Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Adventures of Gideon & Noelle

"While you were gone, your dogs went swimming in your neighbor's pool."

Let's back up here.

I was on my way to Phoenix for a my friend Clint's wedding. In the eight years that I had known him, he'd always wanted to find a good woman, and I'd always wanted him to find a good woman, and I couldn't be happier that he was starting a new life with someone, even while my former life with someone was ending.

It was the first time I had ever flown alone. Per Murphy's Law, my connecting flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix was cancelled. The airline switched me to a different flight, which was in another terminal in the small city known as LAX. I ran to the re-assigned terminal, was delayed while going through security again, cursed the overbearing rules of flying in this 'free' country, and ran to my gate, only to find that I was too late to catch my flight. Convinced that the Powers that Be were trying to tell me I should just head home, so I hopped a shuttle bus to one of the rental car depots and planned to just drive back to Bakersfield. That is, until I discovered that my ID had been lost somewhere in the airport. I used the remainder of my phone battery to call my parents, who drove down to LA to pick me up. I was slumped in the backseat of their car when my dad made the announcement.

"While you were gone, your dogs went swimming in your neighbor's pool."

"They went swimming? Wait. . . They what?"

"Boyd and Mary found them in their pool. Gideon was starting to go under. They had to get him out, but they were afraid to because he always barks at them. But, he let them, and they got him."

Based on the statements of neighborhood witnesses, this is what we were able to piece together: Missing planks from the fence in my backyard that border the alley indicated that Gideon and Noelle escaped through that opening. A neighbor from across the street, a detective with the Bakersfield Police Department, spotted them at the west end of the alley. When he tried to approach, they turned and headed eastbound. The detective gave up pursuit and instead contacted my dad to retrieve them. After evading the police and passing by the opening to their own yard once again, Gideon and Noelle made their way to the front of the street. Boyd and Mary were working in their garage, the door open. They slipped past them undetected and entered the pool. When they were discovered, Noelle was paddling happily, but Gideon had made his way to the deep end and couldn't figure out how to get out of the water. He allowed Boyd and Mary to assist him, albeit, skeptically. Mary opened the adjoining gate from their yard to mine, and Gideon and Noelle electively passed through.

"He was really struggling," Boyd said when I obtained his statement. "I think that's why he let me help him. We really didn't know how he would react." It's true that I've seen Gideon take a treat directly from someone's hand, swallow the treat, then bark aggressively at the offeror. I couldn't really predict how he might react to someone saving his life.

"If we hadn't found them when we did, I don't think he would have made it." And the statement was like the crack of the bat that in a home run hit. The words struck me with force. Suddenly being stuck in LA seemed like such a small thing. That night rather than getting scolded, the dogs received love and relieved hugs.

Sometime later Gideon had a maintenance surgery on his hip. His immediate recovery didn't go well, and one morning when his incision was oozing I panicked and called the vet's office. They were able to sneak me in later in the morning, but I would have to go to work in the interim. I made arrangements with Brian, the dogs' best friend and walker, to pick up Gideon and meet me at the vet's office. When I arrived, suited up for a morning hearing, Brian already had Gideon in the waiting room.

Despite his oozing wound Gideon jumped up to greet me. I squatted in my pencil skirt to hug and kiss him, and looked up at Brian.

"Thank you so much for doing this. This thing with Gideon is the most stressful thing I have ever been through."

"You've never had kids, have you?" intoned a woman across the waiting room. Clinging to the fur around Gideon's neck I turned to her briefly and said, "I have a son. He died when he was ten days old." I looked back at Brian for a moment, then at Gideon. The unspoken words hung heavily in the air: "If something happens to Gideon, I'll have nothing left."

In the moment, the panic and fear were very real, but I've since made amendments to my reality. I would be devastated if something were to happen to Gideon, but I would have to find a way to keep it together to look after Noelle. I've since added Marcos and the four-legged Zeke to the mix, now residents in the Yellow House. Rocco, of course, remains rather unobtrusive as of yet, but will be adding to the chaos shortly. My life is in fact quite full, and more meaningful than I used to believe.

As I type Gideon, Noelle, and Zeke are outside enjoying some much-needed rain in our valley. Feeding them will be an ordeal tonight, and I'll have to leave them outside long enough to eat and then take care of business before bringing them in for shelter from what I anticipate will be an increasingly heavy rain. They will be muddy, and rowdy, and it's clean sheet night but I can rely on Noelle's muddy paw prints finding their way to my bed. They will make their way to their beds and then they will groan and snore and throughout the course of the night they will arrange themselves so that when I wake up to use the restroom, I will have to carefully pick my way over and between them and then Noelle will likely pace for quite a while before settling down again. In the morning at the first sight of either the daylight, or the whites of my eyes, she will spring to life and rouse Gideon and Zeke and they will wrestle their way out the back door and begin a chorus of barking that surely annoys the neighbors and we will begin another day of the Adventures of Gideon, Noelle & Zeke. And I don't want to live any other story than the one I've got going.

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