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?