My words are inspired by the astounding unity in selfless and kind acts of the Santa Barbara community. My words are dedicated with overwhelming, heart-felt gratitude and appreciation for the compassion and effort the people of Santa Barbara extended to help a stranger find her dog.
Thursday afternoon, October 25, 2012, my dear dog was consumed with terror as a table umbrella crashed to the ground, causing her to bolt, breaking out of her collar at the La Cumbre Plaza. She ran with such speed and frenzy I did not know which direction she headed. In agony and panic, I cried out “My dog is gone!” My alarming cry was heard by people from all directions; immediately shoppers and people working in the establishments stopped what they were doing and were devoted to helping me find my dog and return her to me safely. My trembling horror and tears brought me to my knees in the parking lot, I could not get up. A stranger who felt my pain helped me up, telling me, “We will find your dog.”
I called 911. I knew 911 calls are for human emergencies, but, my dog is more than my pet, she is my friend; and I am more than my pet’s owner, I am her friend. How the dispatcher who answered my 911 call understood a word I spoke is a mystery to me because I my emotions were on tilt, logic was paralyzed, my words were spoken through whirling tears and fear. The dispatcher calmly told me she would do what she could to alert the Santa Barbara police and Animal Control, plus she gave me the telephone numbers of the Animal Shelter and other related agencies. How I had the energy to write the numbers in my pad I do not know.
The entire La Cumbre Shopping Center, including Security, focused on searching for my dog. Some people gave me hugs and some people spoke to me calmly and with compassion. A concerned woman driving a shiny black SUV stopped to tell me that someone said my dog was seen running across the bridge near Macy’s toward State Street. I nearly fainted with awful images I tried to deflect. The woman told me to get into her car and that we would look for her. We drove up and down State Street, through side streets, through different parking lots, along the way asking people if they had seen a cream-colored Golden Retriever.
Plus, she drove to the Best Western Pepper Tree, where she told the owner, who is friend of hers, and the staff to look for a creamy colored Golden Retriever. They were genuinely concerned. Eventually, reluctantly, the woman told me she had to be somewhere by 5:30. My words to her are difficult to recall but I assured her that she must tend to what she needed, and I am genuinely grateful for her kindness and compassion bestowed upon me.
My dread and misery for my dearest dog caused me to experience a range of emotions I never knew possible. I knew she was frightened; she is a skittish about unexpected sounds. With agonizing worry for her safety I eventually found my car and drove to a number of establishments, including the gas station, the veterinarian, and PetCo, where everyone, and I mean everyone, including consumers who were just driving through, told me they would look to find her, and told me they hoped I would find my dog. People asked me for my telephone number so they could let me know if they spotted her or if she was found.
It was becoming dark, and increasingly difficult for me hold to the steering wheel with shaking arms and hands; it was a strain to see through my blurred glassy tears; I looked left and I looked right calling out her name, miraculously avoiding a car accident, and I’m sorry to say I nearly ran over a man on a bicycle; I heard him yell out.
Feeling as if I had abandoned my sweetest, dearest pet I managed to return to the place we (CoCo and I) stay (which I appreciate). It is not our home, it is a place we stay temporarily because we have no place else to go and I am looking for a job. My friend put a lost-dog notice on Craigslist, including recent photos. My friend gave me a glass of wine and I took a sedative, then I lay down on the blanket my dog rests at night, hoping it would help to calm me. It did not.
I could not rest, so I walked into the street which was dark except for some light shed by the nearly full moon; my knees hit the pavement in the middle of the moonlit street, as I was consumed with absolute agony thinking of my frightened dog. I talked to myself, to the sky, and to the moon pleading for her safety, saying, “Dear little Boo, please be safe; dear little Beeps I love you, please be safe, do not be frightened.”
I sent my friend in the house a text message telling her I was going to drive to find her. She replied urging me not to drive because I just had a glass of wine and a sedative and that would only make matters worse. Somehow, a logical thought popped into my mind: I realized she was correct. I managed to close my eyes while I lay on her blanket trying to feel her close to me. About 4 a.m., I continued my search, returning to the scene and driving in and out of every parking lot up and down and around State Street, looking behind trees and bushes and stairwells where I thought she might seek shelter, particularly since it was windy and she does not like the wind.
Finally, the sun lit the sky and it was daylight. I went to Starbucks at Five Points. I asked everyone if they had seen a creamy colored Golden Retriever. Nobody had. The concerned barista behind the counter gave me a complimentary cup of coffee.
A kind and sincere group of men gathered at a table helped me gain access to the Internet with an attempt to change my contact details for her microchip. With my coffee, I sat outside on the bench crying to a man in a red sweater who was drinking his coffee; he assured me someone will have brought my dog to safety because he knows this town cares about dogs and his wife is constantly bringing home strays. Then – my cell phone rang.
It was the Animal Shelter, they had CoCo. I was informed she was picked up trying to cross State and La Cumbre. With relief and exhilaration, I ran inside Starbucks to the kind men gathered at the table reporting the great news. This time, tears of joy flowed through me as I drove my car.
Later that day, Friday, my cell phone rang constantly with calls from concerned people asking me if I found my dog.
This is a letter of “Thank You!” and overwhelming appreciation to the Santa Barbara community who cared and did what they could to help a stranger and her dog. If I could thank each and every one individually I would; but because I cannot, I write this letter. Even I could thank each and every person individually, it is important for the Santa Barbara community to know we live in a town that can come to the aid of a stranger with sincerity and compassion.
Now, each day, I hope that I can do something to help someone in need.
As I write this, my sweetest pet is lying beside me sleeping, resting well, and peaceful.