My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Friday, November 11, 2005

How I lost Duncan

It was August 5th of this year and I had the Mercedes packed down with two TVs, one home theater system complete of matching black boxes and assorted speakers, one fireproof safe, a few suitcases, various unpacked household items and our two panting dogs. We had been sitting in traffic in the Bronx for over an hour because I didn't finish packing for the relocation from Maine to South Carolina until late that morning. I had not realized that the exit that we needed to take to avoid this part of the city actually exited on the left side of the freeway until it was too late. Unfortunately, in some sort of futile attempt to still catch it, I had worked my way all the way over to left before missing it. This had left me stuck in the fast lane and moving at 2 mph as I headed into the Bronx at 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon.

Lucy had been a lucky find for us when we lived on the island of Grand Cayman. We had decided to get a dog and went to the local shelter to see if any were of adoption quality. Twice we walked by her cage distracted by other yelping, barking, howling dogs before even glancing her way. It wasn't until we heard one little "woof", as if to say, "Ahem, excuse me" that we noticed her sitting at attention next to her door. I walked over, glanced at the number 13 on her cage and then down at her. She panted, looked me in the eyes and then looked at the lock on the gate. I smiled, looked at Kela and we quietly went to get one of the volunteers. A day or so later our new black flat-coated retriever named Lucy was back at our house comfortably lying sideways across a big king sized bed.

She had set the tone for Duncan, who was herself very excited when we brought him home to her. Lucy had gotten quite lonely with me working long hours and Kela constantly distracted with the last semesters of her second year of medical school. He was a horrible deprived little puppy. I found him when I visited the local shelter in Maine (see Hurricane Ivan story further down in blog to see how Cayman to Maine happened) and thought he was cute. In actuality, I couldn't see much of him at all. Both his sister and he were huddled in the back of one of the pens scared of anything made of atoms. They had been in a shelter in Virginia until it had ran out of money and shipped its dogs anywhere that would take them. Both of them had come from the same litter and had obviously spent almost their whole lives living with large, obnoxious dogs barking all around them.

When I saw them I looked at Duncan and he leaned forward a bit to check me out. From behind me I heard, "Wow, that's the first time I've seen either of them move". A glance backwards at the eager, beaming and dog food laden volunteer told me I was in trouble. It seems that neither of them had eaten in the couple of days that they had been there. Next thing I know I was being led into another number 13 cage to inspect a dog that I was destine to bring home. The next day we had a very frightening puppy frantically searching all three floors of our home in a desperate attempt to hide from the world. Months later a calmer, larger version of that dog was trapped between a TV and Lucy in the back seat of my car on his first real adventure.

Since entering NY the AC had somehow become less effective. I blame the poor air quality of NY for somehow not providing the intake of the car with enough actual oxygen to cool off. So I had the sunroof popped up and all of the windows down about half way. It was sitting there as I flipped through channels while wishing that Kela could have come with me instead of having to stay an extra week for finals when it happened. Something in Duncan's mind sparked and he realized that he needed out of the car, immediately. In the rearview mirror I caught a brilliant golden flash of color as he jumped over Lucy and through the cracked window.

Petrified, I flew open the door of the car and sprang from it into traffic as if I was shot from a gun. Hands up, flailing and madly running after him I ran headlong into traffic. New Yorkers, as pleasant as they are, responded by all stopping and not making a sound as I tried to corral Duncan back into the car. Actually, what really happened is that they all started honking and yelling from their car windows that I had just robbed them of 2 seconds of their life which they could have spent honking and yelling at someone else. Duncan, who had never seen a New Yorker - let alone heard one, headed directly for the side of the road and shot under a small hole in a fence lining the freeway. On my way to the fence I glanced back at the Mercedes, idling in the fast lane with the driver door open and Lucy's head peeping over a TV in the back seat. I hit the fence hard and jumped it coming down on the other side in a role only seen in action movies. As I leaped from my stuntman-like maneuver and headed off in the direction he was running I noticed that I had adopted a line of red liquid that was now following my path. Upon closer inspection I realized that the liquid was blood and it was coming from the chunk of brain like meat now protruding from the palm of my hand. Discouraged, but still at full speed, I continued after him.

It was really only a matter of time before he lost me. He was a nine month old Golden Retriever puppy running for his life and I am an out of shape 29 year old man bleeding and screaming his name like a madman. I vainly circled the block that we had emerged from and flagged down a passing police car. At this point I finally realized that I had lost a bit to much blood. I know this because these are the words that came out of my mouth, as I stood there now covered in blood, to the New York Police Officer, "Excusemesir, I just lost my dog on the freeway where I left my Mercedes and now I'm bleeding on your car have you seen him?" To his credit the officer did not immediately shot me. He did hand me a stack of Duncan Donut napkins and say, in a cool NY cop way, "Nope, but we'll see what we can do." He then drove off probably mumbling about how this part of the Bronx didn't have a crack problem when HE was a kid.

Defeated and loopy I headed back to the still idling car that I had left with our other dog sitting in the fast lane with the driver side door still wide open. This time I crawled through the hole in the fence and just weaved back and forth between stopped cars in traffic until I reached the Mercedes. At this point I took a minute to take stock and call Kela to tell her what had just happened. I'm not quite sure what I said, but I don't think it came off as smoothly as it should have.

Traffic, by some sort of miracle, had started moving and I headed back in the car to circle the block a few more times. Kela called back and told me that she had informed the local Animal Rescue locations, the NYPD, NYFD, several friends in the area and possibly the NY Mets. Beaten and finally very Duncanless I found my way back to the highway and called Kela back. She has relatives in NJ, one of which was a nurse. I informed her to inform them of my condition and ETA.

A few hours later and a couple of wrong turns pulled into her uncle's house only to be taken right back out to the hospital. Again, a couple hours later I was once pulling back into her uncles house, this time 8 stitches and some heavy narcotics richer. I don't know where I slept that night or for how long. All I remember is waking up in the morning, saying some sort of generic gratitude and continued driving to South Carolina.

The next weekend Kela drove down from Maine and walked the area putting up signs and talking to shelters. Before I had left Maine we had gotten him a new collar and an electronic chip located on his back in case we ever lost him. We haven't seen or heard from anyone in over two months and have come to convince ourselves that he was taken in by some old woman who just happens to live in a bad neighborhood in New York and needed a friend.

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