I ate brunch today wondering what that strange sound was. It was like a saw, kind of rhythmic, only with a spooky squealy quality about it. Loud, too, though it'd kind of stop for a little while, and then start again. Quite relentless. I figured it must be workmen nearby cutting something mysterious. It went on and on and on. Vaguely disturbing, but not enough for me to investigate. It sounded a fair way off.
After I'd read the paper, I went out into the lane to bring in the rubbish bins. Not because I'm efficient like that, but because I am liable to reverse over them with my car if I don't.
And this was when I realised that the weird, disturbing squealy sound was coming from inside my neighbour's garage. And it was no saw. It was their dog.
The neighbours have a little Pomeranian, a breed I don't usually have much time for - I've had a couple try to take my hand off and one very nearly succeed - but this one is an impressive escape artist who, as often as not, escapes to our house because she loves Angel (in whose mouth she could effortlessly fit), or wanders the western suburbs at her leisure, until some kind person picks her up and returns her. To our house. Her freewheeling, thrillseeking ways and a rather disarming tendency to dance happily in neat little circles as a way of expressing pleasure meant that she inevitably grew on me. The kids adore her. Her name is Meena.
That unholy racket was coming from a dog the size of a side plate. At close range it was hair-raising, I have never heard an animal make a sound like that in my life. One thing was certain. Whatever she'd managed to do to herself, she was in a shitload of pain.
Not even stopping to consider whether the neighbours might possibly be home (not with that sound in their yard, they weren't), or even checking to see if anyone was watching me B & E in broad daylight, I vaulted up onto the rubbish bins and over their back gate (I didn't actually know I could do that) to find Meena's body sticking out from under the garage door, and her head well and truly on the other side. It's a remote access garage, which means that it had closed automatically, very neatly and quite completely, over her neck, as her owner drove off for work that morning, completely unaware, and had remained that way ever since. Which means she had been stuck there, screaming, for about 6 hours. It also means that I had no way of getting her out without breaking her neck. I couldn't even kick the garage door in, for fear of killing her. And the house was locked up like Fort Knox. I didn't even have their phone number.
In a blind panic, I rang the fire brigade. I didn't know what else to do, and that's what they do in the movies, right?
15 minutes later, I'd talked four reticent firemen into jumping the back fence and we had not only busted into the neighbour's yard, but also completely screwed their garage door, jacking it up. And I'll have you know, in case you're thinking I'm making a Big Fuss Over a Small Dog, once they heard the sound that animal was making, every blokey bloke one of them turned as white as a sheet and, not even bothering to try picking the locks, just jimmied the fucker up. Fuck it.
What did threaten to break my heart, though, was that as long as I had my hand on her, and kept talking with my Best Soothing Voice That I Only Ever Use in a Crisis, Meena would be completely quiet. So quiet, in fact, that at one point I thought she was already dead. I suspect that she knew perfectly well that I was the only person who stood a chance of hearing her, and was waiting for me to come. Dogs are canny, like that. And it had taken me so very long to twig. I can't tell you how that made me feel.
As good as it felt to see her freed, we weren't out of the woods yet. Shock is the biggest killer of small animals, and she was in a Bad Way, so it was straight to the Vet's, where she was promptly sedated out of her skull for the afternoon and closely monitored, and then on to intensive care for the night, because she was still so far gone. I managed to rack up $500 worth of vet bills before dinner, and another $200 before bedtime. Can't tell you how relieved I was to finally get hold of the neighbours and learn that I had done the Right Thing and they were Actually Okay about the break in, the garage door and the expenditure. Not everybody believes in taking out a 2nd mortgage on the house to save your dog. And have I mentioned that these people also happen to be my landlords, so a false move could conceivably have rendered me homeless? Having said that, I admit that I deliberated for about one second before I made the decision to do exactly the same as I would do for my own dog. And I'd do it again.
Anyway, she's still alive, defying the odds like the free-spirited little headbanger that she is. I suspect she would have kept yelling till her last breath, despite her Certain Age (which is 16 - I nearly fell over when they told me that, I had her picked for about 3), and if she can get through an ordeal like today's without rupturing a vital organ or breaking any bones, a night in hospital on the sauce should be a walk in the park.
And this is one lucky dog we're talking about, here. If she'd been any larger, that door would have broken her neck. If she'd been in any other position, ditto. Six inches further along, and it would have crushed her rib cage and killed her. It landed on the one spot she could survive, albeit fabulously uncomfortably, for as long as she did. Of course, it could also be argued that if she'd been in her basket like a nomal person, none of this would have happened, but anyway...
This photo was taken a few weeks ago, after one of her Daring Escapes. Tonight, her resting position is considerably more supine, and with much more head support.
Ten bucks says she makes it.