Saturday, April 16, 2016

Believer: Finding Cracker Jack

That old Neil Diamond song, 'I'm a Believer' plays in my head this morning as I try to collect all of the experiences I had searching for Cracker Jack, lost since April 12. I want to tell anyone who's ever lost a pet to keep trying, never to give up.

Cracker Jack was lost while in transport from Fort Worth Shelter. Texas Cattle Dog had pulled him and we were working together to get him into Reunion Rescue to be adopted. Life had other plans. When the transport stopped, this timid little fellow bolted by the Vermeer plant about 10 miles north of Waco, Texas.

I drove to Waco that afternoon to help organize a search to find Cracker Jack. We were joined by Nancy, Sara, Connie, Julie and Kris  who dropped everything and came a running to help. Cracker Jack was spotted two times, but too skittish to come to us.

I spent the night in Waco and started out early the next morning to try and track him. We'd set up a large coyote trap on the property of Mr. Lander and his sister Mrs. Blaschke who are some of the kindest people I've ever met and typical of good Texas people.

I saw CJ that morning, but he still wasn't ready to be caught. We spent that day waiting to spot him again, but Cracker Jack remained elusive.

I finally had to return to Austin as Scott had his hands full here at the refuge. It was almost more work cleaning up after being gone for two days than had they been on their own. I say that with a smile, but it was a mess.

The next morning, I began posting on Facebook and created a lost poster. What began was a worldwide search from all over the globe, everyone wanting to help find Cracker Jack. Last week was an incredibly long week, but I kept trying, kept posting, kept hoping.

Cracker Jack already had a Facebook page where we posted his photos and attempts to find him. I traveled back to Waco the following Saturday, April 19. It was a hard day. I made the mistake of waiting to make copies. Word to the wise.....don't try to find a copy machine in Waco. I got into a scuffle at the H.E.B. where they'd only allow me to purchase 25 copies. A kindly loan company in the strip mall and a cell phone store worked together and donated 150 copies to find Cracker Jack.

We'd ordered some bright yellow corrugated signs and posted those along IH-35 so that anyone who accessed the highway would see that we were looking for a 'lost little spotty dog.' I began plastering the rural neighborhood with reward posters, one at every home. Only 208 people live in Ross, Texas and by the end of the day, I'd posted 150 posters.

Patti throughout this effort had been communicating with CJ, his preferred name. He really likes being called CJ and kept telling Patti he was fine. He was being fed and getting water. Still, I wanted to find out where he was and bring him home. Patti had been given the gift of animal communication through Benny whose story is documented on Benny's Path.

I'd done everything I could and still no Cracker Jack. I had to get home and care for the animals here. My sister, Martha, was visiting from Sebastopol and we were able to have a nice lunch. She always has a calming effect on me.

I got up the next morning to begin hitting the internet and edit my daily newspaper, Mad Dog Press. I couldn't believe what I was looking at in my email box. From 24Petwatch, the microchip company, was a notice that Cracker Jack had been found and was at the Waco Animal Control and Central Texas Humane Society. The two groups merged to care for Waco animals.

I couldn't believe it. I began trying to call and when I got through, was informed that yes, it was indeed Cracker Jack and he'd been identified by his microchip. Connie ran over to the shelter and confirmed with a photo, the one of CJ grinning at the top of this blog.

Again, I locked everyone down here and put the pedal to the metal heading for Waco, about a two hour trip. I was never so happy to walk into an animal control as I was that day. The staff was kind and generous. I had to wonder how many animals we could save in our world if every shelter adopted the attitude of this shelter.

I was to discover Lacy Lakeview ACO Guy Thornley had been responsible for getting CJ to Central Texas Humane Society. A lady had discovered CJ in her backyard Thursday. He'd climbed the fence to seek shelter, but I know he was letting himself be 'caught' on his terms.

As we drove home, I stopped and got CJ some grilled weiners which he snarfed up. I wanted him to

When Cracker Jack was missing, I kept hearing the song by Jamestown Revival, Fur Coat Blues. "I've got a very troubled mind...ten feet to go and ten feet behind....

...lately I'm scared of being alive and I got my own dog barking when I walk inside...."

No matter how desperate I was feeling, the words of this song helped me feel hopeful and alive.
The dogs were barking when we arrived home. I was joyful and filled everyone's supper bowl with ground fresh organic chicken and quarters. Cracker Jack joined in and finished his first raw dinner proper.

I'd had CJ on lockdown in a crate all the way home, but around Jerrell, he began to whine. He barked a couple of times and as had been his message to Patti regarding his being lost, he had needed to potty. As luck would have it, the gas gauge was on empty so I pulled into a station and filled up. Again, as lady luck reared her head, there happened to be a fenced plot of land behind the station as one sees in little Texas towns.

I want CJ know he is plenty loved and that I am here to learn from him. I do not believe in accidents and feel with my whole heart CJ was sent to me to teach me how to be a better person. I don't try to make deals with God, but when I was desperate and seeking for answers, I made a promise should CJ be returned to me, I would remember to stop throughout my 'busy' day and be present for anyone who needs me. That is what Cracker Jack has taught me and a promise I will do my best to fulfill.

I knew I was taking a chance, but that's what life is, taking chances and learning to trust. Cracker Jack had trusted and let himself be caught. Fort Worth shelter had to dart him to capture him and he is one little savvy dog. He wasn't going anywhere near 'the trap'...his words.

To everyone who's ever lost a pet, keep hoping keep believing, keep trying...let your loss be your lesson...

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