"You have my dog and I want her back NOW!"
The words cut through me as a seeping dread followed. The angry and confrontational tone of the woman's voice let me know I was out of my league and made me glad to only be on the phone and not face to face. I had to think fast to try to diffuse the situation but, at the same time, my grip on Maggie Mae tightened. I had just finished rinsing her so I wrapped her in a towel and held her like a baby in my arms as I calmly replied, "I'm sorry, who am I speaking with?"
I do not recall the woman's name or exactly what was said, but the gist of it was that she wanted Maggie Mae back. In her mind we had stolen her. I was left reeling. I did explain to her that she had suffered from parvo and tried to get her to see that Maggie Mae was in a good home and loved. I also told her that we adopted Maggie Mae through the vet who rescues strays. This only angered the woman more as she vehemently denied the dogs as having been strays. The phone call did not end well and I was in tears. I was afraid that Maggie Mae was going to be taken from us.
After some phone calls, we were able to determine that the girl who originally found the dogs wandering had never taken down the signs she had posted. The woman contacted her and she gave her our Pastor's phone number. His neighbor took the call and gave her our number and told her that our Pastor had one of the dogs, we had one and the rest were still with the vet. Maggie Mae was the only dog to get parvo (to my recollection at any rate... I have a slight niggling that maybe there was one other that was put down... but I'm just not certain). The woman demanded that the vet return her dogs to her but he wanted her to pay for their shots/worming and care. Things got ugly and he eventually decided that it wasn't worth the trouble and just gave them to her. The dogs had been gone for weeks by that point.
This really was a very sticky situation for us. On the one hand, these dogs had gotten loose and had belonged to this woman. However, they were gone for a good bit of time and an effort had been made to locate the owner of the dogs. It was odd because the puppies were not that young. The vet said that they were already 4-5 months old because they were losing teeth. They were also not in great condition and seemed to have not been cared for properly. It really appeared that they were strays. We really grappled with what the right thing to do in that situation was. However, the woman's over the top anger and the fact that Maggie Mae would have died had I not taken care of her were the deciding factors in our agreement to fight to keep her.
Our Pastor was also feeling her wrath. Legally, because we both adopted the dogs through the vet, she couldn't do anything. However, she was very threatening. She told us she was going to come get the dogs. Things progressed to the point where we were afraid of her and what she was planning. Our Pastor was able to determine her address (she had made it known that she already knew ours) and snuck (or should that be snook? Or are those even words? Suffice it to say... our Pastor was sneaky) over there to get the make and models of the vehicles in their driveway. She actually had a run down puppy mill going on in her backyard. She had said that she was coming to our house with some other people to get Maggie Mae. We had dozens of calls back and forth with our Pastor as we all waited for the other shoe to drop. If I remember correctly, I don't think she had our Pastor's address but he was worried that she'd figure it out. We made our children stay in the back bedroom while we peered out our front windows anxiously. Mr. Macchiato even had a baseball bat sitting by the door.
I have to laugh a little now when I think back on how scared we were, but this woman was so angry! We didn't know if she was going to show up with a gun or if the men with her were going to get physical. It was incredibly stressful. We even thought, like the vet, that it would be easier to just hand Maggie Mae over. We just did not know how far she was willing to take things. We felt foolish and realized that we were putting our family at risk over a puppy.
We ended up calling the police to ask them what we should do. They sent an officer out to our house and he listened to our ridiculous story. He was a big burly young guy and he asked it we had her phone number. We did and we gave it to him. He got on the phone with her and attempted to talk her through things. Before long, he stepped outside and we watched him pace back and forth in our yard as he argued with her. Then his arms started flapping and he began to yell. We did not know what was going on! When the officer finally came back into the house he told us that he was not sure what she was going to do. He assured us that legally she had no recourse. However, that doesn't help with crazy. He told her that if they stepped foot on our property that they'd be arrested and that seemed to take her back. He then told us to call them if she showed up.
We felt a sense of relief but maintained our vigil for a couple more hours. Over the next days and weeks there was a sense of watchfulness as we weren't sure it was all over or not. We never did hear from the angry woman again.
To be continued...
I'm being nice and not leaving a cliff hanger here because I'm not sure when I'll finish Maggie Mae's story, but there is more!