The Stolen Dog by Tricia O'Malley

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 2

The morning dawned with a phone call from a case coordinator.

“I’m sorry, but who are you again?” I asked, annoyance defining my voice. Zero sleep and emotional overload had frayed my already short temper. Her referral to herself as “Case Coordinator” just didn’t make sense.

“I’m Kathy, and I work with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. We help people who’ve lost their dog and work with them to get their dog returned.”

Automatically, I pointed out that Briggs was stolen, not lost. I had to let her know that we weren’t bad dog parents. This had happened to us; it wasn’t our fault.

Kathy, an extremely patient woman, kindly expressed her condolences and spent a half-hour suggesting avenues that we might explore. Speaking with her, I realized that the organization was the real deal and had fantastic resources for people in our position. Bolstered by Kathy’s solid suggestions, I hung up, ready to take action.

“Honey, don’t miss your oil change appointment,” Josh said, cornering me in the kitchen and gently holding me by the shoulders.

Groggy, I stared at him and wanted to scream. An oil change? How can something so insignificant even enter his head at a time like this? Our dog had just been stolen.

“You’re 3,000 miles overdue, and we don’t know how much driving we will be doing. Maintenance is key. Go.” My levelheaded husband ushered me out the door, promising to keep me updated.

But it wasn’t his number on the flyers. I’m the one who’d receive any news, I thought as I trudged to my car.

The dealership waiting room was pure torture, like a straight jacket restraining me from action. I watched as the service department huddled over the flyers that I had given them. I hated that their looks of sympathy were for me. I hated that our dog was on the flyer.

After a mental shake to remind myself to remain in lockdown, I opened my laptop to see what I might be able to accomplish while my car was being worked on. Many of my friends suggested that I contact the local news stations, as the loss of Briggs was a heart wrenching enough slice-of-life piece that it might pique their interest. I decided they might be right and composed an email about the story — the subject line burning into my brain — “Our Dog Was Stolen.” I called a few stations, and two requested that I send the email over. Shortly after I did so, TMJ4, the local NBC affiliate, returned my call and probed for more information.

“Are you childless? Would you say this dog is like a child to you? Did you file a police report?”

“Yes, yes, and yes,” I said, wearily.

“We’ll be at your house in two hours to film,” the reporter said. He shared that they were doing a story about people who treated their animals as if they were their children. Our story about Briggs would apparently be the perfect lead-in for the series.

How lovely for you, I thought, slightly annoyed that our story would help pimp their series. Mentally kicking myself, I forced myself to stop. No matter the reason, this was a huge opportunity to get our story out there. Elated, I rushed home to tell Josh. This was it. This would be what brings Briggs home. Everyone watches the news, right?

Hastily, I did my best to conceal the massive bags under my eyes from a sleepless night of crying while Josh and I waited for the news team to arrive. We kept talking about Briggs, wondering if he’d been fed, if he was running scared, and hoping he was all right, wherever he was. My gut churned with worry, lack of food, and a high-level rage for whoever had done this.

The reporter called to let us know that they were outside, filming the exterior of our house. Nervous, we stepped outside to greet them.

I was unprepared for how painful it would be to see the news truck sitting in front of our house. Similar to an ambulance, news vans rarely signal that a positive event has occurred. News, after all, is mostly governed by the notion that “if it bleeds, it leads.”

My hand trembled in Josh’s as we waited for the reporter. We are behind-the-scenes people and did not relish being in the spotlight. This was our first major realization that the whole dog-search process was going to drop kick us far from our comfort zone. Steeling my nerves, I pasted a fake smile on my face for the reporter.

The reporter introduced himself, and his cameraman immediately began filming. A little off kilter, I tried to remain calm and appear as the coherent person that I like to think I usually am. I had thought we would have more prep time before the camera rolled — don’t they say “action” or something? We took them on a tour of our private deck, through the back alley, and watched as they interviewed Whitney, our neighbor-turned-eyewitness.

When she was finished, it was our turn again. As the microphone turned to us, I did what I could to keep my emotions at bay. I wanted to articulate the facts quickly and drive home the point that we were not going to give up on finding Briggs — no matter what. I wanted to resonate strength and intimidation, not turn into a weepy mess.


The Stolen Dog

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Genre - Pets/Narratives/Essays/Breeds/General

Rating –PG-13

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Connect with Tricia O'Malley on Facebook

Website www.thestolendog.com

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