Monday, May 16, 2011

The Dog Thief

Quote of the blog –

My Aunt visited New York last weekend with her friend. We met up for dinner and a trip to see Jersey Boys on Broadway. I had heard great things about the musical but was surprised (and then not surprised considering the name) at how much swearing there was. I squirmed a few times hoping I hadn’t given my Aunt reason to question my taste. During intermission she turned to me and said, “The acting and singing are phenomenal! But you know, they could do with a few less F* words. I’m surprised they swear so much. Do they really need to say – and here she quoted a few choice phrases from the play- “That bleep, bleep, bleepity, bleeps, and bleeped, bleepity, bleep?” Then she shrugged. “Seems unnecessary to me.”


During dinner with my aunt last week we retold one of my all-time favorite recent family stories about her daughter Shanda Lear who is a bonds woman. I’m not joking, about the name or the job. She runs a pawnshop called Shanda’s Pawn & Bond in a small town in Missouri. I’ve kind of always been in awe of Shanda. I remember going out to MO for a family reunion when I was eight. Shanda drove a couple of my sisters, my brother, and me to the lake. She smoked, she swore, and we flew over the hilly roads to the lake blaring Joyride by Roxette (thank you Sweden) at volumes I’d never heard.

Shanda has some of the best stories. Maybe ever. Most of them are about the bail bond business, but last time we were there she told us a different kind of story. It began when Shanda and her boyfriend Phil bought a little Maltese puppy for Shanda's daughter. One quick note about Phil – the first thing I noticed was the tattoos. They’re all over his muscular arms and body. The most recent edition is a sizeable five-pointed red star on the side of his shaved head. One star-point runs longer than the rest down the length of head and stops in a sharp point at the edge of his eye. He’s intimidating. The second thing I noticed when I met him was that he was working on a painting. He’s a curious cat and, from everything I can tell, is awesome. His soft-spoken disposition is a nice compliment to Shanda’s spitfire personality.

One night, Shanda, Phil, and Sidney, who was nine at the time, had been out with their little Maltese, Angel. They stopped for dinner and left Angel in the car with the windows rolled down a few inches – they didn’t lock the door (they never have). When they came back from dinner the dog was gone. Sidney was distraught and they spent an hour in the parking lot searching for Angel – even though Shanda knew the dog had been stolen.

She put a Lost Dog posting up on Craigslist and offered a reward (the site wouldn't allow her to post that the dog was stolen). She wrote about how sad Sidney was - how she wasn’t sleeping because she had lost her puppy. A woman who bred and sold Maltese responded to the posting a few days later and said she felt so badly for Sidney she would give her a new Maltese puppy for free. So, Sidney got a brand new little puppy that they named Paris.

A few days after the arrival of Paris Shanda got an anonymous call from a woman saying that she knew who had her dog but was worried the thief might find out she had tipped them off. She said the dog had been stolen and gave Shanda an address in Springfield (about 30 miles away).

Well, Shanda planned a stakeout with Phil. They drove to the address and parked down the street a little from the house – prepared to wait all day if necessary. But they didn’t have to wait long. About twenty minutes after they parked a large woman lumbered out of the house and down the steps with Angel in her arms on a cat leash. Shanda started pushing Phil out of the car, “Go! Go get my dog back! I don’t care if you have to make out with her! Go get my dog back!”

Phil told her to stay in the car, got out, and started walking down the street like he had been walking in the neighborhood. When he reached the woman he greeted her and asked, “Do you know where Willie Mays lives?” The woman said that she didn’t know but that the name sounded familiar. Meanwhile, Phil had confirmed the dog was angel (he'd recognize the hair bow and pink painted puppy toenails anywhere). Angel had also recognized Phil. She was wagging her tail and squirming in the woman’s arms. Phil told her how cute her puppy was and asked if she would mind if he held her for a moment.

When the woman passed Angel to Phil he yanked the cat leash out of her hand and ran down the street to the car. Shanda got out of the car and started swearing and yelling at the woman as Phil was yelling, “Get in the car! Drive! Drive” while the woman on her lawn yelled, “Ramone! Ramone!” Shanda pulled down the street just as Ramone, in a wife beater, bolted out of the house and started sprinting down the street after the car as they drove away.

A moment later Shanda got a phone call. It was the informant, “Was that you? Some tattooed man just grabbed your dog and took off! If that wasn’t you, you'll never see that dog again!” The woman lived across the street and had seen the whole thing happen!

After Sidney and Angel were reunited, Shanda called the woman who had given Sidney the other puppy and offered to give it back. The woman told them to just keep her so my aunt inherited a new dog. Shanda and Phil also tracked down the location where the informant worked (via cell phone) and gave her the reward. The last time I saw Angel she was nestled in the crook of Phil’s tattooed arm, a tuft of white hair held up with a blue bow and her paws, with their dainty pink painted nails hanging over his forearm.


  1. Oh, that is the best story I have read in quite a while! Thrilling, adventure, reward $$! Great writing, Brook. I'll be reliving that in my dreams tonight. hehehe

  2. Please tell me that "Rosette" is just a typo, and that you know the real name of the best non-ABBA Swedish band of all time.

    Otherwise, this post is practically perfect. Great story.

  3. Thanks Natasha! And yes Jeff, just a typo! I still love that album!

  4. Remember how I was lucky enough to hear Shanda tell that story in person? That alone made the cross-country trip worth it.

  5. Wow...that is hilarious. How do you find these people???

  6. She said, "Hello! You fool. I love you."
    This was my first CD. :) My dad won it for me at the boardwalk. IN JERSEY. No swearing involved. ;) Okay that's probably a lie, this is my father we're talking about... haha. xx

  7. Haha. Becca, we were just talking about Ashley's glitter shirt that Paris tracked all over the house! Haley, they are my Aunt and Cousin, lol! And Allyson, I love that!