Something like this happens rarely and reminded me of the precious bond of life we all share. Here is the story of Pretty Girl, a story that simply had to get written out of my heart and onto some sort of "page." I can't write it all in one sitting, so I'll post this one in parts.
Miracle on 16th Street
In life there are moments that shine clearly, up and above the normal routines. The birth of a child, and winning a highly competitive trophy are two such moments. I guess there is an element of miracle in each. Pretty Girl gave our neighborhood a miracle too.
Pretty Girl, or so we called her, was a wandering purebred yellow Labrador retriever. I heard over and over that she was just a stray. “Just” and “stray” relieved people from responsibility, benign and harmless. Being “stray” implied that Pretty Girl decided one day to up and leave her normal existence. That she somehow wanted to live on the streets. That deep down in her consciousness her wolf ancestors called out to break the ties of human bondage and live closer to her DNA.
But Pretty Girl feared. Her eyes belied our human justifications. She was not free, neither domestic nor wild, caught in a limbo she did not create. Pretty Girl had no choice but to survive on pure canine common sense. She was not a stray. Pretty Girl was homeless.
Homeless infers that at one time there was a home. That at one time Pretty Girl belonged. She wore a floral print collar that was obviously given to her by a caring human. Now the collar remained but she had lost the belonging.
General Yeygraf Zhivago asks in the movie Doctor Zhivago, “How did you come to be lost?” I wanted to ask Pretty Girl the same thing, to reveal her story, to share, so that I would know how to help. The wall of silence between us tore that hope into pieces. Inter-species communication relied upon my best interpretation of a lifted furry eyebrow or a start, stop, stare pattern of retreat. Pretty Girl held on to memories that prevented trust, but she could not explain. All she could do was run away. Spooked. Displaying dualistically a desire for closeness and a fearful knowledge of what closeness can do in the wrong hands.
She was tall and beautiful with an endearing orange nose and soulful eyes. Hunger and thirst would draw her to within 50 feet of a delicious bowl heaped high with a canned dog food kibble mix. As long as a human stayed near the bowl, Pretty Girl watched from her safe distance and did not move. Try to get any closer and she darted away, not angry, not aggressive, but afraid. Leave the bowl, go away. Only then would she come and feast.