Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Dognapper

If you steal your roommate's dog, make sure it looks like a run-away scenario. It should go down like this:

Step 1: Ensure the roommate is out of the house at the time of the heist. Step 2: Leave all the dog's belongings behind, especially the kennel. Step 3: Leave the door ajar when you leave to create the illusion that the dog left of its own volition. Step 4: Buy a kennel on the way to the airport. Step 5: Check as luggage when you get there and fly far, far away.

I had this chance when I rescued my roommate's Chihuahua, Peanut, but I was so flustered by the prospect of taking the dog that, in the heat of the moment, I left a note instead. It read, Tabby*, I've taken your dog to the pound. It's better for everyone concerned. Don't bother trying to find him - you've neglected him for too long. I slid the note under her door, and boarded a bus to the Toronto airport.

On the plane to Vancouver, with Peanut's kennel stowed in the luggage compartment below, I developed the comprehensive system of dog-napping mentioned above, realizing that I should have developed it the day before. Oh well. I decided that I would change his name to Patrick Swayze, thereby altering his identity so he could live on the lam together forever. In a perfect world, Peanut and I would live peacefully by passing our days in the abundant British Columbian meadows under vibrant double rainbows while deer and squirrels marveled at our exquisite frolicking skills.

Instead, I returned home to find a series of frantic, caps-locked Facebook messages from Tabby stating that OH MY GAWD I LOVED THAT DOG SO MUCH HOW COULD YOU TAKE HIM U PSYKO!!!! and that she SERCHD ALL THE POUNDZ AND PEANUT ISNT THEIR!!!!

Here was a person who locked her dog in a kennel in the hallway for the first three days he lived with us, and then talked incessantly of getting rid of him every time she opened her mouth. But now that her eccentric former roommate had whisked away her beloved Peanut... well, I guess her reaction was understandable. As power-ballad powerhouses Cinderella philosophized in 1988, "You don't know what you got till it's gone."

Tabby and I got along fine at first, but she was the sort who liked little accessories that fit into her vast collection of purses - and that included Peanut. It was clear from the way she regarded her pet that all she wanted was something fluffy to hug on occasion, without any of the icky responsibilities that came with owning a dog.

What love he hath lost, this poor Peanut. He was no bigger than a Rottweiler's turd and about the same colour. He pissed wherever he pleased and didn't give a damn about it. While this was certainly a symptom of poor house-training on Tabby's part, it said to me he had that right idea about life. I loved him immediately.

He was smaller than most Chihuahua's, and because he pranced when he walked, I had trouble believing he was a man, but I assumed responsibility over him anyway. With Tabby out of the equation, he adopted me as his owner within the week. We'd go for walks - me, wearing lumberjack flannel and a full beard while an effeminate pooch attached to a Louis Vitton leash danced around my ankles. At night, he'd curl up like a furry Danish at the foot of my bed. It was love.

Yet I deferred the serious responsibilities to Tabby, like bathing him or buying him food. It was her dog after all. As a result, he wasn't eating much.

"You can't leave him here," my friend Lauren said one day. We were discussing my impending move to Vancouver and she was holding the dog on her lap, running her hands through his protruding rib cage. His coat had lost some of its sheen and he was shedding more than usual. "Does your roommate even feed him? She hasn't even had him neutered. What kind of cruelty is that? Look at how cute he is."

"Well what am I supposed to do? Just take him?"

It was an option. Lauren and I debated the ethics of the decision over the course of a week: on the one hand, he'd lead a miserable, neglected life if he stayed in Toronto. On the other, I'd be a criminal if I took him. I decided that morality trumped lawfulness in this case and only I could provide the life that Peanut deserved.

I questioned the sanity of this decision for days until I discovered that Tabby had gone away to visit family over the Easter Long Weekend without telling anyone, and had left Peanut behind.

"That's it!" I exclaimed. I looked down at the dog. He was at my feet, wagging his little tail in what was certainly anticipation for my bold declaration. "Dog! You're coming with me!"

It's no big deal, I kept telling myself, Tabby will probably be relieved!

But it seemed my rescue attempt was grossly underappreciated and I couldn't in good conscience keep the dog,.

Step 6: Fly the dog home once your theft is discovered.

*Name changed, for obvious reasons.

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