“His tail is docked.”
The phrase haunted my dreams throughout the night. Operating on little sleep was quickly becoming the norm. I suppose the worst part of any tragedy is the expectation for victims to carry on as normal when nothing feels normal anymore. Normal would have been Briggs’ pink-tongued kisses serving as my alarm clock.
As a marketing consultant, I have a variable work schedule. Some days I am required to be onsite, but I often work at home, setting my own hours. Monday was typically a work-from-home day, so I decided to tackle a few of the promotions I needed to do for a client. Working with furious energy, I quickly finished my projects for the day.
Family and friends agreed to call local vets and shelters for me. Kylie, Kristy (an old high school friend), and my mom checked in repeatedly throughout the day as they contacted more places for us. It was nice to have a phone team.
Reasoning that the perpetrator had to be working or living in the area, I decided to tackle the streets surrounding our neighborhood. Sunshine mocked me as I walked down the sidewalk with an arsenal of flyers in hand.
Walking silently and observing the neighborhood, I ran through the possibilities in my head. How could something like this happen? Briggs must have been stolen by chance because there really would have been no way to plan it, I reasoned. There were simply too many variables. I didn’t work a set schedule and often worked from home throughout the week. Josh worked second shift and was in and out during the day. Briggs was rarely on the deck, especially during the week, and our deck was private, not viewable from the street or alleyway. We did not have any sort of nine-to-five routine, nor did we let our dog out on any semblance of a schedule.
So how could anyone plan to steal him? How long had we been watched? Was it simply a spur of the moment decision? I was sure somebody had to have seen Briggs at some point and just decided they wanted him. Just how long the man staked us out, though, was undetermined. Then again, it could have all been left to chance. What if someone simply walked between the houses, saw Briggs, and grabbed him? But then they couldn’t have had a car waiting in the alley. Perhaps they circled briefly, after seeing Briggs? As my thoughts staggered around my tired brain, I reached no conclusion.
My phone vibrated in my pocket, and a concerned citizen was on the other end.
“Well, gosh, I hate to bring this up — I really do — but have you considered the fact that he might be being used as bait for dog-fighting? Again, I reeeaallly hate to bring this up, but you should be aware that this happens,” she said, secretly delighting in the drama.
Quietly, I thanked her for her assistance and hung up, though what I really wanted to say was, “Really, random person? Really? Has it occurred to you that maybe it has already occurred to us, and that perhaps we don’t enjoy constantly being reminded that our dog might be having his neck torn out as we speak? Unless you can lead us to an actual dog-fighting ring and/or have a useful tip that will help our search, could you please just shut up? Thanks.”
Blinking back tears, I mechanically returned to taping up posters, though now with my mind fixated on the image of Briggs, bleeding, teeth pulled, and trying to defend himself in a corner. I hated these dramatic people that called to tell me about such scenarios, offering us no help at all. They delighted in the twisted drama of presenting us with ever-worse possibilities, the way everyone dramatically whispers about someone who dies in a horrific manner. It was human nature at its finest, and it was getting on my nerves.
My phone vibrated again, and I reluctantly answered it. The caller introduced herself as Megan and offered to stop by to pick up flyers. And then there’s the other side of the coin, I thought.
I also immediately felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t that I didn’t want people to help us, but I had no idea who to trust — particularly when I was offering a reward. I had no idea if callers really wanted to help, or if they were just waiting to catch me with the reward in my pocket. I had quickly grown sick of feeling unsafe.
Megan agreed to meet me at a busy street corner to pick up the flyers. She pulled up in a nondescript Nissan and immediately approached me with her arms open in a hug. Megan began talking about how sorry she was and told me all the places she’d be willing to put up flyers. Happy to have the help, I gave her a stack of flyers, we exchanged numbers, and we continued on our separate ways.
Megan would proceed to stop by every day for more flyers — every day. You can’t buy that type of goodness, I realized, and she single-handedly restored my faith in those that were willing to step up and help.