Jun 12, 2009

A Dog By Raffle

It would come down to a raffle ticket. Anyone who was interested in the corgi in Kennel 7 at the Pomona shelter had to come in between 8 and 9:45am and turn in their application. You couldn't turn it in ahead of time, had to be this morning, between 8 and 9:45am. At 9:45 they would close applications. And if there were more than one applicant, they would hold a raffle. You had to be present for the raffle at 10:02 am. In Pomona.

I hadn't heard from my agents in two months. And whaddya know, but I got an audition for 10:30am. In Santa Monica. 60 miles away from Kennel 7 in Pomona. Now, often commercial castings will have a category open for an hour or two. But my agent's assistant was brand new, trying to figure everything out and do it punctiliously, so when I asked her for the casting window, it was as if I'd launched a virus in her brain. Poor gal, I could see her sitting at that busy desk in that manic office. I said yes and hung up.

Larry had back to back meetings, so he couldn't go to the shelter. Larry's heart sank. "I had a feeling just as I came home, that something was going to keep us from getting him."

"Don't think like that. I'm not giving up. I'm going there. I'll find a way."

I loaded the dog crate in the back of the car; the one I drove 30 miles to buy off a guy in Encino. And the dog collar and leash I got Larry for Valentine's Day. I kept my mind on the what ifs. What if I got the dog but because I had to go to Santa Monica they'd give it so someone else? What if someone else got the dog? I put those thoughts out of my head.

It's just a dog, right? It feels silly. We have friends who can't get pregnant, friends who've had miscarriages -- one who miscarried in her seventh month. And our friends who are trying to adopt overseas. They are really going through the ringer. This is nothing comparatively. But this is what happens when you get too old to have kids or raise kids. You get pets. And well, Larry needs a buddy. I'm going to be traveling a good deal this fall, and I don't like the thought of Larry alone and lonely. Larry's such a soft-hearted guy; he cries whenever we go to the pound. It's one of the reason I love him. True, I wish he looked good in more daring footwear like Doug can pull off. But overall Larry's got everything right. Including that soft heart.

So I was glad it was I who was driving down there to face the nerve-wracking drama in Kennel 7. I'd first seen the Corgi on Craigslist. "Is This your dog?" the post asked, hoping to reach the owner. "I couldn't keep it; I took it to the Pomona shelter." I went last Friday hoping to find him, but he wasn't there. I'd hoped his true owner found him.

But the following day we were at Corgi Fun day, and passed the shelter on the way back. "let's stop just in case." And there in Kennel 7, was Craigslist Corgi. He was adorable, sweet, alert, interested. He wasn't available unitl the following Friday. We wanted him. But so did an Asian couple at the shelter. I'd just witnessed two young Asian women with massive boob jobs at Corgi fun day. They'd parked their luxury SUV in the fire lane and left it there so they could go off and show off their uh, corgis. Now this Asian couple was drooling over our boy. The woman, in stiletto heels barked at her husband: "you are coming back for him on Friday!" I wasn't having a good experience with Asians that day.

Friday came today, and I hoped I wouldn't see her. I arrived at 8:15 and turned in my application. I was the first person there. The lady behind the desk smiled." Oh he's a really sweet dog!"

"Yeah," I laughed, "We've kind of been pining for him." She took the application and left the front desk area. Maybe she held the raffle. Maybe she made the decisions about who was raffle-worthy? Maybe she saw the longing in my face.

I sat in the parking lot for 90 minutes. Finally the dashboard read 9:44. I went back. "Yes, there's going to be a raffle for him," she said. There were other applications for him.

I looked at the people milling in the breezeway: an old white guy with a trucker hat. An elderly white lady; an Hispanic woman and her nervous daughter. A couple in their thirties. A group of four Asian 20-somethings, a Chinese guy with a pot belly. I say "Chinese because he looked like a Chinese friend of mine. I hoped he wasn't the guy whose high-heeled wife barked at him to "go get him on Friday."

My heart was racing. This was silly! I thought of Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets," crying over Verdel and then scoffing, "Over a dog!" at his own tears.

"Everyone inside for Kennel 7," a lady said flatly. We marched in. She made sure we were all present: no absentee applicants. Then she pulled out four raffle tickets -- four of those yellow paper tickets you see at a carnival. Oh my, they really did mean it. It was a raffle, with random raffle odds. No factoring in the fact I saw him on craigslist a week ago or had come to see him twice since then. No it was all a raffle crap shoot. The woman tore off four tickets, kept her corresponding tickets and threw the other four into a tin lid.

Go ahead, she said, "pick one." We stood there for a moment. I was closest to the lid. I reached and took the one on top. Oh god I should have fished around. I should have fished for another one!" This was so random and lame.

We all got our tickets. The lady shook the tin and picked a ticket.
She read out the number.
It was not our number.

The Corgi went to the pot bellied Chinese guy, who may/may not have a wife at home with stiletto heels.

"You're welcome to go look at all the other dogs we have available," the lady said.

I got into the car and cried. And how ridiculous, that I'd bothered to pray about it; an act that would make Richard Dawkins sneer. And maybe I should sneer at my own stupidity. God is the creator of the universe, he doesn't get involved. He has more important things to deal with, like world peace and Darfur and clean water in Africa. And so my little middle class white girl's disappointment is meaningless to him.

But then I wonder, you know, why "take it to the Lord in prayer?" Why bring your heart to Someone who doesn't give a flying wallenda, or is just too powerful, and important to give a flying wallenda. He still doesn't give a flying wallenda. So why why bother? And then was Larry to call -- Larry with his soft heart and inevitable tears, waiting to hear about a forever friend who was not coming home. Yes I know God is good, all the time. I know I'll get over it. I know that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well." No shizzle, Spinozza. It won't come soon enough.

I drove 60 miles to Santa Monica with an empty kennel in my car and a lump in my throat.


Joe said...

So sorry Susan. I'm crying with you.

Mike said...

There are no words.... only emoticons... and they fail horribly, not not as much as words so...

:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

Claudia said...

I'm a little bit embarrased by just how avidly I'm following your dog story, and I just can't say how sorry I am to read the latest.

If God is interested enough to ask us to pray: give us this day, our daily bread - then I think he's definitely interested enough for you to pray : give us very soon, our forever corgi!

I'll happily say amen to that.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your pain. And it was so brave of you to try for this little guy, also, after already having disappointment.

Kim Gottschild said...

Susan, I'm so rooting for you and Larry to find a dog! And I'm feeling your pain. We love dogs, too, and we hope you have the joy of finding one very soon!

I just wish I could take you down to southern Indiana with me (we live north of Indy), where strays abound and you could have your pick! For free! Well, minus the deworming and heartworm treatment, but other than that...

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