Last night, my girlfriend and I are sitting in the garage (we’ve got a nice little sitting/smoking area out there) and relaxing when she sees a dog run by. Thinking it’s our neighbors chihuahua, she goes tearing off after it, barefoot, while I head to the neighbors to let them know their dog is out. We’ve got a billion dogs in our development, most of them either huge or pit bulls or both, so you know a chihuahua isn’t going to last long out there!
Well, the dog wasn’t our neighbors’, and I checked the other neighbors to see if they were missing a dog, and none were. Meanwhile, my partner — now accompanied by her 10-year-old, animal-loving daughter — had managed to corner the tiny dog, who was snapping at anyone who came too close. When I caught up with them, they were wondering what to do — you don’t go around volunteering to be bitten by strange dogs after all, however cute. Fortunately (you would think — but wait and see!) I could see a phone number on the dog’s tag, and the 10-year-old’s eyes were up to the task of reading it.
So, we call the owner. “You found Bella!” she shrieks.
“Yeah,” we said. “We’ve got her cornered in a stranger’s yard, so if you could come get her, that would be good.”
“Oh, we’re not home. Can you just hold on to her for now?”
“Well,” says my girlfriend, “the thing is, she keeps snapping and trying to bite my daughter, and so no, we can’t really get her. She’s scared and upset.”
“Oh, well, we won’t be home until Thursday — can you just stake her down and leave her?”
Might I mention at this point that we live in Las Vegas, where the average temperature this time of year is around 110°, with almost no humidity?
Back to the conversation: “Uh, no, we really can’t do that. How long has he been out already?”
“Oh, only a day. It’s weird that she’s biting, that’s really not like her.”
“How old is she?”
“Anyway,” they continue, “we’re in Henderson and don’t have a way home until Thursday, so if you could figure something out, that’d be great. Call us if you have any problems.” *click*
Henderson? Henderson’s not even out of town; it’s a half-hour drive from here!
So to summarize, their 4-month old puppy — just barely weaned, right? — went missing and they decided, “screw it, let’s go” and left for 5 days. After a day with no food and no water in the blazing heat, they were surprised that their puppy might be a little scared and nervous about people. And though they could come get her in less than an hour that’s too much work, so just stake the dog in the heat with no food or water for 4 more days.
Well, we called my step-son to bring treats from home (we have 3 dogs, so a ready supply of treats is always at hand) and between the treats and my step-daughter’s Dr. Doolittle-ish ways, we managed to calm the pup down and get her back to our house. Fortunately we have an old kennel one of our dogs outgrew, so we set her up in the garage (we’re trying to keep her away from the other dogs, none of which are that big, but still).
We’ve fed her a little, but she hasn’t held any solid food down; she’s thrown up several times. I imagine she’s badly dehydrated, though she’s clearly hungry too — she wolfs down anything we put in front of her. She’s cute as hell, though; a neighbor thinks she might be a miniature pinscher, which is as good a guess as any (I don’t know dog breeds at all, except for my own dogs’). And she’s super-sweet — as I write this, she’s curled up on the chair behind me, snoozing away. She didn’t even flinch when the neighborhood kids, alerted by the smell of new cute, came to gawk at her last night.
The owners have never called back. You’d think they might want to know what we did with their puppy, but apparently not. I hate the idea of turning her back over to them come Thursday. I mean, they left her to die in the desert heat, and even when the poor dog’s luck turned and someone who gives a damn found her, they couldn’t be bothered. We know some people who work in the police department, so we’re going to try to find out what sort of rights we (and the pup) have.
We can’t keep her, though — and right now, most of our energies are spent keeping the kids from getting too attached to her. Three dogs is already too much, maybe three dogs too much! But I’d rather take her to a no-kill shelter (she’s so cute, she’d be snapped right up anyway) than to her owners. I’ve literally been raging for the last 16 hours since we found her, the whole thing makes me furious.
If she doesn’t stop throwing up, we’ll have to take her to the vet. We’ll have to anyway if we manage to save her from her owners — we don’t know what shots she’s had or hasn’t had, though I guess we can be pretty sure she’s had her initial shots and is about due for follow-ups. At the same time you have to wonder if her owners, who can’t manage a half-hour trip across time, have bothered with shots.
A few rules, potential dog-owners:
- A dog is, like, you know, responsibility and stuff. Don’t do to a dog what you wouldn’t do to a kid.
- Heat kills. Pretty self-explanatory, but given the number of people that lock their kids in their cars in the summer heat out here, it bears repeating.
- Which actually leads me to revise the first rule above: treat your dogs betterthan you’d treat a kid. Kids at least have thumbs and critical thinking abilities; dogs are at our mercy and need us to do their thinking for them.