Friday, September 7, 2012

A Very Long Post Full of Happy-Bittersweet Endings

What a day. It's been an interesting enough day to warrant an actual, not-just-pictures blog post.

So I came home from morning volunteering at the daycare today, all geared up to write my sociology blog assignment for school that I'd put off all day week. I went out back with Eric and the dogs for a minute before starting and saw a dog running up the street about one house over. Now, I would've done what I could to aid any loose dog that was friendly enough to be approached, but something about this dog said "herding breed" to me, so it was on. I happened to have a handful of baked tortilla chips, grabbed Natalie's leash, and headed across the road. Java was going nuts in our yard because Java is unfortunately not much of a team player when it comes to strange animals. His requirements for a potential new friend are quite specific, but more on that another day. Among them are "is a girl," or "is a boy that I've known since I was a baby." This dog was neither, ultimately.

The pup was quite approachable (more so than my jerk of a doberman, I'm afraid) and interested in tortilla chips (who isn't?). He had on a blue collar with a cute skull pattern, but no tags. I easily got a leash on him and headed back home, formulating a plan as we walked. Among other reasons, Java would make it near impossible to keep him in the house for any length of time, and though he appeared to be healthy I was reluctant to expose our own herd to a dog with an unknown health situation. He was an interesting dog, sort of long and short, almost like a corgi, but with a square spaniel-esque head and a lot of fluffy, almost-but-not-quite Collie-like hair. He was white with a lot of black speckles and several big black spots. Eric and I had some heated debates about his potential breed mix, but all the same...

He seemed to be in good shape, not underweight, in need of a good brushing but nothing extreme at all, pretty clean and very mild-mannered and perfect on a leash. Neutered. I surmised that he probably hadn't been lost for all that long, and headed off for a good walk around the area. We knocked on doors, asked lawn-mowers and joggers if they knew him. No one had ever seen him. It's a subdivision, I feel like we usually kind of know what dogs live where. I began to suspect that maybe he wasn't from around here. I sang him a little song that went like "I've been through the suburbs with a dog with no name, it felt good to get out of the ra-aaain..." We walked and walked, and now and then he would abruptly pick up his pace and look animated. I wondered if maybe he spied his home, but as far as I could tell, nope.

Eventually we went back home and decided that the next logical step was to take him to our veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. Maybe we would luck out and they would recognize him, even. Our veterinarian's practice is very near our house, and very small, so it seemed possible. He was also a very good boy in the car, but no chip, no recognition. We went back home and let him into our backyard with some food and water while I went inside to formulate a plan. It was about 3 pm and a lot of people weren't home, so I figured maybe he escaped while his people were at work, and I'd check again around 6 or so when people would be getting home. I called every local veterinarian and every local shelter. I posted a found ad on Craigslist. We have a pretty nice local resource, a Facebook page where people can post their lost and found pets. It's well-publicized, and they also watch for and post strays that are in shelters and other places. I posted for him there, and a few minutes later found a found ad for him... from four days earlier. There went my "probably just escaped today" theory. Four days ago, from what I can gather, someone in our neighboring subdivision picked him up, took him in, took his picture, and when they failed to find an owner, turned him loose outside again.

Now, I guess this may not be a black and white issue, but in my personal belief system, it is. We have a handful of smaller rescue organizations in this area (excluding breed-specific rescues, of course), and about three major shelters. One technically takes strays and owner surrenders, but the wait list to even have an "assessment appointment" to discuss surrendering the animals can be several weeks. There's no walking in and saying "I found this dog." They technically do not euthanize for space, but I really emphasize the word "technically" here. Another accepts immediate surrenders, but because of this they have an extremely, notoriously high kill rate: dogs have four days to get adopted or claimed, generally. The third pretty much just pulls from the first two and is no-kill. To me, a safe place and a humane euthanasia would be a better fate than being left to the elements to be hit by a car or starve to death. Tragic, yes. But less so than releasing a pet into the wild. The only option C, assuming that keeping the animal yourself is not on the table, would be attempting to rehome the animal yourself.

So the plan was this: post found ads everywhere we could. I reached out to the Collie rescue that I volunteer with for resources, got two that were ingenious dead ends. Post a rehoming ad explaining his situation as candidly as possible, see what that nets. Walk him again: knock on more doors. If nothing could be done by the end of the day, take him to the shelter.

I posted ads. I made calls. No dice. I took him for one last ditch walk into the next subdivision, and...we came upon a gaggle of pre-teen girls, who stopped what they were doing and said "Oh my God, that looks like Patches!"

We said "Really? Does this look like a missing dog that you know?" and the dog was engulfed in these girls, screaming "Oh my God it's Patches!" Turns out the leader of the group's best friend had lost her dog about a week ago and had been weeping (though apparently not looking too hard) ever since.

It was a happy ending. It was really kind of heart-warming.

I don't know exactly what the circumstances were, but I couldn't help but think: if any of our dogs were missing for one minute, or one week, or one year, or any amount of time, I would not rest until they were home. I would live outdoors. I would not sleep, or eat, or have fun, or go home, or anything, until at the very least every inch of the city had been plastered in fliers, every door in a five mile radius had been knocked on, every mailbox had a flier in it, every stone had been turned to bring them home. It is beyond me how anyone else could respond any differently, but..."Patches" is back with his people, and he seems to be very happy about it, so we'll chalk it up as a happy ending. Luckily in particular, as we had a massive, torrential storm just a few hours later.

On a different but strangely similar note...

A little bit of backstory on this one, if you'll bear with me here.

On December 31, 1996, my mother bought a one year old, red, longhaired dachshund. I was 8. She wanted a dog for some reason or other (I was 8, I don't know why) and responded to an ad in the newspaper for a large mixed breed female dog. I don't really remember what happened, the dog was already gone or my mother didn't like her, something, but the lady's daughter and son in law had a dachshund that they needed to find a home for. They brought him out, and he walked right up and lifted his leg on my mother's shoe. He came home with us. His name was Chancey, but it didn't suit him at all and he was renamed Quincee (my mom has always had a thing for the E-Es...).

It would in no way be an understatement to say that Quincee and I grew up together. We got a second dachshund, my dog, Taylor, in 1997, and he was my pup until he died in 2002. Quincee, though, was there for everything. He was a bird dog, in spite of his three inch legs, and caught several birds in the backyard. He played a mean game of tennis ball. Throw it once and you'd be throwing it for hours. If you hugged him, he'd do a little moan that we called buzzing, every time. He slept under the blankets on my mother's feet, every single night for 15 years. He was wild about bananas - wild. He would hear one being peeled from across the house and be there, ninja-like, on silent feet. I called him Q. Mom always figured he kept thinking of me as 8, because he never listened to a damn word I said, which was fine. For a brief time when he was 3 or 4, my mother (a single mother) had housing issues, and he went to live in Michigan with my grandparents temporarily. She called every day and talked to him on the phone so that he'd remember her. He came home after a couple months. A million pictures of Quincee. A million more memories.

About 1 year ago, Mom told me that Quincee had begun barking all day while she was at work. She lives in an apartment and was (is) very tight financially, but tried everything that she could for while. She tried tuckering him out, tried leaving him with someone during the day, tried Benedryl, tried acepromazine, tried baby-gating him into the kitchen with a peanut butter Kong and blankets. Nothing worked long-term for one reason or another. Eventually she was told by her landlord that she would be evicted if she didn't get rid of her dog. Ordinarily I would think "Well, move to a different apartment," but truly, there is not an apartment that would be cool with 40 hours of barking each week, and a house was not an option for her. I was absolutely unable to take him. A friend and coworker of hers offered to take him into her home. She was married with a few kids - Quincee loves kids, and it was as win-win as it could be for quite some time, close to a year I believe. The next part is messy, and I was not truly involved, so all I will say is that the woman began having an affair and from what I understand, using her "I did you a big favor and took your dog" upper-hand to use my mother as an alibi for her husband. This part is second hand for me, so I will refrain from commenting much on it. The whole thing turned into a trainwreck. As these things always do, the infidelity came to light, my mother and the woman had somewhat of a falling out, but she continued to update her with pictures and reports on Quincee.

Quincee turned 17 on August 22. The woman had recently been unwilling to respond to texts about how he was doing.

Immediately after the stray dog debacle, I was just browsing Facebook when I happened to see a post from my local Humane Society's page (I have it "liked," so it shows up in my newsfeed). I skimmed the text without looking closely at the picture, a 17 year old dachshund named "Quincy" had been dropped off that day, extremely matted, and what a lucky dog, a young couple had adopted him without hours of his arrival and grooming. Yep. Quincee.

His new people look very nice, and bless them for adopting a 17 year old. But I won't lie, I am gutwrenched to see how this story has ended up. It was painful enough when he left his home of 15 years, but to know that he's been not well cared for and was dumped in the Humane Society makes me sick to my stomach. I am kicking myself for not somehow moving heaven and earth to take him myself when he went to that horrible woman, even though I know rationally that it would not have been possible. As far as I can tell, he has an awesome home now, and I truly thank God for that. Still, the whole situation just... I commented on the post on Facebook in order to reach out to the new family in case they are interested in medical history, allergies (he has several!), preferences and quirks, photos...anything. Really, I'd just like to be able to see him keep being happy. In any event, it has a happy ending I guess, but I'm still feeling very saddened about the whole thing right now.


  1. I know someone who just recently lost her in-training competition dog in California. He ran away while she was on vacation without him. She moved heaven and earth to find him and, as far as I know, hasn't found him yet. Tragic story.

    To so many people, dogs are just dogs. They can be lost and not searched for enough and can be completely uncared for. But there are better people out there. Trust in that.

    Cuddle your dogs tonight. They'll understand. :)

  2. Two pawsome stories with good endings. We feel for your mom, having to give up a pup would be tough. Dog Dad can't even think of what it would be like to give up either of us. As for Patches, that is a lucky pup.

    Essex & Sherman