Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Stolen Dog by Tricia O'Malley

Chapter 1

There is something to be said of the human-animal bond — you know that whole man’s-best-friend thing. Either you get it or you don’t. Dogs have inspired humans to make fools of themselves for years. Whether you are a tough guy who coos sweet nothings to your dog or an owner who switches dog collars based on the day of the week — once an animal has entered into your life, it is impossible to remain untouched. There is something instinctive about this bond: the adoration the animal has for you, the laughter and companionship they bring to your life, and your willingness — and responsibility — to be their protector. That’s how it works when you sign on to be a pet owner; above all else, you commit to protecting them.

Josh and I took our roles as new pet owners very seriously. Before we decided to get Briggs, we studied breeds for months. We argued tirelessly about which breed would be best for the space we had, what kind of dog would suit our personalities, and so on. Finally, we settled on a Boston terrier, a good-natured, happy breed that does well in city environments and smaller spaces.

Our three-story townhome on Milwaukee’s East Side had virtually no yard, but several parks were just a happy dog walk away. Plus, our small side yard, which was tucked behind a neighborhood church, offered a place where our new pet could take care of business quickly and sniff around freely.

After careful research, we decided we wanted to get our puppy from a reputable breeder who specifically bred for temperament and love of the breed. We weren’t interested in a perfect show dog — just a happy, healthy puppy to join our family. Armed with our research, Josh and I visited the breeder in southern Illinois to ensure that it was a tip-top operation.

The drive was six hours each way. Eight of those twelve hours were spent arguing over potential names; one was spent arguing about the speeding ticket I earned; and the rest were spent in happy discussion about how adorable our new puppy was. When we met the litter, we knew immediately that ours was the runt and the oddball of the group. Tiny, with too-big ears, he squeaked adoringly at us and melted our hearts.

Being the responsible (slightly-obsessive) first-time dog owners that we were, we spent the next eight weeks reading books on Boston terriers, investigating training methods, and getting all the necessary components for creating a puppy-proof home.

The day finally arrived when we could pick up our puppy, Briggs. Our drive was significantly shorter this time, as the breeder agreed to drive just north of Chicago to meet us at a rest area where the “exchange” could be made.

A laugh tore from me the second that I set eyes on Briggs. The most recent pictures had made him appear significantly larger.

He was tiny. Tiny in an — I’ll-kill-him-if-I-accidentally-step-on-him — sort of way. Immediately in love, we cuddled our new addition to the family. Briggs stared up at us with his warm brown eyes, and stretching up from my arms, he gave both of us a lick.

We’d been approved.

I insisted that we attempt to potty Briggs prior to the ride home. As he ran in circles around Josh, his little body vibrating with joy as he tugged the leash in his puppy teeth, I cried from laughter. This nine pounds of energy was going to give us a run for our money. Ready to begin the journey home, we climbed into the car, Josh cradling our precious new bundle, a bundle that he proceeded to drop between the seat of the car and the door.

Headfirst, that is.

Annnnd, welcome to the family, I thought.

Briggs quickly became the light of our lives, his silly antics pervading our daily emails and text messages. His quirks kept us constantly laughing. From his deep distrust of plastic garbage bags (an environmentalist, perhaps?) to his vicious barking attacks at cooking tongs, he consistently surprised and amused us.

His natural inclination for hilarity revealed itself whenever I attempted to hang up my clothes. Every time a hanger crossed his line of sight, Briggs went through the roof, barking and dancing his way across the room, eyes rolled back in fury. I secretly applauded his stance on putting clothes away. Who really likes to do that anyway?

With an innate sense of humor, Briggs’ actions soon had a following among our friends on Facebook. Our research had enlightened us to the fact that Boston’s have a sense of humor, but we never expected the immense depth of this personality trait, especially in a dog.

Everywhere we went people were naturally drawn to Briggs. He radiated happiness and loved people. From the dog park to Josh’s hurling matches with the Milwaukee Hurling Club (an Irish sport similar to rugby), our dog was a favorite. A wiggly-butt dog, he often laid his ears flat and shimmied his way up to anyone willing to give him attention. Little did we know then that the impact our sweet puppy had on others would benefit him in more ways than we could have ever possibly imagined.


The Stolen Dog

When Briggs, a Boston terrier, is stolen from his family's deck and shoved into a waiting car, a chain of events unfold that shakes the city. The Stolen Dog follows Tricia and Josh, Briggs' owners, as they fight a force unknown, enduring death threats, psychic interventions, false leads, fake set-ups, and the threat of dog fighting. A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of love, fearlessness, and hope — a captivating view of the best and worst of humanity — The Stolen Dog will make you hug your pets closer.

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to animal rescues.

The Stolen Dog is a true story.

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Genre - Pets/Narratives/Essays/Breeds/General

Rating –PG-13

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