Day 11 Morning
The now familiar, but still unwelcome, silence woke me.
As I gazed down at Briggs’ empty bed, I couldn’t help thinking of him. Where is he? Is he safe? I wonder if he’s scared. Is he too hot? Do the people who have him know he likes to burrow under blankets to sleep? Is he with other dogs? Do they know he has trouble breathing in humidity and can’t exercise too much when it’s hot?
I thought about what the psychic said and hoped that the grandmother who might be caring for him during the day recognized his sweet soul and was treating him gently.
I tried not to let my mind wander where it shouldn’t, but I kept seeing flashes of Briggs running across a street or having to defend himself. I reminded myself of all the times at the dog park when Briggs had stood up for himself when his Frisbee was stolen. He had a very strong defensive instinct that could get him into trouble in the wrong situation. I prayed that he would use it if he needed to, but mostly, I just prayed that he was not in any situation that would require it.
I tried to focus on action steps. Each day, I picked the problem back up and twisted it, looking at it from a new angle. What could we do to make a difference? What hadn’t we tried yet?
When Josh woke up, we discussed our options for the day. We’d spent the past two days covering the area that the psychic suggested, so we decided to consider the other information he’d given us as well as the eyewitness description that our neighbor had given us. All things considered, we felt that we could safely assume a Hispanic man had stolen our dog. With our freshly-translated Spanish flyers, I was excited to paper the Hispanic neighborhoods more thoroughly.
Josh and I discussed what we knew of the Hispanic cultures. Knowing of their deep faith tradition, we decided to head back to the South Side and put flyers up as church services exited. As we drove, Josh and I talked about our city and its diversity.
“I hate that we have to make assumptions based on the race of the person who stole our dog,” Josh said, his hand beating out a familiar staccato rhythm on the steering wheel.
“I know, I know. I hate that we have to base our search off of an eyewitness description and a psychic, but it’s all we have to go on.”
When we arrived on the South Side, we saw several food trucks setting up and smelled the delicious aroma of peppers and onions frying. Luckily, I had the forethought to translate a few sentences into Spanish.
“Buscando mi perrito!” I said, excited to use my Spanish on one food truck driver.
After my haphazard attempt to explain our situation in Spanglish, he happily agreed to tape the poster to the side of the truck. It was an excellent way to increase our exposure since hundreds of people visited the trucks daily.
Josh and I circled the South Side, putting flyers up at grocery stores and in front of churches. We quickly realized that food markets were prime real estate for us; without fail, huge groups of people congregated around the bulletin boards at the exits. As we looked more closely at the bulletin boards, we realized that the community interest was for the multiple job postings. I knew that any Briggs flyers posted there would be seen.
After we finished our loop of the South Side, Josh and I headed west. He was determined to go to Gander Mountain that day to purchase a handgun that I would feel comfortable handling. It had been a running argument in our household. Though I much preferred my mace and baseball bat for protection, it appeared that Josh didn’t feel as confident in my weapons of choice. I had to agree. My concept of safety had been severely shattered the day Briggs was stolen, and a Louisville slugger no longer seemed like it was going to cut it.
On the drive, I brought up a sensitive subject.
“I can’t believe that strangers are busting their asses to help us,” I said.
“I know!” Josh replied.
“I’m surprised that some of our friends who live around here haven’t really reached out that much to help,” I said.
“I know. It’s…disappointing,” Josh acknowledged, putting it lightly.
Perhaps it’s the times of tragedy that shine the brightest lights on friendships. Josh and I were not so naïve as to think everyone valued animals and pets as highly as we did. To some people, a dog is just a dog — a replaceable pet. To us, Briggs was something more — he was family — but we couldn’t force others to take action. We were simply surprised that some friends didn’t realize just how much we were hurting, and fewer than we expected offered the support that we needed. We certainly didn’t expect everyone to drop everything that they were doing and make our problem theirs, but reaching out and asking how they could help or simply asking if we were okay would have meant a lot to us.
My friend Meghan emailed, texted, and called daily, even though she lived in Colorado. Her entire office was following the story and offering suggestions. She did this naturally, without thinking, and in the best way she could from across the country. We couldn’t help but wonder why people we barely knew or didn’t know at all were capable of reaching out when some of our friends were unable to do so. The Briggs situation was proving to be more life changing than we had ever anticipated, in ways we probably would’ve preferred to remain ignorant of.
Switching subjects, Josh perked up and began lecturing me on gun safety. Trying to listen, I despondently picked at a rip in my jeans. This was not what I wanted to do with my day. Resigning myself to time not spent hunting for Briggs, I headed with Josh into Gander Mountain.
As the cool air of the store washed over me, I examined the hundreds of guns lining the wall.
“Yippee,” I muttered to myself.
Josh, on the other hand, was already off and running, like a kid in a candy store. As a lifelong hunter, he quickly found his happy place amongst the artillery and ammunition. As he held up model after model of gun to me, I just looked at him blankly; showing me gun styles was the rough equivalent of me asking him which shoes I should wear with a maxi-dress.
We settled on a gun that he felt I could comfortably fire, purchased ammunition, and left the store. With the mandatory wait period, Josh wouldn’t be able to pick it up for a few days.
It was early afternoon, and we were already exhausted. Heading home, I thought about what else we could accomplish on a Sunday evening on Memorial Day weekend. We couldn’t come up with much, but the world had other plans.
After a refreshing shower, I walked downstairs and found Josh texting in the kitchen.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I was thinking about going out to meet Chuck for drinks,” Josh said.
Flabbergasted, I stared at him.
“What? We aren’t doing anything more for the night.”
I was instantly enraged. How could he even think of leaving me right now? My phone rings every two seconds. Sure, most of it is just prank-callers, lunatics, perverts, and liars, but what happens if we get the call — the one we have to make a move on? What if I need help? What if someone finds Briggs? This wasn’t the time to split up. I needed my partner, my protector, by my side.
I said as much and not in a very nice way. My diplomatic skills had reached their limit some time ago.
As the argument heightened, the doorbell rang. Immediately tense, Josh grabbed his knife. I peered through the peephole and saw a couple in their late forties, standing at our door with a child. I opened the door.
And the angel spoke.