I had spent the weekend purchasing everything I thought I needed for Lulu’s first day at the office….a kennel, chew toys, water bowl, and a blanket. The trick was going to be getting her into the office without it being obvious. There are certain expectations of executive management, and things they are expected NOT to do….
Get black eyes…
Bring hairless pit bulls, found on the streets, into work.
Convert corner offices, and primary meeting spaces, into kennels.
I was hoping nobody would notice.
We pulled up to the security gate, and I rolled down the passenger window. The guard approaching the passenger window came to an abrupt halt at the sight of the Staffordshire Terrier staring at him. Her tail was wagging a slow greeting but all he could see was the small block head and big panting grin full of teeth. Most people in Stockton, CA knew what a pit bull looked like, and he took a step back. As he stood there looking undecided on his next course of action, I drove on through the gate, waving and smiling at him as if not a care in the world.
I made Lu stay in the car as I pulled the large ungainly kennel out and dragged it up the stairs to the door. I looked through the door at the people sitting in their low walled cubicles, and again hoped I would not be noticed. I did realize the futility of this wish. Pushing against the door with my back, I dragged the kennel around the corner to my office at the end of the room. There was only silence. Unlocking the door and dragging the kennel, I glanced up to see all heads facing me with looks of curiosity on their faces.
Placing the kennel in the corner of the office, I headed back out to the car, and snapping Lu’s pink leash to her pink collar, we headed back into the building. She was nervous, and frantically pulled me up the stairs. Opening the door, Lulu darted through, and I attempted a, dignified, nonchalant stride as she drug me through the entrance. I winced as she raced left and my hip caught on the assistants counter. This was definitely going to be a blow to my status. Well, that and the black eye.
Again, there was only silence, and I looked up to see the whole room standing and straining over their walls to see what was leading me into the room. At first eye contact, the questions began.
Stan was in the foremost cube, and said “You have a dog?”
Immediately, Carlos replied “No, she has a pit bull.”
I could see several people shrink back, and a couple of them sat back down at their desks.
“She is a rescue I found in the road on Saturday. I need to find her a home, and have nowhere else to keep her until then, so she will stay in the kennel in my office.” I said this in a very matter of fact tone, as if a normal every day occurrence. I had a feeling I would be hearing from Corporate HR shortly. This conversation was occurring as I tried to maintain my composure while Lulu attempted to rip my arm from it’s socket.
Suddenly, Mike walked over and dropped to his knees within her range. She leaped into his arms, covering his face with frantic licks. Everyone stood to watch, and people came out of their offices. Inwardly, I let out a sigh of relief, and watched the emotions on all the faces…big grins, confusion this dog was friendly, and sheer horror because Mike was about to have his face eaten off.
I watched as Ed stood smiling, and walked over, also eager to meet Lu. As he came around the corner, she looked up and began backing away with a look of terror on her face. Turning, she raced to me, turned, and began fiercely barking at him. He looked stricken, and I tried to diffuse the situation.
“She is a rescue.” I said. “She was clearly abused prior to me finding her, so I have no idea what she went through before I found her.” He nodded in understanding, but I also saw the other knowing looks. She was behaving as many had anticipated she would…aggressive, mean, the killer portrayed by the media. Ed turned to go sit back down, and as I watched, she headed to the closest trash can and tipped it over. She did not even check it’s contents. She just dumped it right over and began plowing through the trash. That was enough. I should have quit while I was ahead and taken her into my office before Ed came over.
We turned and went into the office, heading over to the kennel. I opened the door and motioned for her to enter. She just looked up at me. I’m not sure why I thought she would either understand the motion or eagerly enter the small dark cave. I nudged her from behind, which served to make her back up. I had a conference call in five minutes and sighed in exasperation. I grabbed her around the waist, and as she crouched low and leaned back, I attempted to manhandle her into the cage. This was not a dog to be manhandled, and she pushed back hard. She was strong, I was sore, and the office carpeted for maximum traction for four toenailed paws. I was now starting to sweat and realized everyone has stopped working to watch the morning entertainment through the door. Less than dignified, I was again dropping lower in perceived status.
I closed the door, and threw a biscuit into the cage. She looked up at me in mild disgust, not moving one inch closer to the kennel. I could not miss the call, so conceding defeat, I headed around the desk and picked up the phone. Turning around, I looked in amazement to find her seated in a chair in front of my desk, facing me. Her expression clearly indicated I had lost this round, and she had now taken her seat at eye level, to ensure I understood we were equals, at a minimum.
Over the months, Lulu would begin to use the kennel as a place of refuge. If out of the kennel, or if there were others in the office, she would often take her place in the chair, as if to establish her position. It was probably at this point I should have asserted my control or dominance in the pack, but she is just a dog…right?