Friday, June 02, 2006
RESCUE ME?: The True Story of Yet Another (Failed) Animal Rescue Attempt
Back in March, I posted a blog entry entitled “Rescue Me?” in which I described my exhaustive, day long efforts to rescue a duck that appeared to be injured as it sat, stone still, in my building’s parking lot. After having called my cat’s veterinarian, a couple of animal shelters, the Office of Fish & Wildlife, the police department and the fire department, I finally paged a PETA volunteer in DC, who encouraged me to trap the duck in a large box and transplant it to the nearest park. Emboldened, I emerged from my building with a giant, empty computer box in hand, determined to take care of the situation once and for all…only to find that the duck had flown away. At the same time, the PETA volunteer was calling a duck expert in South Jersey—who, unlike Fish & Wildlife, didn’t close shop for the weekend (I’m still bitter about that)—to figure out what was wrong with our duck…the short answer to the question: nothing, apparently. Ahem.
Well, dear reader, that wasn’t the only time I went to absurd measures to rescue an animal. I do it all the time. I find it impossible to walk away from an animal that I think is in trouble. What's more, my eyes are always on the ground, peeled for animals in distress. Seeing that these animals are rescued becomes something of an obsession. Whatever I happened to be doing is pushed aside and I, putting on my blinders to everything else, shift into rescue mode. This single-minded approach to animal rescue has been a source of great vexation for my family and friends. They often have to suffer through the hours of rescue with me and usually end up pretending they don't know me.
To illustrate what I mean, I want to share with you the story of the night I spotted a dog that was lost and/or abandoned and distressed, sitting outside the Newport Mall Path Station. My friends—who aren’t very fond of animals—and I had just finished eating dinner and together, we were walking to Starbucks.
Me (squinting): Is that a dog?
Friend #1: Yep, that's a dog.
Me (still squinting): What's it doing out here alone? It doesn't look like a stray.
Friend #2: Looks like it's waiting for someone
Me: I think it's lost. Oh no!
#1: I'm thirsty. I want coffee.
Me: I can't just leave the poor dog here. Gosh, look at its doggy-brows. They're knitted together with concern. And those eyes are so heavy with sadness.
#1: ...here we go again...
Me: You guys want to go to Starbucks now? Seriously?
#2: Yah (walking away).
Me (still looking at the dog): Hey doggie, doggie, doggie. Come here boy, come here, come to SabilaK (yes, at this point, I'm naive enough to think that the dog, sensing that I'm a vegetarian animal activist looking out for its best interest, will trot right over to me. This, I quickly learn, is a pipe dream. The dog ends up looking at me suspiciously out of the corner of its eye. I've, very quickly, become the enemy. Crap.)!
I talk to the vendors who've been in the area all day; I ask them questions to help me determine from where the dog came. They can't tell me much beyond the fact that the dog has been in the same spot, its sight frozen in the direction of the PATH station as long as they've been there. Figuring that this is all I'm going to get from these vendors who don't seem to give a rat's ass about the dog, I try approaching the animal slowly and manage to go in close enough to see that its wearing a collar with a tag. However, I'm forced to retreat when it starts to growl at me.
Next, I decide to call my friend, colleague, fellow vegetarian and dog lover, ES. I'm happy to hear someone just as concerned as I am. She suggests that I try to lure the dog with dog food, whild she Googles the numbers of local animal shelters that might be able to assist me. I run to a nearby deli--after first asking the few remaining vendors to keep an eye on the sweet dog--and buy a small bag of Purina Dog Chow as well as a package of styrofoam bowls. Back by the station, pedestrian traffic is heavy on this lovely evening and I wonder about the peculiar picture I must paint for them: all done up in a Friday night getup, I kneel on the sidewalk, filling a bowl with dog food, all the while cooing to a dog that is very clearly frightened of me. Thankfully, ES calls me back right then and I'm relieved to talk on the phone and appear preoccupied, even normal. As we've suspected, all of the animal shelters are closed for the evening so, once again, I am on my own. I make a few desperate phone calls to my family, begging them for advice. Each person I speak to wonders out loud how it is that I ALWAYS find myself in these situations. Each person I speak to recommends that I give up, bloody leave the poor dog alone and join my friends at Starbucks. I hang up on each person.
The stupid dog still isnt' coming anywhere near me. The vendors are laughing at me. The pedestrians are giving me funny looks. Frustrated and near tears, I ask for divine inspiriation. I even channel St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, for guidance, dog treats, the ability to talk to the dog, ANYTHING!
What do I get? Friends #1 and #2 step out from Starbucks, wearing matching sheepish grins and swearing that they are ready to help me in anyway possible. I'm still a bit pissed at them for abandoning me but I take their help, which doesn't involve much more than #1 shaking the bowl of Dog Chow a bit and #2 stading next to me with her arms crossed and nodding as I tell her what they've missed so far. For what it's worth, I appreciate their show of support. They also genuinely awww over the poor dog, who's still the image of sadness and anxiety. It's also still growling at me as I approach him.
Friend #2: Is it growling at you? Doesn't it know that you want to help it?
Me: No, I'm the enemy apparently.
Friend #1 (as I get closer to the dog, dog food in hand): Be careful. It might be rabid.
Me (pausing): Great, thanks. The thought of this dog going all Cujo on me is...inspiring.
Suddenly, the dog leaps up as if it's decided that it does want to go all Cujo on me. I shriek. However, instead of taking a bite out of my neck, the dog runs past me and down the long stretches of sidewalk in the Newport area of the city.
Friends #1 and #2 (in unison): Oh no! It's getting away!
I don't have time to comment. I've already started running down the sidewalk and into the darkness after the dog. Yes, I'm trying to run in my heels. Yes, my hair at this point is a frizzy mess. Yes, my makeup is melting and streaked. And, yes, the dog is running as if its life depends on it.
I can't catch the dog, especially not in my heels. I walk back to Friends #1 and #2, a little out of breath but not entirely dejected. We run to Friend #2's car in the lot and proceed to crawl through the streets, looking for the sweet dog.
But it's too late. The dog has run off into the darkness and I've failed, yet again, to rescue an animal.