How Scrappy the Dog Became Schroedinger’s Cat
By Zen Punkist
My sister bought Scrappy at a mall pet store in Illinois. She couldn't keep him, and ended up dropping him off at my parents' house. Somehow, I kind of joked about bringing him back to California with me after visiting, and everybody really liked the idea. So then, I started more seriously considering bringing Scrappy home with me.
When I first saw him, I didn't know why everyone thought he was so cute. But then I got to get to know his personality. I had a week in his old home to get him comfortable with me. I would hand feed him, so with all the changes, he would still feel comfortable eating with me & wouldn't starve. I thought it was totally fucked up that this would be his 3rd home change. I called my boyfriend & said look, if I bring him back, we have to commit to him for the rest of his life. He agreed. I brought him to California and my one bedroom apartment (where pets were not allowed) filled with monitor lizards that would kill & try to eat him if they ever escaped. Life was stressful, but Scrappy was a joy I can't possibly explain. We took him with us everywhere except for work in this little pet carrier duffle bag. While we'd get ready to go out the door, he'd run around the house excitedly & grab some of his favorite treats/toys & pack them in his bag. He'd then jump in the bag, and we'd zip it up & be off. We tried to make up for all the time we spent at work by revolving all our off time around him: walks, dog parks, dog beaches, restaurants that allowed & fed dogs, teaching him tricks, etc. Then, before we got married, we moved into a condo that we picked mainly because it would be the best for him.
Having Scrappy really messed with me, though. I was used to lizards that couldn't give a fuck if you were around or not. Good luck trying to cuddle any of them! Give them a buddy, and they'd eat it. Then I have this four pounds of mutated inbred beast that was engineered to be man's best friend, greatest fan, devout & loyal pal to the end. How sad! It depressed me that this species was so manipulated to be dedicated to a species that really doesn't deserve such loyalty. I mean, honestly, do we? Do finicky, fickle, mid-life crisis having, moving for a promotion, divorcing, leaving, fragmented, lets focus on kids instead of pets type of animals really deserve dogs as obedient subjects? I felt so guilty and fucked up that my company was his entire happiness and peace. I'd give him his favorite treat in the world that he'd normally tear my hand off to get before leaving for work & return to see it untouched. He would be too depressed to eat it until I was back in the room with him. Then only after excitedly greeting me upon my return & showing me how much he loved & missed me would he grab his treat and run to where he could be close to me, sit, and enjoy it. I couldn't stand being that central to another being's happiness. The first thing I learned from Scrappy, was that I couldn't handle having kids. I could barely handle having Scrappy. I could barely enjoy doing anything knowing that he was home depressed that I was away. I felt so maternal towards him and worried about the thousands of things that could kill him. When my sanity can't handle feeling so strongly about something, I start to distance myself from those feelings. The ability to distance myself like that really convinced me that I couldn't have kids. My emotions always automatically follow my logic. When my logic says it doesn't make sense to care so much about something I can control so little, I begin to stop caring.
Frustrated, one day, somewhere I wrote that I want to BE Schroedinger's cat and instead I HAVE Pavlov's dog. It seemed so incompatible to be a fan of uncertainty and variables while also being the source of a habitual creature's addiction. Then, in the middle of one night, I wake up to hear tearing. More specifically, Scrappy was tearing & chewing away at the cover of my Schroedinger's Cat book. I jump out of bed half asleep and pick him up & look at the torn book cover. I'm in awe. The dog is over 2 years old and has never touched a book before. Why would he be chewing & tearing at this NOW? At this age? At this time of night when we're both home & he could be cuddling with us in bed instead of rebelling against us for no reason. Why? This was totally not conditioned/consistent/explainable behavior. In all this half-asleep wondering, I realized that there was no way I could punish him or do anything to guarantee this would never happen again without being a hypocrite. He just rebelled against being Pavlov's dog, and I couldn't punish him for that. But I couldn't have him tearing up more books, so I put him in his crate for the rest of the night & went back to bed. We always had piles of books on the floor next to both sides of the bed, and the dog never again chewed or ripped at any other book.
I was sure that my unhappiness in my married adult regular lifestyle was just a phase that I'd eventually outgrow. After 2 years of believing that, I finally gave up & left it all. I told my ex that he could have everything; I'd be leaving the country soon afterall. My husband moved out of the condo first, then moved back in a few weeks before I left for San Jose. After four months of turbulance since our split, we seemed to be on pretty good parting terms. Sunday night, we slept in the same bed with the dog. On Labor Day, we woke up, went for breakfast, chilled and watched some tv - all with the dog in between us the whole time. Then I packed the car, said goodbye, & went to stay at my cousin's for my last week there.
That night, Scrappy became Schroedinger's Cat.
A few hours after getting settled in at my cousin's, I got a panicked call from the ex. He lost Scrappy. I was kind of pissed and relieved at the same time. I always was a little paranoid of all the things that could happen to that great dog, and at least I wouldn't have to worry any more. The more I learned about the situation, the more I realized I couldn't be pissed, because it wasn't really the ex's fault. I knew that he would need more support & understanding than anything . . . . and hope, if possible, so I tried to fill the need.
I went back to the horse properties where he disappeared & called for him while searching all over & hearing every dog within a .5 mile radius respond to my calls. If they could hear me, & he's still alive & unhindered he'd hear me & come running. We kept seeing skunks & thinking they were him. He's tiny, & it was dark, so all was bleak. The ex was crying, freaking out, & feeling sorry for himself for losing his wife & dog the same week. It practically killed him.
I had the following day off to square away stuff for moving to San Jose. Instead, I spent the whole week searching for Scrappy. I went back to the place early the next morning when there was light to see. We searched another two hours & talked with all the neighbors. I put up flyers everywhere with his picture on them. I called & left pics with every animal shelter within 30 miles. I put lost ads in publications. The ex & I both drove all over meeting people with dogs they found that might be Scrappy. I had to think about what I'd really do if I found him. Did he leave because I already broke up his family? What would I owe him for reappearing?
Then, I'd try to comfort the ex with all the ideas I was thinking to keep myself sane about losing him. He'd just swear all those comforts were false, and I was just insane. He could be right. Here are a few of the comforts I tried to share: Everything ends - George Carlin talks about how pets are like mini tragedies that you invite into your lives because their life spans are so much shorter than ours. We're lucky that Scrappy left our lives the way that he did. It wasn't really anybody's fault, so we don't have to be mad at ourselves or each other or any family or friends that could have been the cause of his departure. We never had to see a dead Scrappy, we never had to watch him grow old & suffer & consider putting him to sleep & such. We have four years of wonderful memories with the greatest character either of us ever met. Also, he could've died a thousand times in those four years that we had him. There were many times when something one of us or our friends or family did could have killed that four pound fragile cutie pie.
AND he was the biggest danger to his own life all the time. He would attack, steal treats from, & try like hell to hump gigantic dogs like pitbulls, boxers, you name it! He was on it! He was the funniest little Alpha-Male I ever met. He'd literally go up to other dogs, sniff them, & nearly fall over backwards he'd cock his leg so high to piss on them. Big dogs were terrified of him, and he'd eventually wear out & hump any dog he desired. He always put me in difficult positions of deciding whether I should protect him or let him be him & enjoy his doggy style. I told my ex, "he was like a cat with nine lives, he may still be alive, we just don't know anymore."
Then it hit me.
He totally disappeared out of our lives. We had no evidence anywhere that suggested he was dead - no fur, blood, yorkie parts, owl shit that looked like digested Scrappy. We also had no proof that he was alive. Since none of us had seen him as dead or alive, he exists as both possibilities at the same time. He became Schroedinger's Cat.
It gets even stranger. He left the day that I left and exactly four years from the day that I brought him to San Diego from Chicago. It was as if he had completed a term in our lives & left on his own terms. We didn't have to decide anything for him anymore, he decided his own way out.
I had all sorts of guilt feelings about all of the things that I never did for him that I should have. I also felt guilty about leaving him & distancing myself & everything. My first week in San Jose I just thought of all the ways I probably broke that poor dog's heart & cried my eyeballs out. I would pray to everything that Scrappy would end up wherever he'd be happiest & most rewarded for being his amazing self. Then I thought, what if he was most happy with me? Then he'd probably appear as a bug in my house or stray cat walking outside. I used to wonder if he was jealous of all the attention I'd give those kinds of creatures while he was around. So of course, I had to be extra kind to every little being I encountered incase it was my Scrappy. Then I thought, he was probably most happy with my sister. I didn't say anything to her, but I suspected since she conceived a child soon after his disappearance that I might one day recognize a little Scrappy in her next baby. Or maybe he was over human beings all together & turned into one of the skunks we kept seeing. He sure loved rolling around in the stinkiest thing he could ever find! Maybe somebody found him, took him in, & gave him all the interaction, attention, affection he craved all the time. Please, please, please just let him be as happy as he deserves to be for bringing everyone who met him so much joy.
Now I look at the rip he made in my Schroedinger's Cat book cover & kind of see him. I look to see if he was trying to communicate something the shape he tore out. I look & laugh to myself & shout out to him, "you are what you eat, little fucker!"