"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives."
~ Sue Murphy
A Walk in the Woods
HONEST--I WAS ONLY TRYING TO HELP!
28 July 2004
It never would have happened if I hadnt been too lazy to walk to the dog park this morning. But I was and so we drove. As we did yesterday, we parked in the parking lot for the Art Center, which is across the large grassy field from the dog park.
As I did yesterday, I let Sheila off the leash as we got to the field and, as she did yesterday, she immediately raced to the gate of the dog park, realizing that if shes inside the gate, dogs will magically appear for her to play with.
The first person to come in the gate wasnt a dog, but a workman, who had come to repair the fence. He said that the kids who go into the skateboard park are always running their bikes into the fence and destroying other parts of the skateboard park and that its the #1 area for vandalism in the park. In fact, I had an idea that there was mischief going on there because Ive kind of taken on the task of cleaning up the beer cans when I get there in the morning. I dont think its the dog owners who are drinking beer and tossing the cans.
Eventually, a woman arrived with a dog and Sheila was very happy. Soon another woman arrived with two more dogs, who were a bit more lively than dog #1 and so Sheila began racing around the park with those two. Just what I bring her to the dog park for--to work off some of that energy.
Finally a third woman arrived. She had a dog on a leash and another dog following behind her. It was a yellow lab oldish puppy. She said that she had found the puppy running around in the middle of the street a few blocks away. The dog had been chasing cars and circling around them and she was afraid it was going to get hit. She didnt know what else to do with the dog and, since it seemed determined to follow her, and as she knew about the dog park, she thought she would at least put her inside a fence so she would be safe.
We had a lot of conversation about what should be done with the dog. Theres no water in the park and its going to be 100 degrees today, so obviously we couldnt just LEAVE her.
I was the only one with a car, so I volunteered to take her back to where she had been found and knock on doors to see if I could find her home.
What was I thinking?
I put the lab on the leash, figuring Sheila would follow because she was having so much fun playing with the lab. She did. She kind of ran in wide areas but always came back when I called her. So far so good.
I got the lab in the car, muddy footprints and all (the car is a mess) and called Sheila, who was almost to the car and getting ready to get in when the Lab leaped out of the car, leash still attached and ran off.
Naturally, Sheila took this as a good chance for more play and took off in hot pursuit.
Its a good thing there was no movie camera going or Id be on Candid Camera, or Americas Funniest Home Videos or something somewhere. I'm entirely too old and too fat to be chasing two very active dogs. The lab, of course, didnt know me from Adam and wasnt about to come when I called. Sheila was having too much fun with the lab to come (shades of the drainage channel). Shed get tantalizingly close and then run off again, laughing at me. At one point I had this doddering old Oriental woman hobbling along on a cane trying to grab the labs leash as she raced by (good thing she missed or I have vision of this frail woman being carried off like a kite behind the lab!)
I asked a strapping young man if he would help me, but I think he thought I was trying to steal the dogs and he refused. Well, he didnt exactly refuse, but he kept saying "are you sure thats your dog?" I tried to explain what I was trying to do, but he wasnt buying it.
What person in my shape would be doing trying to steal these two very active, very powerful dogs is beyond me, but apparently I looked shifty and untrustworthy.
Finally the lab ran by close enough to me that I could step on the leash and grab her. I stuck her in the car and closed the door. Then I just had to get Sheila in, but by this time she was having none of that.
The first woman from the dog park came by with her dog, but this was a dog Sheila hadnt been much interested in and she would stand just out of hands reach, but wouldnt come near either the dog or me.
Finally the second woman, with two dogs Sheila had raced around with, came by with her dogs. She wasnt going in the direction of my car, but decided shed try to help too. Sheila raced up to her dogs, tail wagging, but would run away if I got too close, or if the woman tried to grab her.
I finally suggested she walk her dogs up to my car, which she did and finally, I was able to grab Sheila.
By this time, the lab had taken over the front seat of the car and it was a muddy mess, as was the back seat.
I drove to where she had been chasing cars and found the only house where the morning newspaper had already been picked up (indicating that someone might be awake at 7 a.m.), so knocked on that door. The man there said that he didnt have a dog and none of his neighbors had labs, so there was no choice but to bring her home and contact the SPCA.
We put both dogs out in the back yard and locked them up there because I had no idea if the lab was housebroken or not. Walt told me he had seen a sign on a post somewhere saying that a large white dog was missing, so I decided to go drive around and find the sign. When I opened the front door, there was the lab, who had managed to get out of the yard and come to the front of the house.
We spent some time shoring up the fence, and then Walt sat in the back yard with both dogs because he was afraid they would knock the fence over, while I went driving around looking for the sign about a lost dog.
I found a sign for a lost turtle (how does a turtle get away--can you see a turtle waiting for his moment to make a break for it?), a lost bird, and a lost cat, and a lost lab who disappeared in December. Finally I found the sign for the lost white dog. I slowed down to write down the phone number but the guy behind me started honking his horn, so I had to drive by, reciting the phone number over and over in my head so I wouldnt forget it.
When I got home, I called the number, but they had already found their dog. The lab was leaping over and over again at the back door, so I finally just opened the door and let the dogs in because I was afraid she was going to break the door down (and she was too large go to through the dog door).
I tried calling the SPCA but couldnt find the number in the phone book. I finally went to the Internet and got the number. They say that if you have a lost dog that you cant keep until the owner is found, you should take it to the animal shelter.
I called the animal shelter, but they didnt open until 10, so I had 2 hours to police the lab and keep her off the kitchen table, off the kitchen counter, away from the fence, and listen to her high pitched bark. Even Sheila got tired of her because--this is a female dog now--she would not stop mounting Sheila.
Finally 10 a.m. came and we headed off to the shelter. She whined and paced all the way there. At one point I rolled down the windows just a bit so she could get her nose out. She tried to climb out:
I had to roll it up to just a crack. Then, as we were passing a big truck, followed by a line of cars, she decided to jump in my lap, totally obliterating my view. I yelled at her and shoved her back. Then she drooled on my head for the rest of the way to the shelter. I have to admit that I wasn't sad to finally turn her over to someone who can, I hope, find her owners.
(One sad thing that happened while I was waiting was that there was a very angry looking man with a miniature poodle in his arms. The poodle was 10 years old and he was turning her over to the SPCA because she had become incontinent. I kept thinking about how frightened this old dog was going to be, leaving the home she'd known for 10 years and ending up in a cage at the animal shelter.)
When I got home, I made up "DOG FOUND" flyers and drove around, posting them on telephone poles near where she was found. I also wrote a letter to the editor, in case someone happens to read that.
Tomorrow I think well walk to the dog park.