Today was All Day Twin Day, which means I show up at 6:30, sleep until 10:00 or so when the kids get up, and babysit all day.
I realized after waking that I'd left my cell phone at my place, so I said the magic words -- "Who wants to go for a walk?" -- and we sprung into action: I got the shoes and jackets from the closet while the kids scrambled to sit on the edge of the couch to have their shoes put on. (Our ship is very tightly run.) Before intoning the magic phrase, I'd set up the stroller outside.
We cruised to my place, where they waited in the stroller in the enclosed courtyard at the foot of my stairs. I grabbed the cell phone and then Harry, bringing him out for the kids to pat. They were delighted, patted him all over, and he lay on the blanket across their laps and purred away. He's such good guy.
Harry safely back in the house, we headed for the cafe, where I got my decaf mocha for me and pretzels for the kids. They elicited the usual curiosity from fellow patrons -- one woman commented that Emma looked like the happy one and Daniel looked serious. I palmed Daniel's face and shook it back and forth to demonstrate that he actually loves to smile.
We headed out (can I just say I've become adept at getting the double-wide stroller through the door, which allows for about 1/4-inch of clearance?) and began cruising dow the street. After crossing, I saw a small gray hairy dog heading down the street, no collar, no leash. It became clear it was lost and nervous: it darted across the street, missing a car, and passed by the cafe. People were taking notice, and tried to catch it, but it was afraid and darted away.
I started to follow it down the street, pushing the stroller and calling out to people not to chase it, but to let it come to them. At the far corner of my street there is a bench outside a building where the elderly residents like to congregate; a group was there now. I saw the dog head for them and sit under the bench, then circle around, going to each person and putting its paws on their legs.
"IT'S LOST!" I called. "Pick it up!"
"STAY! STAY!" one old guy began yelling at the dog, who cowered and sidled away. Good grief. I tried to get there faster.
"DON'T YELL AT IT! PICK IT UP! IT WANTS TO BE PICKED UP!" I called.
A young woman was standing in the group, looking down at the dog, who was on its hind legs, front paws against the woman's thighs, tongue darting in and out.
"Are you sure it wants to be picked up?" the woman asked, looking down.
For crying out loud. I stopped, crouched, and called the dog. It saw me and ran straight to me. I picked it (her, I could now see) up, and with the other hand pushed the stroller up the street, weaving all over the place.
She was clean and well-cared for, and very sweet. The kids were overjoyed to have her around while they ate. I called the city's 311 line and reported the lost dog. In Chicago, you can't get to Animal Control directly; you have to go through the 311 line.
311 is a great service if you are looking for information; if you are looking for assistance, they suck out loud.
After giving my location and phone number, I was told a report would be filed. This was at 2pm. I brushed the dog in the kitchen, keeping an ear open for the kids, who played upstairs. I heard them gabbling, picking up toys, clapping Legos together.
I brushed the dog, and then realized I heard silence.
Silence is not good. Silence betokens Mischief.
I ran upstairs to discover that Daniel had breached the baby gate, and both had wandered into the home office.
"What are you doing?" I asked sternly. Daniel turned, a guilty look on his face, and held out the mug he'd picked up. I took it, thanked him, and put him back on the other side, securing the fence. Emma sat by my laptop (I sit on the floor when using my laptop), and solemnly offered me my travel mug. Clearly there had been some left, because chocolate was now all over her mouth, part of the rug, and -- no Lord -- my keyboard . I took the mug, thanked her, and moved her out also.
At 4:30 I called 311 again to see how late Animal Control might come. "Until 7:30," I was told.
I'd told the parents that the dog was there; the woman actually wanted to be informed if the dog didn't find its owner, as she would like to have a dog.
By the time I had to go to my class, the dog was still there. The dad called me at 6:45 to say nobody had come. I called back at 8:30 to find the dog still was there.
Mind you, I was at a class, so I had to keep walking into the hall to make these calls. It was a lot of fun.
The father said he was going to leave her on the front porch as it wasn't all that cold. I was irritated; the dog was a nice dog, clean, well-behaved; why not let the poor thing sleep inside? What the hell?!? I didn't trust the dodgy stone wall to keep the dog in; it was too decrepit and full of gaps. My condo doesn't allow dogs, but I was beginning to think I'd smuggle her home for the night.
I called my cop neighbor for advice.
"Animal Control is swamped," he said. "This is a low-priority call for them; they probably won't come by until tomorrow."
"And clearly their budget has been cut to the point that their phone service was canceled, preventing them from calling me to tell me that," I said, fuming.
Seriously, it's as though every service in the city is designed to discourage any citizen from ever trying to do the right thing. It's as if the city machine exists specifically to write parking tickets.
"Here's what you do," my friend said. "Bring the dog to the local police station and say you found a stray dog. They'll hold it until Animal Control comes. But DON'T tell them I told you this."
"Are they equipped to take her?" I asked. "I mean, will they care for her? She's a nice dog."
"Sure, they got cages, they'll feed her. They're a bunch of animal lovers there. But you didn't hear it from me, remember."
I called the dad and said I'd be by at 9 to get the dog and bring her to the police station. He agreed to keep the dog inside until then.
I got off the El and headed to the twins' house. As I approached a mailbox I saw a MISSING DOG posting and held my breath. I got closer, and sure enough, someone had made a nice printed sign complete with photo. A photo of the dog, whose name was, apparently, Precious, and she lived just up the street from the twins' house.
I called the number on the flyer and told the woman I had her dog. She was ecstatic. I got the dog from the twins' house and carried her to her home, where her owner was thrilled to see her; she'd been missing for a day. Her collar was off because she'd been given a bath, and had then gotten loose.
So all's well that ends well.