Monday, August 02, 2010

Pet Toss

My neighbor, Brandy Gull, moved out over the weekend. It was the last day of July, and I’m sure the need to be out by August 1st explains her big hurry. Four pickup trucks, one towing a flatbed trailer, all backed into her front yard at the same time on Saturday afternoon. She and her kids rushed back and forth, carrying out their belongings, which weren’t packed. The trailer was loaded with pots, soil, and other landscaping items from her job. I’m sure her big hurry explains why she forgot to take her pets with her.

I’m not sure about the woman. Sometimes she’s very nice; sometimes, she’s very defensive. One day, when I dropped the very heavy bowl of my birdbath while cleaning it, she came over and helped me pick it up. The next day, when I was looking for my cat, I asked if it might have gone into her house because a low, unscreened window a few feet from the last place I had seen her had been wide open at the time. The neighbor crossed her arms over her chest and responded as if I were accusing her of hiding my cat or something. Then of course, later, I learned the punk across the street had kidnapped it. But was it that unreasonable to ask if a cat had jumped through an open window? Sheesh.

The lady has a big family…four children whose various fathers often come and pick them up for the weekends, two dogs, at least two adult cats, maybe three, and three kittens. I know her children love those pets. Although I have nothing against the woman, we haven’t been on the friendliest terms during her year here. One of her dogs liked to run all over my yard, through a garden I had just planted. I love dogs, so I didn’t say much about it. But when the dog came in our yard and started barking at my ex, he said, “no way.” He wasn’t going to have a dog that wasn’t his stand in his yard and aggressively bark at him. I admit it made me a little leery that it might chase or attack my cats. That was before she acquired a few cats of her own; I couldn’t be sure. So when my ex talked to the lady about her dog, it put a damper on any friendship that might have blossomed.

The dog in question was skilled at climbing over the gate from her back yard, so her attempts to keep it confined was a problem, I know. She complained to me that the landlord wouldn’t “fix the gate,” which wasn’t broken. I knew he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t fix things that were broken. This is the same man who neglected two different, beautiful dogs when he lived there; someone I had never been so happy to see go. I hinted to my ex that maybe he could help with her gate. I guess he didn’t want to. The lady took to keeping the dogs inside, and sending her teenage son with them when they needed to go out.

Saturday evening, about 6:30, I noticed two of her kittens on my porch. I headed over to her house to see if she was completely gone, or only partially gone. As I made my way over, I saw that the blinds in a window that faces my house had been shredded, a new condition. I looked in. Imagine my surprise when that dog looked back. The poor thing was so happy to see someone that she didn’t even bark at me. It was obvious she was terrified that she had been left behind, and was trying to get out. My heart broke for her. I told her I was sure they were coming back for her, and I waited until midnight, August 1st, which I figured was her deadline to move, and then called the police. They came and told me wait until Monday, then call the shelter.

I was gone all day Sunday. I made a special trip back home in the middle of the day to see if the lady had come for her animals. I couldn’t rouse the dog by knocking on the glass or ringing the doorbell, so I assumed she did, and was glad of that much. But the kittens remained on my porch, and the third one joined them.

I only knew of one place I might reach the woman. Her daughter had once told me about a family business they all help out in on the weekends. So I called and spoke to a young-voiced woman who claimed to be the manager, and told her my dilemma. Did the woman want her cats, or did she want me to take them to the shelter? About two minutes later, the neighbor called me and said if I ever called her at work again, she would sue me. So I called the shelter. I don’t understand how people can have pets that they love and fight for, then abandon them when they become inconvenient. She may as well have thrown those kittens on the trash pile she left by the curb.

How can anyone keep an animal for any length of time and not know that the animal experiences emotion just like we do? That they love us even at our worst. That they are dependent on us for their lives, and in every lick of our hands, and every purr in our arms, they show their gratitude. How can anyone look into the eyes of a pet and say, “Sorry, buddy, you’re not going?”

10/14/10 I've been meaning to add this post script for quite a while, but have been too busy and distracted lately. Very shortly after this happened, a nearly 20-year-old jade plant I had sitting on my front porch suddenly collapsed and died -- a lot like it had been poisoned. It made me a little suspicious.