I do not recommend this as general production protocol, but on this particular film, the office dog to human staff ratio in the accounting department is 1:1. Not because every one has a dog, but because some have a few and others have none. And seldom are all nine dogs there at once. That would be canine anarchy.
My boss, Ilana, is leader of the office and of dog rescue efforts. Within the first two weeks of her arrival, she had helped rescue a stray dog who is now fully trained and living in her new home. Over the next few months, she trapped and re-homed two more dogs—one of which had been microchipped and been missing for months. She built a hay house for the stray dogs when the temperatures dropped below freezing during the winter and always left fresh food and water should they need it.
So when a couple of members of the transportation department helped a dog from getting hit by a car outside our stages, of course their first call was to her.
On this particular morning, Ilana was under a nutty deadline (you know, for actual work stuff) and Tucker was at Play and Train, so I offered to go down and check out the situation.
There was no chasing of a dog through the streets as I thought might be necessary. Instead, there were two guys sitting under a tree with a big, goofy-smiled, blockheaded brindle and white pittie mix lying between them, drooling on the grass.
He sported a black buckle collar and the white of his chest and legs were not dirty as they would be if he’d been on the streets a long time. The fact that he didn’t have the street smarts to avoid automobiles led me to believe he was probably someone’s dog who had gotten out of a yard nearby. However, he was covered in fleas. He had hotspots, some of which were bleeding, from his itching. He was thin, but not starving. He was an intact male, and with his gregarious nature, I suspected he was out trolling for ladies. He obviously had been neglected to be so flea invested, but his soul had not been abused for he was open and trusting toward all of us.
I called my boss and told her I couldn’t take him upstairs due to fleas, and asked which vet should I take him to to get de-flead and checked out.
As much as I hate working long hours and disappearing from social scenes for months on end due to the effort filmmaking takes, here’s why I love what I do and the people I work with: Ilana called the vet and made an appointment, transpo drove my car to me from the overflow lot, and then this big hunk of love and I left campus to go to the vets across town for an hour. In what other business could you just up and leave (not only with your boss’s blessing, but her directions) in the middle of the day to help a lost dog?
The vet estimated his age at about 2 or 3, checked for a microchip but found none, gave him a Capstar (to kill fleas), and vaccinated him. Roscoe stayed there to be boarded (and so the fleas would drop off him) and I went back to work.
I scoured craigslist ads, hoping that someone had posted this lost dog. As ad and after ad came up, none of which matched Roscoe’s description, my heart got heavier until it was a cement weight inside my chest.
I’ve always been on the hopeful side of things; I’m forever hopeful that a dog in a shelter will find a home. I meet these dogs in their transitional time between an old life and a new, and my purpose is to prepare them for that new life. I meet people who want to bring these dogs into their families. It is hope and limitless potential.
When I was preparing my pitch for Renovating Rover, I visited a number of animal shelters. One weekend, I had four to go to in the same day. My friend Katya had advised me, “Do you have to do all in one day? Please, if you have to, make sure you do something good for yourself afterward. Take care of yourself.”
I didn’t know why she had said that. I had been to shelters before. But then, that night, as I looked through the pictures I had taken, over a hundred photographs of dogs I did not nor would not know if they would still be alive in only 24 hours, it hit me. I sobbed. I wept. I cried with the emptiness of hope lost. These souls whose eyes I had looked into and captured on film, and smiled at, shared a moment, would most likely not be among the living in only a few days’ time.
That emptiness struck me again as I scrolled through Lost Dog ads and Found Dogs ads. The people who had found dogs and no one had come looking—or didn’t know where to look—or had abandoned their dogs. And the lost dogs ads—the people who had a friend watch their dog and the child left the back gate open, or the person whose dog was taken from their yard, stolen for unknown purposes.
Not only was it emptiness and crisis I was viewing from afar unable to help, but this time it was personal. That goofy blockheaded dog could have been Tucker. It was Tucker only a year and a half ago, found wandering the streets wearing a collar, picked up by animal control in Castaic, California. Had his family abandoned him? Had they been looking for him? Had he been stolen and had gotten away? Tucker sat for over two months before he joined my life. In all that time, no one came looking for him.
Ilana was set on neutering Roscoe and getting him a home pronto, but I just needed to know for certain we did our due diligence in finding his people. He hadn’t been abused. His fleas could have been from a home full of fleas—maybe the people had them too. Maybe they didn’t know how to deal with it.
Or maybe it was time for Roscoe’s second life to begin.
Like Tucker’s was a year and a half ago.
In all the 1970’s cartoons of “Love Is…” there never was the most honest one of all: “Love is… Fear.” Fear of losing your loved one—through death or just getting lost, your loved one getting hurt, being stolen, leaving your life forever.
My friend Carolina said to me about Tucker while I was considering adopting him, “Half the time you talk about him like he’s a boy you like, the other half it sounds like you’re talking about your kid. So clearly he’s your dog.” And clearly, what comes with that is the fear from both kinds of love: the fear that Tucker doesn’t want to stay with me (did his first family leave him, or did he abandon them… or did he go in search of them and become lost), fear that he’ll find some other human he likes better; fear that he'll walk away with a stranger who will abuse him; fear that he’ll get sick and die, fear that he’ll do something stupid like run out into traffic. Love is Fear.
Would we still Love even if we really truly grasped that it’s a constant state of Fear? When our beloved pet dies, we say we cannot love again; we cannot handle that pain again. But in time, for some it’s a week, for some months, for some years, we come to the conclusion that the power of love that caused that level of grief is well worth experiencing. We would not grieve so hard and long if we had not loved so fully.
And we would not fear the loss if we did not love.
And love, we do—because it’s our natural state. To care, to love, to fear, to protect.
Tucker is with me, and I love him with my entire being. I fear losing him—whether of his own decision or some other indiscretion. I know there are people like Ilana and myself out there, that should he become lost, I pray and hope that someone like us finds him and they reunite us.
Fear is healthy to an extent. It makes us protect those we love. But we also have to live and accept that life is a dangerous game we are all made to play. We need to surround ourselves with those who love fiercely, for Love, although being made of Fear, is the most powerful entity in existence.
Roscoe has been de-fleaed and our flyers in the neighborhood and our craigslist ad has had no responses. He is with Ilana’s trainer, being boarded and trained daily. Sirius, her last rescue, is a model student and perfect gentleman after months with the trainer. Roscoe will be the same.
Certainly whatever life Tucker had, had no ill effects on him. The same seems to be with Roscoe. He’s a good kid, and needs a little help to find his new life. He’s safe now, but it’s going take a little time to get him prepped and ready for his new life. He’s in good hands at DiOGI, and he’s such an open, loving soul, he’s going to win over just the right person to call his own.
If you’d like to contribute to Roscoe’s education (and neutering and other vet bills), please go to :
Look at the life Tucker leads now.