Dog Blog

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Peaches and Beau had a house guest all day today, a beautiful but starved Australian Shepherd named Max.  Like many strays, Max had no name tag with his owner's name, address, and phone number.  I only found out his name after tracing the numbers on Max's rabies and license tags on his collar to the County Animal Care and Control and Sacramento Animal Hospital. They were able to provide me with a name, address, and phone, but I had no way of knowing whether the owners still lived there or if this was another case of a foreclosed Fido.  This dog obviously had been on the loose for a while. 

I had spotted the dog wandering through our neighborhood a few nights ago, but of course he wouldn't come to me when I beckoned.  I drove through the neighborhood looking to see if I could find him, but he had vanished in the dark.  Then this morning when I was sitting out in the front garden with my dogs, soaking up some blessed sunshine, Beau let out an alarm.  I glanced across the street to see what he was going on about.  My neighbor had just come out of her garage, but then I saw what Beau was barking about.  A dog slipped into her garage.  I recognized it as being the same dog as before.  He was getting desperate now, enough to approach strangers for help.  He was trying to get into the open bag of dog food she had in her garage. This time I had a leash and managed to nab Max and corral him in my back yard, where he stayed all day.

The dog was skin and bone from being lost since last Thursday while his owners had gone out of town.  A friend was supposed to transport the dog to the owner's mother's house (I'm not sure why this wasn't done before they left town), but the dog never made it to Mom's house. The friend took him to his office and Max escaped.  

After I fed him, he slept the entire day, clearly happy to have a full belly, fresh water, and a save haven to rest a while.  I kept trying all day to reach the owner, leaving several messages on the answering machine.  No response.  I was hoping they were just at work and I'd hear from them soon.  I am most grateful to the efforts of the staff at Sacramento Animal Hospital on H Street in helping me to connect with Max's owner, who came to get him a little while ago.  They even arranged for Aussie Rescue to take Max if no one came to claim him by tomorrow.  I am so grateful to them that I plan to take my own dogs there for veterinary care in future. 

Fortunately, this lost dog tale has a happy ending.  I only wish you could have heard the squeals of joy that came from this dog that was so still and silent all day.  It was growing dark when I took him out my side gate to be reunited with his grateful owner.  He wasn't sure at first who she was, but when he got close enough to pick up her scent he went belly up and writhed with ecstasy at being reunited with her at last. His continued vocalizations brought tears to my eyes. If anyone ever doubts the power of the bond an animal forms for his human or the immeasurable depth of a dog's affection, you must witness a scene like I did tonight.  

His owner told me that they had rescued Max last September.  He was almost back in rescue again. He was a sweet, beautiful dog and was already winning my affection (and I his, judging from the tail wags and cuddles I got after feeding him dinner), but two 60-pound hounds is all I can handle.  I am just happy that he is back with his rightful owners and sleeping in his own warm bed tonight.  I sincerely hope they will be more careful with their companion in future so this never happens again.  I know he must have suffered greatly this past week.  His mistress offered to pay me a reward, which I refused, but I hope she will use the money instead to get Max a thorough checkup at the vet after his ordeal.  It's hard for me not to feel angry with people who are so careless with their pets.  Accidents do happen, but not if we're careful.  Bottom line: the owner should not have trusted a co-worker to transport her dog.  Would you trust a casual acquaintance with your child's safety?  I feel no different about dogs.

Moral of the story:  1.  Keep ID tags on your dog at all times with your current name, address and phone. It's your best insurance of getting your pet back home to you safely and quickly, but microchip him/her, too. 2. Trust No One who is not a professional pet sitter or kennel to attend to your dog in your absence.  I learned early with my first basset hound that you can't necessarily even trust your own family members to ensure your pet is safe while you are away.  We were also very lucky that time with our happy wanderer, Butterscotch.  We found her at Glenbrook Park trying to nudge under the wire fence to cross Highway 50 to get back to our house.  I never made that mistake again.  These days, we don't take vacations where we can't take our dogs with us.    

Good luck and happy trails, Max!  After only a day in your gentle company, I already miss you. 



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