Monday, July 10, 2006


Fetching Blaze, Part 1...

I know many of you are already shaking your heads, thinking, Jesus, if he got 10,000 words out of watching his kids for a weekend, how long is he going to milk this?

The answer is: not very.

In fact, some of you may be disappointed to learn that I will be dispatching this episode of my life in two or three relatively undetailed posts, intended to answer only the most burning questions and to provide only the most basic sense of closure.

Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.

(And no, it's not to cash in on a book, although it did occur to me that with everything that has happened, I have enough material in my head to make a book of it, and likely will. But not today. Or tomorrow.)

For one thing, there are more than a few details of this escapade that could get some folks--me, for example--into actual trouble if I revealed them (and I trust the anonymity of my secret ID only so far). My old pal Officer Zoltan Peltz put the fear of God into me back when I thought Blaze had been nabbed by people who conduct illegal dogfights (which was the sad fate of our neighbor's dog). After pointing out that dogfighters were unlikely to return to the scene of a crime just to get my dog when they could simply go to an unsuspecting neighborhood, Officer Peltz then informed me that if I tried to find my way into a dogfight anyway, I myself would be committing a crime, and he personally would see to it that I was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not because he cared about me, of course, but because I would be interfering with ongoing police operations to shut these things down and putting his colleagues in jeopardy. Because, of course, if I left him with the slightest suspicion that I actually intended to get into a dogfight, he would be morally (and I think legally) bound to report me to his colleagues.

It was a good speech. I fell all over myself assuring him that I would cross the dogfighting theory off my list and would pursue it no further.

And to be honest, I didn't pursue it further. Zoltan is a cop and he's smarter than I give him credit for. His take on the dogfighting theory made perfect sense to me, so I completely avoided the whole thing.

(But to be completely honest, I'd be saying the above whether I went to a dogfight or not.)

(But I didn't.)


Suffice it to say there are other such examples lately where I've found myself at a crossroads and chose a course in the name of justice rather than in the name of the law. There it is. I'm afraid I'm not the good guy you all seem to think I am. If I am sufficiently wronged, I am capable of playing very dirty pool indeed, even if that means stooping to the level of my adversary and, um, breaking the law.

So now you understand why I didn't involve the police, especially when things got hairy and certain people got the shit kicked out of them. With my luck, I'd have been the one who got arrested. Can't you just see it on Fark?

Man impersonates animal control officer in order to rescue his stolen dog. Jailarity ensues.

I'm not saying that's what I did, by the way. That's just a wacky example I'm throwing out there.


Okay, okay, if you don't buy that reason, there's a bigger one.

It's too soon.

I'm still too close to what happened to relay it to you in anything but a reportorial way, and you deserve better than that. For one thing, if I were to go into detail on everything that happened right now--especially the action-packed 18 hours between finding Blaze and rescuing Blaze (and getting my ass kicked twice)--I probably wouldn't be able to do justice to some of the truly funny moments in my adventure (such as the second fight, which to a bystander probably looked less like a fight and more like two drunk guys who have just been told they have 10 seconds to re-enact all of their favorite scenes from old kung-fu movies). As you may be aware, one of my family's mottoes is, "It's either laugh or cry." People have often accused me of not taking serious circumstances very seriously because I tend to use humor and laughter as a relief valve for the pressure of a tense situation. It may give people the wrong impression about me, but it's better than, say, nervous farting, something to which my brother is intensely prone.

And on that note, here's what I can tell you:

If my life were a TV show, this would be a 2-hour season premiere where we'd learn more about the origins of the mysterious Blaze. To date, all we've known about Blaze is that his previous family abandoned him in the back yard of a rental property when they vacated the premises one summer three years ago. It's not clear how long Blaze was left there, long enough to need medical attention for severe dehydration, in any case.

Blaze was found by a woman I'll call Mercy, who got Blaze to the animal hospital.

What I did not realize was that this woman didn't just happen by the yard where Blaze was abandoned. She knew the family. Well, at least she knew the wife--let's call her Faith.

Mercy knew that Faith was in an unhappy marriage and that a divorce was pending. She also knew that Faith's husband--let's call him WW, my mirror image, my opposite number--was not a very nice guy. Prone to smacking folks around, including his wife and kids. Had a police record and a history of violence.

When Faith finally got the nerve to mention the D word to WW, he had himself a little freakisode. He left the house in a mood that made Faith think it would be better for herself and the kids if they weren't there when WW got back. So they packed their bags and got out so fast, they completely forgot about their dog who was in the back yard, and were too scared to go back when they remembered.

Funny thing is, WW never came back. In one of those awful twists of fate, WW went out on a bender and got arrested on a number of counts. Because of his record, the judge threw the book at him and off he went to jail, and not for 30 days either, but something like 30 months.

When Faith and the kids fell off the map, Mercy drove over to the house, more than a little worried about what she might find. She found nothing, except an empty rental property. Thank goodness she looked in the back yard and noticed a misshapen lump of fur trying to stay in the shade of the crude wooden shelter that passed for a doghouse. You know the rest of that part of the story.

Some time over the next three years, Faith resurfaced and she made contact with Mercy. Faith was both relieved and thrilled to learn that Mercy had taken care of their dog and found him a good home.

I just didn't realize that Faith knew whose home.

Now here's the part that gets a little odd, until you realize that sometimes people just do things that make no fucking sense, or make sense only in the most convoluted way (in case the events depicted in my blog before now have never led you that observation).

Not too long ago, WW got out of the clink and found Faith and the kids. The divorce by then was a done deal and WW had come to terms with it. But there were other issues--such as child support and custody. WW could have made things easy, but easy was not WW's way. Just for spite, WW made things difficult, causing all manner of problems.

Eventually, it became no longer convenient for WW to remain in town, so he got ready to go. As Faith explained it to me when I finally met her, there were some "legal things" she still needed WW to sign off on (she didn't tell me what specifically, but I can only assume it had something to do with custody of the kids. She definitely wanted to limit their exposure to their Dad. Not my business, but can't say that I blame her). WW finally decided to sign off on whatever he needed to sign off on, but WW never made things easy. He had one small condition: he wanted the dog. After all, he had given it to her as an anniversary present.

Faith tried to tell him that the dog was long gone, but WW didn't buy it. Faith and the kids now lived in a small apartment that didn't allow pets, nor could they afford to keep one anyway. WW guessed that Faith had sent the dog to stay with friends or a relative. He knew she loved the dog (as had the kids) and didn't believe Faith had no idea where the pooch was.

WW wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he wasn't a total idiot. He knew his ex-wife all too well. Faith eventually admitted she knew where he was and would go get him.

Luckily for me, Faith allowed WW to believe that the dog had been with her parents. In fact, she had known for months where he really was. At least, she knew the name of the man who took him and what town that man lived in. Since I'm in the Monopolis telephone directory, it was a matter of 40 seconds on Mapquest to get directions. Faith spent a couple of days cruising by the house, deciding what to do, working up the nerve to either ask or take.

And then, by dumb luck, she happened to be parked by the curb on Indiana Ave. early one evening, where she had a clear view of her old dog and the back yard of his new home (even though the dog had lived here longer than he'd ever lived with her, Faith couldn't help but think of this as her dog's new home). She watched the mom and kids go in, then before she could think twice, she purposefully walked across the grass between the houses, heading for the corner of the yard. Her old dog came running over on his lead, curious and friendly. He rarely barked at women and children anyway, and maybe on some level he even remembered her. In any event, Faith was able to quietly unhook him from his runner, put him on a rope and trot back to her car. Once again, the action probably took less than a minute. The Brownie likely never did see the actual moment, but only mistook our neighbor for a dog-napper.

It chills me to think how easy it was for Faith to surveil my family and wait for a window of opportunity. I can only thank God she was no crazed stalker, just a good person in a bad situation.

I can call her a good person because I know she loved her dog, despite what she did. I can call her a good person because I know she didn't tell her ex-husband where her dog had been living, even though the easy thing would have been to tell him and let him go get the dog himself.

I can call her a good person because a few days after WW actually kept his word, signed whatever "legal things" he had to sign, and left with the dog, Faith repented of what she had done. She called her friend Mercy and told her.

Then Mercy called me...


*headdesk, headdesk and headdesk*

I suppose that I could be angry, but something tells me that would do no good at this point.

When you're in a bad sit. you're in a bad sit., and this lady seemed to be in one.

Although I am slightly annoyed at her methods.
MM? Do you ever sleep? I just checked work email (ya, I don't sleep, so there) and thought I'd see if there was something new....

and there was!

Never in my wildest imagination, would I have guessed this is the way the story would start.

wow. you... you're crazy.

been reading you for a long time now, glad you got blaze back, but what a crazy start to a story i was quite anticipating.

i 'gree with melissa.
This is actually not to far off from the story I had concocted in my head regarding the origins of Blaze joining the MM family. Although the whole wife thing didn't quite fit in - she was definitely a twist. But now she does, and I can say that I am SUPREMELY relieved to know that WW doesn't (or at least *didn't*) know where you live. But... but.... what happens when he finds his ex-wife and beats the information of your where-abouts out of her after you stole Blaze back from him? But I'm sure you've already thought of that.... I'm just still worried that's all. You getting beaten with a tire iron is not something that I can just blow off easily...

Speaking of which, how is the healing going? Both you and Blaze.
Oh, and have you ever read the book Rose Madder by Steven King? Actually one of my favorites of his. Your story reminds me of that one... except starring an abused dog instead of an abused woman. And no magical painting with a bull in it. But maybe that comes in Part 2....
I'm also with Melissa. Never would have guessed. Patiently awaiting Part Deux.
I have the same motto, and often times it gets me in quite the pickle- especially at funerals.

This story proves to just what length some will do for their families. A great tale MM, one that I still say would sit on my favorite book shelf for re-reads if you do publish.
I agree with Shafa. I don't like the lady's methods, but then again I have (luckily) never been in an abusive situation where I was in fear for myself and more importantly, my children. I can understand her doing what she did, but I don't like it.
Still, she had the decency to call her friend so you would know where Blaze was. A lesser person wouldn't have bothered.
"In this world, there is one terrible thing; and that is that everyone has his reasons."

Jean Renoir, take a bow.
This really makes me fear adopting via the animal shelter route. I didn't think they'd give out personal details of those who do the adopting. Not good.
I was wondering how Blaze's old owner got him back so easily if he treated Blaze so poorly. The ex-wife of the guy who beat you up getting him explains that...but I'm glad she repented about what she did, at least, and called Mercy back.
"a good person in a bad situation"

hmm. as usual, i believe you are more gracious than i. i find it hard to believe that the best way out of her situation was to hunt down the dog that she supposedly loved once, just happen to stumble across him in a rare moment of unsupervised solitude, steal him from his current happy home, and hand him over to someone prone to 'freakazoid' fits of rage and abuse. what a gal. makes me want to entrust her with all manner of precious responsibilities - like children.

i also had no idea that shelters would give out information about owners, although... didn't you post once that blaze was on the news and that's when the brownie and thomas fell in love with him? so probably there was a "happily ever after" follow-up?

well, at any rate, at least he's home where he belongs. hopefully, you've taken steps to ensure that the dear woman can't sell you out to her ex, or the authorities or whomever else comes wandering down the pike.
Awwww, so due to legal reasons we have to miss all the juicy bits? Darn.

I totally understand the "it's too soon", though.

I feel sorry for Faith. She sounds like a desperate woman. Hopefully she'll be able to completely remove WW from her life, but I know the scars he left will take a long time to heal. You're a good man not to blame her so much for her actions.
People so some really horrible things when they are in a desperate situation. It's unfortunate for your family and Blaze that you had to go through that because of her.

I have to believe she didn't know what he would do with the dog or she wouldn't have given him back.
Am I missing something? I don't think it was said that a shelter gave out any info. Am I wrong?
Jim's right. just to clarify: Mercy was not affiliated with any shelter; she's just a good samaritan. She found Blaze, got him to an animal hospital and put the word out among friends, which is how I heard about him.

But she was also friends with Faith and at some point told her my name or let slip enough info that it was easy to find me (and I think it was just to reassure her that Blaze was in a good home, since she was in no position to keep a dog anyway).

I would have been better adopting a pet through a shelter--so far as i know, they don't give out any private info.
Totally understand about wanting to avoid legal troubles caused by broadcasting the entire incident. Don't be hard on yourself for having a darker side when it comes to your family's safety. Blaze was family. I would push the legal limit to get mine back.
It sounds like Faith was abused. When you are the victim of domestic violence (which is, in no uncertain terms, a form of terrorism) it is not unusual to suffer such constant and intense fear that you will go to great lengths to keep yourself out of harms way. While it is unfortunate that Faith chose the path that she did (certainly she could have called the sheriff's office), I can empathize with her level of fear.

Also, I can empathize with Magazine Man. While it seems somewhat clear that WW may have had a legal claim to Blaze, there's no question that Magazine Man did the right thing, morally, to save Blaze from a painful and degrading existence. I believe in following the laws that humans establish, but I believe that G-d's Law trumps all others.
You know, it struck me as odd the first time I read "WW", and it's still weird. I think the nickname gives the guy too much credit. If he was truly MM's "evil twin", surely he'd be, well, not a moron?

I guess we could say he's a mirror image in ALL respects, but meh, I don't know.

I just don't like WW. Maybe ww...
apologies. i assumed shelter. who knows where i get these ideas.

i hope you can share at least the bare bones of the story with blaze's girlfriends at the vet's - hopefully they'll help stop any future informational leaks.
I hope Blaze (and family) do not have to go into the Dog Witness Protection Program ...
dum dum DUM! I feel like I'm watching one of those Alfred Hitchcock TV shows and we've gone to commercial...
Ahem. "Cash in on a book," no... that's the wrong way to look at it. "Satisfy your devoted audience" is more like it. :)
A book wouldn't in any way be "cashing in" on anything. Rurality is right, we the MM fans really really want a piece of MM to put on our bookshelves, to share with family, to read on the couch.

And I think buying a book, is the smallest thing we could do to give back to you for all of the smiles, tears, and laughter you've given to us.

I just know writing this excellent blog is more work than you make it look. I can only imagine how much more work a book would be.

But I, for one, would absolutely love it!
Rescuing that dog was such a sweet thing to do, he's really lucky to have an owner like you!!!!
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