Today's Strays: More dog trouble, and it could be bad this time

If I knew then what I learned later in the day, I might not have caught these two dogs. I didn't realize I was placing them in danger of their lives.

My theory is that dogs are bad with traffic because they’re wired to get out of the way at the last second and they expect other creatures to do the same thing. You know how a dogs will run straight at you and not turn until they’re about to collide. These two were in the middle of the busiest street of this Oklahoma town. About half the cars didn’t even bother to slow down. So many people just couldn’t give a damn if they hit a dog. One of the dogs, the border collie, was limping. His left foreleg was injured. He was agitated and wary. While I pulled off, they made it to the other side of the street and headed for a yard where old garage trucks are parked. They were traveling together. They probably came out of the same yard. Neither had a collar, but they were both similarly healthy. 

For the first time ever in this town, an the first time in at least six months, I had just bought a couple of burgers. One for me, and one for Roo. Good thing, because that became the bait to catch the dogs. That, and some of Roo’s jerky and biscuits. I turned into the dirt yard where they were, and Roo had to wait. I knew taking her burger was going to be a major insult, so I broke a third of it off and gave it to her before I got out and left her in the car with the air conditioner running. Good thing, too, because it would take about an hour and a half.

Neither of them were willing to come to me at first and both of them took off. The little one, though, who looks like a Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix, was less of a problem. She turned at a whistle and was interested as soon as she saw me holding something up for her to see. When I threw the piece of Roo’s burger in her direction, she stopped and wagged. She was quite a waggy little girl. Somehow the border collie noticed that she was eating and stopped running and stayed put to see what was going on. He was so skittish, though, that just tossing a piece of the burger in his direction made him bolt, even though with my debilitated shoulder I could only toss it about ten of the fifty feet between us. He acted like the dogs in the Third World countries who, I learned long ago, you could get to back off when they were getting aggressive by pretending to pick up a stone, because they are used to getting pelted. I backed off in the direction I wanted him to come—away from the road—and eventually lured him in with more pieces.

I had taken the couple of leashes I had in the car and got one of them on the little one pretty easily. The border collie, though, was a tough customer. He would come closer to eat, but any sign of the leash made him skitter. He understood leashes and he didn’t want anything to do with them. That dog had eyes like a wolf’s and seemed to be one of the shrewdest dogs I’d ever met. He was filled with a general suspicion of the world and though he wasn’t old, he understood that in the world, it was humans you had to be suspicious of.

With the little one tied to a dead tree, I concentrated on him. Even though after a while he got comfortable enough to take food from my hand, and I held the leash in the hand to get him used to it, he knew, and he was opposed to any hint of it going around his neck.He was going to have to soon, though, because even I was about to run out of food. They had gone through the remaining five or six pieces of jerky and I was down to breaking the biscuits into crumbs. The burger was the most appetizing, so I kept as much as that for as long as possible.

Finally, what with his injury and the heat, he lay down in the shade. Inch by inch I got closer, and after lots of getting up and running 20 feet away, he finally gave up and took the last piece of burger and let me put the looped leash around his neck.

You never saw a dog so disappointed in someone. He had let his guard down for a few seconds and now he was tied. Now he wasn’t just suspicious, he had had his suspicions rewarded. He didn’t think much of me. I tried to make friends with him. 

Here’s the problem. In this small town, there’s a Humane Society. I had spoken with them another time when I was trying to catch another dog, and I had no idea that they weren’t the only dog operation in town. They don’t kill over there, and why with these dogs seeming to be in good shape, they just needed to get somewhere safe so their owners could find them. When I called the Humane Society I got their voicemail, and on it they said to call Animal Control. That resulted in four calls from me to the dispatcher at the police department. Finally, they got around to sending the animal control officer over.

He arrived in a pickup with a steel cage in back. The officer clearly liked dogs a lot. He tried picking the little one up, but she was frightened and nipped at him. He scooped the border collie up, probably surprising him, and without any difficulty put him in the cage. I picked the little one up. She was shaking when I put her in, and the officer thanked me and left.

Later, I was walking Roo when the phone rang. It was the woman from the Humane Society. She told me that Animal Control had their own pound and that that’s where the dogs would go. She said the police would hold them for five days, and then, “They’ll take then to the vet.”

Oh, no. 

“They don’t gas them here, though,” she said, “So at least there’s that.”

So, since then, I’ve been trying without success to get animal control on the phone. There’s a local rescue here, and the woman from the HS told me that if the dogs weren’t claimed by the time their five days ran out, they would take them if they had room.

So, that’s where it stands. The idea of taking the dogs off the street only to get them killed has become a preoccupation, but I haven’t even been able to find out if the dogs have been claimed. I’ve left messages but no one calls back. The best hope is that someone came home from work and found their dogs missing and did something about it. But maybe they didn’t. That border collie might have had a good basis for his suspicions. If no one claims them and the rescue doesn’t have space, I’m going to have to figure something else out. Maybe pay the rescue. Please: do not start telling me to take the dogs. Roo and I liven a space that has 20 square feet of open space and apart from that I can not take care of more dogs. If I have to spring them, I will, but I can’t keep them. 

That’s the news from east Oklahoma. Dog trouble.

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