Today marks exactly 4 weeks since Gable has been missing. The grief, unfortunately, feels the same as it did the day she was lost. Losing a dog is different than having it pass on, the stages of grief just go in a circle over and over again. I have hesitated writing this because of that grief and because I really didn't think people would care too much about a dog. Despite possibly being labeled "that crazy dog girl", I am writing this because she is my baby and maybe if everyone keeps persevering, this can be a story about hope, faith, and the power of people coming together.
When I decided I wanted a dog my Senior year of college I started researching the breeds online, knowing that I may end up in an apartment. It was online that I found a cute, 5 month old, Boggle (Beagle/Boston Terrier Mix) that was being sold in Missouri along with her two sisters for $50 because they were so "old". I knew the flight would cost me 5 times that price, but she just seemed worth it. The night she arrived at the airport, my best friend, Erika, and I waited and waited for her. When she came in her magenta kennel, she was dirty from the breeder, she stunk, and was physically shaking. That was my first, admittedly naive experience with how the breeders raise their animals. She had never been socialized with humans, never been put on a leash, and was obviously scared by her previous upbringing. I vowed right then to show her the love and compassion she deserved...and never give her a reason to not trust me.
Our first day together
I gave her a bath, wrapped her in a towel, and put her in bed with me. We fell asleep watching tv together (she was mesmerized), and that is exactly how we woke the next morning...now pals. Still nameless the next day, I sat at a restaurant crying to Matt about the fact that she had diarrhea and would now only go to me, terrified of everyone else and hiding under anything she could. We narrowed down my list of about 20 names to just one, Gable, a name I had found on a piece of fabric at work.
I spent the next few months getting her to trust the others around me and finding the best way to feed her medicine. She had come to me from the breeder with some type of worm which was causing the diarrhea. She would throw herself around and into walls when put on a leash. A neighbor saw me dragging her whaling body down the street with tears in my eyes and reassured me I was doing the right thing. The next day, she began walking with me. She also suffered from separation anxiety and while I was gone would potty, tear up the couch, pillows, shoes, and her own dog bed. This was a long process...
Gable and Matt at the new place
I worked with her every day and she continued to show me her true, sweet personality. By the time I moved that summer, she was in love with Matt. She ran away once while in Baton Rouge...my roommate opened the door while I wasn't there and she bolted. We found her hiding in the bushes across the street waiting for me.
When we moved to Houston, she finally felt at home. She was part of our threesome and we all enjoyed each others company. Her separation anxiety disappeared and we could even walk her without a leash. If the gate was open, she would go around to the front door and knock. If she got sick of playing in a nearby field with Matt, she would find her way home and knock on the front door. I began to realize that her weird quirks for a dog were a lot like mine.
Her favorite vacation was to the farm in Lafayette. She and Matt's lab, Jager (RIP), would run through the fields and mud of the coulees until they both passed out...covered in mud of course. She loved playing with any big dogs if there was room to run. She would run so fast and cut to make them miss her...small dogs; she had no idea what to do with. Her favorite thing to do at home was go on walks, runs, run as fast as possible in circles in the backyard with me, play with her rope, and cuddle with us to watch a movie (both her and Matt would pass out and start snoring). Her favorite human snack, and the only human food I fed her (Matt is another story) was apples and peanut butter. I really started to love her cautious personality; never stepped on drawings or models. She was still scared of some men and thunder-like noises. She would hide in her kennel and under the table (shaking), but the best hiding spot in the house was under our bed. Smelling was her obsession; her drug of choice. She loved traveling with us, especially if the car windows were down. She could give kisses on command, and did so most of the time...we all have our "bitch" moments...I would follow her head saying "kisses" and she would continue to turn away until she couldn't anymore. She was my own, personal foot warmer, crawling under the covers to my feet or legs every night.
July 9th, 2011 was one of the worst days of my life. We had taken Gable to the coulee to play that day, and like always, she found something stinky to roll in. When we got home we gave her a bath and took off her collar to let it dry.(Makes me sick to my stomach to think about) The kennels didn't allow us to pick her up on Sundays and we were just going to an overnight wedding, so we decided it would be best if she stayed at a friend's house. She would be able to move around, play, and go home on Sunday. We dropped her off with her kennel, food, and her leash and collar on top of the kennel. We thought she knew we ALWAYS come back for her.
When Matt got the call that she was missing (the sound of the garage door scared her off), we weren't worried. She was probably hiding nearby, waiting for us...and she ALWAYS comes to us! It took over an hour to get back and start looking. Four of us searched until 3 am. We walked all the nearby roads calling her name. When I got in bed without her I thought for first time that she may be really lost. We had our first "sighting" the next day...not her. We made our first posters and within a week I had began visiting the 5 Houston shelters every 2 days and added over 50 more signs to the area. I had also sent her picture and info to 50 vets, other shelters, petsmart, and some rescue groups.
My mom came that weekend to help. I was exhausted after not really eating, and she helped tremendously. I began to realize that the only way I will find her is through God and the help of others. We have been praying non-stop and spreading the word. In an area where we know no one, publicity is key. I thank God that we got her micro-chipped...even if I can't physically find her, I will always be ingrained in her if anyone were to simply scan. Unfortunately we were scammed by pet amber alert...just people taking advantage of others while they are down.
After 3 weeks, I had her picture and info in the hands of 170 vets, 40 rescue groups, a number a shelters, local coffee shops, post offices, and police station. I have walked the area countless times and still visit the shelters every 2 days...that makes at least 10 shelter visits per week and sometimes more. We have had a lot of people calling about our signs with advice or wanting to know more, and several others with possible sightings...none have been Gable though. How could she disappear into thin air? Knowing people are still seeing our signs gives me hope. People offer stories of optimism and hope, then another will be extremely negative. I have learned a lot about the shelter system and rescued a sweet pit/lab mix, named Lucky by his owners, who was being brought in to be killed by them because he was getting too big...yes this actually happens!
One man called us Monday evening, saying he had Gable and gave the best matching description we have heard yet. I couldn't help but think we were meant to save Lucky before finding Gable. The man said he found her near T.C. Jester, on Sunday, with no collar. He also gave some other descriptors that no one else did from the picture, but that many had told me when seeing her in person. He said he was a security guard in Downtown Houston and would be off at 8 pm to meet us with her. We have to be cautious, but were hopeful. He kept pushing the meeting back until HE decided that it would be better to wait until the next day, in daylight. If he was trying to lure me in why would he wait? If he was trying to take our money, why would he wait and never ask about money? If he had our dog and wanted to give it back, why wait? We spoke with him once the next day; he said to call back....no answer and never again...until we called him from my mom's phone on Thursday and spoke with him. No answer since... I hate even giving him the attention of this blog, but I am asking for everyone to pray that he learns compassion and honesty and to just tell us whether or not he has her. It makes me sick not knowing...mainly because he just stopped calling us and never asked for money. We are looking into taking further actions as a possible theft of our dog.
Right now I am very sick of feeling scammed by people when I am helpless, but still hopeful. I know that God will give me the strength to continue and hopefully give me an optimistic direction to look into...and in the end, I will be reunited with my awesomely weird girl, Gable.