Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Week Baby Stella Ruined My Life

I know it's been 17 years since I last posted, and let's be honest, it will probably be another 17 before I do it again, but in my previous rambling, you may or may not remember this little girl...


This little bundle of fuzz is a spitfire swirled into a tornado, mixed with a big glass of stubborn.  This is the little girl Erik (aka E1) adopted after meeting my pup, Mr. Milo, and falling in love.  Naturally.  

  
This was the first time they met and the very first time he got to hold her.  Since day one she's adored him and she's had Erik wrapped around her little waggly tail ever since.

Milo and Stella were the twins of the litter but couldn't be any more different when it comes to their personalities.  The first day I met Milo, he snuggled his little head into my neck and that was that.  He's my little mellow Milo.  Stella on the other hand, has more energy than can possibly be contained in that one little body.  I once had her on my lap and she was so excited she was whimpering and licking and waggling and when it finally got to be just too much, she flipped herself over onto her back and started doggie paddling the air.  She's an effing weirdo.  And I love her.

As does Milo.  They're lucky enough to live conveniently close to each other and get sibling play dates together at least once a week.  When Erik travels out of town, puppy slumbo time!  They go to their vet appointments together and even got spayed, neutered and micro-chipped together.  If, at any point so far, you've rolled your eyes even once, it's totally justified.  The ridiculousness of it all has been recognized and then just as quickly discarded ages ago.  In fact, when I think of the hundreds of dollars I've already spent that could have gone towards new shoes, I kind of want to staple myself in the head.  Until I look over at that sweet little face and then I just want to snuggle it until he sighs his deep, martyr-like sigh and I know he's had enough molestations for the moment.

  
Little Miss Stella has led a charmed life during her first 7 months.  She's been happy, ridiculously loved and never gone a day hungry.

And then she had to go and try to ruin it all.

A play date had been scheduled.  Milo and I picked up Stella and I drove them up Millcreek Canyon that allows dogs free reign off leash.  Both pups have always been amazing and come when I whistle or call them by name.  They absolutely love this canyon.  They tore through the snow, high marked the sides of the hills before tumbling back down and tag teamed any other dogs roaming the trails.

On the way back down, a skier swooshed past me and got in between me and Stella.  He could see he was scaring her so instead of trying to pass her, he loudly swished to an abrupt stop.  That sound was all that was needed and Stella bolted.  I sighed and grumbled and Milo and I took off running after her.  The trail curves quite a bit.  She was fast and already out of sight.  Assuming she'd run back to the car, I wanted to catch her in the parking lot before she decided to head down the road.  It was already getting dark.

Finally huffed my way to the parking lot only to discover Stella was nowhere to be seen.  A woman sitting on her tailgate said she'd been there for the last 30 minutes and hadn't seen her.  The first whisper of worry hissed through my heart.

Milo and I head back up the trail and I bellow her name while squinting into trees through quickly fading light.  We hike all the way back to where she initially bolted and back down to the parking lot, calling for her the whole way.

By now it's completely dark and I'm without a headlamp.  I pile Milo into the jeep and have to drive halfway down the canyon before I can get cell service all the while peering into the darkness and cursing my eyes for playing tricks on me. My heart is pounding, I feel as though I'm on the verge of losing it and briefly wonder if this is what a panic attack possibly feels like.

Erik answers and I completely break down.  I have to pull over after blinding myself with the torrent of tears. 
"I've lost Stella!" I belted into the phone.  I had to repeat myself 3 times before he could understand what I was saying through my hysteria. He said he was on his way.

I called my Erik and blubbered the situation to him.  He grabbed the headlamps and headed up as well. 

After the 3 of us searched for what felt like an eternity, we called it quits and drove off the mountain without her. I don't remember how many inches we got that night but it snowed.  A lot.  And I cried. 

The next four days were torture mixed with smatterings of marvelous.  My friend Specialized printed off tons of flyers for me to put up and even put some up himself.  My sweet friend Tara made her own posters and plastered them all over the canyon in the spots I'd missed and nearby areas.  So many people offered to help search for her.  I posted her picture on every site I could think of and by the end of it, her picture had been shared over 1,000 times by absolute strangers.  Calls to animal hospitals, vets, and daily walk-throughs of the shelters produced nothing.  I was reduced to trolling Craigslist looking for the thieving wretch who stole her, ignored the fact that she was chipped, and decided to sell her for meth and/or blowjobs.  Because just the thought of her still being lost up in the cold and snow with nothing to eat was more than I could stand.  I was absolutely useless at work.  If anyone even glanced at me sideways, I'd burst into tears.



On day four, Erik (E1, Stella's Dad) had to leave town for work.  He debated cancelling but had worked hard to get the contract in the first place.  There was nothing more to be done and I promised to continue to check the shelters every day and return to search the canyon.

I sat at my desk and continued trolling Craigslist.  And then my cell rang.  A number I didn't know.  Normally I'd decline those but my cell was on Stella's posters.  A hiker had heard barking up a steep incline near a picnic area.  He gave precise locations.  I wasn't optimistic but it was a lead.  I called my Erik since he has the flexibility of working from home and off he went to search.

Thirty minutes goes by and it's another number I don't recognize.  I answer it and the first thing the woman says is, "I think we've found your dog".  My heart starts galloping in my chest and I feel like I can barely form the questions.  I want so badly for it to be Stella but what if it's not?

"Is she wearing a blue Kong collar?"

She is.

"Does she have one blue eye and one brown eye?"

Sure does.

At this point, all my amazing, patient coworkers who have been dealing with my random bawl fests sporadically throughout the week, have all popped up and are peering over the cube walls with hopeful, questioning expressions.  My boss, Cathy, has come out of her office and is standing next to my wall. 
As soon as the woman assured me it was the pup I've been searching for, I completely lost it.  I started sobbing, couldn't even speak, and handed the phone to her.

Cathy made the arrangements to meet up and since I'd carpooled that day, she bundled me into her jeep and went tearing down the freeway while I latched onto anything I could with a death-grip wondering if the next corner would be the one we roll.

I tried calling both Erik's.  Mine was still searching the canyon with no reception.  E1 was still on his flight.  I left mine a message letting him know what was happening.  I didn't leave E1 a message just in case there was some huge cosmic screw up and it wasn't really Stella.

It was Stella.

   
 I'm not sure who was happier to see who.  Cathy managed to snap this shot amidst the chaos of one of Stella's angels holding her LOST flyer.
After running from the skier, she'd made her way up an incredibly steep hillside with a cliff drop off on  the other side.  She dug herself a little burrow and hunkered down.  From the first callers description, Erik was able to find where she had been but she'd already been rescued by the time he got there.


The couple who rescued her, heard barking.  The husband hiked all the way up to where she was, scooped her up and headed back down.  Stella slipped out of his grasp about halfway and ran back up to her bunker.  This dear man trudged back up to get her again and they managed to carry her to their truck.

After more tears, awkward hugs that the couple didn't especially want but I couldn't help myself, and many thank yous, I jumped in the back with Stella while Cathy ferried us home.

On the way, I snapped the photo below to send to E1 with the caption, Someone wants to say hi.  On our way home now.

He got it while walking through the airport terminal and broke down weeping.  Geez.  Get a grip big baby.

Sometimes, just sometimes, people don't completely suck and miracles really do happen. 

30 comments:

  1. I just had another bawl fest..... even though I knew this story ended happily I bawled. And then....just like that I was smiling and remembering that glorious day when Stella was found. You are a truly amazing story writer my dear friend.

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    1. I was teared up a couple of times just trying to get the whole ordeal out. That poor little baby stuck up on that stupid mountain for 3 nights all alone and terrified and hungry and cold. GAH!

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  2. Oh my goodness. I had no idea how that story was going to end and was about to have a mini-sob session of my own. So glad she's home safe!!!

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    1. I think if it had ended any other way, I never would have shared it. I'd have been too busy flogging myself for the rest of my life.

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  3. Stelllllllaaaaaa! My heart ached so bad for you when this happened, VV. What a testament to your tenacity that she was found. You are awesome.
    So glad she's back home!

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    1. Your comments and encouragement truly made a difference and helped more than you know. Thank you Dawn!

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  4. Awwwwwww......what a story!!!! So so glad Stella is home, safe and sound! I know that I go completely bonkers when my dog gets out of sight in the yard when she decides to go just a little off the beaten path up into the woods. I can not imagine.

    Great to hear from you again and to see such a story with a happy ending!

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    1. Dogs are just the worst. It's scary how they trick you into loving them so much.

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  5. It started off as a mommy-blog but with dogs instead of babies, then took a treacherous turn for the sad, all to end being wrapped up in slobbering happiness. Glad you didn't lose Stella for good.

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    1. HA! I know. I was nauseating myself a little at the beginning there. Thanks Pickleope. So happy she made it back home too.

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    2. Haha. I agree with Pickleope. You had me on the edge there. How is the pup now?

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  6. Holy smokes. Sooooooo worth the 17 year wait between posts! Effing brilliant.

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  7. That's a lot of days for a pup to be lost. I was starting to think this wasn't going to end well, but I'm sure happy that wasn't the case. I've had to go to bed not knowing where my dog was before as well, there's no sleep on those nights.

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    1. With the awful weather and snow we'd been having and with how young she is and her short coat, I was not having the best thoughts.
      Definitely not the best sleep and when you DO sleep, you feel guilty knowing you're all warm and cozy in your bed while picturing a shivering little block of puppy ice up on the mountain. Ugh.

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  8. Suffered through the word verification to tell you I am glad your baby was found and returned home safe and sound.

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    1. Mr. Rat, thank you for your efforts. WV really is annoying but you made me smile. :)

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  9. I had no idea there was still hope for mankind. You've just made my day.

    Hey... you're still alive. Good. And I'm not blind anymore. So it's good plus one.

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  10. Oh god, this was almost too much for my nerves...I am so glad you got her back!!!!

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  11. That's awesome. Glad you found her. It made me smile.

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  12. OMG ...I was crying at the thought of her being lost. I am so glad she was found and is safe and sound with her family. That had a great ending. YAY!!!!

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  13. I am so happy you found her!! So awesome that there's good in the world, and that she's a smart pup! I mean, am I the only one that thinks it's freaking awesome that she dug herself a little cave?

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  14. Great story, I love a story that ends happy. (I had to rephrase that.)

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  15. listening and reading an interesting article and a lot of helpful info I really like blogs like this

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  16. I just read this post (I know, I'm a bit behind) and damn you for ruining my makeup! Just kidding, I'm not wearing makeup right now. But seriously, I cried reading this even though I already knew the story and it happened ages ago. So glad she got back to you and E1. Great writing, again, VV. What's next? I think it's time for another vibrator review story.

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  17. Oh, what a horrible feeling! I'm so glad she was found safe and sound. I do have one question: You have an offleash dog park that is also open to skiiers?

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  18. This made Mrs. Tuna a bit weepy and she is NOT a weepy kid of girl.

    So glad you found your wandering pup!

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