As you all know the past week of our lives has been consumed with the hunt for our dog Haley. Here is her story that Shaun and I wrote together:
Shaun and I left her with my Dad in Jackson while on vacation in California. She has been several times before and was always well behaved - at least by Haley standards, for those of you who don't know Haley she is a high energy, mischevious dog - the kind of dog that tears apart feather pillows and expensIve purses. The week started off well with no more than Haley's usual high antics. On Wednesday September 3rd while being let out in the backyardvd as was the routine Haley took off. What was unusual is that she didn't come when called, and she turned the corner onto a busy street. My Dad got in his truck to catch up with her but she had vanished. He drove the neighborhood for hours calling her name and then alerted the authorities. He was advised that Haley would most likely get hungry and come home - he waited up all night and no Haley, panic set in. On Thursday flyers went up in the neighborhood and Shaun and I found out about our missing dog. Shaun had never seen anyone cry like the way I broke down with this news. We did the only thing we could do from so far away - we got the information out on social media and made calls looking for a black dog with one eye - but most of all we prayed, and we asked our friends and family to do the same.
Although Haley has been "my" dog for the past five years she has become our dog as Shaun and I have grown in our relationship. Shaun knew from very early on that he loved Haley, but this incident made him realize just how much she really meant to him. You see, she was far more than a dog, she was family; she played such a central role in our daily lives that we couldn’t fathom that this was really the end. As some of you may know, we met online before Shaun moved to Memphis through a Facebook group for Delta Sigma Pi alumni in the Memphis area. Shaun had reached out to the group letting them know he was moving to town and would love suggestions on things to do. I reached out to him and in my profile picture was Haley. This honestly helped Shaun warm up to me really quickly, as he could tell that she was a dog-lover, even if they were disabled in some way (Haley only has one eye). After we had met at a group function, he asked me if she “wanted to hang out one-on-one” and I told me that I was going to a concert at a park venue called the Levitt Shell with Haley and he was welcome to join us. Shaun came to this event with us and had a great time. He remembers though that Haley definitely made herself a central part of the show. First, when we bought food at the food truck, I specifically bought a hot-dog for Haley to eat (which was shocking to Shaun early on). Secondly, she forced her way into a selfie with the two of us, which to this day is one of our favorite photos. But lastly and most importantly, this 35 pound dog decided to jump in his lap while we were seated in lawn chairs at the concert; I was tremendously embarrassed by this behavior but he loved it, as he knew that if Haley liked him, then that was a way in towards a relationship with me. I later indicated to him that this was the catalyst from which our romantic relationship had started. He also learned very quickly that Haley was very attached and protective of her momma. When Shaun went to give me a hug goodnight on our first date, she jumped in the middle and had prevented it from happening, she tried to interject during our first kiss (didn’t work but still amusing), and would go into defensive mode if we ever started playfully roughhousing. She also had a tendency to destroy things like pillows and shoes. There were points where Shaun's frustration with her definitely peaked, but then she would make my heart melt all over again. She loved being petted and talked to constantly, and always loved wedging herself between us in the bed to snuggle. Her tail would wag furiously any-time we would say her name, which was a huge point of amusement for us. She was a very affectionate dog; we would even block out time in our days for “Haley snuggling time” (which later became “Girls snuggling time” when Sweetie came around; she’s not the snuggling type though). Haley had even been exceptionally protective of us once during a spur of the moment trip. You see, we decided to go on a last minute trip and booked a cheap hotel in what we thought was a decent area, and we were wrong. We had a group of guys harass us on our way up to the hotel room, and later in the evening one of them was banging on the door demanding that we “OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!” Shaun decided that the best option would be to open the door and physically confront him if he saw a weapon, as he felt that this was our best shot of survival. Shaun opened the door and this guy saw Haley with her one eye and Mohawk snarling aggressively towards the man, who panicked and said “sorry, wrong door” and ran. We truly believe if Haley had not been there on this trip with us, things could have ended differently. Long story short, we loved her dearly and knew that we meant the world to her as well.
Our first date Haley photobomb
With two restless nights and days of half eaten meals we returned home hoping for the best. A part of me hoped that Haley would instinctually know how to find me but she didnt turn up searching the neighborhood calling her name; I left clothes with my scent out front just in case, I even peed in a cup and made a scent trail to the house from the road she went down. Shaun drove the city looking for her at night when we thought she might be looking for food - nothing. On Sunday we got serious. The service we used to make Haley's lost dog flyer offered a neighbor phone calling service - for $400, money that might be needed for her medical care, but reaching out individually to neighbors was still a good idea. We went door to door on the street she was last seen on but knew we didn't have the ability to cover the whole neighborhood so instead we made 1,000 quarter page flyers and put them in the neighborhood mailboxes - it took 8 hours winding through to distribute them all. We had our distribution map separated into four quadrants separated by major streets - quadrant 1 was the most dense area and where Haley went missing so we focused there first. On Monday we visited animal control dispatch, rabies control and the humane society. At rabies control I cried at the dogs who barked at us and apologized over and over again for not being able to save all of them - it was soul crushing. I had an appt in Memphis that afternoon but Shaun stayed and make bigger flyers to put up in high traffic areas. We had been optimistic that Haley was safe in someone's home but when hours passed past the time people would have checked their mail and seen our flyers we began to lose hope. When Shaun got home, we shed a lot of tears and wondered aloud what we were going to do. She meant so much to us and not knowing what happened to her was going to plague our minds for much time to come. We wondered aloud why our prayers and efforts had not been answered, what we or Haley did to deserve this, and if someone had been holding on to her, why they would keep her instead of try to find her owner. Worst-case scenarios had crept into our minds and we were slipping further into despair. We felt that we truly had a rough road ahead of us.
While most people were exceptionally supportive during our search, there were a small handful of individuals who were just truly awful. To name a few…The first was when Shaun was knocking on doors. A man yelled from behind the door “Who’s there?!” and he stated that “I’m looking for my dog who ran away…” Before he could even finish, he yelled “I DON’T HAVE YOUR DOG!” and he just walked away. The next was an individual who we saw on her front porch while we were flyering mailboxes. We had asked her if she had seen a small black lab running around the neighborhood over the past week because we were missing our dog, and she snarked “I don’t think you’re going to find your dog in people’s mailboxes.” We replied “Actually, we’re leaving flyers asking if people have seen our dog” and we drove off. When Shaun was putting up posters, a man in a beat-up old truck pulled up and said “What are ya selling?” and then looked at the poster and asked “how much is the reward?” Shaun replied that the reward amount was up to his girlfriend, to which he replied “Whatever” and drove off. We also had a commentator on on of our social media posts who expressed suspicion over our poster - yes becuase middle aged one eyed mutts have such a high street value we need to scam one for free. We are very thankful that over 95% of the people we interacted with were kind individuals, but the other 5% seriously sucked the soul right out of us.
Tuesday morning I headed into work. Meanwhile in Jackson a man named James realized he forgot to check his mail the night before, all that was in his box was our flyer and he put it in his pocket and headed to work. A lady named Carol had seen Haley on Facebook and was headed to work as well and then there was Jennifer, who decided to skip getting doughnuts for her coworkers and head straight to work. Sometime before 7am Jennifer noticed a commotion on the side of the road and pulled over, a small black dog had been hit by a car, the car not on the scene but police and concerned citizens were. The police started to call animal control but Jennifer stopped them, this dog needed attention and she would take her. She loaded this little dog in her SUV with blankets in a pillow and headed to work to let them know she would be running this dog to the vet. There, she met up with her coworker Carol, who is active in animal rescue and knew what to do. These two wonderful ladies took turns warming blankets in the oven using them to help the dog with her shock. They got her to drink warm water and kept her comfortable until the vet's office would be open. Their coworker James noticed what they were doing and pulled out the flyer from his pocket, looks like the same dog! Phone calls were made and pictures texted, I called my dad back - That's my baby!
Haley was rushed to the vet by my Dad while Shaun and I rushed towards Jackson. We prayed more, we asked our friends and family to pray again. Haley was in shock, her body cold and shutting down but amazingly her vital functions of breathing and heartbeat looked good, there was hope she could pull through. All day she was treated for the shock - until her body functioned again we wouldn't know what else was wrong. Haley was kept calm and treated with antibiotics and pain killers, her X-rays looked good minus a badly broken leg - but a non life critical injury. All day she showed positive progress but we were kept away as to not excite her. At 4:30 we got to finally see our baby girl - all things considered she looked good! We thought for sure seeing us would excite her and we may be asked to leave but instead she barely noticed we were there. I leaned in to kiss her nose and she stuck out her tounge a tiny bit to barely tough my cheek - it was a far cry from the slobber all over you dog we has left in Jackson. We moved Haley to a overnight vet for continued fluids, meds and monitoring. There she turned her head to look at us and gave a little whimper when she wasn't being petted - the slight glimmers of recognition were there and we were reminded how serious her injuries were.
That night we drove back to Memphis. As hard as it was to leave her we felt a long exciting car ride with the sun beating through the windows was not the way to maintain her stable condition. Going into surgery for her leg after trauma is risky enough, we couldn't risk compromising her progress towards that simply for our own convenience. Wednesday morning Haley was picked up from her overnight care - in just 24 hours after the accident she was responding to her name, wagging her tail, sitting alert in her basket, and making attempts to stand. Needless to say, we are overjoyed at her determination to get better. She is back with the vet who first treated her and being a good trooper allowing everyone to give her her meds and IV without putting up a fight. The vet even mistaked Haley for a well behaved dog!
Haley alert and sitting up only 24 hours post accident, she has to be transported in the basket to keep her leg stable.
Right now Haley it is up in the air what kind of surgery Haley will have on her leg, the vet she has been treated by feels her leg can be pinned and heel but an orthopedic vet feels differently so she in consulting with other vets before a course of action is selected. We expect either a leg cast or a 3 legged dog with months of healing either way but that is such a little drop in the bucket when we thought we might never see her again, or rushed to Jackson hoping if she didn't make it we would be there to comfort her.
While looking up lost dog strategies I stumbled upon a startling statistic : only 16% of lost dogs are reunited with their families. Honestly when I first heard Haley was missing I thought for sure she couldn't make it. Black dog + night = car accident. When she didn't turned up injured I presumed someone had her - she's not the smartest dog. We received four black dog sightings, all less than a mile from both where she went missing and was hit, the evidence suggest Haley wandered around for six days upsetting neighborhood dogs and most likely terrorizing neighborhood cats. Amazingly she wasn't malnourished, dehydrated or overly dirty; She smells a little funky but really that's not shocking. I wish Haley could tell us what she did those six days: where did she go, what did she eat, why couldn't she hear us when we drove up and down the streets dozens of times calling her name, where was she going, do I need to apologize to anyone missing their pet bunny? As much as the mystery will always puzzle us, we are too glad to have her back to care.
The most amazing part of the story to me is how she was found. We worried we were too narrow in our flyer distribution but our concentrated efforts made sure we put on in James's mailbox. A more perfect person couldn't have come upon Haley on the side of the road - Jennifer is very active in dog rescue, not only did she have the blankets and pillow Haley needed she works in a kitchen and had the ability to heat those blankets to help with the shock, and she brought Haley to work with Carol who had the heart and knowledge to help focus on Haley's care. If all of these forces had not come together Haley would not have made it, in my heart I know this is divine intervention.
Monday night I started to write a post about the pain in my heart with Haley gone, in my last ditch effort I wanted to reach out to some of the Jackson church communities. I talked about all the times Haley has been there when I was down, how she was an especially faithful companion when my Mom died and how in Haley I see and feel the unconditional love of God. I beleive that so many people prayed for us that those prayers guided Jennifer to Haley, called Carol to help care for our baby, called James to keep our flyer, and have given Haley the spirit to survive.
I know many of you reading this are our friends and family keeping up with Haley's journey - we cannot thank you enough for all of your love and prayers. But I also hope Haley's story will reach others that she may inspire others suffering the pain of their own missing dog. I hope that the kindness of Jennifer, Carol and James will inspire others to see how much you can have an impact on people. I hope people will understand the importance of animal rescue groups and support their work in any way they can.
My dad made a comment that Haley is not only a lucky dog because she survived this accident but because I am her Mommy as most people would not have fought so hard to get her back. If animal control was called they had our info as we met in person with dispatch and intake, if Haley was taken to a vet before we were called they had her info - plus she is microchipped. We made sure her info was everywhere to cover all the possibilities. I've always believed that God helps them that help themselves and while I do beleive HE is the one who guided us back together I don't want to promote the idea that bad things happen to people who do not pray enough; God has a reason for all he does and I will never know why but I am grateful nonetheless.