Elsie Murchie, 7/2010 – 1/31/2011
Rosie T. Dog, ?/2008 –
Everyone, I am terribly sorry to tell you that I got The Call today and had to go pick up Elsie from where a pedestrian had found her, for a rush to the vet that I knew was of no avail, and a sad call to Molly in the office. I had seen her perhaps 10 minutes before, in her usual haunt. It’s among the more shattering experiences of my life to date.
I don’t know what we could have done differently or better, but searching will take a long time. The shock of having what at times seemed a fun sort of caper – “Oh, that dog!” – turn into such a void will similarly take a long time to accept. There’s not, always, a lesson at the end of the book. It is unimaginable that such a perfectly innocent creature is no longer with us, not allowed to live out more than her allotted two years, or to learn the supreme peace and satisfaction of being a Good Dog. It is both happy and excruciatingly sad that she seemed so happy in her last days on the run, putting down her drag-racer rear legs to chase cats, walking around with a distinct swagger, tail up, eating good food in a fun hideout, and playing so energetically and freely with Xzibit. We are terribly, terribly sad that we were not allowed to build on our progress, to show her more thoroughly how much we loved her, and to teach her to be a pet in a loving home.
I am glad for many things. One that we had wished most fervently for when we had her back in our home, was that we would be able to hear her “tiny voice.” I am glad that as part of an otherwise very, very hard bargain she did sit down in the middle of the road and bark for a while, while we were on one of our final stakeouts.
We’re not normal people, we wouldn’t have known what to do with a normal dog. I’m glad we had her, when we had her.
I know many of you cared for her, too, and shared in her story. We were delighted by your affection for her, we passed it on in full measure, and I am sincerely sorry for your loss as well. Many of you have asked “what you can do to help,” as one does, meaning it fully while knowing the answer is almost always “thank you, but nothing.” Well, listen up.
There are many charities that take care of animals in extremis, and I hope that you support those as a matter of course. In fact, if you don’t have a dog, please give; your portion of this flowchart is complete. But alleviating suffering is not the only way to increase the net joy in the world, and in fact seems the inefficient side to focus on when we have all these dogs around. So there is something we are asking you to do. If time permits, I would love for those of you that do have a dog to take them out this weekend, and enjoy an act of grace. For Elsie’s sake and ours, please have a special, fun time that you would not otherwise have had. In fact, why don’t you make time permit, because, FYI from this seat, your other weekend plans are comparatively stupid and trivial. Call your parents, see if they’ll take their dog out. Too cold? Just push the furniture aside and go at it. The only thing that I could think that would truly comfort Molly and I would be to know that this resulted in hundreds of real, additional fetches fetched, trees sniffed, muddy trails hiked, balls snatched, and that finally, dozens of conniving fleece people and untrustworthy knotted ropes will be brought to justice for their many crimes.
My mom always said a well-loved dog has many names. Both the family I had with my parents and the smaller one we have here are highly verbal, so that may have been more true for us than elsewhere. It was central to how we expressed our joy with her, and part of the constant stream of perky chatter we used to let her know that this was a positive and safe place.
So goodbye to:
Puffalina (Signorina Puffalina, Signorina)
Worm-dog (with reference to sandworm-like blanket burrowing)
Scooch-alope (when she needed to move from part of the kitchen)
The Ankle Supervisor
Toilet Dog (when sitting next to the toilet observing makeup application)
Elsie-face (prolonged, with remonstrative affection.)
Bed hat (when insisting on being Molly’s “hat” in bed)
Our Noble Courser
Well, we tried.
Sam from Pure Gold Pet Trackers came out yesterday afternoon and we set up the trap just before sunset. Elsie made a few visits to the area, but unfortunately, the neighbors were feeling…festive. One neighbor was having a Teenaged Romance Gone Wrong fight on the phone in the front yard. It took Sam a while to figure out that there was a phone involved and he wasn’t just having an interpretive dance interlude on the lawn, which is what it looked like. Also, the street becomes a parking area for a very large apartment building which seems to host some rather large parties full of voluble guests on weekends. Elsie wanted to check out the trap more closely, but every time she got up into the yard, someone from the Goon Party would scare her off.
So, the plan: we have left the trap up but deactivated for the weekend. We will leave her meals in there. (She didn’t eat her dinner last night.) We might do some car surveillance this evening, but Sam is coming back Sunday night. Hopefully, the partiers will be at their respective homes, tormenting their own pets or dashing the dreams of their own neighbors.
I will be leaving work early today to go buy a roasted chicken at Giant to use for bait for our trap. It’s the same one that worked last time, so we’re not sure Elsie will go for it. Unfortunately, though, it’s our only choice right now, unless Xzibit’s family wants to adopt her or something. I hope I get to Giant before the 2 for $10 roasted chicken Friday frenzy depletes them of all of their chickens. I think she’d prefer the subtle flavor of the Touch of Honey chicken to the more brazen Chesapeake, don’t you? She is a refined lady, after all.
We have been worried about Elsie in the recent snow. I think that worry was unfounded. I saw her last night as the snow was really starting to accumulate, and she seemed to be having quite a time, moving from hiding place (large pine tree) to hiding place (junk pile) to hiding place (another large pine tree). The fun part about all of this was the little puppy tracks she left in the snow. It became very clear that she had spent the afternoon on a prolonged scamper. I also saw her this morning. Now that the sun is out and she snow has stopped, I think she is in even finer spirits.
I was also able to check the camera for information on her feeding times. It appears she shows up to eat mere minutes after I put her food down and leave in most cases. She also checks back throughout the day. Here’s one of our rare daylight surveilance photos. I was delayed by traffic and she was at the bowl wondering where the heck her dinner was, probably.
She really has made herself at home in this neighborhood. One neighbor remarked last night that he had just seen her and she looked “so happy.” She also came out last night to watch another neighbor shovel her driveway. As much fun as she is having, it’s time to come home and away from the traffic. Looks like the trap goes up tomorrow afternoon. We’re worried she won’t go in since it’s the same one we used last time. Also, since she’s hanging around so much, she’ll probably sit across the street and watch us set it up. I hope this works.
It’s Colin’s birthday today. In addition his suprise festive doughnut display, Elsie also made a brief appearance to pass along her regards. She ate all of her food left out last night (and I mean all of it — the bowl was licked clean) and watched me set out her fresh food from a safe distance across the street. I also discovered that she has made a little Elsie Hole under a pine tree where she can snuggle down and completely and totally blend into the dirt. She is utterly undetectable.
Just a few minutes ago, eagle-eyed and helpful neighbor Kellie spotted her on the grounds of the monastery. Nope, not in the Evil Monsignor’s yard. The monastery across the street from our house. Curious. Eagle-eyed and helpful neighbor Tom has opened our gates and put out a little food for her in case she decides to turn herself in. I doubt that will happen, but I do find it weird she’s left her stomping grounds for someplace so close to the house. Maybe she was dropping off a gift for Colin?
Last Wednesday, January 19, exactly five months after we got her home, Elsie got away from our dog walker and is back on the mean streets of Mt. Rainier. Lucky (relative term) for us, she almost immediately went back to the neighborhood where we found and trapped her last time. We’ve had daily sightings and some close calls, but thus far she has evaded capture. More details to come, including our suspicion that her relationship with Xzibit has gotten very serious…to the point of cohabitiation.
You wake up in the middle of the night, your furniture is tipped over, there are two turds on the dining room floor, and you have to be really careful when you open the door or they will run out into traffic.