Today I drove through GGP for the first time since Iris was found. Passing all the places I learned to know so well during my search for Iris still left a dull sick feeling in my stomach. But today, my eyes weren't darting through the bushes, down the roads, or behind the buildings in
a desperate attempt to spot Iris. Today at least and at last, I knew Iris wasn't somewhere out there, alone, frightened, cold, and hungry. Somehow she had survived.
A part of me never wants to go back to GGP, the place where I spent over a hundred of the worst hours of my life, hoping at first, then dreading, then despairing. As if it could get worse, the last time I was at the park passing out flyers about Iris, a fellow volunteer's car was broken into and our personal belongings, wallets, cell phone, car & house keys among them, were stolen, leaving me stranded in SF. No, GGP was definitely not a happy place for me.
Yet at the same time, that is where so many people, most of them strangers to both me & Iris, offered their support and kindness. Visitors and regulars of the park who stopped to listen as I told them about Iris, patiently waiting to hear me out completely as my voice choked.
Gardeners, maintenance crews, and other employees of the park who networked with each other to get the word out. The homeless individuals, many of which took the time to give me their suggestions and tell me to keep my chin up, most particularly a gentleman and gentle man named John.
And most especially the people who heard Iris' story and reached out to actively participate in her search, people who spent their weekends and weekdays before and after work and who drove from an hour away to roam the park, who got up at dawn to leave food out at the same spot and time every freezing morning, who joined me at midnight, 2AM, 6AM, all kinds of crazy hours, driving through & staking out areas by foot in the dark, who walked and walked until
their legs got sore and yet still continued to search. These are the people who helped to keep the hope and spirit alive, and although I may always view GGP with a slightly nightmarish dread, I will never forget that it was also a meeting ground where a beautiful thing happened, where strangers were selflessly united in a common goal to save an equally beautiful little dog.
Iris' vet bills have run over $700 so far, and while no expense will ever be spared for her, any contribution would be a great help. Iris weighed in at 20.9 lbs today, an increase of 3 lbs from Monday. Her body still looks heartwrenchingly fragile, but we all know the indomitable spirit that resides within.
Since returning, Iris has rarely let me out of her sight when I'm home, and I hate to let her out of mine. She's not nearly as timid towards me as she was before. She comes up to me and sticks out her paw for pettings now, even jumps on the bed occassionally for them (previously, whenever I lifted her onto the bed, she would immediately jump down). One day, I'd like to see Iris learn how to cuddle, even if it's with her adoptive family rather than me. I'd just like her to know the feeling someday of warmth and security when being lovingly cradled against someone.