Thursday, March 06, 2008

Keeping Promises

Photo by Laura Richard

I am sitting here tonight working on the conclusion to the long, two year story of Rocca and Boy but now I have to take a break to watch the clock....

For the next 59 minutes, I can't work on my story because I am
sitting here watching the clock and I'm not a clock watcher, but
tonight, I can't do anything but watch the clock. I'm sitting here
with a rusty choke chain around my wrist as I type this and I am
counting down the minutes, only 58 left to go now, 58 minutes left
before I can take the rusty chain off my wrist and finally put it

Rocca Zu's plane will be hitting the tarmac at Oakland International
Airport tonight at 8:49 Pacific Time, only 57 minutes more and when
Flight 285 finally pulls up to Terminal 1, I can finally put away
Rocca's rusted out collar, the one she was wearing the very first
time I spotted her over two years ago as she roamed the city, emaciated, and with the first pup I saw her with, one of at least
three litters I know she had while out there. During the time I
spent with her on the streets, trying to resocialize her and getting
to know her elusive running partner, Boy, I took that rusty collar of
hers and put it in my glove compartment and that was a litte over a
year ago. That collar meant everything to me because it meant that
Rocca was somebody's dog once and I knew that meant that I wasn't
going to quit until she got back home or if that wasn't possible,
until she was once again, somebody's dog....that collar was a promise
I had to keep.

Tonight, Rocca Zu is going home and she is going to be somebody's dog again. Adele, a volunteer from just outside of San Francisco adopted Rocca and so now in just 50 minutes, Rocca will finally be home and that means in just 48 minutes, I can put away that collar, a collar that is finally a promise kept.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wind Beneath Our Lips Smiles

Photo of Winston, one happy dude by Laura Richard

Surely during these past two years of tracking Rocca and Boy (and others) I have learned a lesson or two of that to come but, today, on the way back from the shelter at lunchtime, I got schooled again, and wouldn't you know it, by a dog!...go figure. Anyway, it had me cracking up laughing during the rest of the drive so I thought I would share it with you guys too.

When I got to the shelter to visit Boy I immediately noticed a flower bouquet with a huge It's a Boy balloon and I thought oh no, have I been so engrossed in my mission with Boy that I missed somebody being pregnant let alone now having delivered the baby??? I frantically tapped on Robin's glass and yelled so she could hear me in her office and asked her who had a baby.....she turned around from the computer and said you did, we did...what?? Go read the card.....Gerald, you sweet goofball, you had me there! Gerald sent all of us, ARNO's "Team Boy" a beautiful bouquet to congratulate us on our Boy. G, that was such a nice thing to do and I'm glad that I didn't miss someone's blessed event and that instead I just always have to have the punch line explained to me! So after my lunch visit with Boy, I am headed back to work and there he is, right in front of me, a big white-yellow dog who is roped down pretty good so that he is able to stand in the back of a pick up truck without being tossed about but able to move around. So I stay behind him thinking, okay, hope this goes well and he doesn't fall out and just as I am thinking about this, the dog stands up on his back legs, puts his front paws on top of the pickup cab, right in the middle standing behind the window to the cab, and begins to surf a ride down Jefferson Highway into New Orleans. The two guys in the truck were driving slowly enough so that he was safe, but with enough speed so that he could take in the wind as it flapped his ears behind him and he maneuvered even a turn in the highway like a pro surfer. As I pulled into the other lane so I could drive alongside him I looked over and the dog was of course smiling at me....I'm sure it was the wind under his lips but it was still a smile. And then I looked at the guys in the truck and just cracked up and they of course laughed too. As I eventually turned off, I checked my rearview mirror and he was still up there surfing and continuing to work his crowd.

So maybe the dog is right and maybe it's not always about where you start or the destination you think you might be headed too....while you focus on your missions, don't forget that the wind in your hair, the blue sky around you, the sun on your face, and the smiles directed your way.... all that is free and pretty good stuff.

And even though I have been pretty focused, I haven't missed all the good the guy in California who knows just how to share your
complete happiness as well as your sorrows, or the girls in Oregon who seemingly drop everything to get thousands of tennis balls wrapped and tagged and sent this way for a doggie parade, or the lady in Texas who watches and waits, at night, to try and figure out just how that stubborn chow Cora is getting from one side of the fence to the other and makes you laugh until you cry while reading her letter about catching that dog in the act and how she looked like a bear as she climbed that fence. Besides all the hard work and efforts that each and every one associated with this group puts in to make things happen, each one of you bring a unique, often
quirky,always endearing quality to life along this mission of ARNO's and those unique qualities each of you bring to this group hasn't been lost on me. I love Laura B. sunny disposition and I love Chris B.'s energy to turn over every stone to put families and pets back together. I love Laura R.'s "hippy" ways....she's 25 or so and signs off with Peace and Love and her favorite band are the Monkees! I love Kelly Fay because she introduced me to hummus, a paste I would never even think about getting near and now because of her, I have a $6.00 a month addication to Mona's hummus...more good stuff along the way. I love Melinda's sailor mouth and even though it probably won't be good if her Beast's first words are foul, I have to admit that I secretly hope it is because I half want to see what a lady-like Melinda would be like (just kidding, don't hurt me Melinda!) I love Shelley J.'s hair....on her 11th trip here this past time, I found the nerve to tell her that I can always tell how hard she has been working at ARNO and for how long by how messy her hair is....a week into the job and she has hair in all directions which of course makes me love her all the more. I love Natalie's tendancy to hug me and without even knowing if it's because she thinks I need one or because she needs one but I don't much care because I have become a hugging type person in the past two years, and dirty kennel-cleaning, dog-walking smelly hugs are the best!

I love Charno because she is the only adult I know with pigtails and even though she recently opted for a glamorous cut which makes her look fabulous, I have sort of been missing the pigtails. I love Darla because everytime she comes to NOLA, she brings cake and good cookies and not much else to survive on from what I can see.

I love Auntie Karen's packages....a box from Auntie Karen is like getting the secret decoder package that Ralphie keeps hoping arrives in "A Christmas Story" only Auntie Karen's packages have good stuff in them instead of a decoder which reveals that you should eat your Ovaltine, her packages have treats for four leggeds and two leggeds, good stuff.....Ryan's grilled vegetables, GOOD STUFF!.......Tanya's ability to make me laugh as she refers to puppy paper with profanities, Anastasia's willingness to come to the shelter on days off just to check that all cats got litter pans and nobody was missed.....Aleta and John's endless talents from jewelry making to photography to finding the perfect materials for cat hammocks.....Jeanne's desire to become a Fat City bartender who sleeps in her car just so she can come back and help ARNO....good stuff, and Sweet Old Bob because he is really Sweet and funny as hell Old Bob.....all of this is what I consider the good stuff along the way, along my focused missions and ARNO's focused missions.

And of course there's Robin....the only shelter director I can imagine that is okay with me being me even on a bad day, and welcomes we whether I am there to clean poop or, as was the case recently, if I am there to "knock her out" as I told her when I
arrived when she made me very angry....when I told her I only came that night to punch her in the face, poof, the anger was gone and we both laughed so hard at the idea of her calling my husband to tell him she had a busted mouth...she lets our unique qualities be our own, good, bad or ugly and that skill is always good stuff.

So there it is, some of it anyway, doggie lessons 101....that dog was soaking it up today and even Boy-focused, ARNO focused, mission focused or not these past few years, I haven't missed soaking up some of it myself, I just forget sometimes to give you a wind-under- my-lips smile at you as you pass.

It's all about the journey.