I am looking at my Border Collie, with her beautiful mottled fur, who is in an exhausted sleep on her bed in my converted-porch office. We rescued her from Death Row at the animal shelter 13 years ago, so she’s old, and her hearing is starting to go,
For 11 of some of the longest hours of my life, she wasn’t here. Through a series of minor disasters, involving a bird somehow getting trapped in our bathroom, me locking myself out of the house while hauling a ladder outside to the bathroom window to try to help the bird get out of my house, and then not quite getting the latch fastened on the backyard gate, our dog got out of our yard, and disappeared into the Big Bad World.
My next door neighbors in the front house are an African American family who moved in last year, and in the back house an older Jewish man who has been here for almost 50 years. On the other side of them is a Guatemalan woman, whose French husband died a few months ago. Other neighbors are from Pacific Rim countries, or Mexico, or the Middle East, or their parents came here from the Deep South to escape from racism, and give their children a better life. I tell you these details so you’ll understand that in my neighborhood, my husband and I, both of us pretty whitebread wasp, are very much in the minority. We’ve lived here for 26 years. It’s always been a “United Nations” kind of a neighborhood.
When my dog went missing, I got a search party going within minutes. I drove around with the Guatemalan widow, who is the neighborhood “dog whisperer” — we called, whistled, and stopped to ask anybody who was outside, especially if they were walking their dog, if they had seen my dog. We got the mail carrier and the FedEx guy to look too.
People took my cell phone number to call me if they sighted her. A woman walking her dog the next street over told me about an online neighborhood bulletin board where I could post a Lost Dog notice: “People get their dogs back really quickly if they post there.” Some of our neighbors don’t speak much English, so my friend would explain to them in Spanish, or we’d just show them a picture.
While my friend the “Dog Whisperer” did another drive through the neighboring streets, I got on my computer, found the neighborhood site, and posted my Lost Dog notice. Then I had to call my husband with the bad news that our dog had now been missing for almost two hours. He left the office immediately, but he would have to fight freeway traffic to get back.
The “Dog Whisperer” still had no luck, and had to go home and cook because her two grown children and her daughter’s family were coming to dinner. The other searchers also came back with no news.
I got a couple of calls from the people who had taken my cell number, but they were calling to see if I’d found her, and said they’d still keep an eye out. I started printing Lost Dog posters.
Checked the virtual bulletin board, and somebody had just re-posted a tiny blurry Stray Dog cell phone shot from the next neighborhood over which looked a lot like my dog. I couldn’t believe she had gotten so far from home so fast, especially across a very busy street, but it sure looked like our girl. I responded to the post, asking for more details about where the picture had been taken, and half an agonizing hour later got coordinates and a bigger version of the picture back — it was our old girl alright.
My husband made it home during the time I was still waiting for that response, and he left right way to drive around the general area where she might have been seen. When I did get the response, with cross-street information and the approximate time of the phone shot, now almost two hours ago, I relayed the information to my husband.
People on the site began making suggestions. I had originally posted only to our immediate area, but the old hands on the site told me how to re-post to a wider circle, getting out the word to all our adjoining neighborhoods, which are linked to ours on the site, and also how to post Missing Dog information for all the animal shelters in a 10 mile radius at the same time on a different website.
Our old girl has a microchip implant, but the shelters are so busy that it sometimes takes awhile before they get around to checking a new arrival, so letting them know we were searching might get a faster response.
I was getting more and more worried as time was passing — she’d now been out over 8 hours without water on a hot day.
With the re-posting, about 1500 people had been notified that we were looking for our dog. Several responses came back, but they all just asked for more details, pledged to look for her, and wished me luck.
Neighbors up and down our street stopped to look at my Lost Dog posters, and take down the phone number. My husband came back dogless, but spoke with a dad and two little kids as he was getting out of the car — the two cuties told him they would look for his dog, whose picture was “pretty” to them, and they would find her for him.
We were too stressed to eat supper. My husband re-checked with our immediate neighbors, and I stayed at the computer. Then we just sat looking at each other and worrying, so he went back out to search the area again where she had last been spotted.
Just as I was posting a “still missing” response on the neighborhood link, my cell phone rang. My husband had found her!
She was just blocks from where the phone photo had been taken. But if he’d been 30 seconds later, he’d never have seen her because she was walking down the driveway of an apartment complex, headed into some bushes.
She was dirty, disoriented and very dehydrated, but she was home! I posted the good news right away, and got a bunch of “so glad for you” responses from people I’ve never met, but who were so kind and helpful in getting a tired old dog back home.
So that’s my story, Mr. Trump — just an old dog who was lost, and then found. But this is MY America, where a community of people who come from a lot of other places, who sometimes don’t even speak the same language, all worked together to bring that dog home.