By Shelley Crawford –
Found: Small Dog, Brown Brindle, Mixed Breed, Female, Please call 555-0228
As I attempted to walk my 2 little fawn colored chihuahuas last night in between rain squalls left over from Tropical Storm Fay. I happened upon a dog with no leash. The dog appeared to be lost. At that moment it began to lightly drizzle. The small brown dog trotted over to a man walking across the street from me and my dogs. My first thought was, “Well, maybe this is the dog’s owner”. I asked the man if the dog belonged him. He said “No.” But the dog was coming closer to him. I asked him if he would help me with this lost dog. I asked him if he could put the dog on a leash so I could take it home and try to find the owners in the morning. I asked if he lived around here. He said, “No, I’m just passin’ through”. It seemed odd to be just passing through. It had rained and poured at least 25 separate times yesterday due to the storm, Fay. He was more than willing to help me. I didn’t have an extra leash in my pocket as I usually always do, just in case. Murphy’s Law had kicked in. I have come across more than just a few dogs just wandering with no leash or tags.
My female chiweewee, Honey, is a little pocket dog of 2.9 pounds but not surprisingly she’s got spunk. My male, Harley is aptly named. His bark is sooooo loud and annoyingly piercing. These little ones won’t bark at seeing another dog or person but if the other dog is off leash and comes too close, it’s going to be a bark-fest. As sprinkles turned to rain, I took the leash off Honey and put her in my arms. I tossed the leash towards the stranger. I went to the house on the corner across the street from where the dog and man were. I told him not to come any closer with the lost dog in order keep my dogs from spooking the lost dog. He got the lost dog leashed. Score! I knocked on the door of the house thinking maybe these people are the owners of the dog. No one answered the door. I had seen a guy with a dog that looked similar to this dog near this house before. It was at night and it was far away enough that I never really got a good look at the dog. But I could see this particular dog owner didn’t have a leash on the dog. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I steer clear of any unleashed dog while on walks. You just never know. Our neighborhood is 2 blocks away from a busy 6 lane road near the mall. It’s a place where I’ve known at least two people who have lost dogs to the bustling traffic. If you’ve ever seen a dog get hit by a car, it’s the most horrific thing to witness. So I explained to the man I’m going to save this dog from certain death if he would help me. I told him I need to take this dog to my home and would he follow me about 10 houses down the street to my house. It was pouring down rain. I walked as fast I could. I looked back and saw the man was still following with the lost dog he’d leashed up. Good. He was helping me save this dog.
The rain was really coming down hard. I thought to myself, “What I nice man to follow a complete stranger, in the pouring rain, to help a dog.” Also in my mind, I was thinking about a homeless guy I saw a couple of days ago who was sleeping, in the middle of the day, in a doorway on the side a big fabric store building. No shirt, no shoes, curled up on the cement pad at the threshold at a utility door of the store. I had gone into the store and told a clerk there was a homeless man sleeping on the side of their store. Later on that same day, the man was gone. As I jogged back to my house I began to think, “This man following me is probably also a homeless guy.” His dis helved clothes, longish unkempt hair and he had a can of beer in his back pocket. Homelessness is not an uncommon occurrence in our fair city. Saint Petersburg, Florida is actually on the top ten list of best cities to live in if you’re homeless. Sad but true. It’s a nice place to live, warm year round, not too much hassling from the cops, word has apparently gotten around. At this point I was thinking, “This homeless guy is following me to my house. This can’t be good”. But I also thought, “This man, a perfect stranger, is helping a dog, he can’t be all bad.” The man waited outside my home while got my little dogs crated. I fired up my boxer Panzer commanding him to bark. I wanted this guy to know that I’ve got a lot bigger dogs than 2 chihuahuas totalling less than 10 pounds put together protecting my turf. I thought about giving him some money. Then I thought, “What if I give him money and he tells his buddies and then they come around trying to get more”. I guess I’m a bit paranoid but I live alone with my 18 year old son who’s hardly ever home. Panzer’s young and alarm trained but not protection trained. I lost my protection trained boxer Jett to cancer a unexpectedly. And frankly I don’t own a gun that’s for another blog I suppose. But the man was so polite. He didn’t even come to the porch to get out of the rain with the lost dog. Maybe because Panzer was barking, the man just stood in the driveway in the pouring rain. I thanked him profusely. I told him that he must have a big heart to do such a nice thing for a dog. He said, “No problem. I’ve lost a couple of dogs in traffic before.” I thanked him again. As he walked into the rainy night I could see the shiny can sticking out of his back pocket. I felt bad for him. But, sometimes people choose a lifestyle and some people are thrown into it. I hoped to myself, if Karma really exists then this man will hopefully find a home or whatever it is that makes him happy. If it wasn’t for him this dog would have surely been killed.
I took the leashed lost dog into the house and dried the dog off. At this point I had no idea if this soft little brown brindle pointy eared dog was male or female. Gender is an important thing to know in any dog interaction. The dog had no tags on a new looking but ill fitted martingale collar. The owners cared enough about “it” to buy the dog a new collar. That was a good sign. I discovered “it” was female and checked for fleas, ticks or injuries. Nothing there to worry about thank goodness. I gave her a little chew bone in the crate and put the baby gate up so my dogs wouldn’t get near enough to her previously empty crate to scare her. She’d already been through enough. The last thing she needed was to have Panzer who’s 3 times her size wiggling and shaking boxer spit in her general direction. Once a dog has a bad or even less than good experience it takes a lot longer to rehabilitate it than it does to get it right on the first push. Plus I didn’t know this dog from Adam. She looked like a Pit bull mix, Heinz 57 type of dog. Dogs of the Pit bull breed are 75% of the dogs dropped off to me for training and problem solving. Usually, these owners are on their last leg. Any big time signs of aggression in dogs and it’s one strike and you’re out. Bite one person and it’s game over. It’s worse with Pits because the of bad reputation that preceeds them. I once knew a guy who had a boxer, mastiff, pit “newly developed” breed according to this “I’m going to invent a new super breed” idiot backyard breeder. He had super breed dog 2 years. He kept it outside with little or no training. The dog “Bruiser” bit him one day and owner/idiot took him out to the woods and shot his own dog because he bit him. How uneccesarily tragic is that?!!!
It was getting late and I had to get 4 dogs out to potty in between rains. My dog’s are wussy when it comes to peeing in the pouring rain. I should work on that. I got everyone out and back in. All they wanted to do is greet the new dog. When I get a new dog in for training, it’s always a gradual process introducing each one separately to make sure they aren’t going to kill each other first before I allow free interactions. It takes at least a couple of days. I got the lost dog outside. I called her Rain for obvious reasons. She peed. Good Girl! She wouldn’t take a treat from me. She was too nervous. No big deal. We went back into the house. I pet her in the kitchen for a bit and crated her with a big towel to lay on and give her a little snack of horse hoof with some wet dog food smeared on it to make friends.
The next morning I began the introduction process thinking, “Who knows how long it will take to find her owners”. I fed everyone, in their respective crates, of course. Then I took Rain outside to take a picture of her so I could make signs to hang around the neighborhood. I went to make copies of the picture and signs, buy some document protectors and head to Home Depot to buy a staple gun. My original one is buried somewhere in my garage. I didn’t have time to find it. When I do finally clean out the garage, I’ll find 2 or more staple guns. I’m bad about that stuff. I drove around looking for power poles made of wood not concrete around the mall and our neighborhood. I had 10 signs with photos to staple to the wood poles. I saw 3 homeless guys sitting under a tree near the first pole. I gotta tell ya, I live in a really good neighborhood of families on a quiet street. If you’re a homeless person you don’t hang out on poor side of town to panhandle. One of the 3 guys sitting under the tree said to me, “Hey there. You gotta husband?” I pretended not to hear and stapled up my photo of Rain and the sign. What crossed my mind then is that I should be seeing “Lost Dog” signs on these telephone poles that I’m posting “Found Dog” signs on. If I had lost one of my dogs I’d be driving around calling every where, hanging up signs, knocking on doors and be totally freaking out. The last sign I hung up near the house that I thought could be the owners of Rain. I saw a man and woman talking in the driveway. I got out of the truck to show them the picture. I said, “Is this your dog?” They both looked at the photo. I said, “I found her last night in the pouring rain. Are you missing a dog?” They said, “Is that Cocoa?” They didn’t seem to recognize her in the photo. I said, “Well did you loose a dog last night?” They finally agreed it was Cocoa. He said they had been walking her and she just ran off. I said, “You’ve got to have her on a leash. You cannot expect a dog to be off leash trained unless she has had formal training. Even if she is trained you need to have her on a leash.” He said, “I need to take her back to the SPCA.” I ignored the comment. He came up the street to my house to pick her up. I introduced him to a long line. “I said you need to get a long line for your dog. What if I hadn’t found her? She could have been killed.” The man said, “I need to take her back to the SPCA where she came from”. I said, “No! Don’t do that. She’s a really sweet dog! She doesn’t jump or lick or bark. She’s a good dog. Go get a long line at the PetStore so you can let her do her business. She’s a good girl. She just needs a leash.” With mixed feelings I realized the dog owner of Rain/Cocoa is a common occurence. Some people believe dogs should “know” how to be dogs. Conversely people need to be “good humans” and train their dogs. Dogs don’t come leash or off leash trained. Practice, practice, practice and still more practice is the only way the dog/owner relationship can work. It’s not an automatic thing.
RANT: This makes me so mad. This type of person thinks dogs are disposable. Why on earth do people let their dogs off leash. This also happens at the dog park where I go to proof my dogs sometimes. There’s a man there who lets his dog climb trees to chase the squirrels when he leaves the dog park fenced in area. THIS MAKES ME SO MAD! There are leash laws for reasons people. I’ve never lived in a city where so many dogs are off leash. I love where I live but people are so slack about it. It makes me boil! USE LEASHES PEOPLE, PLEEEEEEEEEZ!