Text Box: Chapter 11
The Lost Dog

It was a hot and humid Las Vegas summer morning this Monday August 13, 2007. I was sitting in the swing itself a controversial fixture by and between us, Larry our neighbor, and the homeowners association. My wife was scheduled to make an appearance before the board of directors of Shadow Mountain Ranch homeowners to defend among other issues Larry’s imitation of Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched fame but this time on steroids and his repetitive and continuous intrusions of wanting to thwart our expressions of overt happiness and joy exemplified by our lovers’ swing strategically located underneath two majestic twelve foot rose bushes. One rose itself a transplantation from California to a rental and now here blooming purple and lilac fragrant while the other glistening cream and yellow equally scented healthy and lush.

  A White ceramic angel guards the sacred burial site of Katy and Runner two precious kitties who lived their entire lives with me and died in my arms neither one abandoned during a previous lifetime of drinking and lost memories. A mother and daughter the Mother adopted as a kitten one Saturday Morning outside an Alpha Beta in Porter Ranch, California. Katy was left behind in a hurried move to Phoenix and within a week or so former neighbors called the phone number on her collar to report she was living in their garage. A flight was hopped with cage in hand and turnaround completed in one day. Kitty and Daddy reunited to share new life experiences in Phoenix, New Orleans and most recently Las Vegas, Nevada.

  Now I was sitting in the swing sweating profusely from the intensity rendered by unblocked sunshine. My other kitties Lexus, Mama Cass and our newest addition Cashmere all eating grass, smelling, listening and appreciating their brief freedom from the luxurious digs called home all under the watchful eye of Panther Dad.
Since it was Monday the wait served a dual purpose to exercise the cats and the pending arrival of the Republic Services recovery specialists or more commonly known as the trash men. We greet their twice weekly arrivals with sodas and candy bars. In exchange we receive five star indulgences with the return of our trash can to inside the garage and if not home the container is strategically placed against the door preventing the need to recover such from several streets over in the event of a sudden onset of the legendary wind storms frequenting this valley.

  The tank like eruptions of the truck signaling its movements its true whereabouts concealed by a block wall kiddy corner across the street now servicing the residents of a dead end or cul de sac. On cue Tammy was summoned and all three kitties were escorted inside the gated entrance to our home.

  Retreating to the balance of the shaded area of the front yard and sitting in the grass hidden from the street by a large pine and oleander bush an unfamiliar sound like a tiny cow bell in motion tingles through the now searing heat. A moment later a Pit Bull emerges past the tree line across the street walking on the side walk adjacent to the block long block wall.

  As often happens in life multi tasking is required at this exact moment. The dog is summoned and immediately responds by trotting across the street to my seated position and then proceeds to the front door. I ring the door bell to once again summon Tammy while the huge trash collector roars into view.

  Our sanitation friends are provided their usual allowance of cokes and snicker bars the driver leaping down from his high riding seat, taking off his glove to enthusiastically shake my hand. The rider hands the can directly to my waiting hand with baton transfer precision. The garage is sealed and all attention reverts to the Pup.
Tammy arrives with my cheaters to allow a proper deciphering of the silver and gold tags jingling from the base of his collar. The first phone number with a Los Angeles area code is echoed to Tammy as if we are starring in a submariner movie each set of numbers repeated prior to the phone dialing. The first number is disconnected. The second number directly connects with Los Angeles Animal Control. A voice on the other end instructs us to deliver the dog to the local pound. A veto to that suggestion is imposed knowing that unclaimed pets are often euthanized if not repatriated or adopted within three to seven days.

  Instead Tammy provides a pastel pink leash complimenting perfectly his jet black coat but not the intimidating reputation of his breed. We tether our new friend who is named “Jackson” to the small pine tree in the shade. Tammy also indulges him with a stainless steel dish of cold water.

  He takes to the water and then relaxes in a prone position in the silky grass. I am half expecting that Larry the neighbor is on the phone to the association reporting that we have just exceeded the pet limit maximum of four such critters. I visualize Larry with the association on speed dial hiding crouched in his closet whispering into his cell phone reporting the alleged violation and requesting an immediate drive by inspection.

  My thoughts then turn to banking the physician referral check for thirteen thousand dollars received at precisely nine thirty this morning via Federal Express or prioritizing the reuniting Jackson with his unknown master.

  I key the double bay garage door pad which slowly lifts the heavy frame exposing a Cherry Red Expedition with custom plates and wheels jump in and back down the drive way bidding encouragement to Jackson and waving good bye to Tammy.
Driving down Shady Mill and stopping to chat with all people walking, working like the Water Department girl or just passing through like the heavily tattooed middle aged sleeveless home appraiser who was exiting the adjacent subdivision as I entered.
I echoed my new carnival barking imitation of Do you know anyone who has lost a dog? He claimed his professional status stated he was just visiting and peeled off. With all that art work you would think he would be driving something more accommodating to his build like a Harley instead he reminded me of those adorable Shriners who dawn top hats with tassels weaving their oversized personalities and frames through parade crowds in tiny bumper cars.

  I knocked and talked with several homeowners on a gut feel or because a garage door was or yard gate was open. I was surprised at how accommodating the extended neighbors were in opening their doors and conversing. It was great to mingle with each person though nagging at my conscience to think that these interactions were five years in the making and were initiated by a random act. No leads though. Then the thought occurred to track down the trash men and ask them. The whining of the truck tracked to the block directly behind ours.

  I arrived next to them and couldn’t communicate appropriately through the open sun roof so jumped out and engaged the driver. He was immediate in his recollection of a person seeking a lost dog. So was the rider who directed me to a U-Haul Truck backed into a driveway one block away and in view.

  I thanked them for their help and jumped back into the car and sped towards the U-Haul driving around the whole block as the entrance closest was blocked by traffic gates and an elevated sidewalk. I pulled up to the home and walked towards the partially open front door. The U-Haul was a fifteen or eighteen foot truck. A face down cardboard packing box was the only evidence of movement or moving other than the orange cushion ride anywhere on the property. The landscaping consisted of grass only. I approached the door and a voice within said please tell me…… the tone was exasperated and stressed. A man appeared and didn’t bother to conceal his watery eyes. He was wearing an Angel’s baseball cap with the rim fully worn exposing the cardboard backing. I hugged him and stated that I was a dog lover. He stated in an emotionally traumatized voice that this has been the worst six months and he was moving back to California. I asked him what the name of his pet was and he said “Jackson”. We hopped into the SUV and U-turned towards home.

  He said he left for one hour and Jackson had dug out from under the gate and this was the low point of an already dreadful day and I replied well you are going to have a good day now. He paused. We pulled up the front yard and I U-turned again. He jumped out to great his pup. I opened the garage door and Jackson trotted in with Jeff in tow.
  Jeff thanked both Tammy and myself I reminded him to update Jackson’s tags and phone numbers. He and Jackson disappeared around the corner and out of our lives forever. A chance meeting and a reunification of dog and man was a worthy feeling.

  I had previous feelings of accomplishment like on a previous occasion of arriving a split second before the Father to a young son and retrieving the boy who was motionless and face down in the spa at their then residence in Los Angeles County. Years later the now grown up young man approached me and informed me that his dad said I had saved his life.

  Another time while walking in the square in Santa Fe, New Mexico a young boy enamored with all the birds feeding on the grounds gave chase. His path was directly into oncoming traffic. I dropped my tourist like shopping bags to the ground and accelerated parallel to his trail steering him back to the center of the park. His mother made eye contact with me and whispered thank you as she knelt down to hug him and kiss his forehead and then chastise him with motherly love.

  But this day required more than being in the right place at the right time. It was about reuniting a family of two for the journey ahead appreciating from previous experience that a pet and prayer bring comfort like no other in an otherwise indifferent and brutally lonely community.
Destination Ghost Town Las Vegas
All rights reserved 2007

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Life After Life Series:

Part I    

Politics, Sex and Spirituality Christianity and the Cupcake Culling.

Part II:                                                     CODA: Serving My Higher Power elevates my life above a world in perpetual crisis