November 9, 2015

#45 The Rainbow Pug

by Reply All

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This week, Jade Davis loses her dog on the internet, and we go looking for it.

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PJ VOGT: From Gimlet, this is Reply All. I’m PJ Vogt. And this week we’re doing a segment we call Super Tech Support. Super Tech Support happens when someone is having a problem with their internet, and we try to fix it for them. Today we are super tech supporting a woman named Jade Davis. She’s an academic who I follow online. Usually she post about stuff like the ethical questions raised by self-driving cars, or the importance of carefully understanding all the legal agreements that you agree to whenever you’re updating your iTunes or whatever. That’s actually a huge pet peeve of hers, terms of service agreements. But the other night I saw her tweet something very different. She was saying that her dog had been kidnapped by the internet. How could this be possible? How could the internet steal somebody's dog? I messaged Jade and I asked her if we could talk on the phone, just to find out how this could have possibly happened. And what emerged was a much larger story about how hopelessly impossible it can be for people to communicate, particularly when they’re using the internet, the tool that is in theory supposed to help with communication. So the story starts with Jade’s pug, Schneider. I’ve seen pictures of him. He’s eleven years old but he still sort of looks like a puppy. He’s small and gray and cute. And Jade of course, loves him. She says he’s more emotionally complex than your typical pug.

JADE DAVIS: The first time I had to leave him out for an extended period of time, I gave him extra dog treats, cuz I felt so guilty about leaving him alone. And when I came home, he hadn’t eaten any of the dog treats. And he came out of his kennel with the dog treat and gave it to me.

PJ: Aw.

PJ: Schneider can even be mildly psychic: when Jade and Justin got married and started having kids, Schneider seemed to know that Jade was pregnant before either of them did. He’d crawl up on top of her and lie on her stomach. Jade’s had Schneider since he was a puppy. He was there before she had kids, back when her husband was just her boyfriend. She always thought she’d have him until he died. The events that led to Schneider’s pugnapping started this past summer. Jade had just moved from North Carolina to New Jersey with her family.

JADE: So, backstory, I've had one of the worst summers of my life.

PJ: What happened?

JADE: So, shortly after we got here… I'm estranged from my father but he died. And then, we were trying to get somebody to get his dentures to my grandmother, and there was another child from a one-night stand, and there was a fight over his body, and then a fight over the dentures…

PJ: So Jade is fighting with this woman that she doesn’t really know over her dead dad’s dentures. And at the same time, her maternal grandparents both have terminal illnesses: her grandmother has end stage liver failure, her grandfather has end stage heart failure. And because their kids are sick, and Jade’s the oldest grandchild, it’s her responsibility to really help take care of them. And then on top of all that, she and her husband and their two kids have just done this big move for a new job, which is good, but the job doesn’t cover relocation expenses, so in this summer where everything’s going wrong, they’re also broke. And if that’s not enough, there’s this problem with Schneider. The folds in Schneider’s face often get itchy, and he’ll scratch his face by rubbing it against things. But then one day, Schneider’s scratching and somehow catches a piece of his eye, and cuts into it a little bit. The cut turns into an ulcer, and the ulcer bursts. It’s scary. Jade calls a vet, the vet says no, no, no, get your dog to an animal hospital.

JADE: And we took him to the animal hospital. They said no, his eye has to be removed and it's going to cost $5000. And we just relocated and it was an out of pocket relocation, so we didn't have the $5000 so… It was literally, my husband got home at 1AM in the morning, because this happened in the middle of the night. And I had him ask them what would happened if we didn't take care of it and they said it can get infected and he can die.

PJ: The hospital said that Schneider’s injury was getting more dangerous by the hour.

JADE: So we were running on a very short clock to figure out what our options were to take care of it, and we were also trying to get a second opinion as fast as we could. We had called like five vets, and nobody could see him for a couple of days, and it was like, okay. In the midst of all of this… I'm one of those people that like to have multiple plans. Just in case, planning out the worst case scenario so it's not too stressful or shocking.

PJ: Yeah.

JADE: So I said maybe we should look into a rescue. I know that there are some rescues that can help find you affordable services or have agreements with vets that can help. And the absolute oh my gosh, I don't want this to happen but I also don't want him to die, is we might have to surrender him to a rescue.

PJ: A thing that I didn't know about dog rescues is they don’t just automatically take your dog. You actually have to apply. There’s a form you have to fill out, and you send in a bunch of information, and only then do you find out if your dog is eligible to be surrendered. So on the advice of her friends, Jade and Justin apply to a dog shelter called Curly Tail Pug Rescue. They haven’t decided to surrender their dog, it’s more like they’re applying to college to make sure that they could get in if they wanted to. Justin fills out the forms.

JADE: It was such a small thing for my husband to put his name down. And it didn't even ask for two names. It didn't even ask if there's anybody else who might own the dog. It’s just, do you agree to just, relinquish this dog? So if one person decides to like, if they think they're in a position where they need to surrender a dog and there's somebody else involved, they would just ask are you really okay with this, thinking it was over that, that would be amazing.

PJ: The irony of this is that Jade has literally stood in front of a classroom full of students and told them to be very careful about anything that they sign online

JADE: You know we do a social media thing. They sign a contract with me saying I understand that by participating in this class I'm entering a legal agreement with these companies. Which is why I know for sure, had I seen that surrender form, my name would not have been on it. And I think it's absolutely crazy you can give away a dog on the internet with somebody you'd never meet just because you wrote your name on a sheet of paper. That seems insane.

PJ: Because it’s Justin filling out the form and not Jade, he’s not thinking too much about what he’s possibly agreeing to. Instead, he focuses on this one question that the form asks.

JADE: There is a thing that says, “Why are you giving up this dog?” and then there's two asterisks and it says, “Please answer honestly and openly, as we need this information so we can place this dog in the perfect, loving adoptive family.” My husband, bless him, he is, I always tell him he's too open with his emotions.

PJ: Justin writes about how bad things are for the family in that moment. He says he’s worried about his kids. He tells them it’s not even just Schneider, their other dog, Napoleon, has cancer and his health has been worsening, and Justin writes that he’s worried about how their kids would react if both of their dogs died. Somebody from the shelter immediately emails back, asking for pictures of Schneider. So Justin texts them pictures. And the shelter emails asking if Justin can meet a shelter volunteer at a Cracker Barrel an hour and a half away. And somehow, very suddenly, Jade and Justin’s backup plan has become their actual plan. 1AM Saturday morning they’d been at the hospital, and now it’s Sunday afternoon, and they’re packing Schneider up into the car with his toys and his towels and it’s only then that Jade realizes oh, we’re really doing this, we’re surrendering our pug. But then they’re at the Cracker Barrel, and they’re giving him over to a different rescue that the first rescue had recommended, because this different rescue has a really good eye specialist they know. And they hand their dog to this woman named Kathy, and it's done. Schneider’s gone. Two days later, Justin sends an email asking how Schneider’s doing, and they get back really great news.

JADE: They said, “Justin, I took him to the eye specialist yesterday and the eye is getting better every day. There is no need for eye to be removed. I just have to keep putting eyedrops every day for the rest of his life. He is a very sweet and loving pug. He was such a good boy during the eye exam, then to my vet to get rabies and heartworm tests, which was negative.”

PJ: Which is amazing. Because they can't afford a $5000 eye surgery for their pug, but they can definitely afford eyedrops for their pug. And it’s only been a few days. So as long as the shelter doesn’t mind giving their dog back, Schneider can come back home.

JADE: My husband wrote back, “I hate to be like this but if that's the case, is there any way we can get him back? We weren't in a position to pay for his surgery, which the vet assured us needed to be done, but we certainly can manage to give him eyedrops every day. Please. He's been a part of our family for ten years and giving him up was the hardest thing to ever think of doing. Please let me know. I'm sorry.”

PJ: And how'd they respond to that?

JADE: “Justin, I'm sorry, I know it was a very hard decision for you to make. But he had a meet and greet on Sunday and is going to his forever home tonight. He will be with another dog and a mom and a dad. He's going to a great home. Take care.” My husband wrote back, “We're a great home, he's our family, we gave him up to try to save his life but it turns out we just went to the wrong vet in an emergency. We're losing a member of our family because we got told the wrong thing by the vet. Why can't we fix this?”

PJ: Part of the reason Justin’s so adamant about trying to get Schneider back is because of his kids. One of their sons is eight and struggles with clinical depression. When he gets upset, it's hard for him to communicate with people. And so he'll rely on Schneider.

JADE: He will just be in a ball, bawling and he won't want me around, he won't want my husband around, he won't want his brother around. But he will ask for the dog. And so I was worried about how he was going to react to all this. I was sort of panicking. I called the woman to try and explain the situation and she hung up on me.

PJ: Lots of emails fly back and forth. And pretty soon the shelter writes to tell Justin and Jade to stop calling and to stop emailing, they’re done communicating. Justin writes back, says, please, just don’t give our dog away yet, let us at least see if we have legal options first. And then they get this other email. It’s an angry one. It’s from a man who says that he’s a lawyer, but that he's not officially representing either of the two shelters. He does say he knows them. The lawyer writes to tell them they have no legal right to Schneider, the dog that for eleven years they’ve thought of as theirs.

JADE: There’s lots of all caps. “Animals are property by law, and you transferred ownership plain and simple. Once again ALL,” and all is in all caps, “the personal problems you outlined, while sounding quite overwhelming, are of no bearing on this particular matter.”

PJ: The lawyer then writes out how this is all supposed to work in a tone that, to Jade, feels pretty condescending.

JADE: “How about this example... You had a $20 gold piece, or a dog, that you donated to a charitable organization thinking it was worth $20, or would cost a lot of money to take care of. But after you donated it, parentheses surrendered it, when appraised by the organization, parentheses taken to a vet and examined, it was found to be very rare and actually worth thousands, parentheses or would have only cost you very little to care for. Now, just because you were mistaken as to the actual value, parentheses or cost to you of the donation surrender, and this is in all caps: IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET IT BACK. No one coerced you or tricked you, Justin on his own sought out a rescue organization and knew what it meant to surrender the animal. See the logic and the lack of legal claim? I doubt it. But that's the way this plays out. It's sad that you now regret your, perhaps just Justin's, hasty decision, but you still have no legal basis for recovery. Since I'm sure you still disagree, sue for a return, but don't surprised by a negative outcome.

PJ: How'd you feel when you got that?

JADE: I was angry.

PJ: Did you see a difference between your dog and a coin?

JADE: Yes, and I think most people do. Like... it’s sort of like...

PJ: Comparing a dog to a coin?

JADE: Yes, so let's use another example of this. Like, so it's property. So you have a dog and a bracelet. Say it's a paper bracelet, it's a really nice bracelet though. If I light the bracelet on fire, it's okay, but if I light the dog on fire, that's illegal, they're not the same thing.

PJ: What do you think is going on here? Like it can't be that Cruella de Vil runs the pug rescue. Like, you know what I mean, like…

JADE: That's a lovely thought but at this point I wouldn't be surprised.

PJ: If the shelter looks like Cruella de Vil, it’s because that’s the story that their paper trail is telling. Jade and Justin have said one thing, over and over: We asked you for help, but it turns out we don’t need it. Please give us back our dog. And in return, they’ve heard a litany of contradictory things, none of them particularly reassuring: your dog is in peril, your dog is fine, your dog can’t be given back, your dog is a coin, your dog is property, but it's not your property, stop calling us. Jade talks to a lawyer, who tells her that she can’t afford legal help, and Jade knows there's nothing left to say to people at the shelter. So the only thing she can do is try to adjust to this new reality where the internet’s taken her dog, and she can go online and post about it. She says she’s managing okay. She lost it once, when her son, who likes to play with this app called AutoRap that lets you make autotuned rap songs, he made this song about how he and Jade still miss Schneider.

[Schneider rap]

PJ: He’s saying, “Mommy misses Schneider, and I shall miss you.” At this point, I felt really frustrated, and so I went to the person who I go to when I'm frustrated. Alex Goldman.

ALEX GOLDMAN: So you wanna go get these guys?

PJ: I want to find out what's going on. I want to find out that they’re just well-meaning people…

ALEX: Who did something bad. Who like, didn’t handle something sensitively.

PJ: Yeah. But also if they’re like a shady, you know, puppy store or whatever, I’d like to know that too. And if it’s solvable I want it solved.

ALEX: This is a lot harder than just telling people to restart their computers.

PJ: Oh, I know. That’s why I want to hand it off to you. How do you feel about it?

ALEX: You want to hand this off to me I think not because this is harder than restarting their computers, but because you know that like, my sense that the world should be fair is miscalibrated to the point where I am furious whenever something doesn’t happen exactly the way it’s supposed to.

PJ: Yeah, and you’re also just very good at, like, there was a point where you were sending your rent to an escrow account for like seven months because you were in a dispute with your landlord.

ALEX: I am persistent.

PJ: I just mean you have a sense of, like I have sense of outrage, but I also have a very short attention span, so I’m like, “This won’t stand! I forgot about it.” But like, you will chase it to the end of the earth.

ALEX: Okay. Well, let’s get to work. After the break, I step in and try and untangle this mess.


ALEX: Welcome back to the show. So, once PJ put me on the case of Jade's missing pug, I dug in. And the first thing I did is just to confirm that these two dog rescues that Jade had made contact with were legit, and not some fly-by-night, pugnapping, dog resale outlets. And they’re both real rescues. I saw the tax documents. Next, I tried calling Kathy, the woman who Jade and Justin had surrendered their dog to. She runs a rescue called the Pugs Unlimited Gives Shelter, and I was hoping she could help me understand what was going on. I left Kathy a bunch of messages, sent her a ton of emails, but she was a total brick wall. No response. And I couldn’t figure out why she would stonewall. So my last step was to try and reach out to the original pug rescue Jade and Justin contacted, the one whose surrender form they’d filled out. It’s called Curly Tail Pug Rescue. The shelter’s intake coordinator sent me some terse and annoyed emails. She just seemed exhausted by this entire line of discussion. At one point she told me I was beating a dead horse. I went back into the studio and read PJ some of the emails from the shelter folks.

PJ: They’re saying like, “Look, you made a deal, you signed an agreement, those are the rules, and we can’t break them for anybody.” I hate when people say, “Those are the rules,” because it’s like, well, change the rules. Like you made the rules.

ALEX: I felt like I was swimming in circles. But remember, I am nothing if not persistent. And finally, after weeks of emailing, I was able to reach someone who could actually answer some questions for me.


ALEX: Hi, is this Drea?

DREA: Yes, speaking?

ALEX: This is Alex Goldman, how are you?

DREA: Oh good, how are you doing?

ALEX: This is Drea Peters, the director of Curly Tail Pug Rescue, the rescue whose surrender form Justin filled out. And right away I just wanted to know if Drea empathized with Jade and Justin.

ALEX: They obviously really love this dog, this was obviously a very difficult thing for them to surrender the dog. Do you feel that from Jade and Justin who had to give the dog up?

DREA: Listen, we can tell, usually a rescue group can tell, someone who truly cares about their animal that’s going through a heartbreaking decision, and people who are real flippant about their animal surrender, and that’s not the case with Schneider’s family. They definitely had a difficult time with it, and they’re going through a lot. However, in the, unfortunately when people allow their emotions to take control, it’s very hard for healthy and constructive communication to continue because there are a lot of crazy people out there, and rescues all operate on a shoestring, and so Kathy, I guarantee, she’s one of the sweetest women, would just be wanting to protect her organization. None of us have some big financial backing. We rely on support from from our donors to keep going. So if there’s someone that was maybe argumentative or threatening various things, which I know was happening in this case, you basically have to cut them off. There's no point in engaging or continuing communication, it can only hurt the rescue.

ALEX: And there it is. Remember when Jade's husband Justin wrote that thing in his email, asking Kathy not to put the dog in a permanent home until they could explore legal options? Those words, “legal options,” were all it took. Kathy completely shut down. And here’s why. Drea told me about a case that happened last year in Long Island. A pug was found wandering, dehydrated and emaciated, and it was taken in by Drea’s rescue. And then, Drea heard from a woman named Patty. And she was angry.

NEWSCASTER: Patty Armine of Holbrook is battling for Bubba, her 16-year-old pug who she says got out of her backyard and was turned over to a pug rescue group.

PATTY ARMINE: I love my pug and I want him back.

NEWSCASTER: But the group, Curly Tail Pug Rescue, is accusing Armine of neglecting Bubba.

PATTY: They accused me of not feeding my dog, they accused me of starving my dog. These people are cuckoo!

ALEX: You can hear how upset that woman Patty is. But Drea says that in trying to save this dog’s life, and do it by the book, they got pulled into this confusing morass.

DREA: We had absolutely no proof or documentation provided that this even was the owner. The picture of the animal that was sent to us from the owner looked nothing like the animal in our care, and it became an excruciating legal case, and a major drain on my organization that almost put us out of business.

ALEX: In the end, Drea’s organization was cleared of any wrongdoing. The dog was placed in a good home. But the experience took a huge toll: Their rescue, as well as their fundraising, ground to a halt. One of their volunteers was even arrested for a minute. To Drea, the whole thing was a total nightmare. She says this is what Kathy must have had on her mind when she read the words “legal options” in Justin’s email. And that’s why, when Schneider’s condition worsened, she didn’t get in touch with Justin and Jade.

DREA: His eye treatment didn’t work, which is what we were all afraid of, and he did need to have his eye enucleated.

ALEX: Enucleated means removed. Schneider did have to have his eye taken out.

DREA: So the original treatment and plan of action did come to pass, even despite our best efforts. So at this point, he’s a happy, healthy, albeit one-eyed dog, but there’s no difference between him and any other dog at this point.

ALEX: But a lot of the confusion comes from an initial email Kathy sent that just said, Schneider just needs eyedrops for the rest of his life.

DREA: Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even had that conversation, because it gets people’s hopes up in a highly emotionally charged situation. I usually wait to have more finite information and then communicate any change if there is any.

ALEX: At this point in the conversation, I started to see this whole thing differently. And I put myself in Kathy’s shoes. I’m not the person who negotiated the dog’s surrender, my friend did that. I just get this adorable dog with an injured eye that could kill it. And I want to save its life. And then I realize that it won’t need surgery, so why wouldn’t I want to share that good news?

DREA: Kathy I know was 100% well-intending.

ALEX: Right.

DREA: But that’s usually what gets us in trouble as rescuers. So like, oh, we think I’m delivering you good news, he doesn’t need this horrible surgery. But unfortunately that’s what ends up biting us, is thinking we’re being helpful, and you just don’t know, it’s a wildcard, you don’t know who you’re dealing with on the other side of the line, really. Even if I, let’s say one of my volunteers made that mistake and communicated prematurely, even if that happened, if Jade had communicated appropriately, I don’t believe it would have escalated quite so severely.

ALEX: Okay, so yeah, this all escalated pretty severely. Kathy actually kept Schneider back from the family he'd been placed with because of this threat of legal action. But this is the point where I started to get hopeful about this whole mess. Cuz I could see how it could all get fixed. I knew where communication had broken down, I had reestablished contact, and now Schneider was healthy again. And he would obviously be happier back with Jade and Justin. So couldn’t he just go back home?

DREA: I can easily answer this.

ALEX: Okay.

DREA: Absolutely not. His happiness is not the only thing at stake here. I get what you’re saying. Of course he’d be happier with his family than being rehomed.

ALEX: Right.

DREA: That’s not a question. But at the end of the day, we are rescue people. We’re a rescue organization. We are not charities for people. We’re charities for animals.

ALEX: And here’s the thing, says Drea: Pugs are totally unique problem. They have been bred over generations to have huge eyes, tiny tails, little legs, all of which make them much cuter to people, but it gives them a host of medical issues: trouble breathing, knee problems eye ulcers. Their bodies are constantly threatening to break down. And oftentimes the owners are unprepared to take care of these issues when they arise. So when Drea and Kathy receive these dogs, it’s kinda like getting soldiers off the battlefield. They need to be stabilized. And the rescues are so focused on that one job that they simply cannot engage all of the personal circumstances of the families who are surrendering the dogs.

DREA: And if you give one animal back because you think the dog is going to be happier with his owners who couldn’t pay for medical care? How do you decide I’m going to do it for this case but not the other?

ALEX: To me, Jade and Justin seem like great owners. But when Drea looks at the surrender form that Justin signed, the form where he poured his heart out, she sees a home that looks too chaotic to take good care of this dog.

DREA: Even though they had trying times, Schneider’s family didn’t talk about finding alternatives, they didn’t get the second opinion, and even though their child who has clinical depression and is very attached to their dog, they did not try to find every possible alternative to surrender.

ALEX: I talked with Drea for an hour. I made several arguments for why Schneider should come home, but I wasn’t able to convince her. It seemed clear that Schneider is not going home to Jade and Justin. But Drea really did strike me as a good, caring person. She cares about this dog, and their family, and she feels for Jade. And she extended an olive branch.

DREA: Well, and listen, especially as a rescue person and I mean as sincerely as I did from the get go, if there is a way that I can somehow provide peace to an owner, I'd be happy to even act as a potential go between, to send her an update and pictures and things, anything, cuz I know that she has gone through horrific extenuating details in her personal life and if there's anything I can do to help I totally would.

ALEX: I was never able to get Kathy on the phone, but I did get a glimpse of how she felt about this whole thing. At one point, she accidentally CC’d me on an email that she meant to send to Drea. In it, she thanked Drea for all the help with Schneider, and then she goes on to say, “All we want is what's best for him, and I get angina.”

[phone ringing]

JADE: Hello?

PJ: Hi, Jade?

JADE: Yes.

PJ: So, a few days later, I called Jade to give her the news about Schneider. I wasn’t looking forward to telling her that we couldn’t get her dog back, and that, contrary to what she believed, he wasn’t with a family, he was with Kathy, and he’d had his eye removed.

PJ: ...and he did end up needing the surgery.

JADE: Okay. Which is much different than the email.

PJ: Exactly. And so they sent that email, and basically from their perspective what happened was like they sent the email, and she’s like, she’s like a, she’s one person who I think is kind of like, when your husband emailed back and said like, “Just so know, please don’t give the dog away, we wanna solve this first, we wanna look into our legal options,” she got terrified that she was gonna get sued, and basically just like went to ground, totally out of fear I think.

JADE: Okay. I mean, if the lines of communication had been opened, and she had said I’ve misinformed you, and like said here’s the information for the doctor or anything, it would have avoided a lot of this. So I mean, I do understand being scared. And I think he needed the surgery, so he was in a position where we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. So he was where he needed to be. But the emotional turmoil on both ends seems like it was unnecessary.

PJ: Yeah.

JADE: To just disregard that a human is experiencing an emotional loss seems a little bit crazy.

PJ: Of course it does. Particularly if you are that human experiencing that emotional loss. I tried to explain Drea and Kathy's worldview to Jade. How to them, the entire point of what they’re doing is only for the dog's benefit. That saving those dogs is the mission that Drea and Kathy have taken on, and it’s a really difficult mission. And Jade completely understood that. She just also completely disagreed with it. She thinks the whole reason that people care about pugs is because of human feelings.

JADE: It’s totally this weird imaginary relationship of mutual love that just sort of takes over a part of your life, it’s sort of magical.

PJ: Yeah, it’s just weird, I feel like you guys are so close in how you see this and also so far away.

JADE: Yeah. Look, I think humans are horrible in many ways. Like, I truly do, that’s the truth, I do. But I’m not completely hopeless. And I feel like the stance that they’re taking is a hopeless one.

PJ: Jade says: my family had a bad year, but things are getting better. And the shelter people just won’t let themselves see that.

JADE: But there’s something about the way they’re thinking about the dogs and people and the way they’re talking about the dogs and the people that was just, “You are undeserving of being a part of this animal’s life.”

PJ: So clearly Jade is still hurting, but she’s also come to accept that Schneider’s gone. And she said that her family’s actually adjusted in a really surprising way.

JADE: Schneider has become a trickster, because that’s his personality, so now when things are missing from the house, the boys say maybe Schneider took it. Which is, it’s very cute. You know, occasionally the boys say that we want Schneider back and I think when we had the first interview, I was at the point where if he could come home, maybe if he comes home it would be okay. But I mean, I have bonded with dogs. So I also understand, even if somebody just got a dog, when you first have the dog you have that rush of oxytocin and all that other wonderful stuff that dogs do. Like I literally call my dogs my mini oxytocin factories and I wouldn’t want to take that away from someone. Like it’s true, if he’s happy, it’s fine.

PJ: I feel like we failed you, man.

JADE: You didn’t fail me, what! You didn’t fail me. I’m really, really, really, really ecstatic that he was somewhere that was able to take care of him

PJ: Really?

JADE: Yes! That’s why we surrendered him in the first place. They said they would be able to do that and they did.

PJ: Would you want, I mean Drea said that she can send pictures and updates of Schneider, would that be helpful or unhelpful?

JADE: It might be unhelpful, so it’s something I would need to think about. Just because right now, with how things went and the lack of communication, Schneider gets to be like this pug saint over the family. And if he becomes real again, he becomes real again, and I don’t know if that would be helpful or not at this point.

PJ: Yeah. Yeah. You guys have actually made a good, I mean the best thing would be him, but you guys have done a good job of making a good imaginary relationship in his absence.

JADE: Thank you, thank you. And now the imaginary relationship gets to go on with him being happy for the rest of his life. We will keep going and so will Schneider. and the world can be full of rainbow pugs and it will be great.

PJ: what are rainbow pugs?

JADE: It's like when you close your eyes, and you dream that you're in a Lisa Frank painting that is full of pugs. That's what happens when I close my eyes. Lots of little Schneiders. Because he’s happy. I imagine him happy and looking like a pirate.

PJ: I think I had this fantasy where I call you and I’m like I’ve got an update: I’m outside your house in a motorcycle and there’s a little sidecar and like Schneider's in it, let's go

JADE: So you also had an imaginary relationship with Schneider.

PJ: Yeah, I totally did!

JADE: That’s wonderful. Thank you for, you did help. You opened up the line of communication that was cut off, so that we know what happened. And that’s really, that’s, there’s not a price that I can put on that. It’s not like the $20 gold coin the lawyer found in the street.

PJ: What an asshole. At least there’s definitely one villain in this story.

JADE: Yes, there is a real villain in the story.

PJ: I’m sorry stuff is still hard.

JADE: Oh it’s, it’s really, I promise it’s not hard. I just hate email a bit more.

PJ: Yeah, that’s the actually the other villain. Like email is a villain in this story.

JADE: Yeah. Cuz there were no phone conversations about any of this, it was all just emails.

PJ: Emails and like terms of service agreements, it's like the least humane ways people talk to each other.

JADE: Yes.

PJ: Are you gonna tell your kids?

JADE: No. When they’re older.

PJ: Yeah.

JADE: It's still going to be the Great Pug Heist of 2015.

PJ: I think that is, yeah. You guys need like a commissioned portrait. Like a very regal one, where maybe he looks pirate-y but he looks like, very noble and beneficent.

JADE: Or it could be done in the style of Lisa Frank.

PJ: With rainbows?

JADE: Yes. A rainbow pirate pug.

PJ: That would be actually really cool.

JADE: Okay.

PJ: Alright.

JADE: Bye.

PJ: Bye.

PJ: Um, one last thing. Jade, if you’re hearing this, we got you a small present. It is waiting for you at

ALEX: Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. We were produced this week by Tim Howard, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and Phia Bennin. Our editor is Peter Clowney. Happy birthday, Peter. Production assistance from Kalila Holt. We were mixed by Rick Kwan. Special thanks to Mel Young. Our theme music is by the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder and our ad music is by Build Buildings. Matt Lieber is a rope swing over a pond. You can find more episodes at Our website is