by Andrea Chilcote
The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.
It was finally Saturday night. Oh, I love my life with all of its busyness, but I was ready to free my mind, and relax on the physical front. Arthur and I were headed out to an early dinner, to be followed by a date with friends to listen to a great new musician we’d just discovered.
Our twilight drive was interrupted by a swerve and fast braking, a tribute to my race car driver husband’s reflexes. What was it? A rabbit? No!
“Arthur, that was a puppy! Turn around now!” And so began the drama.
This story is not about rescuing a dog, although we did that, of course. The Chihuahua would not have made it through the night with cars and coyotes all around. Mine is a simple story about judgment and assumptions.
When I retrieved the well groomed and friendly dog from the busy street, my first disappointment was that his collar bore no tag. Still determined after driving through neighborhoods inquiring (to no avail), we drove to the nearest 24 hour vet clinic to have him scanned for a microchip. No chip was found. By some stroke of luck, one of the nurses fell in love at first sight, scooped him into her arms, and assured me she would look after him until his owner came forward. That is, if one did.
We went on our way, and had a nice (though much later) dinner. We were even able to meet our friends for the last few songs of the performance. But I was distracted by the thought that this dog had been purposely dumped.
I’m jaded by what I know about the enormous amount of companion animals discarded each day. As the night wore on, that thought, my assumption that this one was abandoned, solidified into a conclusion.
Just before going to bed, I got a text from my friend and rescue “mentor,” Marie. She asked me if I had put up signs. “No,” I said. I didn’t tell her that I had concluded someone whose dog had no tag or chip probably didn’t want him back. Marie told me that 75% of lost dogs are found due to signs. I promised her I would post them in the morning. And, I half-heartedly followed through with six signs.
When I had received no calls by mid-day Sunday, my conclusion had grown into a belief. I climbed the ladder of inference, influenced by my past experiences. I believed that anyone who missed his pup would search relentlessly, and surely would have come upon one of my signs. At least, I thought, this was one of the lucky ones. That kind nurse would not let the dog succumb to the fate of most.
By Monday morning the event was out of sight and mind. And then the phone rang.
“Did you find a Chihuahua?” The anxious man didn’t even wait for a reply. “And does he have a golden brown coat and a silver collar with a tiny blue bell?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed, quickly re-orienting myself. “Yes. Your dog is safe,” I said. I fought tears.
It turns out that the man had been posting a “lost” sign in the same grocery store window where I had taped a “found” sign. He clearly loved his dog, and said he had prayed that he was alive since the moment he squeezed through the fence of his elderly father’s home. He had been frantically searching for him since Saturday night.
Our world view limits us. That pup might never have found his way back home had I allowed my mental models of how people too often behave toward animals to influence my motivation.
And as precious as the little dog, Indy, was, this story is not about him. It’s about our moment by moment opportunity to be open to learning that there’s more going on than our limited perspective takes in. If we can give even the slightest benefit of the doubt, miracles reveal themselves.