Photo by Landotter
Reflection by Jim Crissman

Women know everything. This is just a fact I’ve come to accept, having been married to one for a very long time. Long ago, my starter wife knew a different set of everything, but everything none-the-less. The first thing that Jill, my permanent wife, knew that I did not was that our dog, Jellybean, had lost her tags. So when I lost Jellybean one evening last year, I did not panic; I just stayed near the phone, believing it would ring soon and her rescuer would be on the other end. Of course it did not.

I had been doing some maintenance on our nearby mountain bike trails—a big dead pine had fallen across the trail and needed to be removed. Jellybean loves walking the trails with me, but she hates loud noises. Another thing my wife knew that I did not is that sound sensitive dogs get worse until they finally go deaf. Now, at the heart of the story, we have canine geriatric behavior science, a smart woman, and a beloved lost dog, so you know I’m in way over my head here.

When I fired up my chainsaw to cut the obstructing tree into manageable hunks, Jellybean bolted. We were a good hundred-fifty yards from the road, so I didn’t worry. I should have. I made a few quick cuts and shut it down, then called her. She didn’t come. I figured she was nearby, so I moved the logs. When she still didn’t return, I went looking for her. Here I will mention that I am reasonably secure in my masculinity, but admit that I hoped my macho attire—brown Carhartts and orange hard hat—would compensate for my now slightly panicked yelling, “Jellybean! Jellybean, come!” Years ago I wanted to name her Butch, but the kids overruled. Personally, I would feel far more natural yelling, “Butch, git yer ass back here!” but Jellybean is her name, and a man should call things by their true name.

I could hear that it was rush hour on Eastman Road—a 60 mph concrete speedway— and I had been yelling for at least fifteen minutes. Finally I went to the road, afraid what I might find. A man was bringing in his trash barrels on the other side. I ran across traffic and asked if he had seen a small Jack Russell Terrier.

“Yeah. About six cars almost hit her, then a blue van picked her up, turned around, and drove off,” he said.

We called the pound, we made lost dog posters, we placed ads, and sent mass emails. There were tears. There was a creep who said he was a trucker and that he had her with him three states away and would buy a crate and ship her back if we would wire him cash. We Googled his phone number and got a fraud alert. A week later a call came from a man who gave only his first name, saying he saw the ad in the paper and thought a friend of his daughter might have her. He said he would check and call back. He did not call back, and did not answer or return our calls—at least a dozen of them—for days.

We slowly realized this man was not a rescuer, but an absconder. He had called only to learn Jellybean’s name. If he’d just decided to call her Butch he’d have gotten away with it. Jill was transformed into a hardnosed, bottle-blond, gumshoe sleuth on the trail of a despicable dirtbag dognapper. She subscribed to an internet service that does reverse phone number lookup and found the guy’s last name, a really odd one. We still needed a street address, and no first and last names in the tri-city area phonebook matched exactly, so she called every listing with the odd last name in Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw. Surprisingly, there were a bunch. The last one was his ex-wife. And, as exes are predisposed to do, she ratted the dirtbag out. Jellybean came home. Women know everything.

© James W. Crissman, 2011