Tales from a Dog Catcher

Tales from a Dog Catcher

"In the tradition of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and John Grogan's Marley & Me, Tales from a Dog Catcher is a humorous and heartwarming collection about love, laughter, loss, acceptance, and fate, in the world of an animal control officer."
- Publishers Marketplace"

...Writing in a style reminiscent of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, she recalls her experiences in 22 vignettes that dispel and replace stereotypes with an image of a compassionate individual concerned with animals and people alike. Like Herriot, she is a gifted storyteller and an astute observer.... At times amusing and heart-wrenching, this memorable book deserves wide readership. Highly recommended for public libraries. "
- Library Journal (starred review)

... In Tales from a Dog Catcher, she brings together these experiences in a magical book that is funny, touching, and heartrending by turns." - Amazon.com

"This is a wonderful book. I had a hard time putting it down. I was laughing and tearing up, sometimes at the same time! I didn't want it to end..."-Nina Killham, Bestselling Author of Believe Me, How to Cook a Tart, and Mounting Desire

"Having good writing skills isn't a prerequisite for getting a job as a dog catcher, but the two certainly make a good combination for the author of Tales from a Dog Catcher...Some stories are funny - some may move you to tears. I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I think they will appeal to animal lover's and even those who don't care for pets will enjoy reading about the eccentric people involved in these tales from a dog catcher." ...Phyliss Davidson - INFO Metropolitan Library System Magazine. Oklahoma

"Summer reading! Enjoy tales about hero hounds, crazy cats. Great dog books just made for Summer Reading! ... Here's a list of some of our favorite books ... Tales from a Dog Catcher by Lisa Duffy-Korpics is a collection of real stories about people and the animals they encounter...this book is in the tradition of "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot. The stories are funny, sad, uplifting and even silly." ...Laurie Denger - Dayton Daily News. Ohio

"...In Tales from a Dog Catcher," author Lisa Duffy-Korpics recounts her years as an animal control officer in a series of fascinating and engaging stories...the stories can be funny and heartbreaking, often simultaneously...However, there is no shortage of entertaining encounters. Animal lovers will appreciate the candid tales, and enjoy a new perspective on an often unexamined profession."...Dog Channel.com

"Lisa's numerous on-the-job adventures are compiled in this collection of sad, charming, delightful and humorous short stories. ...Animal lovers of all ages will appreciate Lisa’s recollections of her memorable encounters with domestic animals and injured wildlife in the beautiful Hudson Valley." ...Rachelle Nones - Tri County WOMAN magazine. New York

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sequel Preview! ... More Tales from a Dog Catcher

Image result for Angry orange cat free photoIn the course of my duties as an animal control officer, I was sometimes often responsible for doing things I didn't want to do. Sure. Everyone can relate to that. It's work. Some people feel this way all the time; others some of the time - for example - using the copier machine at my job is definitely NOT one of my all-time favorite things. "Why not" you ask? "Well that sounds likes tons of fun". I guess I'm just not a fan, especially since it's usually not working or stops working the moment it senses I'm in the room standing in front of it. Now, let's say if one of my responsibilities was breaking the copier, chopping it up with an ax, and I mean really annihilating it, repeatedly - and then dancing on the wreckage while yelling "There you go - how do you like that?!" than that would be an entirely different story. That would be a story of vengeance that would follow with a story about the ways one looks for another job. But I digress.

The story segment below could be construed to be a series of sad events - an isolated eccentric older woman facing an eviction and having to give up some of her beloved pets in the process, unfortunately feeling that the mobs of feral cats that she fed daily who accumulated in the lot next to her building were her pets as well - an opinion not shared by her landlord. However; (especially those who are familiar with the first book), you will find that what may begin as a common and tragic tale is always something more.  It could be unusual and a little dangerous, involve blood shed, high ranking police officials, in full dress uniform en-route to an important ceremony, on their knees in a parking lot yelling into the back of a car and then arguing about who's better at it.  Some hysteria...mass hysteria as well as the more common humorous type, and surprises. Always surprises.
 Below is a segment from the sequel to Tales from a Dog Catcher...only the very first part since there is so much more to the story. This is a promise that the book you ask me about is in the final stages and coming soon. I just wanted to give you a little taste of what's to come and thank you for your patience and continued loyalty. I hope you enjoy this small preview from More Tales from a Dog Catcher. - Lisa

 The General (chapter segment)
After bringing the two carriers downstairs, I saw the owner of the building waiting for me. I braced myself for what was to come and started to walk over to the car. The landlord was still really mad and since the problem of Miss Sally was only half solved by evicting her, he still had to deal with getting rid of the cats that hung around outside. It seemed that he still had quite a bit of mad left in him that he had to get out of his system. "I got a business all lined up to come in here lady, I mean Miss, um warden person… these cats will drive people away. I want them out of here, all of them, that crazy old woman is gone, but those…” He hesitated for a moment and took in the scene before him. A crowd was beginning to gather, and within them, possibly some potential customers for whatever he planned on turning this building in to. I could almost visualize him applying the brakes in his head . 
“Those…stinkin’ cats!”
Clearly, this was not his first choice of words. He knew what he wanted and even though I liked Miss Sally, and I really didn’t like him…none of that mattered. Somehow, I had to get these cats out of here and find a way to dissuade them from coming back, a complex process that I knew he would not understand or tolerate. It would take too much time. I knew that after a while when no one was feeding them anymore they would move on to somewhere else, although he didn’t look like the kind of person who could wait that long. It couldn’t be done overnight. They would come back until they saw that there was nothing more to eat, but that could take weeks. I tried to explain that to him, but it wasn’t having it. It wasn’t the immediate solution he wanted. He stood there with his arms crossed, glaring at me; the current target of his hostility. 

On top of the rest of his complaints, he had just informed me that his taxes paid my salary. You would think with so many people paying my salary that I would be driving a sports car and vacationing on a warm tropical island somewhere…but this was not the case. I was standing on a sidewalk in the middle of the city on a cold day with the wind making me realize I should've opted for the long underwear underneath my uniform pants.  A growing audience was waiting to see what I, and their tax dollars, would do next. The crowd wanted action. 

And that was when I spotted The General.

Miss Sally had named him “The General” and it suited him. He was a grizzled orange cat  -  clearly a veteran of many battles. He was probably the scariest cat I had ever seen. He had scars criss-crossing the side of his face and missing fur in other areas. Half of his left ear was missing from some conflict in his checkered past, but mostly…he was mean and proud of it. He was pretty bold for a feral cat.  I would sometimes get calls from people complaining a wild orange cat had chased them in the middle of the city. I knew immediately who they were referring to. He wouldn’t attack them; at least he never did before. His modus operandi was to charge at strangers walking by and as soon as they reacted, turn and fly back in the other direction. He would run out and chase cars as they were pulling away. He was one of the few wild cats there who didn’t mind getting a little close to people, however not for affectionate purposes. He seemed to enjoy harassing them and showed no fear of humans. It was this feature of his personality that led me to my idea.

The General as the unofficial leader, (or official leader if there is some type of secret feral cat fraternal organization –sort of like the Masons), of the feral cats, was usually the first to come out and eat when Miss Sally set out the cans of cat food in the back of the building. Perhaps I could trap The General?  I knew I would have to bring him to the shelter. He was hostile, aggressive and he was the one I got the most phone calls about. Maybe with him gone, the rest would go off on their own more quickly. It was time to do my job and put all emotion aside. I often had to do things I didn’t want to do, and then gave myself headaches trying to figure out a way to make something positive result from a bad situation.  Sometimes there was no upside. It was what it was. I knew if I baited the trap and left, he would just manage to get to the food and back out without tripping the latch that would shut him in. He was too smart for that. I had had twice trapped cats from this empty lot next to Miss Sally’s building, but never him. Any cat worth earning the rank of general wouldn’t be trapped that easily. But, maybe if I set the trap up and waited there, I could grab the trap up the moment he went for the food and shut the latch myself. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t take that long. I knew I had to do something with the growing crowd waiting for my next move, and The General might be bold enough not to mind an audience.

I went over to my car and pulled it up onto the sidewalk. Yanking open the back door which was heavy and unwieldy, even without the wind, I pulled out the trap. Maybe this would work, but even if it didn’t it would be obvious to the owner of the building, as well as to the people in the crowd, that I was trying. I hated being in this position, but I had to do my job. I had to put the thoughts about what would happen to The General, if I was able to catch him, out of my mind. I knew in my heart that the General was a cat with little hope of rehabilitation. Maybe he wouldn’t go for it. Maybe he was smart enough to tell it was a set-up. Regardless of how grouchy The General was, I didn’t want to be the one to bring him to the place of his ultimate demise. More and more lately, this seemed to be the primary purpose of my job, but I couldn’t let myself think about that right now. I had taxpayers waiting to see what I would do next.

I set the trap and grabbed a can of cat food out of the car and popped open my glove compartment to get the can opener. I had dry food in the back of the car, but that wouldn’t do it. I opened the can, choosing fish since I knew it would smell the strongest. I set it up and walked back to my car. Looking at my watch, I saw that I was late to another call. If he didn’t jump on this opportunity soon, I would have to leave and come back later and try again. I knew this wouldn’t go over too well with the onlookers, not to mention the landlord, I couldn’t sit around here all day and wait. I had to stay long enough to appear like I was doing my job while ignoring the other calls that were also part of my job. I would probably not be able to catch this cat in this last ditch effort to perform the impossible so I would be NOT doing my job in two places at once, Tax payers love that. - but sometimes appearances were more important than real work in public service - something that still didn't make sense to me.

It was about 10 minutes after I set up the trap, that I saw a flash of orange approaching from the side of the building making its way towards the trap. No way. I couldn’t be this lucky, but it was actually him. The General. He ignored all of us, brazenly heading for the can of food.  It seemed as though The General was going to decide his fate with his stomach. He looked over at the crowd with disdain, and slowly sauntered towards the trap. Everyone was standing still, so apparently chasing people wasn’t in the cards. Slowly, I backed over towards my car and leaned in to open the glove box again. I grabbed the new lead lined gloves the Chief had recently purchased for me.

     “They use these to handle primates at the San Diego Zoo!” He’d told me with a grin. He seemed very pleased with his purchase.
     “Guaranteed to be impenetrable.” The Chief put them on and admired them.
     “You’ll probably be the only A.C.O. in the county to have these!” he did a few air-boxing moves and took them off, somewhat reluctantly handing them to me.
     “Now don’t go and lose these, they weren’t cheap.”
     “Yes Chief” I'd said and took them out of his hands. I wondered if I would ever have to use these…hopefully not for any primates. Although in this town; I was learning that almost anything was possible.

     “These are finally going to come in handy,” I thought to myself while pulling them on. 
If I was going to get anywhere near The General, I would certainly need these. By the time I turned around, The General was already in the trap sniffing at the cat food. I started to walk over towards the empty lot. He didn’t move but just sniffed the food and started to eat. I quietly approached him from behind. I knew I only had a split second to do this right. I gave him a quick push and quickly snapped up the trap and tried to slide in the latch that would close it. 

It was jammed!  But wait! I had on my new invincible gloves, I thought why not? and blocked his escape with my hand, keeping the door shut and grasping the wires to hold the trap and trap door all at the same time. There was a loud “yaaay” and some clapping came from the crowd. This was really getting to be too much. Didn’t any of these people have jobs?

All of a sudden, I heard a loud pop and felt like someone had squeezed my hand as hard as they could. The General was howling and banging around inside the trap so hard that I could hardly hold onto it. 
All I have to do is get him in the car and get out of here. I thought to myself. I sort of limped over to the car, banging the heavy trap against my leg. This cat wasn’t as heavy as I thought he would be but the fact that he was howling and thrashing around didn’t help matters any.  I was having a hard time holding onto the trap but I needed to use my other hand to open the back door. I must have caught my hand in it somehow and the gloves were stiff, making all of this more difficult. The General kept howling and hissing, but he wasn’t as large as I thought he would be. I’d held on to Dobermans and Rottweilers easier than this. Why was it so heavy? That was when I heard the crowd again.
 Really? Didn’t these people have anything else to do? I turned to look at the landlord who looked different. Paler...sort of gray. Oh no...I hoped he wasn't going to have a heart attack.
     “Miss, um, Officer…are you ok. Do you need, uh, something?” 
But the landlord, as ill as he looked, seemed more subdued than he was before, actually almost nice.
"No thank you. I can do this." I said.  I opened the back door with my free hand and  struggled to slide the trap into the back seat and tried to close the door to make sure that The General didn’t escape. I was pushing as hard as I could, but my right hand wasn’t cooperating.  I turned to face the landlord to ask him what he was talking about when I looked down at the sidewalk and noticed that I had stepped in what looked like a puddle of blood. “Oh no! Had I hurt The General?  Did I close his paw in the trap or something?”
That's when I saw the stream of blood pouring down my arm from underneath my invincible lead lined gloves. How was he bleeding through my gloves? Why didn't I feel my hand anymore. Then it finally clicked.  I suddenly realized why I had been having such a hard time holding onto The General. 
Then there was  a loud crash. Turning from the growing puddle of blood, I saw the trap lying on the ground. I hadn’t even felt my hand let go of it. I watched as The General took off like a bullet towards the group of people who had been watching the scene unfold. There was some screaming and a bit of chaos as taxpayers ran for cover. The General zigzagged around the crowd and then ran off into the distance but stopped and turned around abruptly, staring the crowd down. This was the feline equivalent of a Clint Eastwood movie. And that was when he started to charge back in our direction. 

He was heading straight for me. It was too late to run and my hand was now throbbing in pain. I mustn’t have felt it right away due to that adrenalin rush people get when they’re injured. Someone who just got hit by a car will tell you. “Well I felt a bump, and it wasn’t all that bad.” Meanwhile their leg is still under the tire.

Things were starting to appear as though they were in slow motion and my feet felt extra heavy, like they were glued to the sidewalk. Everything started looking wavy. Well, this was how it was all going to end I suppose. Maybe I’d get a statue dedicated to me in the middle of town. No, probably just a plaque. I'd settle for a plaque - it would cost less tax money. 
 I closed my eyes and put my arms up in front of my face and waited for the white light.

I heard a loud bang and then more screaming from the crowd. I hadn’t felt anything hit me. I opened my eyes to see that some of the people in the crowd had adopted my exact posture.
“He hit your car door and then took off up Division Street!” a woman in the crowd yelled over to me.
“No, he hit the car door and ran under it. I saw it!” a man shouted.
“Nah, he’s not under there” said a boy who was on his hands and knees on the sidewalk looking under the car. He looked like he was about 11 years old. Why wasn’t he at school?

     A murmuring started to develop among the crowd. It seemed that there was some disagreement over which direction the General had gone. The owner of the building looked a bit shook up and whatever animosity he had toward me in the beginning had seemed to evaporate. He started to approach me and I noticed that he still looked a little pale. I thought some people can't take the sight of blood. It never bothered me even though in this case; it was my own.  I mustn’t have looked much better myself because he walked over to me and gently removed the radio that I was clutching in my good hand.
“I think you should sit down Miss.” He said holding onto my radio. 
I looked over at my right hand and pulled the glove off with my left. It didn’t look as bad as I thought it would, considering how much I was bleeding, but when I tried to move my fingers, nothing happened.
“Could you do me a favor and …help me call headquarters?” I asked. 
There was no way I could use the radio without pushing the transmit button.
“Uh, sure. Why don’t you let me hold that for you? I’ll press the button and you talk.”
“Okay” I said and sat down on the hood of the car. Blood started dripping down my arm again.
“You just sit there and …well..put your arm back up and hold it up, good....yes, like that.  Now hold onto that hand with as much pressure as you can.”
            He held the radio up in front of me. I could have asked him to use the emergency switch on the side of the radio because that would signal that an “officer needed assistance”.  It would have sent every police officer in town racing over to me like I’d been shot. I’d only used it once before and this was no way even close to how dangerous that previous situation had been. No, I needed to get some help, but not that much. I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself, although I had a feeling I’d already lost that battle.
            “306 to 844. I’m at the 100 block of Division Street. I’ve been bit.”
Instantly Will responded from the dispatch desk.
             “Officer’s responding. ...are you okay?”
 “Affirmative” I said and explained, as briefly and calmly as I could so they would't send the cavalry, what had happened.
I held onto my injured hand to try and control the bleeding. It didn’t look that bad, just two perfectly round puncture holes right in the middle of my palm surrounded with a large purple bruise that was starting to grow larger by the second. So much for the invincible lead lined gloves.

 I tried moving my fingers again and to my relief I thought I saw them move a little.  I heard sirens in the distance and I looked down Division Street to see who they’d sent for me. I felt  my hand was swelling up and I was afraid to look at it again, but when I did, I was surprised at how benign it looked compared to how it felt at the moment. My hand throbbing, I sat on the hood of my car and waited, trying to move my fingers without much success. I would need a ride to the Emergency Room. I looked at the crowd. It seemed to have thinned out a bit yet there was still quite a large group just standing there staring at me. I thought that maybe I should say something. This was getting odder by the moment.
“I’m okay. Thank you for your concern. You can go now."  I said. 
The crowd seemed to collectively turn around and walk away. I thought I might have heard a sigh of disappointment.  The boy was still standing there while his mother was trying to pull him away. 
     “I’m sorry you got hurt.” He said.                                                                          
     “Thanks” I said. That was sweet. Then I thought about it for a moment and asked
     “Why aren’t you in school today?”                                            
     “I got braces…see” he said and gave me a big grin. He certainly had a significant amount of metal in his mouth. 
     “Impressive.” I said.                                            
     “Thanks.” He said.                                                                                                         
     “You’re welcome.” I said. Then he and his mother walked away. Aside from him, I just couldn’t wrap my head around why all of these adults had nowhere else to be considering it was a week day. The previously angry building owner - now apparent friend, was waving the police car over towards us. For someone constantly trying to stay under the radar, I usually ended up doing the opposite.  My friend Nick pulled up and shut off the sirens. I was glad they hadn't called the ambulance. This was a quick trip to the emergency room - and thankfully it was busy enough today that I didn't have to be anymore the focus of attention as I already was. I sighed. Finally, for the moment it seemed as though there was quiet. 

   “Show’s over” I whispered to myself under my breath....but what I didn't know was that it had only just begun.

More Tales from a Dog Catcher (c) 2016 Lisa Duffy-Korpics
Photo courtesty of Mark Rogers Photography: San Francisco Pet Photography

Section from "The Pine Kneedlers of Bay Shore". (working title)

Belinda looked around the "space". Why in the world apartments, or condos or any place where people lived these days was referred to as "space" instead of: "hall" or "room"...made no sense. Supposedly it sounded trendy...or larger. Who knew?

"This is a lovely open space; would work perfectly for your book collection. You could really showcase your collection here. It would be quite the showpiece."

      Since when did having books in shelves comprise a "collection". Why was everything a "showpiece" and small 3 by 5 foot blocks of empty areas considered a "unique space."

      It was bullshit. All of it. On top of that; it was all bullshit in the shade of beige. The "neutral palette" was in fact nothing but different shades of beige. It reminded Belinda of the bland pureed food she had once used a syringe for to push down patient's throats when she was still a nurse on the geriatric service.

      None of this looked like the advertisement. None of this looked like the model. Why would they show people the model and raise their expectations and then bring them into the mashed pureed "space" they wanted you to pay over half a million dollars for. It was indeed, utter bullshit, but Belinda was not the kind of woman to say things like that. Only recently had she become the kind of person who actually thought things like this. Grief can do that to you. Anger can do that to you....apparently getting old can do that to you.

     "So?" asked the optimistic Brittany "sales liaison", who Belinda thought was likely a receptionist who was the only one willing to work on weekends in the off season - but being a "liaison" sounded enticing, cosmopolitan. And after all;  they had made her business cards.  The way Brittany was dressed it didn't appear as though she needed the job. Her purse alone probably cost as much as Belinda's entire wardrobe. She had to stop being so negative. Brittany was probably younger than her own daughter. She knew it wasn't polite to make blanket statements like that; even if they were just thoughts. Blanket thoughts were just as rude.

"Would you like to look at our 3D visual of available lots? They're filling up pretty quickly so it might be a good idea, you know, just in case you wanted to put a deposit on a nice spot before it's taken."

     The hard sale. That is what this was, Belinda thought to herself. Quick. Buy the beige blocks of "space" before someone else did. Someone else with nobody to look with them because they're all alone now and everyone knows nothing makes life exciting for AARP members like beige boxes to huddle in until you're found one day not moving and they can sell your beige "space" for the going rate depending on whether you died during a buyers or sellers market.

     Belinda realized she was in a bad mood. "Don't make decisions during a time of stress" was the advice Cyndi at the Grieving Group gave everyone. Cyndi with an "i" said this frequently. Cyndi wore Crocs, even in the Winter. This would've usually caused Belinda to mildly distrust her; but for some reason it just made her seem more genuine. She had a point. Just like her advice to not go grocery shopping when you're hungry or after you've eaten. You're not making  decisions for the right reasons. At this rate; Belinda wouldn't make a decision for the next 20 years.

     "I think I'll come back next weekend if that's okay?" She said, knowing that it was highly unlikely she would, at least until Cyndi with the Crocs heard about this and brought her back personally. Until then though; there was no need to ruin Brittany's day. After all; she'd left her Sudoku book at the receptionist desk to show Belinda around. It was hard to get back into Sudoku once you stopped, especially if you were on a roll.

     Belinda left and got into her  new non obtrusive 4 wheel drive Subaru. It may have been a sensible choice since two of her three kids had decided to move up north and she'd need it for driving in the snow, but at least she'd bought a red one. They'd had beige, white and gray....but she chose red. Belinda was determined not to buy a car in a color that reminded her of everything her life had recently become.

     Neutral. Stagnant...Pureed.
The Lyon Press, Guilford,Connecticut
The Lyons Press is an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press
Cover design by Georgiana Goodwin
Cover photographs © Shutterstock

Printed in the United States of America
US $16.95 / CAN $19.95
Tales from a Dog CatcherDuffy-Korpics © 2009
Dewey: 636.7
Dogs — New York (State) — New York — Anecdotes. Dog rescue — New York (State) — New York — Anecdotes. Duffy-Korpics, Lisa