Whole Dog Journal's Blog October 5, 2017

One of those crazy loose-dog days

Posted at 09:39AM - Comments: (17)

This morning, I was talking to my husband, while standing in the doorway of his office, which is located in a little outbuilding behind our home. I was watching my dogs Otto and Woody, as they stood with their backs to me, looking alertly at something through the chain-link fence that separates our backyard from the front yard. Suddenly, Otto lifted his head and let out a howl of frustration (it’s more like the noise that Chewbacca the Wookie from Star Wars makes) and quick as a wink, Woody neatly lifted his nose, unlatching the gate, and both dogs pushed though the gate and ran into the front yard after something.

Obviously, I abruptly left the conversation with my husband, yelled “Hey! Come!” and ran in the direction of my dogs. To their credit, both of them ran back toward me, gaily and immediately, but looking over their shoulders at a little dog, who looked like a Shih Tzu-mix and who was standing, loose, uncollared, and unaccompanied, at the foot of my driveway. When the dog saw me, he started trotting down the sidewalk.

I didn’t see any person around, and didn’t recognize the dog, so I ran back into my house, grabbed my treat pouch and a leash, told the dogs to STAY (this, because of Woody’s apparently newly learned trick with the gate latch), and trotted down the sidewalk myself in pursuit of the stray dog.

I spent about 10 minutes trying to catch the dog with no success. I didn’t want to frighten him into a panicked run; he looked more or less like he knew where he was going, but he wasn’t interested in approaching me, or even eating one of the delicious treats I tossed toward him. When he realized at one point that I was trying to maneuver him into a yard where I might be able to corner him, he took off at a faster pace, and I stayed back, so he slowed to a walk again. If I had my cell phone with me, I would have called to see if an animal control officer was available to help me corral the dog, but I hadn’t grabbed it when I ran to get a leash. I told myself that he’d be okay, and hoped he’d find his way home.

Then I walked my dogs to my office, which is located in another house, about two blocks away. I put on a pot of coffee, and had just sat down at my computer, when Woody, who likes to sit on a loveseat I have in the front window of the house, just behind my desk chair, started growling at something outside the window. His growl alerted Otto, who jumped on the couch, looked out the window, and let out another Wookie sound. So I looked out the window, and there is a stray dog standing in the front yard, looking back at my grumbling dogs – not the stray from earlier, though! This one was a medium-sized, brown and white Cattle Dog-mix, with no collar. Jeez Louise!

I grabbed my treats and a leash again, and went out the front door. This dog immediately approached me, as if we were old friends. Hi, Buddy! I fed him a few treats as I eased a leash around his neck, and led him to my fenced backyard. Then I went in the house and called animal control. They said they would send an officer to come scan the dog for a microchip and, if he didn’t have one, take him to the shelter.

About 15 minutes later, I see an animal control truck driving down the alley across from my office. I thought he was looking for my house, so I went out my front door and yelled, “Hey Peter!” (having recognized the officer from volunteering at the shelter). He leaned out the truck window and yelled back at me, “Did you lose the dog you caught?” I looked over my shoulder, saw the dog I caught still in my backyard, and yelled back, “No! He’s right here!”

Peter got out of his truck and was saying, “As I was driving up your street, I saw a small black and white Cattle Dog . . . .” when we both, at the same time, saw two big, brown Labradors (or maybe Chesapeakes?) come trotting down the sidewalk between us.  What the???

Peter crouched down and called to the dogs, and one came right to him, with a big genial grin. I ducked back into my house, grabbed a leash and some treats, and dashed back outside again. I couldn’t see the other brown dog anywhere – she had VANISHED. Crap!

Peter said, “Well, there is an address and phone numbers on this dog’s collar; he lives on the next street over.” I said, “Tell you what, I’ll call the numbers and take him home if you want to grab the dog out of my backyard. Or chase the other Lab. Or look for the black and white Cattle dog!” I clipped a leash onto the friendly dog’s collar, and started walking him back toward my house, where I had left my car that morning, and which was on the way to his house. As I walked, I called the numbers on the dog’s collar and left messages saying I had the dog (his tag said his name was Ezekial), and was going to bring him home, but that Ezekial had been with another dog who had gotten away.

As I was driving, my phone buzzed with an incoming text from Peter. It said, “The dog in your yard has a microchip.” Hurray!

When I got to the address on the dog’s collar, thank goodness, there was a gentleman in the front yard waiting for me. He told me that the dogs sometimes get out and they usually head down to the river and go for a swim. He said, “I’ll throw Zeke in the car and go look at Riverbend Park for Bella. That’s where they usually turn up!”

I was literally one house away from my office when I saw the black and white Cattle Dog that Peter had pursued earlier, wandering down the sidewalk. No collar. I texted Peter and told him I would keep the dog in sight if he could come and help me try to catch the dog. I didn’t get a response, and guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that he was in pursuit of some other dog somewhere else. I followed the dog for about 15 minutes. I got ahead of him three times, and tried to subtly herd him into a yard where I could contain him until help could arrive, but he clearly understood what I was trying to do and just kept taking off at a run. Finally, I got a text from Peter saying he wouldn’t be able to help any time soon – he had his hands full with a situation back at the shelter – and I gave up. The Cattle Dog was very street-savvy; hopefully he’d end up wherever he had come from.

Five loose dogs within an hour and a half. One with a collar and tags, safely returned to his owner. I just called the shelter to check; the one I caught who had a microchip was already in the process of being returned to his owner. I wish all the luck in the world to the other three, none of whom wore collars (though, who knows, maybe they had microchips). And now I have to go find a chain and a snap to put on the gate that my own dog has learned to open.

Have you ever had one of those mornings?


Comments (17)

We found a Blue Tick Hound because she ran out in front of our (nearly stopped) car on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She was skin and bones, no collar, tags, or chip. No way to find an owner. The area was unpopulated so we put her in the car. After trying to find good owner for a couple of weeks and considering an animal shelter, we had fallen in love with her and kept her (of course!). There is a saying about Blue Ticks...you don't "own" them, you just rent them for a while. They are slaves to their noses!

Soon she chased a deer, got caught in a near-hurricane storm that raged for two days, and ended up ten miles away from us. We got a call from our vet because the family had gotten the number from the rabies tag. She was microchipped by that time, of course, too.

She has never been off the leash for walks since then, as she is really untrainable to "come" once her hunting instinct kicks in. However, I believe the tradeoff works for her. She traded hunting for being a beloved pet. That was eight years ago; she's ten now. I realized that, although we have acreage in the boondocks, it's not safe to risk what she would undoubtably have done over and over - to constantly chase deer and end up miles away. Sometimes it takes a while to come to that conclusion, but it's just our responsibility as good doggie-loving citizens!

Posted by: JennyN | October 9, 2017 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Not recently, but in the past decade or so I rescued more than a handful of lost dogs. What I found interesting was the variation in owner response. Some owners were "near tears" kind of grateful and one acted kind of huffy, insisting his two dogs "Never get out." Never?

One woman told me if I had left her dog to fend for himself, he would have come home eventually. The dog was some sort of fluffy 20-pounder named "Angus." It took me 20 minutes to lure him off a busy street, in 90ºF heat. Water did the trick.

Angus, when I "discovered" him, was running on a road parallel to the Freeway and about 1/4 mile from a series of onramps. I think Angus' owner left something to be desired.

One dog, a large Rottweiler, miraculously answered my whistle. It was 4th of July and I was sitting on my front porch, watching the fireworks (the display being some three miles distant). I heard the jangle of tags and quickly realized a dog was running down my street---on a new moon night (pitch black, no street lights)----scared out of his wits by fireworks' noise. I whistled and whistled and called to him.

That poor dog! He came right to me, gawd love him, and I could not believe the amount of slobber he was soon dripping all over my kitchen floor. He had no i.d., but I called Animal Control the next morning and gave them his license #. "We can come get him," they told me. Uh-huh. I didn't think the owner should have to pay any fine for a dog running loose. They reluctantly gave me the owner's phone #.

The owner showed up at my door with minutes after my call to her. She had a nice bottle of wine in her hand, by way of thanks, and she hugged me until I thought my ribs would crack. Lucky Rottie, eh?

I always keep an eye out for strays and keep an extra leash and a small water bowl in my car. You never know when you will have to help some lost furball.

Posted by: MiTmite9 | October 8, 2017 8:30 PM    Report this comment

p.s. to MikelcMikel

I am so sorry about Blaze. Losing a dog is losing a precious family member. Heartbreaking. I'm so sorry. Where living now, not far from where I grew up, there are leash laws everywhere.

I learned about Pyrenees from childhood friend whose family had one, also the dogs (and horses sometimes too) roamed free. (In the suburbs) This Great Pyrenees -- Poly for Napoleon -- was hit by a truck, and unhurt, (although the truck was damaged) which was such a miracle to me as a kid. Still is.

Posted by: Sun~Rose | October 8, 2017 1:13 PM    Report this comment

Having lived in an area for many years where there were no leash laws, all the dogs in the area roamed free. We had 3 dogs, 2 of them a 'married' great Pyrenees 'couple'. The third -- a wild Irish Setter who roamed free far and wide. The great Pyrenees lived together in a large fenced-in area. We wanted to mate the Pyrenees, and because of their sheer size, they stayed in the yard (except when they escaped). When Abi- the female came into heat, we had every singe dog in the area jumping the 4-foot fence, even the littlest ones! They all had a great time getting to know-bark (chat) with each other and Abi- would sit down and never budge! So they never did have puppies. And the two of them lived well into their mid teens, and were never sick.) Ditto Irish Casey.

Posted by: Sun~Rose | October 8, 2017 12:57 PM    Report this comment

Here in SoCal we have Santa Ana conditions and during those times peoples' fence (if not in good repair) blow down, gates blow open, etc. That's when I experience the most loose dogs. I catch them if they will come to me and always keep extra leashes and collars in my SUV. I once had a Great Dane named Fred jump readily into the back of my SUV. He had a collar with an address so was able to be returned. I've had Golden's who growled at me. If people just kept collars and tags on their dogs it would make it so much easier and if they kept their gates secure and fences in good repair it would reduce the escapes.

Posted by: Mick's Mom | October 6, 2017 1:34 PM    Report this comment

Good on you for taking the time to go after loose pups. We live in a neighborhood where two large dogs (friendly) are allowed to freely roam, including in the street. I haven't had the nerve yet to call animal control, but I now think I should. It's a matter of time before they get hit by a car or scooped up by someone with no-good intentions. Something else as well -- invisible fences, which work GREAT when dogs are trained (our are) but not so much when they're not. Regular breachers make dog-walking nearly impossible and occasionally dangerous. Never quite sure what to do when talking to the owners doesn't result in any change. Would be interested if anyone else has had the same thing happen.

Posted by: TrekkerChick | October 5, 2017 9:13 PM    Report this comment

Great article. I admire you so much for chasing after these dogs. I used to do that in my neighborhood but back in March a young couple with 4 kids and a large dog bought the house across the street. The first morning they were there the large dog got out of the back yard and was running up and down the street in a panic. I was afraid he would run out in the street and get hit so I called a neighbor to help me retrieve him and put him back in the yard. Long story short when I was walking to my other neighbor that was going to help me I apparently walked into the new dogs territory and he started barking at me. I tried to hurry to my neighbors and ended up getting bit in the behind by this dog. I do believe after this experience my dog chasing days are over.

Posted by: freygirl | October 5, 2017 2:17 PM    Report this comment

One of those mornings? How about one of those decades? Dogs are always loose in our neighborhood. One Christmas eve, a Chihuahua trotted merrily down the sidewalk while my husband was watering the lawn. We have our two large dogs (who can be territorial) on steel chain tethers when we are doing yard work or chores, so my husband scooped the toy dog and took him into our garage for safety. He was bathed (fleas!) and my husband's daughter took him in the house for the night, crating him in her room and sleeping with him in her bed. No doubt someone's Christmas festivities did not include looking out for this little dog's safety. Two days later we posted signs all over the neighborhood and the family claimed him. For two days there were no signs for a missing dog. Then there was a time on my sister's street when a Chihuahua (again!) was literally running loose. My sister said he lived in the house about 8 houses up the street, so I caught him and walked him back to his house. The owner was delighted but not worried in the least, "Oh, he always gets out, but he always comes back." I was furious that there was no sense of urgency in the man's voice. Then it's a family in our neighborhood who lets several toy dogs loose when the children in the family don't shut the backyard gates. Several times over the years have frantically chased these dogs (using treats) and returned them to their family. Again, no sense of urgency. I agree with LoveGSDs: stupid owners.

Posted by: Three Dog Mom | October 5, 2017 1:28 PM    Report this comment

I have NextDoor.com also and a day does not go by where a dog or cat has been found wandering or someone has put out a call for a lost dog or cat!! I just don't get that! At one time I had three greyhounds and now have an English Fox Red Labrador and I have never "lost" a dog. So I wonder about the people now days who have pets. Do they not care to keep them safe or are they just stupid?

Posted by: SlyBrandy | October 5, 2017 12:55 PM    Report this comment

I noticed the response by Linda Louise mentioned Nextdoor.com, which our neighborhood also uses. Hardly a week ever goes by that someone doesn’t post for lost and found dogs and cats (even a pet rooster and a desert tortoise). It has been remarkably effective. We live in a desert area next to a mountain with lots of predators (coyotes, owls, hawks, and a few bobcats), so we all breathe a collective sigh of relief when we see that families have been reunited. And if someone forgets to post the end of a story you can bet that someone will ask what happened.

Posted by: MJC | October 5, 2017 12:04 PM    Report this comment

Many, many, many years ago when I was in graduate school I lived outside of Washington, DC in a rented house with a huge chain linked fenced-in back yard. I had a Dalmatian named Tess who had a lot of energy. While I would never do this today, I had a dog door so she could come and go during the day while I was a school. Every day I would come home and she would be peacefully snoozing on the couch. After many months a neighbor come to the door and said "Everyone in the neighborhood has asked me to come and talk to you about your dog." Turned out that as soon as everyone left the house Tess would leave the yard via unknown means and would terrorize the neighborhood. He informed me that she had taken nearly everyone's doormats, clothes off of clotheslines, stole balls from children who were playing, chased cars and generally made a nuisance of herself. We went down in to the basement and in an area that you wouldn't see when going into the basement to do the laundry which was the only reason to go down there, I found a pile of items bigger than a mini-van that included the door mats, sporting equipment, cigarettes, clothing and just about anything that a dog could carry and get through a dog door.

I called the breeder who informed me that Dalmatians can easily jump or climb a 5 foot fence and suggested I extend the fence. I used bamboo from the yard and chicken wire to extend the height of the fence by several feet except for a spot where a neighbor had a shed on the other side of the fence very close to it. She can't jump over the fence there I thought she would hit the shed. I was wrong and the petty larceny continued. So I pretended to leave the house and proceeded to watch her climb the fence, put her paws on the shed and slip down between the shed and the fence. Busted!

I put out the items in the front yard and embarrassingly watched everyone come and collect their items.

Posted by: barnbutt | October 5, 2017 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Friday night a little dog, no collar, showed up at our front door. We crated him and searched the neighborhood for people out with flashlights looking. No one. Rang a few doorbells (new here, don't know many people) with no results. Dog was in great condition - clean, nails trimmed, friendly. Saturday morning took him to our vet - no microchip (not neutered, either.) No way were we going to bring this dog to a shelter but we have 2 big dogs already and are not "little dog" people. At any rate, posted on FB Lost Dogs, Next Door & PawBoost. Made posters, put in some local stores & vet offices, checked with our mailman, AND posted a flyer on our by-the-street mailbox. That is what worked! The owners rode by Sunday evening and saw the flyer and in minutes had Max back in their arms, (They swore they would get him neutered & microchipped!) This was our first experience finding a dog - so glad it had a happy ending. We all stood around outside crying happy tears. Another nice thing for us was that we met a few of our neighbors!

Posted by: sharonh46 | October 5, 2017 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Our neighborhood is very aggressive about loose dogs. We post fotos on Next Door and the dogs are usually back with their owners quickly. We call animal control as a last resort because animal control here is connected to a kill shelter. Unclaimed loose dogs have been fostered and adopted through our Next Door app. My brother stayed with me after he was flooded out and everytime his dog would get out of the fence we would have her back in minutes. He was amazed.

Posted by: Linda Louise | October 5, 2017 10:21 AM    Report this comment

Yes, definitely a Chessie! Figures he would take himself out for a swim...

Posted by: pmiller28 | October 5, 2017 10:09 AM    Report this comment

Heartbreaking, not crazy. My border collie escaped yesterday somehow & was killed probably instantly by a driver who did not stop. A neighbor rushed Blaze to the University Vet nearby, called me. I sped up there, parked, spoke with the vet, and received Blaze's still-warm body. She was nearly 8 years old, a serial escape artist always found by neighbors and returned right up until yesterday. The eight foot fence, the boulders around its perimeter--she was not smart enough to figure this was for her sake. Loose dogs are not an amusing event at all.

Posted by: Mikelcmikel | October 5, 2017 10:06 AM    Report this comment

I remember former next door neighbour who had a lab (Christmas gift for the kids) never walked, never trained, not spayed, constantly escaped and left to us (responsible dog owners) to round up and take back to the owner. Humane Society picked her up numerous times and owner would shrug, saying he figured either H.S. or we wold bring his dog back. As long as he paid the fee to have the dog returned, he would get her back. Wish we could screen out the stupid owners and decrease the incidents of dogs on the loose!

Posted by: LoveGSDs | October 5, 2017 9:45 AM    Report this comment

Awesome article!! After I read you volunteered at the shelter, I realized why you were so able to accurately and funny (way) to describe each dog. I've reread the previous sentence three times and well, I hope you get it....

Posted by: eabriggs1111 | October 5, 2017 9:41 AM    Report this comment

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