Note: This is a greatly fictionalized account of a true story. I’m really not this crazy, I swear. Really.
An enlightened gentleman at the July 2011 Vancouver Shiba meetup said, “When you get a Shiba, the first thing you lose is your pride.” Add to that your dignity and your temper.
“Where’s Tierce?” Mischa asked one day.
“Huh? Oh, in the yard.”
“With nothing blocking the entrance?” (The yard is almost fully fenced except for a gap where the path to our front door is.)
“I put up the big piece of plywood and also stretched the exercise pen farther down. Plus, he has his Elizabethan collar and a T-shirt on (Tierce has vicious seasonal allergies) There’s no way he could get o-“
“He’s not in the yard.”
“No.” I said. Visions of Tierce’s broken body flitted through my skull. “He must be up at the neighbour’s.”
“Their door is closed, “ Mischa said.
We split up; Mischa to drive up and down the block, me to rush to various popular peeing spots.
I was shrieking his name like a demented harpy when my phone rang. I snatched it up and answered.
“Have you found him?”
“What? Found who?”
“The DOG! Who the hell did you think I mea- oh, hi Mom.”
“The DOG’S missing?!”
“Jumped over both gates and him wearing a cone and T-shirt.”
“Oh my God. Do you need me to do anything?”
“Um, no – wait. You could phone around to the vets’ and see if a dog matching his description has been brought in.”
“Okay, honey, I’ll do that. Call me if you find him.”
“Okay, thanks, Mom.”
No Tierce, no matter where we searched. We phoned around to Animal Control, the groomers’ and the radio. No call came back from Mom, so I assumed the search had yielded nothing on her part.
“This is all my fault,” I said, staring intensely at a clump of bushes we were passing – as if the force of my glare would bring forth a Shiba Inu in a cone collar and dirty dog shirt.
“It’s not your fault,” said Mischa. “How could you have known that he would scale a 4-foot sheet of plywood AND a 2-foot ex-pen placed several feet from each other?”
“HE’S A SHIBA!” I wailed. “THREE MONTHS AGO, HE RAN UP A 2X4 LEANING AGAINST THE FENCE AND ENDED UP IN THE NEIGHBOUR’S YARD! I’M AN IDIOT! I’M THE WORST DOG OWNER EVER!”
“Okay, okay, calm down. We will find him, okay? We will find him and bring him home. It will be okay,” Mischa said, turning the car to cruise down another block.
“I swear, if he’s okay and we find him, I’ll take better care of him!” I whimpered. “I’ll make sure that he’s always on a leash and never allowed to run loose and I’ll make sure that I pet him every day…”
Bzzzzzt My phone went off. It was the number for the SPCA.
“Hello? HELLO? HAVE YOU FOUND HIM? IS HE OKAY? IS HE DEAD? IS HE HURT?” I said, completely trampling over the woman’s voice on the other end.
“-just fine. He’s wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Kick the dog’, um…”
“YES THAT’S HIM, OHMYGOD, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!”
“Um, you can pick him up at 12, when we open.”
“OKAY. YOU ARE THE BEST PEOPLE EVER!”
“Are you feeling better now?” asked Mischa.
“I’m going to kill him,” I said.
“You can’t kill him,” said Mischa. “We’ve spent too much money on his allergy medication.”
“Fuck. Can I at least maim him a little? Maybe cut off his tail for being such a miserable little bastard?”
“No, you can’t torture your dog. It’s not allowed. Besides, what you’re feeling is just misplaced anger.”
“But it’s so easy to blame Tierce. It saves me from all that self hate.”
“Life sucks, honey. But we can both hate the dog together,” Mischa said as he made an illegal U-turn and broke several traffic laws on our way to the SPCA.
The SPCA yielded a very unhappy little Shiba in the first kennel.
“OOOOOAAAHHHOOOOO!” yelled Tierce. It sounded vaguely like, “Finally! Where the hell were you?!”
“We have to wait until 12 to get you!” I called to him.
“Are you DEAF?!” Tierce yelled. At least that’s how I interpreted it. “I went on a stroll, met a nice lady who dumped me HERE! Last time I trust random strangers!” (It wasn’t.)
“You just have to be patient!” I yelled back. Some people waiting, no doubt, to adopt a needy dog or give hundreds of dollars in donations, edged away from us.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Tierce shrieked. “ATTICA! ATTICA!” He started jumping up and down against the fence like a possessed jack-in-the-box, bashing his head against the chicken wire.
“CALM THE HELL DOWN. YOU’RE NOT IN PAIN. ENJOY THAT SENSATION WHILE YOU CAN!” I snarled. The benevolently minded citizens drew further back and started muttering amongst themselves.
“Honey…” Mischa said, “People are looking.”
“YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT THEY’RE LOOKING. LOOKING AT ME INCARCERATED AGAINST MY WILL!” Tierce fumed very audibly.
“Does that dog bite, Mommy? I don’t want to get a dog that bites,” whined a little girl, clinging to her mother’s hand and looking at Tierce apprehensively.
“I’m sure it doesn’t bite. Besides, we’re not getting that dog,” said her mother.
“Just shut up until we get in there!” I hissed across the yard at Tierce.
“NoBODY knows the TROUBLE I’ve SEEN. NObody KNOWS my SORROW,” Tierce howled.
I smiled across at my darling dog. “When I get hold of you, I’m going to break your legs and will let them heal crooked.”
Tierce looked at me with deep disgust. “We’re in the S.P.C. fucking-A. You aren’t going to do shit.”
“Wait until we get home.”
Tierce expressed his contempt with a deliberate Shiba blink.
When 12PM arrived, the rest of the crowd around the gate allowed us to stampede inside.
The attendant at the desk evaluated my expression and immediately said, “Shiba. Cone. Shirt?”
“YES. IS HE OKAY?”
“Oh, yes. The lady who brought him in said he was running near the highway, though.”
“Oh my God!” I said, wallowing in the angst of being the Worst. Dog. Owner. Ever.
The attendant left to get Tierce and we spent a minute observing the knot of people pretending to be studying the walls and the pamphlets – anything but look in our direction or engage us in conversation.
Tierce exploded through the kennel doors, straining against the leash attached to his collar, the cone around his head bobbing wildly and catching on every exposed corner and obstacle as he careened down the hall.
“HIHIHIHI!” he said to us by trying to knock my glasses off and slamming his front paws into Mischa’s crotch. I took the leash from the attendant as Mischa folded into a standing fetal position and made some peculiar noises.
To my shame, I engaged in 10 seconds of baby talk at the sight of Tierce, who smiled up at me until he was distracted by other, presumably more interesting, people in the room.
The atmosphere had lightened upon the advent of Hurricane Tierce and people started to hover around him as he yanked the leash one way and another, charming them with the full force of his personality.
“Ohhhhh! He’s so cute! I want one!” enthused a tween girl.
“Seriously, you don’t. They use their powers for evil,” I said, patting Mischa on the back.
“But he’s soooo adooorable! Such a sweetie!”
“NO! They’re evil!” I hissed. She backed away as I turned to the attendant. “Do I owe you anything?”
“No,” the attendant said. “We’re just happy to have him back with his… loving… owners…” as she noticed the profanity Mischa was mouthing at the dog as he straightened to a more-or-less slightly hunched position.
“Yeah. Let me donate a hundred bucks to you for taking care of him,” I said, trying to deflect comment on our loving ownership.
The attendant brightened at that, “Well, sure! Just let me get the receipt book! You know this is tax-deductible, right?”
Donation given, we made our escape to the car, narrowly averting disaster when Tierce saw the cages of pet rabbits that inhabited the front yard.
And that’s how the SPCA got a $100 donation, courtesy of Tierce.