If you were on Facebook earlier today, you saw that Roo and I picked up yet another stray dog.
I had no intention of winding up in Mississippi, but that’s where the current blast of arctic air blew us, and we overnighted in Fulton. This morning, the temperature had risen from an overnight low of about 20 degrees to 28, and Roo and I were talking a walk. A little dog was barking at us from the vicinity of the only other camper, and we avoided the area. Later, though, on the way back, a little black and tan dog ran up to us and began to follow us. She wasn’t wearing a collar, but she was friendly and in good shape. I said hi to her and Roo, who doesn’t spend much time on smaller dogs (in her opinion they are too small to be dogs and as dogs aren’t mouses, so what’s the point), gave her one brief sniff. The little dog began to follow us.
There was only one other camper around, so, after the little girl followed us halfway back to where we were camped, several hundred feet away, we doubled back to get her to go where it seemed she lived.
Outside the camper was a man with a white beard and a Trump bumper sticker on his old Ford pickup.
“Good morning,” I called to him from a small way off. I never walk up to anyone in the woods, because in America a lot of people live for the hope of getting to pull out their .357 and have a chance to stand their ground one day. But the guy was friendly.
I asked him if the dog was his.
“No, she ain’t mine,” he said. “Camp dog.” Pronounced doag.
“Belongs to the camp? Lives here?” I asked.
“I guess. She been here the coupla days we been here.”
“I wonder where she sleeps.”
“Right yonder in them leaves,” he said. “Gets herself weaseled right down in ‘em.” The ground was covered in wet leaves. A freezing rain had been falling.
I wanted to ask him just why it might have been that he wouldn’t let a freezing, good-natured little dog in his 40-foot motorhome with twin furnaces and a satellite dish, but I didn’t. What was the point. All I said was, “So, she isn’t with anyone, then.”
“No, just a camp dog. Smart little shit, too. Threw out a paper plate still had a piece of hot dog on it last night, and damn if the little shit didn’t bring it right back over to the door. Just like that.”
She was on the squirrelly side, and the Flexi I had for Roo wouldn’t loop securely on her little neck, so Junior and I went back yet again to get another leash and a rope slip collar I keep in the car for strays and some food and then back again to get her.
I tossed the kibble on the ground with one hand and held on to Roo withe the other. This was necessary because Roo does not believe that any other dog on Earth should ever be allowed to eat anything that she might one day wish to eat herself. Part of growing up in the Depression, I think. The little dog was starving. She skittered around vacuuming up the kibble. I called her over and she came and let me slip the collar on. She resisted walking a little, but only the way a dog who might never have had a leash on does, but all it took was a piece of cookie to lure her with, and we made it back to the camper. As soon as we stopped, I noticed that she was trembling badly. I got her inside where it was warm, but it didn’t do any good. She trembled for the next hour.
That was when the post went up on Facebook to see if anyone could help locate a way to deal with a stray in this part of rural Mississippi. Several people responded.
A local shelter was closed for the day, but it seemed to be more of a pound anyway, and obviously I wasn’t going to dump her anyplace that might have had a shot of Fatal Plus waiting for her. There was a Humane Society shelter in a town 25 miles south of here called Amory, but when I called, they said they wouldn’t take her and that I should call animal control here in Fulton and let them deal with her. I said I couldn’t do that. Well, they said, there really wasn’t anything they could do.
Now, this was a truly sweet little girl. Friendly and well-mannered. Deeply expressive eyes that seemed to go from hopeful and happy to be fed and warming up and around others, to worried and remembering her hard luck. She looked like she expected to be put out at any moment.
The Amory shelter called back. As I would see for myself later, the staff there is a bunch of pushovers, real soft-touches, when it comes to down-and-out animals. Whoever answered the phone earlier didn’t like turning any dog away, so she talked to the director, who in turn called back to say, aw, just bring her in. She would be safe, not killed. She would be vetted and put up for adoption and if that didn’t work out, be transported as far as Ohio or Virginia.
In the car I wrapped her up in a towel, but she kept trembling. Man, how I hate to see a dog tremble. It always reminds me of how Roo was when I got her.
The shelter in Amory turned out to be a terrific place for homeless dogs. The staff, headed by the director Misty Tucker, loves their charges. Misty has seen the shelter through a lot of impressive improvements, the best of which is a huge fenced yard where all the dogs get to run around together like maniacs. They weren’t when we were there only because it was too cold and when the dogs are out they need to be supervised by trustees from the local jail, and they weren’t getting let out today, but normally the gates to the kennels are open and everybody parties.
They named the title girl Trolley (“Something different,” the woman who carried her off in her arms said), and gave her her shots and in she went to the kennel where they’d keep an eye on her for a little while before letting her into the general population. Misty took me on a tour. The terrible mood I was in (it happens to me every time I pick up a stray or see one on the street who I can’t get or any time I go to a shelter) reversed in the company of such kind and devoted animal lovers. The Amory crew were really doing a good job. These homeless dogs and cats were getting fine treatment.
By the way, if anybody is looking for a great dog, they have a few in stock at Amory right now. There’s a beautiful, friendly young German shepherd. A stunningly handsome and gentle young Labrador boy. Several mutts. A cattle dog, some hounds. There’s one girl who they are trying to raise the $300-800 it’s going to take to treat her heartworm. It’s always heartbreaking at shelters the way every dog wants your attention, wants you to open the cage, tries to let you know that they will be your friend. I talked to them all, but couldn’t hang around too much. Truthfully, I just can’t stand it.
The one who got to me was a middle-aged girl who was curled up facing the other way. She looked depressed. She was the only dog too deflated to participate. She would have been the first one I would have sprung if Roo and I lived somewhere.
Anyway… Trolley is at Amory Humane now. She’s a sweet and good dog without any hint of aggression whatsoever. She’s cute and fun and she must be quite the tough little cookie. She has a few scabbed-over bite wounds, but nothing that shows or that’s infected. No chip, of course. She is going to make a fine companion. I’m not advertising her that way just because we found her. She’s really special, and I mean it.
And she’s available. Transport just might be able to be worked out.
The Amory Shelter's phone number is (662) 256-7566.