Thursday, February 17, 2011

Titus Search and Rescue: 2011

    My dogs are currently partaking in their daily 1:00 nap.  Since my job disappeared, I've spent a lot of time at home so I have been able to observe how my little spoiled canines spend their day.  Like clockwork, the dogs take naps between 1 and 3pm.  Obviously their day has been long and stressful, as by this time they've eaten, pooped, and barked at close to two dozen cars.  It's tough being a dog but I'm glad they seem to take the title in stride.  Titus is currently snoring away, paws twitching slightly, lips snarling every so often; obviously sniffing something beautiful or finally catching up with that evasive squirrel in the yard.  But knowing my pit bull-boxer mix as I do, I think he's probably reliving the nightmarish events of a week ago.

  Titus is afraid of long car rides.  Granted, he loves going in cars but after hours in a moving vehicle, a change is seen in his eyes.  The blissful, ignorance his brown eyes generally exude cloud over as he realizes, shit.  we've been in the car for a while. Mom's here and so is dad. Maybe they're leaving me somewhere! CRAP.  I knew I shouldn't have eaten mom's favorite stuffed animal.... he was looking at me funny..  Titus' amaxophobia came about last summer when I made the 735 mile trip to my new home in North Carolina.  The unbearably long trip took 14 exhausting hours.  About 7 hours into the east cost adventure, Titus knew something was up.  Instead of doing the thing normal dogs do (urinate, defecate, allow an extreme amount of flatulence to stink up the car, or moan loudly), Titus simply worked his way up onto my lap and stared out the window.  When I tried to move, he would dig his little claws into my legs until I gave up.  He seemed terrified and rightly so; I was moving everything that he had ever known almost 1,000 miles away.  Titus remained, statue like, on my lap until the very end of the trip.  As we crossed into the boarder of North Carolina, I cried.  Looking at me the way he always does when tears fall, Titus burrowed closer as we both came to understand that life as we know it had forever changed.

   The same feeling resonated in the car as we ventured to Fourth Lake for some good snowmobiling and personal reflection. Avery, not used to long car rides, was a champ as she made the arduous 16-hour trip without a whimper or cry.  Titus, however, figured that we were going back to live in my tiny apartment without his siblings, so he cowered, refused to eat and looked at me as if I was slowly torturing him into an untimely death.

  We reached Old Forge, an Adirondack town near the Fulton Chain of Lakes, which was laden under 5 feet of snow.  Once our destination was finally reached, the dogs bounded out of the car, eager to stretch their weary legs.  Titus, upon seeing the dozens of inches of powdery, white stuff, suddenly resembled a crack addict as he plowed through the frozen precipitation. Avery, the thoughtful one, had never seen such a sight; mounds of stuff that resembled the meager ration that was dusted upon Charlotte, now over her head.  Twelve to fourteen seconds later, both went into a snow-crack coma.  They dipped, dodged and ducked into the snow, only to reappear feet away, panting.

  Days passed with sore snowmobile thumbs, wind-burnt faces and bellies full of good Adirondack winter food.  DU and I had traveled over 60 miles one day when we came home to let the dogs out before going back out on the trails.  DU went in to warm up as I supervised the dogs' outdoor festivities.  After the last time the dogs got out, I've kept Titus on a tight leash.  But figuring, as any naive parent does, that he would behave better this time, I allowed Avery and her brother the freedom to play.  We were walking over to where the trailor loop loops when something must have caught Titus' eye.  Without a backward glace, Titus booked it into the woods.  I called, Avery followed, but Titus refused to look back.

  Freaking out as I always do when negative things come to pass, I screamed and yelled until my lungs, rejecting the frozen air, refused to utter another syllable.  Running as fast my heavy boots could ambulate, I beckoned DU outside. Our voices united, we called for my retreating pup.  Nothing. DU waded into snow up to his waist after Titus' prints; nothing.  After a couple of minutes, DU told me to take the snowmobile to look for him.  Fully being able to realize that I'm a hysterical mess and would surely run our Polaris into a tree, I grabbed DU's keys.

  Driving down our neighboring drive,  I cried as the temperature dropped to -1; far too cold for Titus to be out too long.  Avery, my grief companion, looked out the window, smelling for her brother.  She growled then began barking as we came across his bounding prints.  Realizing that he had been across this road, I made the snap decision of turning around, right there, so I could follow his prints further. In retrospect, this was a bad idea.  Immediately to the right of DU's Denali SUV stood a 5-foot tall snowbank.  Of course, in my hasty response, I failed to take the bank into account and plowed right into it.  My frustration reached its zenith as the wheels turned and turned, digging the heavy vehicle deeper into the snow.


  Just as Batman's signal pushes the bat-like hero into the night; DU heard the tires and their human operator's squeals from hundreds of yards away.  He jumped onto one of our sleds, not like Batman's, unfortunately,  and braved going against traffic to reach me.  As he pulled up, he was greeted with a sobbing huntress, perched in the front seat, arms ringing the neck of the dog who wasn't stupid enough to blindly follow something shiny up a mountain.

  Quick to magical feats of manliness, DU began assessing the situation.  Like the lumberjack he was in a former life, he grabbed the shovel stowed in the back of the truck and began digging out the mess I had made.  Minutes into his ferocious snow removal, I heard, "Hunny....."

   I sobbed something that sounded slightly like "W-w-w-w--w-hat" but it could have been Sanskrit for all the sense I was making at the time.

  Just as I had given up hope, DU pointed a shaky finger next to the truck.

  There was Titus, battling through snow as tall as his head.

   I stuggled through the snow and grabbed onto my shaking pup.  Looking as if he had done something seriously wrong, Titus looked confused as I carried him, as best I could, into the car.

  My exuberance was short-lived as I realized the disparity of the current situation.  The Denali wouldn't budge.  No matter how much snow DU moved, the stubborn tires refused to move.  Fearing that I had done extremely expensive damage to the truck, we called on a local friend for a help out.

  His truck was massive, and plow even more so.  We greeted his approaching form until he tried to back in to where we were.  Turning around, the "unstuckable" truck got stuck.  With the same disbelief as Titanic passengers forced into their rubber boats as a solemn symphony played, we stared at the truck; disbelieving.

  His stuck situation did not last, as a little gravel and some snow removal quickly forced the 4x4 out of its sticky situation.  As he went to the opening of the drive to turn around again, we worked on DU's truck.

  Tens of minutes passed with no sight of our savior truck with its wings and halo.  Confused, I snowmobiled to the opening only to find that the previous-unstuckable truck had managed to get stuck again.

  I drove back to camp to procure another snow removal implement via snowmobile, feeling lousy.  My dog got out, DU's truck got stuck, and our savior vehicle not only could not get out of one bank but two.  Essentially, to put it in the crudest way possible, I suck; royally in fact.

   DU managed to get the Denali out a little while later.  And in a stroke of perfect irony, he freed our savior truck from the evil grasp of the hue-less snow. 

  Titus was weary as we ventured home and for the rest of the trip, he stayed by my side.

  Weeks later, I came home, again crying (see a theme forming?) because of the job that disappeared, my diminishing bank account, the GRE that didn't go as I hoped, and an overall useless feeling that has hung like a cloud over my everyday life.  I fell into bed, the one place that I have sought solitude my entire life.  The dogs stood around the bed, feeling out the vibe of whether or not they could safely climb up without castigation.

  While Oscar and Avery crept up to sleep at the end of the bed, Titus walked around the bed and sat near my head.  Tears creeping down my face like little caterpillars, I looked through moist eyes at my guard dog.  As if wanting to stop my tears by saving me from any evil that may attack the bedroom, Titus watched. He stood static, and remained so until I patted the bed, when he moved next to me, still watching for the evil that had made water stream out of my eyes.

  In knee deep snow, we had looked for salvation from the pick-up truck that would un-stick the stuck Denali. But the Denali ended up reversing the order of things. When I adopted Titus, I felt that I was saving him from a life of maltreatment.  However, what I failed to grasp until that weekend is that he saved me in his own way.  He brought me back down to earth when nothing else could.  In his fleeing from my side, I was brought to a place that was so deep, I forgot about the rest of my problems.

   Sometimes the things that save you come from the least expected place.  I keep hoping that something will happen to save me from my jobless, aimless state but Titus taught me that the catalyst for change can lay hidden anywhere, I just have to be ready for it.

  And trust me, reader, after that experience,  I can tackle anything.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's just funny how life works to teach us things...

Sorry to hear your GRE didn't go as planned. Chin up girl, you WILL get through this and prevail.

Murphyfish said...

Hello HLYH,
It's funny sometimes how desperate situations can end up giving us more strength than we thought possible. I'm sure that the tide will soon turn in your favour me dear, till it does keep your head up.

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Kari- Thank you so much... I think I've finally ridden through this sad train and hopefully my writing will reflect that!

The Fish of the Murphy- Totally agreed.. there are things I never thought I would get through, and here I am.

And yes, my esteemed colleagues, my head/chin shall remain up; come what may.