Thursday, June 3, 2010
The leash gets tangled up in the volunteer's feet. She trips, drops the leash, lands hard on the sidewalk on all fours, goes kathunk (we feel it through our shoes), goes "Uhn", and the dog, frightened, takes off. The dogwalker yells "Baby!" and I think, That's affectionate, but later realize that it's the dog's name.
Baby is a small white American Eskimo dog and she's running away from the crash-noise-yell towards the parking lot. A woman coming out of her car sees Baby and beckons the dog over, pretending she has a treat. Baby stops running and takes a step towards her.
"Grab the leash!" someone yells but the woman doesn't hear or doesn't react. Baby takes another step towards the woman, nose up in the air trying to get a scent of the treat, realizing there is no treat after all and backs away. For a moment the woman and the dog stare at one another and then Baby turns tail and takes off, leash trailing behind her. The woman looks at Baby as she runs and then looks at us and shrugs.
We check to see if the dogwalker volunteer is okay. She is. Maybe a couple of scrapes, maybe some minor bruising later. My friend is already in her van, taking off after Baby. I get into my car, wishing I had my bicycle with me instead, and drive after Baby as well. The volunteer gives chase on foot.
I see Baby ahead, still running now along the side of the road heading towards the main intersection at Dufferin where there will be two lanes of traffic. Just before she gets there, she veers right then turns around and veers left and I think she might turn back around but instead she blindly runs across the intersection. I hold my breath. She doesn't get hit. I exhale. She's now in the parking lot of Medieval Times heading towards the park where I used to walk Stella every morning. The parking lot is half full with people walking from their cars to the show. My friend in the van is already over there and out of her vehicle, asking people to try to call the dog over to them.
I drive across the intersection and into the parking lot as well. I see Baby playing the part of a mad footballer, deking and dodging people with outspread arms and legs akimbo and beckoning voices and little kids squealing in delight at all the fun.
Baby avoids them all but it's all too much commotion for her here so she turns around and runs towards Dufferin again and again I hold my breath and I imagine everyone in the parking lot collectively holding their breaths as she dashes across Dufferin again back onto the CNE grounds, and we all exhale.
By the time I drive back over, Baby is nowhere to be seen. I see the volunteer. She had glimpsed Baby along the bushes by the border of the CNE grounds but she has lost sight of the dog now as well. She is near tears. The other driver in the van pulls up and we all talk and decide to go back to the office and see if anyone's heard anything. As we arrive, cars and TAS vans are pulling out and we tell them where we last saw Baby.
Five minutes later, I drive away with a sinking feeling. I have all these visions in my head of screeching tires and Baby bounced off the fender of some car only to be found months from now by some city worker picking up leaves and garbage.
Then, just before I get to the Dufferin intersection, I see a TAS van coming towards me. Baby's sitting in the passenger seat, paws on the dash, head looking out the windshield.
I follow the van back to the office. Baby had apparently cooled her heels and finally approached someone who grabbed her leash and held onto her until the animal control officer in the van retrieved her.
I'm expecting Baby to be a nervous, anxious dog but when I take the leash to go photograph her, she isn't that at all. In fact, she's gentle and friendly. She seems happy to be around us and as she wags her tail, I'm sure she's thinking, "Can we do that again?"
Maybe, but not with us. She was adopted a few days later.
From the new owners of Baby (now Sadie):
Here are some photos of our little girl. We all love her very much.
For adoption information on dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.