Friday, August 07, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Dog gone it, here to stay

Almost all pet owners understand the importance of searching for their next pet. Whether it’s finding the right breed or visiting the local shelters, hoping to save the life of the perfect animal, finding the right pet is an endeavor most people have undertaken at some point. But, sometimes, pets find their owners.

Such was the case on July 2, when a Labrador-pit bull mix arrived in the backyard of my house outside Cabot around 10 p.m. My wife and I already owned three girls: a collie-St. Bernard mix, a Jack Russell-rat terrier mix and a Chihuahua.

I was taking the big girl, Evangeline, out for the last time at about 10 p.m. that Thursday when I spotted what would become the fourth dog in our household.

She was lying flat on her belly with her chin on the ground about 30 feet away, just watching. Unbeknownst to me or Evangeline, we had been selected to provide this new girl a home.

Introductions were cautious that night. Though thick and muscular, she was obviously hungry and thirsty. She was wearing a veterinarian’s tag, and the thought was that, if she was still there in the morning, we could call the vet and track down the owners.

A cup of food and a bowl of water on the front porch sealed the deal on the new home, at least in the mind of the newcomer.

Since Friday was July 3, the vet’s office, which was on Little Rock Air Force Base, was closed for the holiday weekend. So the new girl stayed the weekend. She was left outside again on Friday, and, again, was still there on Saturday. That night, Fourth of July fireworks were clearly scaring the poor thing, so my wife decided to let her inside.

It’s a full-blown move-in now, despite our best efforts.

On Monday, the vet’s office had no record of the tag number on the dog, which had now been at its new home for four days. We called the shelter, the dog was taken to be scanned for a chip that would find the owner, and the Arkansas Lost and Found Pet Network website received and posted the dog’s picture.

On Tuesday, the owners were found. The dog had been missing since March. And, though about seven years old, she had only been in that home for about a year. She had wandered up to them as well. The husband was away for work, and the wife had relegated the dog to live outside after she bit the cat. Since then, the canine had been prone to long periods of absence and had disappeared altogether in early March.

It wasn’t a joyous reunification on either side when they came to pick her up and take her home. When the dog finally recognized her former owners were there to pick her up, she dutifully jumped into the back of their SUV.

It was mentioned in passing what a friendly dog she is and how my wife had grown fairly fond of her over the past few days. About an hour later, the phone rang with an offer from the newly reunited family to let my wife have the dog.

I put my foot down and said our three dogs, plus two cats, were enough. She was a little disappointed, but agreed, and the offer was turned down.

The dog had other plans though.

Exactly one week went by, and, during breakfast, her smiling face appeared on the steps looking in through the patio door.

The door was opened and she walked in and laid down underneath the coffee table.

A few moments later, she was outside again, shoving the tattered soccer ball around the yard with her nose as fast as she could go, something she had grown fond of doing during her previous stint at our home, before jumping into the kiddie pool, slurping water as messily and loudly as any dog has ever done.

A phone call to her family wasn’t returned. Bobbi McGee, the name she was given a couple weeks later, was home at last. She had been trying to tell us that for almost two weeks, and we finally got the message. — Ray Benton