See, the problem is I’ve been so neglectful of my blogging you’re going to read the title and think, “Franco? Who is Franco?” You might even think James Franco which is a third of the way close. Franco is my nine-year-old, 3.5-pound Chihuahua rescue dog. His full name is James Joplin Franco. I named him that from Kilo – which I felt was mocking him.
Last night Franco was lost and running the streets of New Westminster in the darkness and I nearly lost it myself.
The feeling was like a boulder in my sternum actually. You know, right where the happy butterflies fly around in a perfect world? I was gone all day and Franco had a play date with a Dachshund named Beanie and some humans. I remember driving back to him and thinking how I was looking forward to seeing his squirmy, flailing, skittish little ass end running toward me with his little tail wagging so fervently that sometimes it looks like a propeller.
I walked in and was all, “Frannnnco, Francoooo, Franco? Frannnnco? Fran-co?!” He didn’t come running to me and that’s when my stomach landed heavily on top of my feet. Franco was missing. He wasn’t under beds or in cupboards or hiding in the basement. He was really and truly lost outside somewhere.
I’ve had animals all my life. All kinds. Gerbils, rats, fish, cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, caterpillars, injured birds, moles, mice, Canada goose eggs. I don’t discriminate. I remember spending hours calling my cats in at night when I was a kid. I remember my dogs Sam and Billy running rampant through the streets of Kanata after my childhood home was on fire. I remember missing pets and wanting them back. I don’t remember feeling like I did when Franco was missing.
I was walking around like a possessed maniac, calling his name every 2nd heart beat. A rush of sadness and hopelessness came over me with every 10th heartbeat and my Francos came out in a shaky whimper. Franco please, I remember saying over again. In the distance I could hear children calling him. I could hear the adults. It was dark and so hard to see anything. We all split up. I could hear distant echoes of varying intonations but it was the same name we were all calling. Franco’s.
As I was searching I thought about how small he is and how “indoor” he is. He is not an intrepid hound dog big enough to defend himself and explore and know how to survive until someone picks him up and traces him back to me. He is 5x less than the weight of my CATS. I thought about cars hitting him, bigger dogs finding him, coyotes, someone picking him up and making him theirs. I thought about never seeing his little face and wiggly body again and I was so incredibly sad. So immensely sad. I was so sad that I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t cry. I mean, my voice was shaking but I was unable to let out a cry, it was completely stuck inside me and boy did it hurt my throat. I also didn’t want to cry in front of the people helping me look for him. For some reason I felt as though I didn’t want them to see how in love with Franco I really am. Some people don’t understand that kind of pet love and crying over it is awkward for them.
So I kept it together on the outside for an hour as best as I possibly could.
Eventually I made my way back to the house and figured I should call him from one place. That the speed and irregular lines at which I was walking would make even a leopard confused. I went back to ground zero and called him over and over again from the front stoop. The rest of the search party was out and about, talking to the late night dog-walkers, “Have you seen a little Chihuahua?” “No, sorry,” they all said.
I went inside to rummage for my cell phone to see if BCSPCA had called me. It was ringing and it was someone who was in the search party. Franco was found. He was one block over and one block down. Whatever happened after that I can’t remember. I don’t remember walking, I don’t remember talking. I wasn’t alone. I was walking with someone and talking to them but I barely remember it. I do remember knocking on the door and saying that I wasn’t going to feel relief until I actually saw him. But there he was. His tail was propelling before he even left the young lady’s arms. He came into mine and licked my neck and cheeks and they all went “Awwww.” And I just held him so close to my chest and he just stayed there breathing heavily.
They were a really nice family, living in a really nice home, and he had some roast beef for dinner. They were smitten by my little Franco dog and I think they were as happy as I was that we were reunited. We carried on talking for about five minutes and I don’t remember what we talked about except they were happy to learn of his name because they were running through all sorts to figure it out. I walked home, everyone in the search party gave him some forehead tickles and chin scratches and were were off.
I got into my car and let out what I’m certain was my first exhale since realising he was missing and it felt like a huge relief. I remember crying a bit at that time just sitting in my car before starting it. Funny how it was stuck, or maybe I held out until I was alone with him. Maybe it’s how I kept my wits about me. I don’t know.
But, I know I’m happy he’s still with me.