Monday, March 26, 2012

A Second Unexpected Guest

On my birthday a week ago, the weather was a tour de force of options and possibilities. Like a gift package in which layer upon layer of wonderful things is revealed, the weather presented me with rain, hail, sleet, wind, snow and brilliant sunshine. My favorite kind of day!

In the late afternoon, with about eight inches of snow on the ground crusting over in the cold sunshine, I heard voices in the front yard and went out to discover my neighbor John talking with David. And between them sat the most woebegone, bedraggled little dog. John explained that he’d found him sitting in the road and it was clear he was lost and desperate.

I took this poor creature immediately to heart. Into the house he came, all a-wiggle to have someone, anyone, attending to him. He was a pitbull puppy about five or six months old and he was soaked to the bone, covered in red mud, shivering, hungry and scared. I immediately stripped off my clothes and took him into the shower, where hot water and a shampooing restored his white coat with just a tinge of red stain remaining. He endured this with remarkable patience and restraint, although David had to park himself at the shower entrance to keep him from leaping out.

After a big rub down, the next activity was ingestion: he drank nearly two quarts of water and then proceeded to clean up all the canned dog food I had left in the house. Finally, somewhat satisfied, he stationed himself on the hearth, as close to the fire as he could get, sometimes actually sticking his head into the firebox, causing steam to rise from his broad cranium. He lay there gazing at me with adoration from his piggy little pink-rimmed eyes.

And I gazed back. Rarely has a dog captivated me so instantaneously. He was one of those puppies in transition: huge paws over which he stumbled charmingly and ears far too big for his growing noggin. He had three spots of orangy-brown, two on his rump at the base of his tail and one around his eye, and there were black polkadots on his belly, which he displayed by lolling on his back and kicking his feet in the air in excesses of delight at being warm and humanly embraced.

It was too late to call Animal Control or the Humane Society to see if anyone had reported him missing. So we made him comfortable as possible as night fell and waited for the morrow. Already David and I had decided that, if he had no owner, we would adopt him. Meanwhile, his presence in the house had sent the cats into a panicked diaspora. Panda went tearing off into the woods and Sophia took up residence in the studio, refusing to come in under any circumstances, and had to be fed there for the two days of the puppy’s residence.

Yes, his stay here was brief. The next day Animal Control read his description back to me from a report they had taken, which also confirmed that he had been lost for two days prior to our taking him in – the two days of terrible cold, wind and snow. Poor baby! No wonder he was trying to insert himself into the stove!

The first night I went to bed, leaving him on the hearth. In the morning, I awakened to find him nested in my armchair and puppy poop in front of the dog door and the front door. He’d made an effort to get out, poor thing, so I couldn’t be angry with him. I flung the door rug outside into the snow and cleaned up the messes. Then we spent all day Tuesday learning dog door. He was remarkably bright and eager to please and by the end of the day he was breezing in and out through the magnetized flap and there wasn’t a single other accident in the house.

He developed an attachment to me as quickly as I did to him, apparently, because he followed me everywhere, even inserting himself into the shower while I bathed, so that his head and shoulders were soaked. He wrapped himself around my feet, whenever I sat down and shadowed me when I moved. We were fast becoming bonded.

And then the phone rang. A moronic voice said, “Yeah, I hear you got my dog.” My heart sank. Not only was I fond of the little guy but I had dreaded the thought that his owner might be – well -- questionable, as pitbull owners sometimes can be. Judging by the voice, my worst fears were coming to pass. But what could I do? I’m not a dognapper. This man clearly had a right to have his dog back, so I gave him directions to get here and said my prayers.

Which were not answered. A battered truck pulled up within the hour and a specimen of the Aryan Brother type emerged: three days growth of beard, multiple piercings, a grimed motorcycle jacket, and a red bandana over the head. He was 40ish, swaggering but, mercifully, polite and grateful. “Yeah,” he said in a gravelly voice, “I just moved here from Idaho.” Oh great! The dog fighting capital of the West! My heart was sinking like a stone. The puppy’s too. He took off for the house, voting the only way he could as to what his future should be. I had to extract him and his owner carried him off to put him in the cab, saying, “His freedom is over. He goes on a line, from now on.”

“If you ever want to get rid of him,” I ventured, “I’d be happy to take him.”

“This dog is valuable! I’ve had all kinds of people offer me big money for him.”

Animal as commodity. No way to argue with that.

I can’t get that little guy off my mind. I’m keeping him in my prayers and I’m going to ask Animal Control if they can do a welfare check on him. I’m hoping his line breaks and he finds his way back. If he does, dognapping may just be a criminal activity I might consider undertaking.

Signs of Life:

A lost puppy is a sad thing, but a lost child is sadder still. Watch this video to see the amazing work of a Nepalese woman, Indira Rana Magar, founder of Prisoners Assistance Nepal (PA-Nepal), who rescues children who have been incarcerated along with their parents and gives them a home. There, they are educated, learn to dance, play and have physical education classes. This video will touch your heart!
Here's the link to watch it online: 
Here's a link to the donations page on PA Nepal's website:

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