a wee bit naive of me, but that is beside the point.

What I'm here to tell you is that I have now experienced the joy of posting bail in order to have certain family members released from the pokey.

It all started as an average Tuesday morning -- I was wishing that it was still the weekend, but happy that it was no longer Monday -- when my husband reported that two boards had been busted off the fence and both dogs were gone.

It's a weird feeling you get when you go out your back door and expect to be greeted by two 65-pound tongues, but you are instead greeted by silence. The only sounds came from the wind chimes when a slight southerly breeze disturbed them.

Damn.

They often get out, usually because someone has left a door unlatched, and we usually are able to retrieve them fairly quickly. But this time they made their escape some time during the night or early morning. Who knew how long they'd been gone or how far they might have ventured?

First inspection revealed that they were no longer on our street. DH quickly fixed the fence, but he needed to get to work, so I let the kids watch morning cartoons while I drove around the neighborhood to find our contrary canines. After a good half-hour, I had to give up. I couldn't afford to miss work because of missing dogs, so I unlatched the gate to that they could get back in if they returned, and I made a quick poster and put it up at the neighborhood mailbox. I'd have to continue my efforts after work.

I don't know why I didn't think of calling Animal Control. In all my years of pet ownership, I've never had a pet to be picked up, so I guess I just didn't think it would happen to me. It was DH's idea. And when I did, the officer said that yes, they did have two dogs fitting the descriptions I gave them. So I sneaked out of work a few minutes early to go see for myself.

When the Animal Control Officer took me back to the cells, I filed by dog after dog until I came across a familiar one. Shadow. My 1-year-old black lab mutt stood in his cell, a desperate expression on his face. "I have screwed up so bad!How did I get myself in this mess? Oh, if I can just go home, I promise I will never run away again! Oh! Oh! I know you! I know you! Have you come to take me home?"

"This one's mine," I said, and I continued walking to look for the other dog.

"Mommy! Mommy! Wait! You're supposed to get me out of here!"

A few cells down was Monroe, my 10-year-old yellow lab/shepherd cross. She lay on the floor of her cell and only raised her head when I approached. "Not one word. I don't want to hear it."

"She's mine, too," I said.

I followed the officer back to the front, where we took care of the paperwork and I paid the impound fee of $20 for each dog. Then I went outside and waited for them to bring me the criminals.

Shadow was first. He walked with his tail between his legs, so afraid of everything that was happening. I took him and put him in the Suburban, where the familiar smells immediately put him at ease.

Then came Monroe. "What took so long? Jeez!" She hopped into the truck with Shadow and assumed her position by the window.

All the way home, Shadow whined constantly. He wanted to be in my lap and licking my face, but I wouldn't let him in the front seat. Monroe was just enjoying the ride. They both seemed happy to be home.

So I guess everything turned out all right. Forty bucks isn't that much to sacrifice, though there will be a fine if it happens again. All I can say is that this little trip to the Doggy Jailhouse had better not be practice for future adventures of parenting!

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