It was one of those movies where they hate each other at first, but then raw revulsion turns into passion. I’m a sucker for those kinds of movies. But even more for the fuzzy, little dogs that help bring the couple together. I turned to Richard in the darkened theater and whispered, “Awe.” He looked stern, then frightened. He’s no good at telling me, “No.”
Some quick Googling and I scrolling through the shockingly abundant, “puppies for sale” web sites, I came across her. Hope. She wasn’t a puppy. She had the same magnificently white coat as the movie dog, but also a “rescue me” look in her eyes. That PTSD shiver so evident in even the most staged of happy photos. I made the call and the flight arrangements. I bought the medium-sized crate prescribed and flew with it empty one way and filled with a quaking, white mess on the way back.
On the way home, she started to cry softly and shake even more violently. I suddenly realized, she needed to pee. I also needed gas. I pulled into the bustling convenience store, slid my credit card to start the gas pumping and tossed my wallet onto the driver’s seat, through the rolled-down window. I surveyed the small grass strip 10 feet from my car. I didn’t have a leash, but how hard could it be to hold her and let her relieve herself?
I opened the crate and held her close to my heart whispering reassurance. I set her on the grass and said, “go potty,” as I held her gently at the shoulders. The pump clicked off, distracting me for a mere second. Hope saw her chance and slipped away in white bolt towards the feeder road.
“Hope, stop,” I screamed, attracting the attention of everyone in earshot. And I ran after her. I ran until my lungs burning, I had to stop, bending at the waist gasping for air. Tears and snot pouring onto the asphalt of a Home Depot parking lot. A beater of a car slid up beside me. “Get in,” he called over the clatter of his engine, “I can still see her.” I did. We sped after her. Through a shopping center lot, then residential streets, and finally to an industrial park. I was beginning to catch my breath as the reality of my actions sank in. I was about to suggest this stranger let me out of his car when we spotted the white streak ahead. “There!” I pointed and the car lurched forward. Just 5 feet ahead, and cornered by a long chain-link fence, we saw her. I jumped out and called softly to her.
Suddenly, I realized we were not alone. Children on bicycles, families in minivans, and a rumbling, shiny black Mustang had flanked us. Others were out of their cars now, quietly stalking Hope. I dropped to my knees cooing and desperately trying to send her calm and love. Miraculously, she locked eyes with me, and I crawled to her. She let me grab her, and then nearly jumped out of my arms again when the applause started. I looked around. There were dozens of people surrounding us. They had seen and heard my desperate cry. They too had jumped into their cars and chased Hope. My heart was near bursting from the joy of that small crowd. Tears pouring now in gratitude.
A woman approached me, touched my shoulder and said, “My husband is watching your car. We saw what happened.” The couple from the Mustang handed me a small, worn leash with a serious scowl and one word, “leash.” “Thank you,” I said hugging the woman. “Thank you,” I cried as I hooked the leash onto Hope’s collar. I held her tight as I climbed back into the beater. I turned to the driver. “Thank you,” I whispered with the realization that I hadn’t once looked at him before now. He drove me back to my car and I thanked him again. There was indeed a large man standing guard over my car with its open windows and my wallet sitting on the driver’s seat.
“No one touched anything. I made sure,” he said to me. Hope and I found ourselves in the middle of a group hug then. I drank in the love and sense of community that flowed through it. My faith in humanity was restored that day, and if it ever tries to fade, I have this vivid memory of the day Hope came into my life and made my life brighter.
– Tami Fenton