A full two weeks had passed. Time was now broken down into hours, minutes, and seconds; we’d come to learn that that was just how quickly our lives could change.
I checked my phone and saw a text from Amy, a friend, animal advocate, and all-around good person. She wanted to know if she should have her friend, an animal psychic, try to make contact with Briggs. Unsure, but at this point open to anything, I told her to go ahead.
Amy was a bit worried though. “What if she finds out something bad? I don’t know if I would be able to tell you.”
“No matter how bad the news, you won’t be telling me anything I haven’t already thought about,” I said.
An hour or two later, I received an email from her: “I’m so sorry I have to forward this on, but if it can help in any way, then I have to do my part.”
Gathering my courage, I read on: “I was able to make contact with Briggs. He is terrified. He is lying on a narrow concrete dog run, looking through a chain-link fence. He is scared to come out of the corner. He keeps asking when his mom is coming to pick him up. I told him you are looking for him, and that makes him happy.”
After my emotional breakdown the day before, I knew the last thing I needed to do was lose it again. Nevertheless, my eyes blurred as I reread the words: “Terrified…when his mom is coming to pick him up…” I shut off my laptop and somehow managed to keep from throwing up. The image of Briggs lying on concrete, terrified was burned into my mind.
To be fair, I had no idea whether I really believed any of this or not. Truth be told, I kind of wanted to punch her for telling me that Briggs was asking for me to come get him. That wasn’t right; she could have tailored that for a far less dramatic impact.
“We’re coming for you, Briggs,” I said.
I wished I could call work and take the day off, but I couldn’t. I had no idea how long the situation would go on. There was no way to gauge how many days off I’d need, and I didn’t want to use them up too early.
As if on cue, the minute I arrived at work, my phone went ballistic. Briggs’ story had gone viral again. Thanks to Annmarie, all the major radio stations in town were talking about Briggs. He was the dog of the day on Marilyn Mee, 106.1 shared his story, another DJ contacted me through Facebook and put it on his work blog, Connie and Curtis (radio personalities) shared his poster, and even Kirk, Annmarie’s husband and owner of Hal’s Harley Davidson, put the poster directly on their website. Overwhelmed and eternally grateful, I answered each and every call without regard to work.
An old high school friend of mine contacted me through Facebook. Kristy had originally reached out and offered to call vets for us when Briggs was first stolen, but now she was calling to let me know she’d contacted Carolyn Gracie of QVC, and Carolyn had generously agreed to share the Briggs poster on her page.
Briggs had gone national. Again.
Ecstatic, I answered a call from a woman named Shonda who had seen a Boston terrier at a house on 36th street. It wasn’t exactly in the best part of town, but I was determined to go check it out after work.
Annmarie wanted in, and because her car was in the shop, she picked me up after work in a bright red rental, not the most inconspicuous car for a stakeout. I filled her in on the psychic’s message and what Shonda had told me about seeing a Boston in the front yard of a home on 36th. Annmarie didn’t immediately dismiss what the animal communicator had said, but she did wish there’d been more information — like the name of a street, for instance.
As we headed deeper into the city, my eyes scanned the streets and alleyways, looking for a dog, a chain-link fence, anything.
Luckily, Shonda had described the house clearly. We cruised slowly past it since it wasn’t the kind of street to stop and set up surveillance on. We circled and went through the back alley, creeping along. As we rolled through, tension gripped me, and I kept looking behind me. My skin was crawling. We were glaringly out of place, and it was being noted.
We circled a couple more times before pulling into a spot on the same street, across from a Cricket store. At the very least, we might look like customers shopping for a pre-paid “burner” phone.
Annmarie watched the nondescript, run-down two-story house. A chain-link fence surrounded the minimal scrap of yard littered with trash and a few toys. I looked at those broken, old, filthy toys and wondered about the children who lived there. Would they be kind to a dog?
My mind started wandering down all the horrible stories I had heard recently:
“We brought a cat in today that was rescued from a group of kids that were starting to skin it alive.”
“We rescued a dog today. Some kids cut off his ear.”
Shoving those grim possibilities from my head, I focused on the rearview mirror. Mace in hand, I wanted to be prepared if someone snuck up on us.
“The door’s opening,” Annmarie said.
My emotions went into overdrive. Hypersensitive, I watched, desperately praying to catch a glimpse of Briggs, but at the same time, hoping I wouldn’t. I knew if I saw him, I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from running over to get him.
Situations like that revealed how grossly unprepared I was to handle an actual confrontation. Logically, I knew I’d have to approach in a calm, smart, reasonable manner. Still, I was fairly certain that if it came down to it, my mace would be doing the talking for me. Knowing that you have to approach a situation rationally versus actually seeing your dog and trying not to attack the — those were two different things.
As I mentally reviewed what I would do if Briggs came out (go for the junk, Tricia!), I watched a young man leave the yard, lock the fence, get in a car, and drive away. There was no sign of Briggs.
We quickly discussed our options. Should we go up, ring the bell, and listen for a dog barking? The trouble was that the man had locked his fence, and this was not the neighborhood to randomly be knocking on doors.
Defeated, I texted Shonda and thanked her, filling her in on what we had seen. She promised to drive by later with her husband and said she’d have her daughter drive that way to work each day. It felt good to know that someone would be there, on neighborhood watch, keeping an eye out for our dog.
We decided to head down to the South Side and use the rest of the daylight to put up flyers. We were reluctant to go into the dive bars and instead focused on churches, liquor stores, and schools.
At a bus stop, I handed a flyer to an elderly woman who had her hair wrapped against the promise of rain.
She kindly took it and asked, “Qué es esto?”
Realizing that she spoke no English, I switched to my limited Spanish.
“Buscando mi perro.”
“El tiene un pata blanca.” I pointed to his white sock in the picture.
She smiled kindly, blessed me, and tucked the flyer in her purse. I found something oddly comforting about her blessing.
Pleased with how I’d handled the Spanish interaction, we moved on to more stops. The misty, gray day finally fulfilled its promise of rain, and fat drops began to fall. This made it increasingly difficult to put up flyers.
Standing in front of a school, I prayed the tape would hold. The psychic had said Briggs was with small children at night, and I could only hope a child would see his picture and tell someone.
We admitted defeat against the weather, and Annmarie drove me home. Just as she parked in front of my house, a car full of Hispanic-looking boys pulled up. With our systems on full alert, we sat in the car and waited, watching, wishing that we’d see Briggs’ happy ears perk up. The rain made it hard to see clearly, and questions began to swirl through my brain. Who are these guys? Why is their car running? As the light grew darker, it became even more difficult to see what they were doing. When we heard a door slam, I turned to see a girl leaving the apartment building across the street, heading to the car. I had to laugh a little and admit that I had perhaps become too suspicious for my own good.
When I entered our lifeless house, I wished for the thousandth time that Josh didn’t have to work second shift. With trepidation in my heart and mace in my pocket, I slowly climbed the stairs to the third floor, running through lists in my head. I signed on to Facebook and updated all the followers about the day’s progress. My inbox was overloaded with 257 new messages. Going viral was a lot of work, I thought.
As I read through the emails, I tried not to become overwhelmed with all the ideas.
“Have you tried this? Have you tried…have you done…have you gone…have you thought of…?”
It all began to swim in front of my eyes. Forcing myself to breathe deeply, I tried to get a grip on the monumental task ahead. For every idea we had tried, every place we’d already gone, there were hundreds of places we hadn’t even touched. While I understood that the email suggestions were simply meant to be helpful, in an odd way they were making me feel inadequate, as if I wasn’t doing enough.
In my head, it was beginning to sound more like, “Why haven’t you tried this yet?”
I forced myself to focus, knowing no good could come from self-inflicted negativity. I continued to take notes, thank people, and responded to emails relentlessly until Josh got home.
After we recapped our day, we silently readied ourselves for bed. The time for words was gone. Talked out and exhausted, we curled up and silently held each other as we stared into the darkness.