Losing Pixy

| 02 Nov 2012 | 01:21

When I got home from work and her mop-topped silhouette wasn’t quivering in the screen door, I knew. Pixy was gone. If there’s anything worse than losing your dog, it has to be losing someone else’s. We had begged for my uncle’s cockapoo to come stay on the farm. Sure, he said, Pixy was getting pudgy in her Times Square penthouse and a farm visit would do her good. And now, because I hadn’t shut the door properly, a 14-pound citified lapdog was out there, alone. I stood in the door and channeled Pixy. A love-monger, she’d head straight for the closest people. Across Union Corners Road is the town park, where children play soccer while parents cheer and coaches have aneurisms. On Union Corners Road are buses, trucks, pickups, SUVs, that ridiculous white Hummer. I biked over to the park, scanning the roadsides, and started asking: soccer moms, disc golfers, kids. I got no shortage of sympathy, but no sightings. I thought I heard a high-pitched yelp. I stuck four fingers in my mouth and blew, sounding like a randy old lady who’s been smoking for 75 years. A few more tries and I finally got the piercing sound that travels. Every dog within half a mile replied, but I didn’t hear that yelp. Had it been an echo? An auditory hallucination? Was this an anxiety dream stemming from fears about being a bad parent (I was, at this point, 38 weeks pregnant)? I slapped myself across the face and didn’t wake up. Back to channeling Pixy. Pixy is more of a people dog than a dog dog, but first and foremost she likes to be where the action is. There’s usually some activity, both canine and human, at the new dog park. Maybe someone had let her into the dog run and she couldn’t get out. When I got within sight of the run, I stood in my bike saddle and started pumping. It was a small white dog convention, four potential Pixies sniffing rear-ends. But that dog had a tail, that dog had pointy ears, that dog was ugly… no Pixy. The sun was setting, taking hope down with it. My legs were jelly but I had to keep moving. Fatigue blunted my mind, which otherwise dwelt on the image of a shivering Pixy baring her tiny teeth in a futile defense against circling coyotes. Thinking meant processing the knowledge that it was I who had let this happen, and it was I who was going to have to pick up the phone and tell my uncle’s family that their little polar bear was not coming home. That thought had the effect of a cattle prod. I would do anything not to have to make that call. I swapped bike for car and drove through the town park with my brights on. A small white animal scurried across the road. Pixy!? Opossum. The nocturnal creatures were out. How would Pixy fare against an opossum? If she was still out there, there was no longer much chance of my finding her this way. It was time to move on to plan B: canvass the neighbors. Headlamp on head, I trudged up to one door after another, freaking people out as they were cooking dinner or watching football. One couple was hesitant to open the door. They said they’d had an attempted break-in recently. That got me wondering about dognappers. Pixy is an expensive dog. Eventually I had to call it a night. I dragged my sleeping bag out to the hammock. It was mid-September, the days still summery but the nights bringing the chill that turns the leaves. Even in my sub-zero bag, my feet and hands were icy. I slept in snatches, dreaming Pixy and I were walking together somewhere sunny, maybe Greece. I woke around 5 a.m. to – was it a dream? – Pixy screaming. I wandered through brambles calling until my pants were wet to the thigh. When the sun came up, it lit up thousands of cobwebs festooning the meadow’s tall grasses. A neon-splotched spider embraced her breakfast. Why is it that life’s most chaotic nights are so often the most beautiful? Is it just that you’re up at an unusual hour? Inside, Joe and I ate breakfast in silence. She’d only been at the house two days, but if we didn’t find her we were going to have to move. The place was haunted by the lack of her. Yesterday, I’d been annoyed by the pawmarks Pixy left on the couch after a swim in the pond. Today, what wouldn’t I give to see fresh ones? At eight a.m. I started calling the Humane Society, even though they don’t open til noon. At 11 a.m. they picked up. A white cockapoo? Eternal pause while the lady went into the back room to check... Yep, they had her. Someone saw her running in the middle of Union Corners Road and brought her in. (So much for her city smarts.) What, the lady asked, was her name? I’d done a c-minus job of holding it together over the last 18 hours, and now I lost it completely. It was all I could do to spit out one letter at a time between sobs: “P-I-X-Y.” Two hours and a pile of paperwork later, Pixy trotted out of the kennel, bum waggling. I buried my nose in her neck and called her unpublishable names. She smelled of warm hay.