Editorial December 2000 Issue

Home For The Holidays

Give your dog an extra hug from us.

My son and I were late getting him to school one morning, so, even though we live only about six blocks from his elementary school, we hopped into the car. When we drive, rather than walk, it’s usually an effort to try to make up for lost time – time spent looking for his shoes or my keys, as the case may be. But a small event on the way to school delayed us further one morning, a few weeks ago.

About a block away from our house, a small ball of fluff caught my eye. I couldn’t make out what it was at first, since it was backlit with the rising sun, which shone directly in my eyes. But, judging from the blaring horns and brake lights all across the intersection in front of us, I gathered that it was an animal of some sort, panicked and running through the cars.

As I inched up to the intersection, I saw the fluffball, now on the sidewalk and running straight away, fast. I said to my son, “Oh shoot, Eli. Look, a little dog.” We looked at each other for about a tenth of a second in my rearview mirror, and we decided the same thing: Let’s get it. I turned to follow the dog, and told Eli to look in the back of the car for a bag of liver treats I knew was there.

It took a little doing, catching the little dog. I drove past its fleet form, stopped the car, jumped out, and casually kneeled down on the sidewalk well ahead of it, holding out some treats and calling cheerfully. The dog, a beautifully groomed tan and white Shetland Sheepdog, took one look at me and reversed direction, running down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. The only reason we ended up catching her (for the dog proved to be a sweet little female) was because she stopped to vomit – clearly out of great distress. I made a grab for her and Eli stepped up with a leash. Once she was captured, she resigned herself to our control, trembling.

We wiped her off, put her in the car, and I dropped Eli off at school – now, very late, but with a better excuse! I examined the Sheltie’s collar, and thank goodness, she was wearing an ID tag with her name, address, and phone number on it.

As it turned out, the Sheltie had escaped from a dog sitter hired to care for her and the other two dogs in her family while her owners were on vacation. With two other dogs in tow, the walker wasn’t able to pursue her quickly enough when she slipped out of the slip collar/leash she was wearing, and she disappeared into traffic. I turned her back over to the sitter, and when her owners returned from vacation the next day and heard the whole story, they immediately came over with flowers and dog biscuits for thanks.

The little episode reminded me of how much I’ve learned from the dog training and dog care experts I’ve had the good fortune to work with over the past three years. I know from reading WDJ articles that your dog should ALWAYS wear ID, whether a tag, tattoo, microchip, or all three; that “limited slip” collars are a must for every dog that has ever tried to slip its collar; that socializing your dog to accept friendly strangers just may save his or her life at some point. I hope our readers are getting as much out of WDJ as I am!

But it also reminded me of how bereft a dog is when he’s lost his home, whether it’s for minutes or months. The smartest dog in the world loses his mind pretty quickly when he loses his connection with someone he trusts.

If your dog is sitting nearby, go ahead and give him a hug from us; we’re glad he’s home for the holidays, and every day. If you’re currently dogless, do yourself and the world a favor, and go get a new canine friend from your local shelter. Neither one of you should be alone at this time of year.

-By Nancy Kerns

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