Monday, June 23, 2008

I Don't Even Mind Her Pooping In the House As Much As I Used To

In the past two days we've caught and returned three lost dogs that all ended up belonging to people right on our street. There was never any question of whether we'd try to help when we saw them. You see, we have a bit of a karmic debt to repay.

Our dog, Kimi, got loose about a month ago. I was washing our car and the best we can figure is that one of the kids left the door from the garage to the house open for a little too long. Unfortunately, it took us about five hours to notice. For a while everyone just figured she was just somewhere in the house they weren't.

Kimi's an eight-year-old Havanese (kind of a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle) who Danelle used to show. Former champion now turned couch potato, and definitely NOT used to running around on her own.

In an eerie case of foreshadowing she'd actually gotten out a few weeks before and we had an extremely tough time catching her. Danelle was out of town and Kimi wouldn't let ANYBODY near her, including me. Like she was savoring her little taste of freedom and wanted to make it last as long as possible. Another guy and I finally cornered her, but not until she made us look pretty silly running from us.

We noticed someone had left the side gate open after she'd only been gone a few minutes that time, and she was already a block away when we found her. After five hours there was no telling how far she'd gotten this time.

After an hour of driving around and asking people it they'd seen her it turned out she had gotten pretty far. Someone said they'd seen her in the open space behind our neighborhood, a good mile and a half away. So Danelle and I and another nice lady walked around back there for another hour calling her. Danelle saw two rattlesnakes, but none of us saw Kimi.

We went back home, made a sign to put at the entrance to the neighborhood and called the nearest vet and animal control with her description and our number (she didn't have a collar -- show dogs never do since they mat down their coats, and even though her show career had long since come to an end we never got around to getting her one). I went out to the open space one more time on Danelle's road bike since my mountain bike had a punctured tire, but still no luck.

By the time the sun went down we were resigned to the fact that she was gone. An old, small dog with no outdoor experience in open space after dark seemed bound to end up as one thing -- a coyote's dinner.

I felt responsible since she'd again gotten out on my watch. Danelle was holding up pretty well all things considered. The kids had already very quietly asked her in the car why she was crying. She said the worst part was just thinking about how terrified Kimi must have gotten once it was dark.

Then about 9:30 the phone rang. Hoping against hope I answered, and the voice on the other end asked if we'd lost a little black dog.

I don't remember much else of what the guy said; I was too busy saying "thank you" over and over. They lived near the back of our neighborhood close to the open space and I was in the car in a flash on my way there.

There were about 10 people congregated under a streetlight as I drove up, one of them holding a small dark bundle. Turned out an older couple had seen her when they got home from grocery shopping about an hour earlier and tried unsuccessfully to catch her. Other neighbors joined the effort, using treats to coax her close until someone was finally able to grab her.

I couldn't believe the trouble these people had all gone to to catch a dog who clearly didn't want to be caught and wasn't even wearing a collar. None of them would accept any sort of reward, though one did ask that if I ever saw a white Persian cat out and about to please return the favor. I didn't even ask how they got our number; again I was just too busy repeatedly and profusely expressing my appreciation.

She was completely in covered in burrs which Danelle was only too happy to paintstakingly pull and cut out one by one. And I was happy to help, as much to work out my lingering guilt for my role in the mess as anything.

Kimi now sports a sassy pink collar with our last name and phone number. It may have taken one lesson more than it should, but her old owners are still able to learn new tricks. And any stray dog we happen to see will reap the benefits for a LONG time.

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