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Lost and Found
By Michelle Boyaner

Whistling a happy tune, we raced to Los Feliz but couldn't find a single "Lost Dog" sign. Who was this dog walker? Did she suffer from a crazy version of "Lost Animal Munchausen-by-proxy?" We left her a voicemail, then continued searching every post-able area in Los Feliz. We came across many signs posted by members of the local community: a lavender sign whose owner was looking for a lost parrot, an oatmeal-colored sign for a missing pot-bellied pig, several signs advertising the previous weekends' garage sales and one small, poorly-executed white sign with a postage stamp-sized picture of an elderly woman headlined with: "Lost Grandmother, wandered off, uses walker, has problems with her memory." I wanted to call them and offer to make them a better sign, but we were in the midst of our own search, so I silently wished them well, and we continued on. We posted our FOUND DOG signs everywhere. The dog walker never returned our calls.

Back home we were greeted once again with an angry silence by the quietest victims of this whole debacle: our cats, Lucy and Buddy. Their lifestyle had been turned upside down. Normally, they would have frolicked in the yard during "supervised yard time," but now they were forced to watch the world from inside (think: John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble) because the backyard had become the temporary playground for the Found Dog. Normally, too, they garnered loads of extra attention from Barbara, but now they had to settle for only an occasional "Hey Lucy" or "Hiya Buddy" instead of regular teeth cleanings, combings and "follow the red laser beam on the wall" or "chase the long feather-like-string with a furry mouse attached" human-on-cat play sessions. Lucy and Buddy walked the lonely halls, waiting for the Found Dog to go away, marking the passage of time with long, pain-filled scratches near their litter box (in roman numeral form) displaying the fact that three days had now passed since the Found Dog's appearance.

I'd seen too many "Hallmark Hall of Fame/Lifetime Television For Women" movies that start or end with the touching scenario of a lost pet and its empty-leash-holding owner reunited by a selfless do-gooder played by Joanna Kerns or Meredith Baxter Birney to believe the situation was hopeless, but Day Four came and went. We cruised around looking for any lost dog signs, but found none. We purchased more toys, spent more time playing and walking, and more drooling transpired. We felt the slight stirrings of a bond forming. This could not happen. We already owned two slightly jealous cats (who I'm sure were devising a plan to offer the dog cash and a one-way plane ticket to Vegas); we could not keep this dog. People began offering to help place the dog, and we began considering it. We had been thinking of that poor, devastated "other owner," the one who had plastered his "Beautiful Lost Dog" signs in that local canyon area. We phoned him and told him that no owner had contacted us for the "Found Dog," and we wondered if he'd like to meet this dog. He arrived an hour later.

This man was, in essence, "several blades of grass short of a dog park." He handled our Found Dog much the way a lonely man might treat his "Mail Order Russian Bride" upon her arrival at LAX. I began to think that this distraught owner's "Beautiful Lost Dog" ran away and never would be found because she is now in a safe place and no longer wants to be distraught owner's "Beautiful Dog-Wife."

We sent him away, wishing we had not introduced him to Found Dog, not let him practice slow dancing with her or hanging out in "the G" with us. We thought about reporting him, but we had no proof of a crime, only a creepy feeling, after he looked deeply into the Found Dog's eyes and reported to us that his dog had a much, much longer tongue. That's all I'll say about that.

Day five, an angel delivered the answer and solution (okay, not really an angel; it was our personal trainer, but close enough.) She had a man-friend who was looking for a new dog after the death of his dog two years earlier. He had been without an animal companion for a long time and was finally ready for a fresh start. He came over, met Found Dog, they fell in love (in an acceptable way) and they rode off into the sunset, with Found Dog in the back of his dusty Range Rover, her tail wildly wagging.

That night we went to bed knowing we'd done the best we could, but for a second I wondered if the Found Dog would be able to fall asleep; I worried that she might have developed a dependency on that one half of one small tablet of Benadryl. I briefly obsessed about this until I fell asleep, then dreamed about the Found Dog walking the aisles of the local Petco on a shopping spree with her new owner, in their own doggie version of Pretty Woman. In part two of that same dream, in that same Petco store, I spied our cats, Lucy and Buddy, purchasing a "NO DOGS ALLOWED" sign and a roll of yellow and black CAUTION tape.

The next evening, in celebration of a rescue and placement job well done, we finally took our delayed trip to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant, and in honor of the Found Dog, I threw caution to the wind and ate the chips. As we sat there and reflected we came up with the following recap:

a) People in the community put up lots of signs on poles for lost things. Some are sad, some are funny. Most contain at least one spelling error.

b) Animals sometimes need our help, and ask us for that help by destroying things. "Please let me out so I can chase an imaginary squirrel" is communicated by chewing the tires on your new, sort-of pricey Bicycle.

c) It's a good idea to put a "micro chip" in your pet if they might run off and find a way to remove their tags (dogs apparently learn how to remove their tags by watching old episodes of Scooby Doo backwards, which subliminally gives them the instructions)

d) Not all dogs want to drag you by your ankle down the street and cause you bodily harm. Most of them just want to lick your face, sniff your crotch and be your friend.


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