Part the First
See, Penny, Embee and I were driving in the Enterprise (aka, the minivan) for a lunch date with my husband. Just a block from our home we saw it--a thin, shaky chihuahua-ish dog in the middle of the road. It stared at me. I mean it STARED at me. If you've never read Annie Dillard's brilliant essay, "Living Like Weasels," go read it now, because I had a moment like that.
Penny went, "Oh, a dog!"
I said, "We are NOT stopping," and drove on.
Then Penny started to cry. "It's staarrving! A car will get it! A policeman will take it to dog jaaaaail! We need to RESCUE it! Pleeeeaaase. We'll name her Isabella."
Embee was crying, too, though I'm pretty sure all she was trying to communicate was "Wet, hungry, sleepy, SLEEP, WHY CAN'T I SLEEP?!"
The six year old kept up the tirade for several more blocks before I turned around. Why? Because everything she was saying was running through my mind, too. That tiny, bony, sad little dog had just cried out for help. And I had driven away like a jerk. With a swift twist of the steering wheel, I remedied the situation, found the dog (still shaking and STARING) in the middle of another road, picked it up like it had the plague (because, you know, it COULD HAVE) and dumped it in the Enterprise.
The dog smelled like hell. It was wheezing. Its tail was hairless and peeling. Clearly, I was dealing with a dog that had been lost for weeks. Maybe years. It was a SURVIVOR DOG and so, awesome.
I put her (it was a she) in my bathroom, dumped a bunch of dog food on the floor, closed the door and proceeded onward to lunch, which I ate miserably, thinking about this dog I could not keep. No way, not with a newborn in the house, not with an old dog of my own, not with a husband who might just move out if we kept the damn thing.
Part the Second
Back at home, I called reinforcements, namely the incredibly big-hearted Kyes Stevens, who rescues cats. Kyes got me in touch with the equally awesome Frances Peeks, who set the rescue wheels in motion. "Call the veterenarians!" she said. "Maybe someone has reported her missing." She also said, "Send me a picture."
So I took one:
|This is me, holding stinky dog at arm's length, NOT, I repeat, NOT choking it. (No animals were harmed in the making of this rescue saga).|
I spread the word on Facebook and Twitter about the dog. The Humane Society was not an option, as it's a kill shelter. This old girl would be DOOMED there.
I also called my good friend Hilary, who left Target to come over and hold my hand. Seriously, any friend who will willingly cut short a trip to Target to hang out with me and my smelly rescue dog is a gem to be treasured always.
Part the Third
The dog eventually started to whine. She'd been locked up in that bathroom all day, and surely she had to go outside for a bit. She'd refrained from having any accidents indoors. Already, this dog was winning at being a dog. MY dog, Dante*, will pee and poop all over the house without remorse. Dante is a dick sometimes.
So, I open the bathroom door. The dog, having cooled off, no longer smelled like a garbage can. In fact, I got a whiff of something else. Could it be? By Jove, that was DOG SHAMPOO I was smelling.
I ran out of the bathroom with the dog in tow, yelled at Hilary,"SNIFF THE DOG! SHE'S CLEAN. RECENTLY SHAMPOOED!"
Hilary gave me a look. The look said, "Oh my God, you've stolen someone's dog."
So, I plopped this suddenly very clean-smelling dog back into the Enterprise, set on knocking on all the neighbors' doors, because, duh, this was a neighborhood dog. A decrepit, still wheezing, half-dead dog, but still. Somebody made sure this dog smelled sweet. Someone LOVED this dog.
I drove for all of thirty seconds before seeing a car coming slowly, I mean sloooooowly, down the road. All the people in the car had their heads craned like ostriches, looking in every garden and sewer hole for something.
"Hey," I said, slowing down. "Have you lost a dog?"
"Yes!" yelled the woman driving. "She's a mini-pin, and she's tan, and, and..."
"This dog?" I asked, pointing to you-know-who.
Suddenly, a bunch of kids in the back of the woman's car yelled, "Copper!"
To her credit, Copper looked abashed at all the nonsense she'd caused. I handed her over to her family and drove back home, properly chagrined at having called up the rescue cavalry.
So, my first dog rescue was a bit of a comedy. But Copper is safe at home. She has a heart condition, and she's fifteen years old (FIFTEEN. HOLY MOTHER OF OLD DOGS!), but she's safe, wasn't run over by a car, wasn't starving, and now has an adventure to tell her doggie friends.
Part the Fourth (Bonus Part!)
What's the take-away from this? That there are lots of dogs in need of rescue, most in situations far more dire than Copper's. What can you do? Help the people who do the good, heroic work of saving these animals from kill shelters and cars and starvation. Places like Rescue K-911 and For Paws are just two organizations that do this wonderful work. Donate to help them stay afloat, and if you're looking for a dog or cat, check out shelters and rescues first.
Copper's saga, thankfully, is over. But many other furry souls need your help. Do what you can.
*By the way, had we kept Copper, I would have named her Beatrice, because Dante and Beatrice, right? RIGHT? English prof dogs have the best names, that's a fact.