Thursday, June 7, 2012

Missing Memphis: Day 1

Memphis!
Last week, our 2-year old, Bagle Hound Memphis went missing. It was a pretty dramatic experience for my wife Veronica and I, and so many people offered their encouragement, advice, and help in finding him, that I felt it all had to be written down.

My youngest brother Noah's spending the summer with us in New Mexico. With my brother Gabe and I moved out, summers are pretty boring for the kid, and I hate only seeing him on holidays. So we agreed to meet my parents somewhere between New Mexico and Mississippi to pick him up. Since my wife Veronica and I are moving to New York at the end of the summer to attend grad school, and once again be really poor college students, we decided to meet in Houston so we could visit with Veronica's family, especially her cousin's super-cute 3-year old and her 90-year old Mamaw. It was going to have to be a short trip, as both of us had to be back at work by the first of June, but we still managed to secure four days for the trip (though two would be spent on the drive there and back).

Since adopting Memphis, he's our first consideration when traveling. When we first began considering the possibility of attending school in New York, the stress of applications, housing, and financial aid got to Veronica one evening. We quickly realized that an apartment that allowed pets in the city could very well cost us a fortune that we might not be able to afford.

"What are we going to do with Memphis?" she asked, looking down at him sleeping on the couch as he's accustomed to in the evening.

"We'll figure it out," I said. "We'll find a place, even if it has to be small. And we'll take him for walks all the time so he doesn't feel cooped up." I suddenly noticed Veronica, my wife who can sit through Marley & Me without so much as batting an eyelash and make fun of me for getting misty-eyed at the end of Old Yeller, crying.

"What if he doesn't like New York?" she asked. I laughed, and she laughed, knowing the absurdity of the concern. Memphis loves where ever we are. Even though he's no longer a puppy, he hates knowing we're leaving him behind for work in the morning. He'll often jump onto Veronica's lap as she's getting her shoes on and just sit there hoping, I'm sure, that she won't be able to leave without them. If I'm washing dishes, he'll come and lay down directly behind me until I'm done (I've come close to tripping on him several times). And even when we let him off his leash while at the soccer fields where we coach or while hiking, he never goes further than the sound of our voices and always comes right back when called.

A major part of the decision to travel with Memphis is that he gets carsick and really anxious on long rides--driving to Houston takes about 13 hours from Las Vegas, but that's without very many stops. With such a short stay, we wanted to be able to get to and from Houston as quickly as possible. Plus, once there, we weren't really sure what to do with him. We planned on staying with Veronica's aunt and uncle, but we had nightmare images of Memphis tearing up their very nice home whenever we'd go out to visit with the rest of our family. And with the Texas heat, we couldn't really leave him in the car whenever we visited with Mamaw (who lives in assisted living, where dogs aren't allowed).

"Leave me alone, kid. I need a nap!"
But nearly right away, a solution presented itself; we dog-sat for our friends Brian and Amanda over Christmas break. Their 10-year old, collie-mix Fin had spent over a week at our place, and he and Memphis really got along--granted, Fin doesn't have Memphis' energy and would quickly let him know when he was done playing. They offered to have Memphis over at their place in Santa Fe, right next to the big Railyard Park Memphis loves--perfect!

Since we'd planned to leave early the morning of May 28, we drove Memphis and all of his stuff (the crate he sleeps in, food and water bowls, kibble enough for 6 days, and a bag of rawhide bones for him and Fin) to them the day before. When we arrived, Memphis could immediately smell Fin, who came bounding down the stairs of their apartment building to see us. We watched them play for a bit, reviewed (again, at my insistence) some of Memphis' quirkier attributes (such as the daily vitamin we give him for his allergies), and left as quickly as possible--at Veronica's request, to help her avoid getting emotional. As we left their apartment, Memphis watched us leave from the open balcony for a few minutes, before running back inside, probably to resume playing with Fin.

Back at home that night, I dropped a carrot stick I was munching and stared at it for a minute. Memphis loves carrots, and I guess I found it strange that one landed on the floor and wasn't immediately hoovered up. Veronica, also staring at it, started laughing through some tears, as I assured her Memphis was having too much fun to even notice we weren't around. It would only occur to us later that in the few times we have left Memphis in the care of others, it's always been at our own home...

2 comments:

Beth said...

Ah! This is making me teary-eyed already even though I know how it ends! And don't worry about city living at all! My sister lives in DC and has a dog Memphis' size (who is also really clingy) and her dog loves being a city dog as long as she occasionally takes him for a hike.

Ben Villarreal said...

Yeah, he'll be fine. If we get campus housing, there's apparently a lot of nearby parks, including Central Park! He'll have a blast :-)

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