A missing pet sign. One of the saddest signs in the world.
The sign is usually minimal, like any good advertisement, to draw attention and drive a message home.
It’s easy to see how much is contained behind the simple black font on white paper, a badly photocopied picture of the lost animal, the last minute addition of a flourish or border to catch the eye of a passer-by. In the simplicity, the basic formatting, the sadness seeps through, the pleas are loud.
Description reads: ‘Long white hair‘.
Means: ‘leaves a curl of shed fur on my comforter which I didn’t realize I needed so much until I went to wash it.’
A local Kinko’s printer churns out sheet after sheet. It feels like applying CPR to a road accident victim; a last desperate hope.
‘Answers to ‘Berry‘.
Means: ‘I used to call her name and she’d come running. I still do, in the hope that perhaps she is just hiding in the house somewhere.
Shaking, hopeful hands apply the Scotch tape to the lamp-post.
‘She managed to slip out of the back door‘
Means: I had just taken the trash out, and left the door open, and went to open my door and she darted out faster than I could catch her. I searched for hours and hours and cried and called her name and she’s probably so scared out there, alone.
Wonders if they should have printed another hundred posters.
‘Doesn’t like people.’
Means: She only likes me. She’d bite and scratch the others. It was her way of showing that I belonged to her.
Furtive glances side to side, every trash can, dumpster, doorway and alleyway could be a desperate hiding place.
‘Family torn. Would be so grateful for any information’
Means: If only she had a voice, she’d say where she lived, how much she was loved, how she was lost and trying to get home.
Constantly watching the phone, eyes don’t leave it for a second.
‘Call day or night.’
Means: We jump at every call, text message and the tiniest blip that our phones make. We can’t get the image of her being so alone out of our minds. The days wear on, hope thins, reality dawn. But the search never ends.