I hope your dog never runs away. If your dog ever does run away, I hope I'm the one who finds it. And if I am the one who finds it, I hope your dog doesn't have some complicated, pain-in-the-ass ID tag recovery system, forcing me to jump through all sorts of hoops in order for me to return said dog to your loving arms.
Last week, Robinson and I were enjoying a nice, long stroll through the neighborhood, when I notice a big, black puppy scampering in my direction, clearly AWOL. It looks like a black lab, and it looks to be about six months old--so it's basically all lanky legs, and "it" appears to be a "she" based on the pink collar she's wearing. I scan my perimeter, expecting to see somebody running frantically towards me with a leash, struggling to catch up with this boisterous pup (it's happened before), but it's just the three of us: Rob, puppy, and me. I pause my iPod (I was listening to "Love Today" by Mika) and I'm able to read the tags on her collar. This is a delicate task with an excited dog, because you have to have a firm enough grasp in order to read the tags, but if you're not careful, the pup can pull out of her collar and then you're standing there holding a collar while the dog gallops off into the distance without her identifying information and you're stuck feeling like a jerk. Then there's the whole, "not wanting to get bitten by a strange dog" thing.
I should back up for a minute and say that I have a lot of experience picking up and returning other people's dogs. I would estimate that one out of every three times I go for a walk, I catch, rescue, return, or otherwise wrangle somebody else's dog. Sometimes I take the dog back to my house and dog sit all day, sometimes I load the dog into my car and drive him home. It varies.
No big deal, right? The puppy is wearing a tag. I'll just dial the number and tell the person who answers that I have their puppy and all will be fine, right? First of all, this was not your typical dog tag that says "LANEY" in big block letters with a phone number beneath it. It was a yellow plastic tag that displayed a 1-866- number in raised yellow numbers (so not easy to read on a squirmy puppy), and beneath it, instead of a name, is a ten-digit alpha-numeric ID. And me without my glasses! Perfect. Good thing I applied the parking break to my stroller and Robinson is content (must not forget baby, right?) because I have to dial a phone number while reading this hard-to-read tag and not lose my grip of this puppy who is growing more fidgety by the second.
After much maneuvering, I manage to dial the number:
THEN I have to wait while it rings
THEN I have to listen to a lengthy, automated message with a menu
THEN I select "English"
THEN I listen to another automated message, this time an advertisement
"Are you f*$#!ng kidding me?" I ask the puppy. She doesn't reply.
THEN I select "Report a found pet"
THEN I have to wait while it rings
THEN somebody finally answers
I'm still holding the dog, remember? It's a good thing this is a friendly puppy. If this dog were some kind of bratty mutt, it would have bitten me by now and I would have said "Forget this!" But I can't do that. I have this unstoppable compulsion to "save" every dog I see. For all my bitching, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night had I not done this.
So anyway, I'm finally speaking to a human, and he sounds like Chris Griffin from Family Guy. I decide that he looks like Chris Griffin from Family Guy also. I will picture Chris Griffin in my mind for the rest of the conversation.
Chris Griffin: OK...
Me: [reading off ten digit alpha-numeric] D as in dog, F as in Frank, M as in Mary, 5,7...
Chris Griffin: Ok...[reading, verifies and collects info from me] She goes by "Candy".
Me: That's funny, because she looks like a "Candy".
I'm looking down at her like, "Oh, so you 'go by' Candy, do ya? I suppose when you reach adulthood you'll insist everyone call you 'Candice'."
Me: So, um...how do we proceed? I have a baby in a stroller, a dog with no leash, no owners in sight, and I'm about a half a mile from my house. Attempting to tote this dog around could get cumbersome.
Chris Griffin: I can place you on hold and call the owners...
Me: I think that's a great idea.
I'm placed on hold for at least a minute. If the owners had just used an ordinary ID tag with their dog's name and phone number instead of using this elaborate "pet recovery system" I could have called them five minutes ago. Then I begin to wonder--are they weird paranoid people who are afraid for their dog to wear a tag bearing their phone number? Do they think somebody will find their roaming dog and use that information to hold the dog ransom, become a psycho stalker, or steal their identity? Seriously, what's the deal? As I'm crafting theories about Candy's owners, Chris Griffin returns to the line.
Chris Griffin: Ok, they didn't answer, so I left a voicemail.
Me: Alright...[awkward silence] So...where do we go from here?
Chris Griffin: If you are unable to retain custody of the pet until they are recovered by their owner, you can call your nearest veterinary hospital, and they will--
Me: Oh, no, that won't be necessary. I'll simply fashion a leash out of my iPod earbuds and we'll trot on back to my house until her owner's call me.
Chris Griffin: [pause] Oh, were you being serious?
So, Chris and I say our goodbyes and as I begin to walk Candy down the street towards home, a middle-aged man is frantically running towards me. He thanks me, and attempts to walk/carry her home. I don't tell him that his "pet recovery system" is a cluster f*$# of unspeakable proportions. After all, he did recover his pet, didn't he?