A stray dog wandered by my sliding glass door yesterday as I sat writing on my computer. He/she was picking at the ground under the bird feeder, nibbling at bread crumbs that I had thrown out to the birds earlier. Dog lover that I am, I jumped up and bolted into action. First grabbing a bowl and some dog food, and then charging outside to feed him/her as my dog barked wildly and my cats scurried in different directions.
The dog was grateful for the food and ate ravenously. I was able to get a glimpse of his dog tag, Spencer. “Hi, Spencer, I cooed as I petted him…are you lost?” I ran inside and grabbed my cell phone, ran outside and plugged in his master’s phone number as he wiggled around me. “The voice mail of the number you have dialed is full.” WHAT?! So I memorized the address on the tag, ran inside and map quested the address. Six miles away. “What are doing six miles away from your home, Spencer?!”
I somehow maneuvered the dog into my car with a bag of biscuits and started my six-mile journey with map quest directions in hand. When at last I pulled up in front of Spencer’s house, I was shocked to find that the lawn was covered with debris and a huge dumpster sat in the middle of the driveway. I knocked on the door anyway, knowing it had to be vacant, and, of course, no one answered. I looked at Spencer’s pretty brown eyes as he cocked his head towards me. “Now what, Spence?” Just then a construction vehicle pulled up and then another. I talked with the men about the home’s owners and asked how I could return their dog who was sitting in the back of my car. Turns out the house had been destroyed during awful “Hurricane Sandy.” That name now makes me cringe. I wondered if Spencer had been misplaced since the storm.
The construction worker said he would try to contact the owners who were living, of course, in another location and gave them my number. As I drove home wondering what I was going to do with this gentle, sweet beast, my phone rang, and I pulled over. “Do you have my dog?” a flustered voice asked. “Well, yes,” I replied. “Where can I meet you?” “Where are you?” Ten minutes later I delivered the dog to the family who had been staying with friends not too far from where I live. “My son let the dog out,” she explained, “and she got away.” The kids ran out and happily greeted the dog. The dog’s name, it turns out, is Sheila, not Spencer…she wore the tag from their old dog who had passed until they could get a new one for Sheila.
I walked away reminded that for so many people here in Jersey; life just has not even begun to get back to normal. People are still misplaced, their homes are still disasters, their dogs are getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings, and they are not anywhere near leading a normal life yet. I pray for Governor Christie and thank him for playing hard ball in trying to get funds into the hands of these desperate people so they can start to rebuild. Why did Washington take so long to get this relief approved? When will these people be able to move back into their own homes in their old, familiar neighborhoods, where their dogs can safely sniff around their own backyards?
I had almost forgotten about the devastation and the horror of what happened right here around me. We should not forget that life does not go on as usual for a large portion of our population, and thoughts and prayers and assistance are still so badly needed for so many. It took a sweet dog named Sheila to gently remind me.