Sala’s Return, Nacogdoches TX
Well this is a sad story, but it’s yet another that reaffirms the power of photography for me. I’ll start at the end and let you know that Sala is okay. He’s going into surgery this morning to repair a broken leg and should make a complete recovery within 6 to 8 weeks.
The story starts with Nini’s aunt coming to visit her sister (Nini’s other aunt) in Houston. We planned to be in Houston from Friday to Sunday and lined up our dogsitter to come and stay at our house with the boys. Our dogsitter is a very responsible, truly good person, who came and stayed with the dogs for 5 days when we went to Chicago a while back. Sadly, on Thursday his puppy came down with parvo in between parvo vaccinations, and we contemplated bringing Sala with us so that he wouldn’t catch parvo from the dogsitter. I took Sala to the vet Friday morning for a parvo booster and we were assured that he would be fine. Even still, I thought about staying back so that our dogsitter could focus on his own recovering puppy, but his puppy was making a speedy recovery and he felt comfortable sitting anyway. So we leave and have a great time in Houston. Sunday evening we left for Conroe where I met with Sarah for two bridal sessions. We get done with the first one and are in route to the second when we get a call from the dogsitter. My heart sank immediately because he never calls. Sala is lost. He escaped the backyard and is no where to be found. We start the second shoot, hoping the dogsitter will call back quickly and say Sala is home or he found him, or something. But after about 30 minutes we cannot take it anymore and abruptly leave the shoot and speed back to Nac. Two and a half hours and one missing dog police report later and we’re driving around town with our bright lights on shouting Sala’s name and asking strangers if they’ve seen any strays. No luck. I drop Nini at home, print off 30 lost dog signs with my number on it, grab Big Red and hit the road. We stayed out all night. Big Red and I hiked the creek trail by flashlight and full moon, shouting Sala’s name, and heard not so much as a rustle in the leaves. I put up the 30 lost dog flyers and went home for some rest. After an hour nap, Big Red and I are driving around again, desperately searching for Sala. Once 9AM rolls around we stop by the animal shelter and fill out another lost dog report. No luck yet. We spend the rest of the day driving around, hiking the creek multiple times, and about another hour of sleep. It’s been about 24 hours since he went missing, so I felt it was time to get the facebook and other online communities involved, followed by another all nighter putting up flyers with Big Red until past sunrise. This time I updated the flyer with a closer crop of the above photo and made black and white and color copies. We put up over 300 flyers and my right hand is still nearly crippled from the staple gun. Big Red was exhausted, so we took a nap by the phone. Nini came home from work at 11AM and we hit the road again. We put up more flyers and started dropping flyers at vet offices. By 4 we check back in with the animal shelter with no luck. But I gave them a couple of the new color flyers with Sala’s photo and they helped brainstorm some new strategies to try. Right before we left, one quiet young man working there came out and looked at the photo. He helped me file the lost dog report the day before. He didn’t say much, I don’t think he wanted to give me any false hope. I gave him an extra flyer and left. We hit another two vet offices and were on our way to the police station to update our missing dog report with a photo flyer, when I got the call. It was the quiet young man from the animal shelter. After seeing the photo he remembered a man calling in the day before to report a dog in his backyard. He called that man back and asked if the dog was still there. It was. He asked various questions based on the photo. Does he have a white spot on his chest? Yes. Does he have a docked tail? Yes. Is he brown with black stripes? Yes. What is your address so I can send the man that was just here your way? Turns out, it’s my neighbor across the street. Nini and immediately drive over there and I run into the man’s backyard, shouting Sala’s name. Nothing. Sala! Sala! I’m frantically looking everywhere, when I see my poor little boy come limping out of the shade on three legs. I totally lost it. He looked like hell and had blood in various places all over and it was all he could do to take two steps in my direction before laying down. He looked up at me and his little nub tail made a half hearted wag. I scooped him up ran to the car, put him on Nini’s lap and sped off to our vet. The x-rays showed a shattered tibia, but the vet is confident he will make a full recovery. He should be home by Thursday afternoon or Friday morning at the latest and then we’ll have a rough month and a half of trying to keep him from doing anything but resting. Our world was turned upside down for almost 48 hours and our little baby boy has gone through hell and back, but at the end of it all we are very fortunate that our family is still intact.
Now to start back with our lives, which for me means getting back to photography and getting my business in order. But the first thing I’ll be doing in the morning is going over to the animal shelter and thanking that young man for going above and beyond the call of duty, making extra calls, putting two and two together, and helping us find our boy. If he had not made those extra phone calls we would have never found Sala and he may have passed away in our neighbors backyard while we continued to search frantically. There is really no way I can repay him, but I’ll offer to do as much free photography for the shelter as I possibly can between now and when we leave for Montana in about a month. So look for more pet photos and at least one portrait of our hero to come.
Daily photo: June 26, 2013, taken May 28, 2013