Posted at 12:03PM - Comments: (12)
I've mentioned a bunch of times that I have helped find homes for a number of foster dogs, and helped friends who were looking for a certain type of dog to find one who fits into their family perfectly. As far as I know, all the dogs I've placed into homes continue to live happily in those homes - with one exception.
A couple of months ago - on the same trip to my local shelter when I picked up my recent litter of foster puppies - I saw the cutest little dog in the adoption ward. He looked like a miniature Border Collie, or a Sheltie-mix, and was perhaps six or seven months old. He had been picked up as a stray and had been in the shelter for about three weeks. He was a little shy with people at first, but once you had him in your lap (he weighed only about 20 pounds) he would give his heart right over to you (and yours to him). So sweet, so sharp, so cute. I took a little video of him dancing for attention in his kennel and sent it to a friend who had been looking for either a Border Collie (she lives on a ranch 20 miles from the closest town in the mountains) or a nice little "couch dog." This dog was like a perfect combination of her separate visions for her next dog or dogs.
She loved the video, and wanted the dog. The next day I picked up the little guy so I could foster him for a week in advance of his neuter surgery, so I could start his training and get to know him well enough to offer phone support for further training. My senior citizen friend has no income besides Social Security, so I paid the adoption fee. At the end of the week, he knew a few basic cues, how to behave in the house, not to chase the cat or chickens, and that sleeping in crates (with your own private stash of bones and toys) is pretty cool. On a day that I had someone else to feed the litter of foster puppies, I put the little guy in my car and drove the 80 miles or so to my friend's house.
My friend loved the dog, and the dog loved her, and it seemed like he was fitting right in. The ranch cats schooled him ("Chase us, will you? Well, we will chase you right back, you ignorant puppy!"), he learned not to enter the horse pasture unattended (he got chased out of there, too), and while alarmed at first when my friend shouted during football games, he quickly saw that excitement as a fun opportunity to bark and shout, too. My friend joked that she was going to call him "Velcro," because he stayed glued to her side as she went slowly about her chores, feeding the chickens and the horses and checking the water troughs. Until one afternoon when he vanished.
My friend didn't see him go. She says he was there one minute and the next - poof.
She says she called and called, and drove up and down her dirt road calling. She let all her friends and neighbors (such as they are, miles apart) know she was looking for a little Sheltie-looking dog. He was wearing one of my collars and tags, and he is microchipped. But no one reported seeing him. She decided a couple days later that coyotes must have gotten him.
I was on deadline with the last issue of WDJ while this was happening. If I could have, I would have driven immediately over and spent days walking those dirt roads and calling for him. As it was, four days later, after the issue was sent to the printer, I drove over and put up "lost dog" signs for miles around. There has been no sign of him nor word about him.
I know this happens - obviously, or the shelters wouldn't be full of stray dogs. Heck, he came into the shelter as a stray, picked up by county animal control! But my county is more populous than my friend's; where she lives, the odds of someone seeing him and calling animal control are abysmal. And she's right; out where she lives, the coyotes probably did get him.
Every time I see his picture - I took a bunch while I had him, he was so darn cute - it makes me feel so sad. I can't bear the thought of him running through the woods, lost. Despite all the fun I had fostering (and placing) the puppies, I'm kind of burned out on fostering for a while. I miss that little guy like he was my own dog.