Sunday, June 7, 2009

Squeaker and The Others

Yesterday afternoon I had to drive back into the city from the country for a funeral visitation (see earlier blog). Afterwards, I stopped in at the city house to drop off some things I had bought during some Saturday morning shopping, changed clothes, and headed back to the country as I promised Papa he would have me there on Sunday for some rehabbing work at Massey Gardens Two (our property across the road from Massey Gardens One, where we live).

I took a longer way back to the country, what we call the "western" route because it involves a longer drive through the country versus the main route which is mostly highway driving. An evening drive in the country is the best remedy for the blues or any melancholy that sets in. Smelling the "green" growing, fresh mown grass or hay, even dead skunks on the road, seem to make it seem that all's right with the world (except, of course, for the fate of the skunks).

So I was coming back a little later than I thought and after a call home that included a dinner order, I had to make another detour before heading to the house. About a mile from the house we have two camps--United Church of Christ camps. The front camp has a large pool, and barracks style lodging and then a little farther down the road is the second camp which are primitive cabins.

As I was driving past the first camp, there in the road was this tiny dog outfitted with a red bandana around her neck and red bows on top of her ears. She was obviously very upset about her predicament in the road and as I had just met two cars driving up the road, she had probably been a near-miss road kill and was scared to death. I stopped and opened the car door to check to see if she had a collar and she immediately jumped in the car and settled in under my feet and wasn't moving. She didn't have a collar on and I wasn't sure what to do with her.

I called Papa and told him to meet me in the driveway sans Snoopy who is notoriously jealous of any and all other animal these days and drove the last mile home. As soon as I got home, we both got a good look at the dog and determined, yes, she did belong to someone. She was well groomed and accessorized as mentioned above. Papa said she had to belong to someone and I needed to take her back where I found her. I was torn about this. I couldn't just drop her back out on the road, it was late and dark and I would feel horrible if I saw later that she had been killed on the road.

That has happened before. I was driving into town one afternoon and saw this beagle running in the road, obviously dumped. On the way back home, I saw the same beagle dead in the road having been hit by a car. I just felt awful.

OK, I'm going to burst another bubble about country living. The saddest thing we have discovered since moving out here are the people who dump their animals in the country versus taking them to the humane society or some other alternative if they find they can't keep their pet for some reason.

You can always tell the dumped animals. They just have confused behavior. They run up to cars or sometimes chase your car hoping you'll stop or maybe they think you are their owner coming back to retrieve them. Other animals are just scared to death. They'll be out in the road and if you stop, they run back into the woods afraid of everything.

I can't tell you how many animals we've seen like this. There was a rental house up the road and the people moved out and left their dog. Day after day, as we came home, we would see this poor dog sitting on the front porch waiting for his people to return. Papa and I went home and got some lunchmeat one evening and tried to coax him to follow us home but he just wouldn't leave that house. Then one day he was just gone. I wondered what happened to him and Papa being the realist he is, said one of the farmers living nearby probably just shot him or something. I really don't want to hear things like that.

One morning I was driving home from somewhere and again by the camps were two puppies. They were going to be big dogs because they were big puppies. They were covered with mud as it had been raining and I couldn't let them in the car. I managed to get an address and phone number from their collars (the difference between dumped dogs and lost dogs---lost dogs will have collars and tags, dumped dogs just have a worn spot around their neck where a collar once was, their owners do not want to be contacted).

Anyway, I called the number and no answer and as the address on their collar was the next road I was coming to, I just drove slow with the window down urging these lost puppies to follow me. Eventually we made it to the address on their collars which happened to be the last house on the road and newly built. No one was home but the puppies behavior indicated to me they knew they were home. The garage was open and there was a large kennel in the garage and so I got both puppies in the kennel and locked the door. I called the number once again and left a message that I had kenneled the puppies in their garage and left my phone number for their owners in case they had a question and wanted to contact me.

Late that night, I got a call from the owners thanking me for retrieving their puppies. They indicated that they let them run loose and until that day, the puppies had never left the yard but now they knew they would so would watch them closer in the future. It was funny because about a year later, I saw these same two dogs, fully grown and very large indeed, frolicking along the side of the road in about the same place I had found them the previous year. This time, I just shook my head and kept on driving.

And one final story....This is how Snoopy came to live with us. She was also a dumped dog. Papa's father had passed away and we were emptying his house which was also in the country not too far from our country home. It was raining outside and we were hurrying up securing our last load and this little dog came running up into the yard and jumped up on my leg and wrapped her paws around my leg and just held on. She was so little and so cute but Papa said she probably belonged to one of the neighbors, so I fixed her bowl of water that I left on the back porch and we left for the day.

Well, the next day when we returned, there she was again still sitting on the back porch as if waiting for us. She hung around us all day as we worked and everytime we left with a load, she was sitting on the porch and when we returned to get another load, she was still there waiting for us. Some neighbors stopped by and we asked them if they knew who she belonged to and they said they had never seen her before and was probably just another dog that was dumped in the country.

As the day came to a close and we were just about done with the moving, Papa finally said if she's there when we are done, we can take her home with us but 1) He wanted to name her, and 2) She had to stay outside.

Well we brought her home and I went up to Walmart and got some supplies for her and a large kennel for her to stay in on the front porch. We were pretty good about her staying outside but we were responsible as well. We didn't let her run loose for her own safety, so when we were gone, she had to stay in her kennel or on her tree trolley in the yard.

At the time, we still had our other dog who was an inside housedog so after an afternoon of playing out together, we would let one dog in the house while Snoopy would stand at the door as if to ask, "why can't I come in as well." So we slowly started to erase those lines of division between the two dogs and treat them more and more the same, letting Snoopy inside too.

So I do have a soft spot for these dumped dogs because Snoopy has become so much an integral part of our family and she started out as just another dumped dog (she was approximately 3 months old per the vet when she was dumped).

Anyway back to Saturday night. Since I had picked up this dog around the camps, I figured maybe she belonged to someone staying there and decided to start there in my quest. I drove up to the main camp and went up to the house where the caretaker lives, knocked, and asked him if he knew anything about this dog (who was refusing to leave my car). She was, in fact, his dog, Squeaker, and according to him, had never went all the way up to the road before. He was very surprised at that behavior. He called and called her but she was refusing to leave the car (I think it may have had something to do with the bags of McDonalds I picked up in town for our dinner) but finally I picked her up and brought her back to the owner who thanked me profusely. So Squeaker was back home safe and sound albeit deprived of a cheeseburger.

The common denominator of the stories about the "lost" dogs is that noone thinks their dog will ever deviate from previous known behavior (i.e., leave the yard). But they do, they are curious and they explore and they get lost and they get theirselves in dangerous situations.

The stories abut the dumped dogs are a little harder to take but know that dumping your dog in the country thinking that maybe a kind farmer will take them in is pure fiction. Most farmers will just as soon shoot a stray dog than try to assimilate them in their lives. The strays are of unknown temperment and disease and if they have farm dogs, they don't want to risk any unknowns around their pets.

We are the exception in that we took in a cute puppy and made her a part of our family and are so lucky that she turned out to be a wonderful pet.

So that ends today's PSA......

Signing off for now......Grammy

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