Last night I was herding the children out to the car so we could head to aikido.
I'd sent everyone out and was inside, grabbing Audrey's jacket, doing a quick sweep-n-sigh of 'who-left-this-on-the-counter' when Ben comes rushing back in, breathless and excited.
This is not a good sign. This means: a) someone fell down as they played instead of getting into the car like I told them to and is now bleeding in the yard; b) there is some wacko door-to-door salesman in the driveway "...who wants to talk to you, Mom"; c) someone threw my keys up onto the roof; or d) one of the boys bludgeoned the other in the race for the coveted front seat, and that child is now unconscious on the floor of the garage.
I'm only halfway kidding. I should know by now that "Get in the car" is open to many interpretations, and only occasionally is getting in the car in a timely fashion accomplished without my motherly supervision.
"Slow down, Ben."
"His head is stuck in one of the blocks, and he can't get it back through!!!"
I grumble under my breath as he utters the dreaded "Come're, I'll show you!!"
(As an aside, I have to say, if it's stray or in distress; if there is a neighborhood drama taking place, Ben, the social butterfly of the house, always finds it. Usually at an inopportune time. And I don't hear about it until he has had the chance to work his siblings up into a lather. It's awesome that he cares. It sucks...nah, I guess it doesn't really suck. It's just...Ben.)
I follow him out into the front door and across the street. Sure enough, my neighbor's dog's head is out the fence. We have block fences here, and usually one of the bottom blocks is turned onto its side for drainage purposes. The blocks have two holes in them, big square holes, the perfect size for the head of a small child, or dog.
Poor thing. He had just THE most pathetic look on his face. Another neighbor had been on her way to the grocery store, and her driveway faces this fence. As she was backing out, she saw the head, and stopped. I swear, one look in his eyes, and I could understand why she couldn't leave him.
At this point, all my kids were there, they all saw what was going on, and they all had that expectant, 'Mom, do something' look on their faces.
My neighbor and I talked. Apparently, she'd rung the doorbell, but the dog owners were not home. I talk to them on occasion, but have no phone number for them. We decided to try and get into the yard, even though they have another dog (both of the dogs are friendly, labs, and I have met them before too).
Once we realized we couldn't go through the closest fence, and climbing the wall was not an option (it seemed unstable, if you can believe that), I walked around the house to see if they had another gate, and luckily they did and it was unlocked. Nolan and I went into the backyard, thinking we would pull the dog back through, or at least try--when I saw he was at an awkward angle, and moving him was probably not a good idea.
My neighbor went for the cooking oil-lube up the head option, to see if this would help him slide it back out on his own. It didn't work. And everytime the dog tried to get his head through, he became a little frantic. His snout was small enough, but labs have big heads and a crest on top of their skulls. No way that was making it back through, and we sat down and patted his head, calming him, so he'd stop trying before he really hurt himself.
I called my vet, in desperation, hoping that they might have my neighbor in their files, but instead, they gave me a great idea. "Call the Humane Society, they have a rescue squad." Hurray! I figured that calling Rabies Animal Control might be anoption, but they mainly (I figured) deal in stray or dangerous animals, not stuck ones.
So I called the Humane Society, and they said someone would come out, and for us to stop trying to extricate the dog, as it might make his neck swell up, thus making things worse.
In the middle of this, a friend of the dog owners showed up, just as Mr W did. The guy disappeared into the backyard, and then called out to me over the fence that he couldn't budge the pup either. But he did have the dog owner's # and he called her. I was surprised when he told me my neighbors husband got deployed to Turkey, as I just saw him the other day. Great, just what the poor girl needs, I thought, alone, taking care of her two small boys, and the dog manages to pull a stunt like this? Oy. Doesn't the impossible stuff always happen when your spouse is away?
My kids were getting antsy that help was taking so long to arrive, so I sent them all inside to finish homework as it seemed we weren't going anywhere soon. Mr W hung out for a while then came and told me he had Rabies and Animal Control called out too. "Whoever gets here first, wins," he said, when I told him that now we'd have two sets of people responding. Good point.
The dog owner made it to the house by this time, and she was upset when she saw the dog. She thought we were talking about the regular gate, not the block wall, so she was upset to see her dog's head stuck in the wall like that. (It was rather unsettling, and weird, like he was in a guillotine or something.) The dog was still doing okay, only now that 'Mom' was home, he started to let a moan out every now and then.
My phone rang, and I answered it, thinking the Rescue team was lost, and I'd have to give directions. But it was the lady from the Humane Society. "We're about halfway there." "Okay. The dog owner is here now, but the dog is still stuck." "We should be there pretty soon. However, could you tell the dog owner, I am not sure, but are you familiar with the "Animal Rescue/EMT" show that we do with the Animal Planet channel?" "Yes." "Could you tell her that a film crew is coming along to this rescue, and they will be filming it, so anyone that doesn't want to be filmed should hang back a bit?" She's gotta be kidding, I thought.
I told everyone there. They thought I was kidding. Again, just what my poor neighbor needs, I thought. I had Ben fetch Mr W (who was sitting in his car across the way) and I told Mr W. Who promptly made himself scarce, unlike his children, who upon hearing the words "film crew" were abuzz, electrified by the thought of being immortalized in celluloid. (or would that be digitally?)
Even Nolan, who goes to great lengths not to get noticed, was pacing the sidewalk, looking for the rescue team truck.
I have to say, at this point, I am never making fun of the people on "COPS" again. I know I am not alone in ridiculing the people on that show, in a "who in the hell gets filmed wearing a yellow mumu/braless/shirtless (insert clothing or lack thereof here) voluntarily?" kind of way. Do you know why that is? Because sh** happens when you are not prepared for it, and the only people allowed to chose their wardrobe before being on camera are movie stars. So next time you see a lady in a housecoat and curlers on COPS, cut her a little slack. (We'll get to this again later.)
The Rabies Animal Control guy got to us first. However, he looked less than confident as he pondered the situation, and I was really glad to see the Humane Society truck show up a few minutes later.
I was less glad to see that indeed, a film crew was along.
I looked up to see that my garage door was closed. Mr W was NOWHERE in sight, and my children, they were right in the thick of things, so I could hardly escape without it looking like my kids were the abandoned neighborhood vagabond kids. Yeah, that'd play well on camera.
I slid into the shadows, where I could watch, but hopefully not be captured in the frame. I swear to you, the lights moved my direction, I scrambled like a vampire avoiding the sun. I tried to, anyway. It was kinda hard to be totally uninvolved when I had to keep calling the kids out of the way, or rounding up whoever was missing (because they were looking over everyone's shoulder, like I said, they were totally in the thick of things).
The rescue lady wound up using a hammer and chisel to break the block away, and finally, the dog was free. He was a bit greasy from our Crisco attempt, but just fine.
As I rounded the front of the truck, to grab Audrey as she was heading into the backyard again, one of the film crew guys says to me, "You're the mother to all these..?" as he gestures towards the kids with a sweep of his arm. I was tempted to say I'd never seen them before in my life, but I said "Yeah."
"Could you sign one of our disclosure forms so they can be in the show? I have a good feeling about this one making it to the air. We're filming next season's shows, they start in February, this one would probably air in March."
I mentally tally the situation: husband/pet owner deployed, kids everywhere, a doggie in distress in an unusual situation, but rescued and fine?? How could it not make it?
I go with the flow. "Sure," I reply. He hands me a form.
"Where do I write their names?" I asked, as I looked it over. In the dark. Resting it on the hood of their truck.
"Oh, that form is for you."
(oh, shit, no, no, no.) "But I wasn't in the middle of things, not really."
"I'm just covering my bases, and getting one from everyone on scene."
I take a second and ponder what this means. And try not to obsess that I have braided ponytails in my hair, not to mention no lippy, and hardly any makeup on as well as the fact that I had not jumped in the shower (yet) at all. I was wearing a shirt I am a little ashamed to admit now that I'd had on the day before, and a jacket that had seen better days. Topping things off, while my children are quite photogenic (I'm the Mom, I can say that) I am not.
(You know how some people could roll out of bed, and look like they could grace a magazine cover? They could be in the middle of the rainforest for weeks, no coif, no makeup, and there are small angels circling their head in their photos, punctuating their otherworldly beauty? Not me. The school retake option? My saving grace.)
It was really too late to worry about that now, after the fact, all I can do is hope for some good editing.
Filling the forms out, I conjure up just what punishment I will inflict on my husband for leaving me out there alone. (I guess I could have opted out and not signed, but the kids pressed in around me, like they knew what I was thinking, and I caved. And Ben asked me, I am not kidding, he asked me, "Mom, I don't mean to be rude, but what's for dinner?" AAAAAHHHHH!!!)
I took some consolation that when the crew and rescuer left, my neighbors were also cringing at "my hair is sticking up" and "I'm covered with dirt, dog, and oil." Yeah, we had warning we might be filmed. But the doggie didn't deserve us leaving him to primp.
And he's okay, which is what it was all about to begin with.
Keep that in mind if the episode ever airs, and you see a skulking ponytailed bystander calling her wayward children out of the light, off the sidewalk, and into the road.
"Do you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, that you've done your good deed for the day?" Mr W asked me, once we got back inside.
He's lucky I was sitting down, trying to warm up again.
Or I'd have clocked him one for sure.
Wouldn't that make a nice episode of COPS?