When Walt and Charlie (I only found out their names later) first showed up, I tried to chase them out of the yard. We get quite a number of strays out here in the country, and a few live pretty hard. These two hung around for a long while before we approached them. These guys were lover dogs. Well, Charlie was. Walt got grumpy with me when I tried to lead him into the fenced backyard kennel to keep him safe. I gently slipped my fingers beneath his collar to urge him forward, and he looked up at me and gave a warning growl. He was definitely not going in that kennel, where his buddy had just noshed down a tasty dental bone and was dancing around, begging for more. Hearing the growl, seeing his lightly bared teeth, I had one of those VERY distinct moments of clarity: “Shit. What am I doing here in my backyard, alone, trying to cage up two stranger dogs?”
Both dogs wore standard collars, and Walt had an out-of-date rabies tag, but that was it for identification. In the end, the kennel wouldn’t hold either of them. They wandered off around dinner time, but there they were back again, on the porch, early this morning. I have never seen two dogs more interested in getting inside a stranger’s house. The county animal control guy was super nice on the phone, and tried to look up the rabies tag, but the number was scratched and hard to read. So the dogs hung around. I let my dogs out so they could all get acquainted–Oh, the barking! Oh, the angst! Oh, the whining! Oh, the sniffing! Oh, the peeing on things! Oh, the running around! I knew it was a risk, but I had a feeling all would work out. Though I probably shouldn’t trust my feelings. (See “growling” incident, above.)
The first time I tried to help a stray puppy was when we lived on the farm in West Virginia, right after we got married. (I tell this story all the time, so just bear with me and nod agreeably if you’ve heard it already.) Husband and I lay in bed one spring Saturday morning. The windows were open, and I heard a puppy barking. A small puppy. A sad puppy. Husband, having lived in the country for many years, assumed it would soon go away. But I had a mind to find it and “rescue” it. So, wearing my slippiest flip-flops, and a bathrobe, I headed outside calling, “Here, puppy puppy.” It whined some more out in the heavy brush, but I couldn’t see where it was. Finally, I figured out where the cry was coming from and headed for it. Then I heard the growl of a big dog. A really big dog. A mama dog.
I never actually saw the puppy or the mama. It could’ve just all been a cruel trick by He Who Lives in the Corn.
So I started backing up. I backed up and backed up through the dewy grass. I heard a lot of movement in the brush, and by now I was pretty much imagining a Bengal tiger stalking me. Still, the puppy whined. I was so afraid that I decided to take my chances and turn and run. But just as I was about to reach the small concrete porch, my dew-wet shoes slid beneath me. As I fell, I punched my entire right arm through the bottom half of the screen door, breaking the door and fracturing my arm. Fortunately, the dog didn’t pursue me. It probably just laughed and strolled away, with Puppy Puppy trotting behind.
Walt and Charlie were much less trouble. I tried to feed them, but they weren’t very hungry–which made me suspect they weren’t actually lost, but just out on a daily scavenger hunt for suckers like me. The landscape guy who was here working today cleverly sent a picture of the dogs to his girlfriend, who called the Humane Society. He alerted me to that just after I got off the phone with animal control a second time. The dogs had, indeed, been reported as lost, and twenty minutes later, a Jeep full of young men and other dogs pulled up the driveway. Walt and Charlie went crazy and jumped in even before he had the door all the way open. They didn’t even say goodbye. Seems the guy was housesitting, and his dog, Walt, took off with Charlie, the dog from the housesitting gig. Charlie was as sweet and goofy as a Lab. My suspicion is that he was not the brains of the operation.
Two dog stories. Two very different endings. I would do the same things all over again if they happened tomorrow. Probably.
The animal control officer joshed me for feeding Walt and Charlie, saying that people should never feed strays because they just come back around. But sometimes you just have to go with your instincts. If I hadn’t, Walt and Charlie might not have stayed around long enough to get picked up and taken home.
Though I have this suspicion they’ll be back.
June 7th Words
Journal: 263 words
Long fiction: 950 words
Short fiction: Edited gothic story for anthology
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 929 words
Exercise: Walked 1/2 mile outside, ran after dogs