To the dogs of Montgomery, Alabama: please stop needing my assistance to keep you alive. I am emotionally exhausted and you seriously need to start taking care of yourselves.
As I sit typing this, I have an elderly gentleman snoozing on the cushion to my left and a spritely young lad sleeping in his bed to my right, worn out from a wrestling match against me that took place several minutes ago. I have had the honor of watching these two handsome boys for the past two nights because their usual caretaker is out of town.
However, I wasn’t expecting my dogsitting adventure to turn out quite as…adventurous…as it has been. Allow me to elaborate:
Yesterday evening, while on our way to spend the night out with a few friends, my homie Alaina and I came across a white ball of fluff scurrying across a parking lot. We were not near a residential area, so we found this quite peculiar. Where could she have possibly come from? I pulled the car over and Alaina reached out to approach the sweet creature that seemed so out of place in this high-traffic, industrial part of Montgomery.
The little thing was very sweet and curled right up into Alaina’s lap. She had no tags on which we could have identified an owner. While Alaina dialed the Humane Society, I walked down the street to where I saw some individuals lingering about to ask if they were looking for a lost dog.
Two crazy men in a truck overheard my inquiry to the pedestrians and said they knew the dog I was talking about. They said that only a few minutes prior they had witnessed an individual in a work truck drive by, let the dog out of the car, and drive off. Crazy 1 and Crazy 2 asked me if they could see the dog, so we turned the corner to where I had parked Mrs. Potts with Alaina and Pup still inside.
Alaina informed me that the Humane Society was closed and the Crazies confirmed that Pup was, in fact, the one which they had described. The Crazies spoke in Spanish to each other, and Less Crazy translated for me when Very Crazy tried to speak (his English was horrific). Even after help with the translations, Very Crazy didn’t seem to be tracking the conversation well. You know, like he wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Very Crazy hastily announced that he wanted to keep the puppy. He grabbed Pup out of Alaina’s arms and handled her with the skill of a 4-year-old. To tell you the truth, I actually think my 4-year-old nephew might have known how to handle the pup better than Very Crazy. After a little back-and-forth with me, it was clear that he didn’t understand the responsibilities involved in keeping a puppy. Then it turned out that he had a wife and lived in an apartment. I asked what his plan was in case either his wife or his landlord told him he could not keep the dog, and he had no backup plan if his wife or landlord was unhappy with his hasty decision. Very Crazy asked me if I would teach him what to do with the dog, he asked me how old she was, and he asked me for permission to keep her. He had technically found her before I had, so I am not sure why he thought I was certified to answer all these questions.
Although…he didn’t pull over to save the dog when he witnessed her being abandoned. He also didn’t bother getting the jackass’s plates that did this to her. How much of a dog person was he, anyway?
I understand the immediate attraction to a little creature like her, but I think that his split-second decision to take on the ownership of a dog is indicative that he probably should not own a dog. Asking me how old she was, how to take care of her, and whether or not he could keep her is also a clue. I wasn’t her mom; I was her rescuer. I knew as much about her as he did.
Very Crazy and I agreed that I would keep the dog for the night, and he would call me the next day after he spoke to his wife. He assured me that he would call by 10 o’clock that very night, but I gave him a full day (you know, just in case I was judging him too harshly).
I was so certain that Very Crazy was very crazy, that I agreed to watch a stray dog in my apartment while simultaneously watching two familiar dogs for a friend in her house.
After brainstorming with Alaina about how I was going to pull this off, we decided that Alaina would keep Pup for just the night and I would bring food from the house at which I was dog-sitting. I swung by early the next morning, after taking care of the elderly gentleman to my left and the spritely fellow to my right, and took the little girl out for a walk and relocated her to my apartment. Naturally, she waited to poop until after her walk. After she got inside. On my carpet.
I left her in my bathroom while I headed off to work, with the plan that I would take time during lunch to bring her to the Humane Society. My bathroom door does not latch shut, so I pushed a heavy box to the outside of it to keep it closed.
By the time I found an appropriate time to make a temporary escape from work, she had pushed the door open (she’s like, the size of my foot, and it was a large box full of books), and was pacing back and forth at my living room window. Glad she understood the concept of needing to lay low while I hoarded her from my landlord.
Of course, this sweet little girl and I had bonded quite a bit since I had found her. She’s the type of sweetheart that curls up right into your lap when you sit down. She squeaks when she’s mad (know anyone like that?). She gives fabulous kisses. For the past 18 hours, I had been running through every idea in my mind to figure out how to keep her. But at the end of the day, I’m still an AmeriCorps member and do not know where I’ll be in 10 months. At the end of the day, I still can’t afford to buy myself…well, anything…much less the supplies needed to take care of a small animal.
After a sobfest and a call to my mom, I finally worked up the strength to drive my friend over to the Humane Society.
Did you know that when you drop off an animal at the Humane Society, they make you sign a paper saying you understand that you cannot follow up on what happens to the dog? When the guy told me that, I just about wanted to slap him and say “just kidding I’m keeping her” and then grab her back and run away.
I plan on coming back next week to see if she is available for adoption. For the next 5 days, she is considered a stray and nothing will happen of her in case her owner comes and identifies her. After that, she begins the process to get her puppy shots and to get fixed. After that, I can come back and see if she is placed up for adoption. But I don’t get to be told if she is adopted, or if she is returned to her owner (the best we assume is that someone who was angry at her owner, perhaps an ex boyfriend, took the dog and abandoned her in an act of revenge), or if God-forbid she is euthanized. I can only come back and see if she is still there.
To the people who are making my Facebook explode right now with questions regarding what I have named her or with comments on how excited they are that I have a new friend: I make $438 every two weeks, my rent is $455, I have $30,000 in student loans, and I will likely be moving out of the country next January. If you can figure out how to keep a dog under all of those conditions, please let me know and I will head back and pay the Humane Society any price to get her back.
The young lady that was mine for a day.
Who wants to kick the bastard that abandoned her right in the gut with me?
But wait, there’s more!
So far in the story I have only mentioned three of the four dogs I have hung out with in the past 24 hours.
While driving back to the house at which I am dog-sitting, I saw an older man slowly strolling the street. He had streaks of grey throughout his golden fur and face, and was much bigger than the little girl I had just bonded with. I drove past him, eager to just get to the house and eat my dinner and take care of the dogs to which I was supposed to be tending.
And then I thought: I fell in love with that little girl in less than 24 hours. This guy is old and gray, and we are in a residential neighborhood; he has probably belonged to a family for many, many years. Their devastation over his great escape into the neighborhood would far surpass the feelings I felt – rather, the emotions I am currently feeling – about the separation of a dog that isn’t even mine.
I turned Mrs. Potts around, called to him, and he kept walking.
He was getting further and further away, and wasn’t responding to my calls. I sat in my car for a second, absolutely numb with everything that was going on in that moment. Was I to let this guy keep walking down the street, getting further and further away? I already called after him, and he didn’t turn back to me…at least I could say I tried. There are two hungry dogs waiting on me to let them in the house and feed them…should I make them wait who knows how much longer while I took care of this?
With my Panera mac n’ cheese getting cold in the seat next to me, I put Mrs. Potts in drive and headed off after the old man, who had just crossed a main street and had progressed further down the road. I pulled up several yards ahead of him this time, got out of the car, and let him walk right up to me.
Relieved to find a collar and tags, I called the number provided by Ricky’s owner. I left a message, explaining where Ricky was and which direction he was headed and that I was unable to get him into my car to take further care of him.
The direction he was headed was into a peaceful neighborhood, so I let him saunter on his way, hoping his owner would get my message and find him before he found another busy street. I made a U-turn and headed back to the two boys who were waiting on me.
Not two minutes after arriving at the house, I received the following two text messages:
“Hi Liz thank you for making us aware our dog had gotten out…We got him!”
“He’s very old and can’t hear and we’d die if something happened to him”
And so Ricky made it home alright.
And the little girl’s fate is in the hands of an organization dedicated to keeping her healthy and finding her a suitable owner.
And Foots is still snoozing next to me, and Coal is still drooling in his bed.
Dogs of Montgomery: you got a friend in me.
Why do dogs affect us this way? Why? That little girl wasn’t mine to worry about; all I needed to do was feed her for the night and drop her off at a place that would keep her healthy and find her a home. Why did it affect me so much that I could not keep her?
Why was I so incredibly devastated when this old, gray golden retriever was out wandering the dark streets by himself? He wasn’t mine to worry about, either.
Why is it that I still shed a tear when I think about my Adelante, who was put down last spring?
It’s the mystery of dogs. They’re our best friends, our companions, and our partners in crime. I would give anybody a cash reward for finding my Rossi, Dietrich, or Indianna if any of them managed to escape (again. Because, lets face it: Adelante taught them to be escape artists).
I might be a dog person, folks.
Also, Very Crazy never called me back. I wasn’t planning on answering the phone if he did, anyway.
With all three of my puppies back home. I clearly hate spending time with them.