23. September 2007 · Comments Off on Pet Detective, Inc. · Categories: Ain't That America?, Critters, General, Rant, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

There must be something in the water, or a phase of the moon. One of my neighbors blames it all on the comparatively wet summer – another sign of global warming or cooling or whatever. A co-worker from the radio station blames it all on that old devil, the sex drive. Whatever the rationale, it seems to Blondie and I that a very high number of our neighborhood dogs have suddenly developed a serious wanderlust and Houdiniesque escape skills.

Since we have two dogs, whose high point of the day involves towing me at a brisk pace around a long circuit through the neighborhood, we’ve encountered most of the other resident dogs. Mostly they are towing their owners around a similar course, or leaping up and down behind a window or a fence in a frenzy of barking. Most of them we know well enough to know their real names, others only have a nick: Einstein, the not-very-bright young boxer who always goes nuts when we walk by, Goliath the enormous Papillion, Daisy-May the golden lab who likes jumping up on people, Fluffy the little white something or other who looks like an animated fuzzy bedroom slipper bouncing around on four little legs… you get the idea. Weevil and Spike usually have a lovely time barking back at them. It all reminds Blondie of the ‘midnight barking’ in 101 Dalmatians; for all we know, the dogs may be passing on messages.

It’s the other dogs that make our hearts sink right down to our running shoes – the ones who are out and about, unconstrained by a leash, an owner or a fence. Last week it was an elderly German shepherd whom Blondie named “O’Malley”. He lives two streets up and has perfected the technique of slipping between the fence bars. He’s been getting out all summer. By now, everyone recognizes O’Malley and knows where he belongs, but I don’t think his owners have a clue. I’ve walked him back to his house a couple of times, and he hops back through the fence obediently and trots around to the back with the air of a hard-working dog having done his duty for the day. The week before that, it was a fluffy little Shi-Tzu who followed me all the way along Creekway, barking like mad, and dashing out into the street. I thought sure the little wretch would be run over about four times. I tried to catch him; not with any success, being encumbered by my own two, who were going nuts. And I am still pretty damned annoyed at one of the neighbors, who primly refused to let the little dog stay in her yard, tied to a tree for safety and visibility. She had called the pound, though, since the dog had been hanging around for a day or so. I finally turned around and dragged Weevil and Spike towards home, with the stray following after, figuring that I could at least catch it, once I had put the two of them inside. Luckily, a pair of kids walking to school overtook us before I got very far: the stray Shi-Tzu was theirs.

A couple of Saturdays ago, we retrieved another German shepherd – this one a well-mannered female whom Blondie called ‘Lady’ for the lack of a better name. We found her at the bottom of the neighborhood, and Blondie put her on a leash and walked her around the neighborhood all that afternoon, until she found where Lady belonged. And it turned out her name really was ‘Lady’ but her owner was so unenthused about getting her back, it was really no wonder she went wandering in the first place.

We had an easier time yesterday, but still – two loose and lost dogs in a single day. The Chihuahua who lives in the house with all the sculptures got out and went skittering across the road, chasing after us. In all the excitement, Weevil slipped her leash and the Chihuahua, aka Mr. Teeth bit Blondie’s hand… didn’t break the skin, fortunately, and we managed to return Mr. Teeth to his owner. Didn’t latch the gate after himself, and didn’t notice when Mr. Teeth headed straight across the road to pick a fight with two larger dogs and a Marine. Forty minutes later, when we came back down the road what do we find at practically the same corner? A sad little min-pin, a miniature Doberman slightly larger than Spike, with no collar… and as it turned out, no chip, either. But he let me pick him up, and we went through the whole routine, walking down the street asking people if they recognized him. No one did, although he was very obviously a pet and well-cared for. We took him home, where he got on amazingly well with Spike and Weevil. We planned to do the whole sweep of the neighborhood this weekend, but fortunately Blondie spotted the posters that his frantic owners were plastering on the neighborhood mailboxes. They were very glad to get him back, since he had been missing for two days.

And I thought yesterday was the far frozen limit, but I just now came back from being towed around the block and it happened again! There was another Chihuahua-type doggie, innocent of collar running along the creek-bed that I couldn’t catch, and which snapped and snarled at me anyway… and a pretty and affectionate Weimaraner female who came running after us. At least the Weimaraner had a collar with her name on it, a telephone number, a rabies tag and one of those electric-fence restraint thingies. Which is no advertising for that system and the telephone number turned out to be disconnected! But at least today, one of the neighbors helped me catch her and has promised they will keep her safe tonight and call the veterinary clinic tomorrow… if no one comes around looking for her before then (as I am sure they will.)

Really, this is getting past a joke; being a magnet for every sort of lost and loose dog in the ‘hood. I’m really almost afraid to go out tomorrow; at this rate there will be a lineup of the lost and pathetic, waiting for me at the bottom of the driveway. Perhaps we should begin asking for a reward; through repetition, we’re getting pretty good at it..

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