Did You Find A Lost Dog?
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Our Weekly Falmouth Enterprise Column
By Pamela Alden Kokmeyer
Friday, April 18, 2014
You don't think it can happen to you. You know you're careful and you know you're responsible. Or so you think. And then you learn that it can happen to you. And in my case, it did: My dog got lost. He became separated from me in what seemed like an instant. One moment he was ahead of me on the trail and he stopped, turned and made sure I was within sight. The next moment, around a bend, he was gone. I was sure he would come back within a minute. I called him. And called him. As the minutes went by, and became quarter hours, I began to panic. Should I stay where I was? Should I continue to walk? Should I retrace my steps? In the end, I did all three alternately while calling him, using his trigger words (ride, walk, cookie, mommy, look, and his real favorite, "come see your friends.")
Then an hour passed. I called the animal control officer to report him missing. I walked back and forth, calling him while trying to keep the panic from my voice. I drifted off the trail, into people's yards, listening for barking. My only comfort was knowing he had a virtually indestructible, securely-attached ID tag on his collar with my cellphone number. I knew if he reached any human being, he would launch himself at them for attention.
The phone call came 1 1/2 hours after I had last seen him. The caller asked if I was missing a small brown dog. I could have wept with relief. Actually, I did weep with relief. The caller had found him running frantically around my car, which was parked 1.5 miles away, searching for me, no doubt. I berate myself for not having paid better attention to his presence. I always thought I was a more responsible owner, but I should have been more aware. It was my fault. And I hope I have learned from that.
The takeaway for me, and maybe for others, is severalfold: keep a current, readable ID tag on your pet's collar with a phone number where you can be reached easily, and report your dog missing to the authorities. Both of these I did. If possible, try to make sure your dog is well-socialized with people so that he will see people as friends and can be approached. What I didn't do and should have done is enlist the help of friends as soon as possible. Had I called friends and they had come to help, they would have seen my dog in the parking lot.
I speak of my panic, but my dog was just as panicked, for you see, he had already known the fright of being lost (or abandoned) years earlier, before I adopted him.
Which brings us to a larger—and brutal—issue: abandoning a dog purposely. Especially an old, sick dog, which is what recently came through our shelter doors. We named him Walter. He is an old, small, very lame beagle. His coat is dry and dirty, his face is tear-stained, he has Lyme disease, a growth on his foot, possible nerve damage to a hind leg and severe dental problems. He was a gentleman in the car and at the vet's. Back at the shelter, after he ate, he snuggled into his blankets in a crate within his kennel and he slept. He is very people-oriented and quite affectionate. But no one has called to report him missing. Apparently, he was expendable. Was he too old? Too much trouble? Too many medical issues? We don't know and probably we will never know. The saddest part is that he isn't the first old or sick dog found abandoned and he won't be the last. But now he is safe in our program and a new life has already begun for him. There is a verse in a song we heard recently, paraphrased here: we wonder if some people will catch cold from the ice water in their veins. Indeed.
We can only hope fewer and fewer people will abandon their old, sick pets to an unknown fate. Please, do the right thing. Either call a shelter for help or enlist the help of a veterinarian to determine the correct course of action.
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Let's do a little math here: Facts about Caper—a German shepherd, 10 years old, tall and long, athletic, housebroken. Feelings about Caper—sweet, affectionate, loyal, protective, willing to please, loves to lounge. So, facts + feelings = one special dog. Caper selects his canine friends pretty carefully and probably won't be found playing board games with many other dogs, but he's awesome when riding shotgun in the car, or riding properly in the back seat. New sights, the radio playing, scents in the air, it doesn't get much better than that. Lounging in the office as volunteers go about their duties also makes him happy and comfortable.
We are trying to help a family re-home their 2-year-old female puggle named Angel. She is uber friendly and craves attention so the ideal home will be one where someone is around a good deal of the time. Angel, who weighs 40 pounds, is living with another dog right now (and enjoys playing with all dogs) but is unfamiliar with cats. Her dislikes? Being alone, fireworks and thunder. Her favorite game? Chasing the owner around the yard. If you'd like to meet her, give us a call and we'll help make arrangements.
What do Calvin Coolidge, Truman Capote and Brad Pitt have in common? They all owned bulldogs. You, too, can be part of that interesting list. How? Simple. Call to make arrangements to meet Shamus, a 6-year-old bulldog still in his own home but needing a new home soon. That home would be one where Shamus is the only dog and without small children. Shamus is big and solid and loves to walk. He also loves attention.
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Come visit us when you have the chance. We'd love to show you around and introduce you to our current crop of canine cuties. We are open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to noon; Sunday from 3 to 5 PM; and Monday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 6 PM. (Volunteers return to the shelter the other evenings to walk, feed and check on the dogs, but we are not open to the public at those times.)
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