Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Sad Confession of a Self-Professed Dog Lover Part 2

I contacted as many people as I could to help me find her a home. I knew shelter volunteers. I networked, but I never got any answers except for being told that their main goal was finding homes for dogs in the shelter finding new homes for dogs whose owners could no longer keep them. I tried. I really did. I sent an email to a lady who would contact all of her dog loving friends. I told the truth about Sasha, unfortunately the truth was what kept her from getting a new home—no one wanted a car chaser. She was a liability.

I thought Sasha had time. So I tried to wait patiently, holding off on taking her to the shelter. Hoping that someone would contact me.

By that time I had given up on trying to keep Sasha in the backyard. She came and went, usually hanging out on the sunny side of the house. Sometimes I rode my bike and she’d lope beside me. I finally had that dog that I wanted. The dog that would stay beside me even though she wasn’t on a leash.

Then that night happened. Sasha didn’t come home. She always came home. I called her. I think I even walked a couple blocks looking for her. Only, Sasha was a mostly grey dog so she was invisible until she was right in front of you. I realized that she’d been hit and she wasn’t coming back. I felt guilty. I felt relieved. I felt angry about being relieved. I hadn’t done enough! People had let me down! All I wanted was my dog to be safe to be who she was.

The next was a Monday…some holiday. Maybe Labor Day or Memorial Day or some other holiday where everything shuts down. Sasha came home. It was bittersweet. I was so glad to see her, but I realized what had happened and why she hadn’t come home. Sasha had gotten hit; her back legs could barely support her weight.

I led her inside the fence. What she did next made me realize I could no longer keep my dog.

She climbed the fence. Even with her back legs injured, she climbed the fence and just laid there by the house too tired to move.

Sasha’s time had run out. Mother and I took her to the shelter the next day. It is important to note that this shelter was half an hour from our house.

I couldn’t take her in, so I sent Mother to take her in. Unfortunately, because I knew Sasha better than Mother did, I had to go in and fill out all of the paper work. Sasha was in a holding pen. She looked at me, wondering what was going on. I wanted to say forget it and take her home, but I knew that Sasha’s luck would eventually run out and someone would knock on my door, telling me that my dog had come out of nowhere and they’d hit and killed her. Or worse, I’d return home and find her lying on the side of the road.

The form asked about commands she knew and any behavioral problems. I wanted to lie about the behavioral problems. I wanted her to look good on the forms. I knew no one would want a dog that jumped/climbed fences or chased cars. I told the truth, though and handed the clipboard back.

Behind us, a family looking to adopt a dog noticed Sasha and commented on how she looked familiar and that she had to be their friend’s dog. I wanted to tell them that she was my dog, but I couldn’t say anything. Let them think that it was their friend’s dog.

She knew we were leaving her. The bark I heard as we left was a bark I had never heard her make before. It will haunt me forever. I tried not to cry and even now as I write this I try not to cry.

That was the last time I saw Sasha…or at least the last confirmed sighting of her.

A few weeks later, as I was driving across town, I saw a dog that looked identical to Sasha. The dog was healthy and obviously had gotten out of its backyard. I didn’t notice if it was a male or female, but I’m sure I would have known if it was a male. Part of me said that it was probably one of Sasha’s siblings (she had a couple that I knew of). Another part of me knew it was my Sasha. She had gotten adopted and was up to her old tricks again. It surprised me because how did she end back up in my little town when she was in a shelter half an hour away? I don’t know. I will never know for sure if that was Sasha or not, but I believe it was.

A year or so later I was living in Moore with my husband and Mother called me up to tell me that a dog that looked just like Sasha was in our neighborhood, on our street, near our house. Mother could neither confirm nor deny whether it was Sasha, but I think she said the dog was dragging a chain. That had to be Sasha all right, still up to her old tricks.

Though I will never know for sure if either dog was Sasha or if it was merely a doppelganger(s), I believe in my heart that it was Sasha both times. Maybe when she came to our neighborhood she was looking for me, or seeing if anything changed, or looking for old friends. Maybe she was just roaming. Who knows?

We haven’t seen that dog since, but I don’t think we were supposed to. Though I don’t worry about her, I do miss that dopey dog from time to time. She taught me a lot about patience, love, fear, worry, frustration, guilt, and how sheer willpower (stubbornness) can make a person/dog do some of the most awe inspiring or dumbest things.

Well my confession is over.

Until next time, just because you see some dog else doing it doesn’t mean you should. That is unless the other dog has learned how to open the treat container or better yet the refrigerator. Then you’re allowed to watch and repeat.

A Sad Confession of a Self-Professed Dog Lover Part 1

This is the first part of the story behind having to give up one of my dogs.

I may have told this story before, but if I haven’t I have a confession to make. I once surrendered a beloved pet to the shelter. Her name was Sasha.

Sasha was a goofy Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Tick Coonhound mix. I used to joke that she didn’t know whether to herd things or to hunt them. I joked about it, but it was the truth. She was a confused dog. So confused that I’d say that dogs of different breed classes should never interbreed because their offspring are off in the head.

For about eighteen months, she was a decent dog when on the leash, in the backyard, or in the house. Off leash was a different story. Due to her breeds, she liked to chase things and it didn’t matter what it was. When she was only four or five months old, she took off after a car and ran head first into the car. The owner, thinking that she’d hit my dog, mouthed “I’m sorry.” I think I said the dog was okay, so the driver kept going and so did my puppy. I chased her down the street and finally caught her. She was unharmed, but that dashed my dreams of her ever learning to walk off leash.

As Sasha got older, her hunting instincts went into overdrive. She had a far off look in her eyes, like there were other places she wanted to be. There was once that she was so off in lala land that she completely ignored the fact that I held her breakfast in front of her nose. When I called her several times, she blinked and looked at me like, “Oh, I didn’t see you there. How long have you been standing there? Oh…it’s breakfast. I guess I’ll eat.”

On walks, her nose led the way and no amount of Cesar Milan, Positive Training, or whatever kind of training there was helped curb this. However, I did manage to teach her to sit when cars passed by. She got to the point that she’d sit patiently and watch the car go by and not try to chase it. That is as long as I didn’t tense up and freak out. So I guess I can’t be too hard on her.

I loved that dog. Then the Lab came to live with us. His name is Cody. I know for sure that dog is still alive although he’d one of the few dogs that I’ve ever met that I’ve felt pure hatred for. Cody was a big baby, wasn’t well trained, had sever separation anxiety and knew how to climb fences (he was too fat to jump them).

You probably can guess where this story is going.

Though dopey, Sasha picked up on things. Sometimes she had to learn the hard way. Learning to climb the fence was as easy as watch and mimic.

It didn’t take long for my car chaser to learn how to climb our back fence. Nothing stopped her, not an electric fence—she’d push through the pain. Not a tie-out—she somehow learned out to get out of her collar no matter how tight it was (I think she used the top of the fence to pull off the collar), not standing outside and telling her off every time she touched the fence (a person can only stand outside for a certain amount of time). Nothing we could do stopped her.

I worried about animal control taking her. Only, animal control in the small town I lived in only picked up strays. If there was a known owner, they wouldn’t pick it up. So that left the fear that I was going to come home and find my dog dead on the side of the road.

We lived on a busy highway with vehicles (specifically semis) passing our house at 40 or 50 mph depending on whether they were coming into town or leaving town.Sasha chased them all; ran out into the road and chased them. When I saw this I didn’t know whether to scream, run toward her, or close my eyes so I didn’t have to watch my dog get killed.

Apparently dogs have angels because Sasha was never fatally hit. Keyword fatally. I know for sure she was hit once, but I think she had been hit multiple times. The first time she was hit must have been minor because after that incident she never ran into the street chasing the cars, but ran along the yards beside the highway. Something had changed her mind.

My Thoughts on Rescued Animals

*Disclaimer: I was a child in the early nineties, so my perception may or may not have been the actual perception of the adult world.*

Back in the early nineties, I never heard much about animal overpopulation. Yeah, there was talk about spaying and neutering, but I remember it being an expensive procedure and often female dogs in heat were just kept separate from the rest of the animals. Generally a female was spayed only in an emergency and males weren’t spayed. It was a fact of life that unaltered males roamed.

Generally pets were acquired from friends, or there was a sign in front of someone’s house announcing “Free Puppies” or “Free Kittens,” or people adopted strays. Those with money (definitely not my family) got dogs from breeders, those that didn’t have money, but still wanted purebred dogs got them from “breeders” (or puppy mills or backyard breeders as we call them today). Those with “Pedigree” dogs did have the bragging rights and those with mutts just shrugged and hoped that their dog was better than the pedigrees.

This is where my family got our dogs: from family friends, as strays, from oops litters of our own and others, and from breeders. Despite their origin, our dogs were family and were treated as such. We didn’t think about the fact that taking in a stray was considered a “rescue” or was “saving a life.” We just saw a dog with physical and personality characteristics that we liked and the dog became ours.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I was feeling the pressure to “rescue” because my family had never rescued animals in the past. Then as I read more and more literature, I realized that the term “rescue” is a broad term. The accepted term is used when someone adopts from a shelter or rescue, but I’ve seen people refer to animals they’ve taken in off the street, or those adopted off of Craigslist, or those taken in from a bad neighbor or former tenant.

That made me think about all the animals in the past and some of them could be deemed as “rescues.” Cujo, our Great Pyrenees/St. Bernard mix. He, along with a few other feral dogs, lived on a housing development construction site. My dad and the other workers fed this group of dogs to keep them from starving. Cujo, being a puppy, came home with my dad. Aztec and Muffin, brother and sister cats that we got from the shelter during the shelter’s kitten boom period. Penny, a rat terrier adopted from a shelter in OKC. I also got numerous rats from the same shelter I got Penny from. Zip and Bella, two Blue Heelers that probably got lost, but no one came looking for them. Others were Shaffer, Ares, a couple male rats that were abandoned at Petsmart, and so on. All of these animals can be deemed rescues…

But you know what? I never considered them rescues. They’ve always just been family members. When we adopted Ares we got a packet with coupons and on the packet it thanked us for saving a life. Saving a life? I never thought I was actually saving a life. In fact, Ares came from a no-kill shelter. So how could we save his life if he was in no danger of losing it? I realize that if I think too hard then my brain will explode.

I guess I have a different view on bringing animals into my home. They’re my family. I don’t like to look at where I got them from. I don’t want to know about their past. Their past doesn’t matter to me; only their future…with me.

To be honest, I hate the pressure that society puts on us pet owners to rescue animals because if you don’t you’re a heartless person. They don’t say that, but it is implied. Really, it is. Next time you watch those adoption commercials, pay close attention to what they’re saying and what they’re not saying.

I love my animals equally and I don’t feel that my rescued animals love me more or less than those I got from breeders. I can’t speak for everyone, though.

I apologize if this was a rambling mess. I just wanted to write out my thoughts. I also apologize for my long period of silence. I was ill for three weeks and in bed for most of the time I was sick.

So, until next time save a life and rescue a human. They will love you for it.