Monday, February 1, 2016

How Pélagie Solak Became The Crazy Dog Lady — The Lost & Found hop

Then he says, in what might be a Guinness Record for Most Awkward Change of Subject: "You never told me how you got involved in dog rescuing."
     "You mean how I became the crazy dog lady?" She grins, blows at the surface so the water ripples. "Don't apologize. Living with eighteen dogs qualifies me, I think. I'm even proud of it, which makes it so much more dysfunctional."
     He laughs, and when she looks at him, the smoldering sunset lights her face like sun through stained glass.
     "You really want to know?"
     "I really do."
     "It's a long story. And corny. Maudlin."
     "I like maudlin." A lie, but it sounds convincing. Good lawyer, good boy. Or maybe it's not a lie. Because Luis is discovering he's fallen in love.

~ When The Sunset, The Miracle of Small Things


Pélagie Solak tells her story, of how she became "the crazy dog lady" (her words, not ours), to the book's protagonist, Luis Villalobos, off-stage—or is it off-page? Off-book? Either way, I thought the Lost & Found hop was a great excuse to share it—and to do it here, on the Dog Blog.

(It's not as long as Pélagie thinks, by the way. Funny how our own stories always seem longer and more convoluted to tell than others', eh? Plus... we can only guess at the version she tells Luis. This is, however, how it began.)

~ * ~

She sits on a concrete bench just outside the shelter office. The voices inside—someone on the phone, someone wanting to buy a dog tag, two someones arguing about whose turn it is to sweep out the kennels—carry well through the window above her head, but to her, through the tears, it all sounds not just far but alien.

The dog at her feet shivers in the ratty towel. He's nothing but bones and mangy, boiling skin. And ticks. Hundreds. Millions, maybe. But he's young. Pélagie got a look at his teeth. He could make it. All he needs is time, and someone to care.

The shelter, however, has no space. "If you leave him," the fat girl in the oversize Save The Whales t-shirt told her, "we'll have to put him down."

"But he's young. He could—"

"I'm sorry. We're full. And even if we weren't—" the girl gazes down at the dog with a little frown— "we just don't have the resources. The medical resources."

"If it's a matter of costs, I'd be happy to—"

"It's not. I'm sorry."

And so here she sits, waiting for someone to come to take the dog, shivering—from cold, or fear, or pain—between her feet. "I'm so sorry, baby. I wish..."

Wyn doesn't like dogs. He says he's allergic, but she's seen how he looks at the ones she's been unable to leave in the street. How he stands clear of them, how he vacuums the car after a trip to the vet. He is a good man; doesn't drink, doesn't cheat, has a respectable career. And she's not getting any younger. He's been talking about kids. Marriage is around the corner, she feels it. Of course it's what she wants. Who wouldn't?

~ * ~

It's dusk by the time she gets home. Wyn is waiting at the gate.

"Where were you? Dammit, I was worried. You could've called. Is—is that a dog in the car? Fucking hell, Pél, I told you—"

"He's not staying. And I'm leaving."

"Leaving? What does that mean?"

In the kitchen, she leans against the granite countertop and faces him. "I'm moving out. Into my grandmother's house."

"You're—? That place has been abandoned for years!"

"I'm going to set up a shelter for dogs there. A—a sanctuary."

"This is crazy! Pél, look, if it's about this dog in the car, he can stay tonight. A few days, if you want. You don't have to— Listen to me! Stop. Pél, stop. Come on, don't—"

She's already in the bedroom, emptying her t-shirt drawer into a duffel bag. She doesn't have the strength to do both things, pack up a life and have a conversation about ending one, at the same time. "I'll come back tomorrow. We can talk then."

Wyn doesn't hear her, maybe doesn't want to. At one point he tries to snatch a suitcase from her hands; she lets him have it, steps over the mess of spilled clothing and steps outside.

"You'll regret this. Pél!"

She knows she will. Regret is unavoidable. Life is, instead, about choosing the regrets we can live with.

~ * ~ * ~



Thank you so much for visiting, and for taking part in the Lost & Found hop. There are some amazing contributions... a real treat for fans of love lost (or found): true stories, fiction, essays, meditations... it's all there. Take a look when you get a chance :)



20 comments :

  1. The fat girl in the save the whales T-Shirt must be speaking about herself? ...ok just kidding...not really:) This is a touching story and this lady should have no regrets because she is doing something that is important to her and her spouse had no idea and was choking her own beliefs because she was trying to make him happy. I am glad she kept the dog

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    1. Hahaha... Birgit, I thought of that :D I'm thrilled you liked the story. I'm glad she kept the dog, too ;)

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  2. Oh...I like that last line about regrets and choosing the ones we can live with. I try to live my life with no regrets, but some simply can't be avoided, it is wise to choose the ones that will impact us the least, or at least those we think will at the time. I admit this little bit, makes me want to read more,

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    1. Thank you, FAE! It's actually from another work-in-progress (that has nothing to do with Pélagie or this book), but it felt so fitting that I had to use it. Hopefully the protag in the other book will forgive me (and find something else to say!). I do believe regret is unavoidable... Every time we choose something above something else, we're opening the door to one possibility—and shutting it to another. Like you, I do my damnedest to choose which regrets will hurt the least. Of course, it's an impossible task... Regret comes only later, and it's impossible to know how our choices today will feel tomorrow. Still... one can try :)

      Thanks so much for the visit! And for letting your curiosity be piqued... If you ever do read MIRACLE, I'd seriously love to know what you thought :)

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  3. Yes, I agree with FAE about the regrets line. Good move in promoting your book here. I'd forgotten that you had this blog. Nice way to reintroduce to others or to showcase it for the first time.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Lee, even I forget I have this blog :D I really need to do more with it, and the Lost & Found hop seemed like a great opportunity... I've joined the A-Z this year only with this blog, actually. But, alas, finding an audience for dog/animal stuff is way harder than for writing or just personal blogs, apparently. Still, it's a subject near & dear to my heart, and we all know that constancy and continuity is key for reaching more people, so I'll keep at it :)

      Thanks so much for the visit, Lee! And for making me a part of this hop... it was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

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  4. I'd say your Pelagie made a wise choice. A man who doesn't like dogs? That's completely unacceptable! And who could blame her for wanting to bring more dogs home with her? When we go to the shelter, I want to bring ALL of the dogs and cats home with us.

    Great snippet! I'll have to check out your book. :)

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    1. Oh, I hear you, Susan... This wanting to bring ALL of them home is how I ended up with seven dogs :D I'm glad you're with Pélagie... I think it took her some time to reconcile her decision—gutsy, but emotional—with the expectations of the world she lives in. I think sometimes, late at night and very much to herself, she still questions it. Not quite in terms of regret... More as a questioning of herself, why she is the way she is, why her priorities are so "skewed". So she'd be happy to hear so many people agree she did the right thing. Thanks for that :)

      If you do get a chance to read MIRACLE, Susan, I'd truly love to hear your thoughts.

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  5. Good stories.

    To anyone who visits me, if you don't like the dog, you're not gonna like me. Ruff Ruff.

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    1. Haha... I'm with you, T. For me it's if you don't like the dog, I don't like you :D

      Thanks for the visit!

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  6. Ah, Guilie, how fun to find your other blog here! I loved hearing some of Pelagie's back story. Wyn sounds like an ass! She's definitely making the right decision to leave him. If a man ever told me I couldn't have dogs, he'd be the one out the door...
    I loved your book, btw. Great read. XOXO

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Aw, Michele—thank you so, so much! For the visit, for enjoying Pélagie's story, for your support of her decision (you, especially, would understand—and I love that you did!), and for the lovely comment on MIRACLE. I'm thrilled you liked it, and can't thank you enough for your support during the blog tour :)

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  7. I would've chosen the dog too. Honestly, I don't trust anyone who doesn't like dogs.

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    1. Ditto, JoJo... I actually "use" my dogs as people calibrators. I'll never trust anyone they don't like.

      Thanks for the visit!

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  8. I used to want to start an animal sanctuary as a little kid. Instead, I've just filled my home with a few too many pets. Two dogs, a cat, a rat, a frog, and a hedgehog. I say no more, but then my kids drag them home and I have to look them in the eyes and cave.

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    1. I love that it's your kids who bring them home, Elizabeth... You've taught them well — unintentionally, but very, very well. Growing up with animals, learning to care for them, learning to identify and fill their needs, having the empathy to want to rescue a hurt, lost, or homeless creature... it's all a crucial part of human development. The fact your kids do it speaks volumes of what a wonderful parent you are. Be proud :)

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  9. I always admire people who run animal sanctuaries. It must be such hard work.

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    1. I agree, Misha. I'd love to set one up myself, but—like Elizabeth above—all I've managed so far is to collect seven dogs :D I've been rescuing since I was 8, have found homes for more dogs (and cats) than I can count, but there will always be some that won't be adopted... And that's where a sanctuary would come in very handy :)

      Thanks for visiting!

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  10. Dumping Win was extremely smart! Dogs are more loyal anyway.

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    1. Yup, Mina. I agree. Who needs a (self-centered, possessive, unempathetic) man anyway, especially with so many homeless dogs yearning for someone to love? ;)

      Thanks so much for coming by!

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