She Just Wasn’t My Dog but Jane is 100% My Daughter

canal in tempe arizona near aunt cheladas

Today was the first day of actual volleyball (don’t even ask me why I had to leave my house before dawn on Monday) so we scheduled a dinner on the hotel property. We thought driving the kids around Tempe might be a little bit much.

When you walk from The Grand to Aunt Cheladas (could I make that name up?) there’s a golf course to cross and then a tiny bridge over a manmade canal. The girls were walking ahead of me and I was hanging back to have a much needed phone call with my husband (whom I am officially missing terribly) when I noticed my daughter veering off from the path to the restaurant and running next to the canal.

“There’s a dog in the river!” She was upset and running alongside it. The dog was paddling and being taken downstream. As Jane was running and sweet talking the dog would turn toward her and try to climb the concrete embankment and just as quickly fall back in. She had a square head like a hound dog or a Catahoula Cur but her torso was spotted like an Australian Shepherd. The girls thought she looked very thin and I thought she looked strong and lean like a hunting dog ought to.

I sent a half dozen girls back to join the others at the restaurant while Jane and I followed the dog downstream. There was a dam of sorts, like a screen meant to gather trash perhaps, and the dog was able to climb it and pull herself out of the river without injuring herself.

She was magnificent and afraid. She was as large as any Catahoula I’d ever seen and I thought I’d pegged her breed until I saw her tail. It was thick and long like a raccoon, soaking wet it was thicker than her legs.

She shook herself off and then ran off toward the highway where she finally settled down in the dirt and watched the cars go by.

Jane was convinced there was another dog in the tunnel. I offered to call 911 knowing full well there was no other dog and if there was we couldn’t possibly save it. I called fake 911 but accidentally dialed 911 and promptly hung up.

Remarkably someone from the Maricopa county 911 system called me back. I explained the dog dilemma and they put me through to a phone tree for animal control. I hung up.

I convinced Jane to go join her group at Aunt Cheladas and we both walked back there feeling horrible about the giant dog at the side of the road. She sat with her friends and I sat with the moms and when I recounted the entire experience to the other chaperone I ended the very short story with, “and I’m not sure if she’s my dog.”

“What would you do if she is your dog?” My co-chaperone asked.

“I suppose I’d ditch the plane tickets, rent a car and drive the three of us home.”

I left the restaurant through the front door and walked down the Arizona highway where my maybe dog was still resting. When I got close to her I whistled a bit and watched for her for any shows of aggression. I got to within 20 feet of her and she leapt to her feet and began walking across eight lanes of traffic. My heart raced and I screamed while cars braked to avoid her, she galloped past them taller than I’d imagined and easily visible to sedan and SUV drivers alike.

She wasn’t my dog and I tried to not cry but still a tear escaped.

I turned to walk back to the restaurant and looked on in horror as I saw my daughter standing next to the canal watching me and the dog who wasn’t mine.

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Comments 6

  1. How surreal – I can see why your encounter with the dog felt so ‘fated.’ I probably would have gone back too. 

    Also, my stomach lurched when you described the dog darting into oncoming traffic. I’ve seen that happen so many times.  

  2. Glad your kid cares about animals, such a lovely thing to see in children!

    Im sorry though, im with Ash Prince, i didnt really get it. I think it was just the ‘fake 911’ and ‘im not sure if she’s my dog’ phrases though (it sounded like you had lost a dog and werent sure if you had found it again!) . Keep writing!

    1. You don’t call 911 for a dog that’s by the side of the road. It’s not an emergency to them.
      I went back to the dog. I was prepared to bring it home. It ran away. She’s afraid of people.
      She’s not my dog.

  3. I am crying now as I read this. Beautiful story, Jessica. I understood every bit of it. I have such a soft spot for animals (especially dogs), and every time I see a stray or an animal in trouble, I have to make THE DECISION. Do I stop this time? Or do I feel badly and keep driving?

    At the end when she raced across all that traffic…i felt a lump in my throat.

    If I won the lottery I’d want to build a giant animal rescue place where people could bring strays or injured animals, etc. I’d take them all in and have acres and acres where they could run or play or just sit in the sun. And be loved lots by one another, me, and my family.

    Sigh.

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