First, let me attempt to excuse my actions here, by saying in full disclosure that I have the mother of all head colds, and the result is that my brain activity is rather sporadic. I actually woke up this morning with so much pain in my head that any noise--and I mean any noise--felt like an assault with a blunt instrument. Yes, even the sound of the sheets when I pulled up the covers made my head ache. So, I'm pleading diminished capacity here.
Then, after a solid dose of Sudafed and Tylenol (both (TM)), I ran into the need to exercise the dog. Of course, I had no need to exercise the dog, but HE did, and he made it clear to me that I was expected to fulfull my obligations--head cold or no. So, I decided the most efficient way to maximize the ratio of canine activity to human inactivity was to go to the off leash dog park.
So that's what we did.
It was colder today than it's been yet this winter and something about the weather and the time made the park more empty than usual. Bermondsey and I made it around our usual track when a nice looking lady with a beagle and a Airedale asked me and the other dog walker "Do either of you have a Chihuahua?"
Well--OF COURSE NOT! But she went on to describe a dog that had been following her and her two dogs for about half an hour--the salient points that I heard were "small," "no collar" and "shivering." She also bandied about terms like "abandoned" and "abused," and I was suddenly in her power.
So I helped her go look for this dog--and we found him. Not a Chihuahua, at least, but what turned out to be a puggle--a "designer dog" that is a cross between a pug and a beagle. There was indeed no collar, and he looked naked and cold. Yes. I am a sucker. And an idiot. But my heart is in the right place.
Because the Nice Lady managed to snag him. And then we had a problem. Before we grabbed him, we could have called Animal Control and reported a stray dog and gone home in the glow of A Good Deed Done. I was actually calling Animal Control when the Nice Lady nabbed him, but once he was no longer actually straying, it seemed silly to let him go to have somebody else try to capture him.
This is where I clearly let my soft head and my soft heart reinforce each other. Because Nice Lady wasn't actually from the area, and so she had no idea where to take this dog. But I did. So I did the Grand Gesture, and the Noble Thing, and I took this dog to my car to see if we could find his owner.
Okay, so the idea wasn't immediately a stupid one. Dogs have chips, mostly, so they can be returned to their owners if separated. I knew how to get to the Humane Society. So I put Bermondsey and Naked Dog into the car with the intention of getting New Dog scanned, then taking the resulting information and returning him home to his (presumably) loving home.
This first sign that things were going to go badly was the way the two dogs behaved in the car. New Dog had Doggie Business on the brain, and ended up chasing Bermondsey around the car. WHILE I was driving. In fact, Bermondsey had jumped from the front seat to the back seat to the front seat to THE TOP OF THE DASHBOARD in about 40 seconds while trying to avoid the nose of New Dog.
I pulled over, got Bermondsey down onto the floor, and tucked Lost Dog under one arm as I drove with one hand toward the Humane Society. However, in less than a mile, I spotted a "Pet Hospital." Huzzah! They would surely have a scanner! Odds were good that Shivering Dog would have a home in the vicinity! Let's pull in and get this taken care of!
I am beginning to revise my assessment of the situation.
Small naked dog, alone in dog park. No collar. No coat. No chip. Not neutered. As Wayne Campbell would say; "FISHED YOU IN!"
It is not unheard of for people to abandon their dogs at a dog park, in the hopes that some dog lover with more heart than sense would rescue said animal and give it a new home.
Veterinary assistant sold me a slip leash with which I could tie Abandoned Dog to a seat belt and at least lower the level of mischief while operating my vehicle. I also leave my name and contact information in case someone contacts the nearest vet to look for a lost dog.
Then we went to the Humane Society. And by the time we got there, Weasel Dog had the slip leash around his hips and has nearly broken free and is nearly within nosing distance of Bermondsey, who has taken to huddling deep into the foot well of the front passenger seat. Nobody is happy with this turn of events.
Now, the Humane Society has its own problems and budget crises, etc. etc. So when I walk in with Somebody Else's Dog, I am informed -- immediately--"you can leave him here but we can't tell you what happens to him."
This is brilliant. For them. Because here I am, a Concerned Citizen hoping to reunite Lost Dog with Grieving Family. There they sit, Non-Profit Agency in era of lost jobs and home foreclosures, dealing with a lot of surrendered pets. If they can get me to NOT turn this dog in, then that is one less animal they have to deal with. So, without ever saying anything like "not adoptable" and "euthanasia" or "budget cuts and financial shortfalls" they sucker punch me right in my soft heart and make it impossible for me to leave said Problem Dog on their hands.
What would my kids say if they found out I had done that?
So the intake worker gives Naked Dog a collar, and the AHS store sells me a "recycled" leather leashe for $2, and I'm headed back home. I do have a list of the web sites the AHS recommends for connected Lost Dogs to Found Dogs. So I go home and connect to the internet.
I go to the "Lost Dogs" bulletin board, and don't find This Dog missing, so I post a "Found Dog" report.
I go to Craigslist and scan the "Lost Dogs" bulletin board, and don't find This Dog missing, so I post a "Found Dog" report.
I go to "LostAndPound.com," lather, rinse, and repeat.
I check with a couple of rescue organizations, but it looks like there isn't much they can do. See above, re: lots of surrendered animals, few adopters, plus "no foster homes."
Posters! I haven't made posters yet! I snap a picture with my camera phone and start to make a poster to put up in the park. After all, if someone lost him at the park, that's where they will look for him again.
Meanwhile, I have put Mr. Puggle's leash around a door knob and closed the door. He can reach food, water, a cushion--but he can't reach Bermondsey. This seems to be a good solution, until I hear the sounds of growling. That Dog has chewed through the leather leash, and is back to chasing Bermondsey.
So I grab the Other leash, tie it to the first one, and give him a rawhide bone. Back to making a poster!
And then the mayhem starts again. Yup. Chewed through the second leash as well.
So I go to fetch a baby gate. The babies are now 13 and 16, so the gate is pretty far back in the accumulation of history that is our basement. I manage to winkle it out and set it up. I print out the posters and go fetch the "babies" from school.
We are home half an hour later, to find the baby gate has been breached. Poor Bermondsey--he's got to feel like the French at Agincourt. We drop off backpacks and computers, re-establish gate fortifications, and head out to put up posters.
When we come back, the gate has been breached again, this time in a fashion that locks both dogs on the wrong side from food and water. And Bermondsey remains Not Very Happy About All This.
As I write this now, Other Dog has been in the house for about ten hours. I have learned some things about him. He only eats dry dog food--he actually didn't even touch any of the wet I put out for him. He is used to wearing clothes to go outside--I got out a dog jacket that Bermondsey wears when his hair is short, and Clothing Optional Dog doubled his tail wagging. Jacket means outdoors! Outdoors after eating is good!
He was not an abused dog--rather the opposite. As we ate dinner, Comfort Dog went into the parlor and settled himself luxuriantly on a cushion. After dinner, and Capt. Sweetie and I enjoyed the fire, Spoiled Dog splayed himself full on his back, and proceeded to serenade us with a collection of snores and tongue clicks.
He is immediately territorial, or defensive, or something He barks at unfamiliar sounds and at intruders. How he knows WHAT sounds are unfamiliar, or WHO is an intruder is not clear.
Right now, he is sleeping in the same room as Bermondsey, and they are doing a good job of ignoring each other. This is not a bad dog--this is a dog somebody has put some effort into. But it's 11:00 p.m., and nobody has called looking for him.
To be continued. . . .
That, however, was not the foremost thought on his mind. No, he was busy checking all the dogs in the area in case any of them just happened to be female. It was apparently a bonus in his little mind if she was in heat.