We picked up a stray today

On the Facebook page I posted the news that Roo and I found a stray in the road. Cars were zipping by, no one would slow down. This dog is one of those quick young guys who zigzags wherever his nose takes him, and it was a miracle that he wasn’t nailed by a car. I was out in the street signaling for people to slow down. It was like being in a Twilight Zone where no one - no one - would slow down for a dog in the middle of the street and where everyone was doing 50 in a 35.

It took about five minutes to corral him with a combination of Roo and duck jerky. Once he made his decision he didn’t complain at all. He was wearing a collar and tags, and he let me clip the leash on and then hopped right in the car. He hogged the front seat, which Roo wasn't too delighted about. She stood on the arm rest to lean against me to make sure the new guy didn’t get any ideas, but then she went and lay down in the back.

The dog’s name was Hawkins. I called the number on his tags, but only got voicemail. After a couple of hours of calling, someone picked up. They seemed confused as to why I was calling, as if I was just calling to shoot the breeze about Hawkins. Finally, I asked if they were interested in getting their dog back, the woman said, “Wait - you’re not his owner?”

“Aren’t you? It’s your name on the tag.”

Turns out Hawkins was wearing old tags form when they gave him away about six weeks ago. She said they were upset about giving him away, but they had to because they moved into a condo. It turned out to be more than that. A lot more.

The woman on the phone had some trouble finding the number of the new owner. When she started to give it to me I said, “Wait a minute. This dog is underweight. I don’t know about his skin, but it looks pretty bad. His toenails are way too long. He needs to be neutered. If you care about this dog, this might be the chance to either get him back or get him a better home.”

When I explained how I found him and how close he came to getting smoked on the road, she became upset. She and her husband and four-year-old were about two hours away, but she said they would come right out.

When they arrived at the front door, Hawkins was shocked. He didn’t go nuts - he was happy to see them, but he was confused. He was dazed. He had the same body language as a dog who doesn’t understand what it was he did that got him in trouble. After a minute, he got progressively more happy and started licking them and leaning on them. 

My camera battery was dead.

They explained that it wasn’t just a move that had prompted them to give Hawkins away. It was that the woman’s heart had stopped one day. She's in her early 30s. She ended up with emergency surgery and a pacemaker. All that happened with a four-year-old, during a move and the plethora of other difficulties you can imagine going along with all of this. They made a hard decision and thought they were doing Hawkins a favor by finding him a home in the country.

During the drive out from Seattle, they finally got ahold of the woman who supposedly owned him now. She told them that as long as they were coming out to get him, they might as well keep him, because she was starting to look for a new home for him anyway. Jerry was incensed, because he had told her when they left Hawkins with her that if there was ever any trouble at all, any second thoughts, that he would always take Hawkins back. But the creep - some Megan of Clinton on Whidbey Island - didn’t even bother to call. I wouldn’t be surprised if letting Hawkins out on the street wasn’t her way of finding him a new home.

So, for now, Lauren and Jerry are taking him back. They say they’re going to get him neutered first thing. It sounded like they want to keep him, but that they don’t think it would be fair to suffocate him in a little condo. I don’t know what they’ll do with him. But, somehow, it seems that Hawkins got something of another, though imperfect, chance today. Maybe everyone did. Whether they keep him or not, they care enough about him to have learned something about letting him go to a negligent home.

The saddest part is how confusing it must be for Hawkins to be made to come and go the way he has been for the last few months, and the way he might again. 

He’s a fine dog. Almost all of them are. And this is how their lives are conducted for them.