Your sympathy is appreciated. Your victim blaming — eh, not so much.
Content Note: Following includes puppy abduction and dark humor. No Shakespearean phrases are used or abused after this point.
My husband and I are dog people. We have loved and shared our homes with dogs throughout our 35 years together and separately before that. What’s more, we like to drive around with the dogs happily hanging their faces out the windows, taking it all in, like they do. Now you know what kind of folks you’re dealing with!
On Wednesday, May 5, 2020, exactly 4 weeks after we adopted him, our 9.5-week-old puppy Data was stolen from our locked but ventilated vehicle, parked about 100’ from a Walmart entrance, an hour before sunset. (All 4 windows were open a little, allowing for a cross-breeze and smells of people Walmart-ing.)
The breaking and entering and theft were witnessed by a Walmart employee and our other two dogs (who declined to talk to the po-po), and all was captured by security camera, which couldn’t distinguish the fleeing vehicle’s license plate. My husband filed a police report, put an ad in the paper, and made numerous posts all over social media. The comments soon followed.
Some people on social media have chosen to question our reality and actions rather than to express sympathy or offer to help find our dog. Or to say nothing. That’s right, people, saying nothing is an option. Just move on, without leaving a comment. Try it. I double dog dare you!*
While obviously quite different in a number of ways, there are some similarities here with my experiences when divulging my health and/or disability status. Some people readily express sympathy or empathy, while others quickly get defensive for reasons I imagine are personal to them, of which they may or may not be aware. Some comments are beyond my comprehension and others I understand all too well as cruel. A few peeps will kindly offer help. More than a few will find fault with me. If only I had done this or avoided that. A very, very few will listen. Bear witness. With kindness. Love, even.
Bearing witness to someone else’s troubles is a simple task that is also quite difficult for many to pull off. I think it’s natural for us humans to want to assess a situation quickly, to know what we’re dealing with. But sometimes it’s best to hold back, reserve judgment, get more information. Waiting, not judging or controlling, can be very uncomfortable.
As the late, great Tom Petty used to sing, “The waiting is the hardest part.”**
I have certainly been guilty of rushing to judgment many times in the past. (I will probably also be guilty in the future. Right now I am innocent! Now! Right now!) I have figuratively put my foot in my mouth on several occasions. (I used to be able to literally put my foot behind my head. Then the other one. Circus-style yoga trick. I can still put my big toe in my mouth — not that I do — but I can. This is all true!)
Point is, I get it, I do it, too. And nearly every time I’ve done so, unthinkingly put forth the what ifs — soon after I’ve thought, O, why didn’t I just wait, listen, be still, ask questions? After all, procrastination is a well-honed skill for me! The answer — if I’m brave enough to accept it — is usually something like, … I got scared because it’s out of my and their control and there is nothing more to be done other than feel all the hurt, sadness, and other yucky feelings. Aaaaaahhhhh!
No one (or almost no one) wants to be a victim.*** People don’t want their stuff taken from them and some go to great lengths to assure that. Many succeed. Some don’t. Because bad and awful things do happen. Crime. Serious illness. Abuse. War. Accidents. Natural disasters. Unnatural disasters. To bad people who had it coming. Allegedly. To good people who did everything right and therefore did not deserve it. Supposedly. To mediocre people who made mistakes, sure, who doesn’t, but, I don’t know, they just seem to be taking a lot of punches lately, y’know? Oh well, they’re survivors!
You have to have survived something to claim survivor status. In many cases that something is being the victim of a crime and/or trauma. I hereby reclaim the word victim. It is not a dirty or shameful word. Victims are not culpable for the crimes and abuses committed against them. Just as victims are not responsible for the accidents, disasters, traumas, illnesses they endure. For the official record, I don’t believe anyone deserves to be victimized or to suffer. I don’t wish suffering on anyone. Truly. Not that it matters. Life is full of suffering. Some get more; some get less. (Wow. I sound more Semitic than usual there. I’m a Yo-Yo Semite most days. 🥸)
My husband and I are victims of crime. (Puppy Data, too.) It’s been a week and we’re … ok. We got a lead Monday and passed it on to police. The waiting and hoping continue. As does the grieving. We’ve parsed the shoulda woulda couldas — all the alternate scenarios in which Data would not have been there, then. But the victim is not the one in control of the actions of the perpetrator. The loss of our fabulous puppy is very painful. Some people’s comments are hurtful, too. We choose to honor our pain. We are not ashamed of feeling our pain. Nor of being vulnerable. Of being victims. We are survivors.
Jeff and I deeply appreciate the many folks who have given and continue to give sympathy, help, support, kindness!
Data, we love you and miss you! We pray you are safe and well cared for, wherever you are. (Also, impressed your abductors kept up your reading lessons!)
Now for Fun With Confounding Comments, because it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to!🤨
If only he was microchipped!
Alas, we were but days away from handing Data over to our veterinarian for vaccines and insertion of this incredible technology. If only … then we could activate his chip through our Find my iPup app, which would pinpoint his location and send that special dog whistle to my Jewish space laser to take out the bad guys, no due process necessary. (I’m not quite sure what happens for you goyim. Maybe you just get the location of your pup, which you need to reach within an hour lest the chip erases all your puppy’s memory of being housebroken?)
Obviously, I’m joking. That is 100% not how microchips for dogs and cats work. It is, however, how the nanochips in those Covid19 vaccines work!🙄
Why would anyone ever leave a dog in a car?
Just spitballing here, but what if their helicopter was in the shop? Then they’d have no other choice, really.
What if pup’s favorite song is playing on the radio and doggy insists on sitting there through to the end?
Or, hear me out now, maybe because people in stores do not have allergic reactions to dogs resting comfortably in cars and not in those stores reserved for human interaction (and a relative few service animals).
(For real, how do you move your dog(s) around town? No stops ever, because you’re … you? Or do you take your non-service dog inside every place you visit — a part of you that can’t be denied entry, just like your white privilege?)
Maybe he’s just lost.
Oh … kay. So, you weren’t listening? Missed some deets? Accustomed to folks realizing their dog is missing and crying, “Thief!” I do appreciate your stab at sympathy, but no, it is not our style to assume a crime occurred without evidence of such. Although … hubby did recently accuse me of stealing his bag of blue corn chips. But that was really a product of long-time marriage man-brain. As in, bag of chips isn’t where I remember leaving it, so spouse must have put it somewhere else, which is like stealing for me, due to my chromosome-based, manly inability to search our kitchen. (Yes, I do, in fact, dearly love my XY husband, inability to locate a jar deftly hiding out incognito behind another jar, and all!)
Would you leave a two month old child alone in a car?
Can you hum a few bars?
Depends on how well it pays.
Is infant clearly dead in car being dredged from lake? Then I’m going to leave it as is for the crime scene investigators.
Were you good at the long jump? Because, dearie, in jumping to conclusions, you can make some distance, I tell you what!
Dogs die just like babies!
Fact! Do you feel better now?
*Ironic pun intended.
**Yes, that lyric right there is totally, utterly out of context!
***We can debate whether or not there are people who truly want to be victims (note I do not equate victim and martyr) at a future time round about never.
We interrupt our irregularly scheduled programming to bring you this week-old breaking — or at least actively trying to break things — news.
Actually, it’s been a day over a week now, but 8-day-old news just doesn’t flow the way week-old does. Data has been accruing for over 6 weeks now. Or seven? Those formerly supervising the whole project affirm a startup date of March 1st … which they insist was over 7 weeks ago. The calendar confirms those folks are worse with linear time than I am. (At least in this case. Could be a pandemically exacerbated or induced chronological disorder?)
So, last week we adopted a Great Pyrenees mix puppy, after his mother’s sudden death. Nearly 3 years ago we adopted a small, black, cute but funny looking, pughuahua* at age 5.5 weeks, when her mother rejected the runt. After weaning The Artist formerly known as Super Puppy Draymond,* I declared we would never again adopt a puppy so young, but that’s exactly what we did with big, white, classically adorable Data. Apparently, we are in our puppies with mommy abandonment issues phase.
I now present Data, pronounced day-tah, like the Star Trek TNG character.** Other similarities to the fictional android: he looks white, but he’s also got a creamy, pale yellowish tint — way more attractive than it sounds. While he is friendly and wants to fit in, he is hilariously awkward. His strength and ability to take a fall are impressive. An intrepid explorer, he is generally calm, yet emotionally immature. Even when he’s being really annoying, it is impossible to not be in love with him.
We are a family of D’s: The dogs are Duke, Draymond, and Data; plus Daddy and I’m Deb. (Dogs prefer Deb to Mom. Remember those aforementioned mommy issues?) Data has already earned a few nicknames: Mr. Big, Soft Paws, Whitey Bargers [right in], Young Sheldon Chewbacca.^
For you First Contact fans: Yes, I totally feel as though I am the Borg Queen when yelling Data! in moments of urgency, such as when Mr. Big is chewing on an electrical cord or furniture or lamp or window still. Sorry, my guy, teething rings arriving soon; now, stop gnawing on the wall!
Now, for the autoimmune angle. May 31st is our eldest dog Duke’s 14th birthday. And I think Data might just help him make the party! Duke was diagnosed with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis back in 2011. He’s had some rough spots in 2021. There are no guarantees, and while I have had more than one thought of am I healthy enough for (this) exercise, I clearly see the positive impact of Data on old man Duke’s health. On the other old man, too, minus the bite marks. And Draymond, Data’s currently same-sized play partner. And tired, but happy me. He is so soft!!^^
*Also known as Chug, Draymond is half Pug, half Chihuahua. We will celebrate her 3rd birthday May 1st. At 6 weeks I could hold her in one hand! Read about The Duchess Draymond Pugbelly’s first 3 years on her Facebook blog at MyUglyPuppy.
**Star Trek: The Next Generation — starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Series began with a god-like nemesis called Q, short for Q Continuum — no Anon. Q is omniscient and omnipotent and usually took the form of actor John de Lancie, across franchises. And yet again!
^ Yes, I be mixing my Starry Wars and Treks! O, forsook! Yeah, no. Like Chewie, our Data has a very unique growl. And whine. And combo. Whrowl?
^^ There is a joke to be made about hard data v. soft data, but I can feel the brain fog rolling in on big cat paws … much like our new puppy’s paws!