Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Mistakes.

Posted on | September 5, 2012 | 9 Comments

It was a big mistake.  The kind of mistake that you look back and say, “Why did we do that?”  But, of course, we didn’t know.  How could we?

We didn’t know that morning when we had a bunch of kids over to play that he would arrive.  We didn’t know until they started yelling that there was a loose dog in the yard, that he was here.  And we didn’t realize we would have bigger concerns than whether or not he was chasing chickens in the end.

The kids flew out the door which, in retrospect, seems like a foolhardy thing to do with a random, loose dog.  But my kids grew up around dogs and they seemed fully capable of hollering off a dog that was chasing the hens.  But he wasn’t chasing the hens.  Or barking through the fence at Bruno, the livestock guardian dog.  Or even remotely interested in our German Shepherds pacing in the backyard at the scent of him.  When I finally got up to check on the proceedings he was sitting in a circle of children, getting kisses and head rubs, and showing them he knew how to “shake.”

It was a huge mistake.

Not because he was an intact male dog with a thick squat body or huge block head that indicated the kind of breed everyone warns you about.  After all, my kids grew up with a Rottweiler.  A couple of the kids present have a father who works in the K-9 unit and owns some loving yet fierce German Shepherds.  Several other kids have their own pitt bull mixes at home.  No, once I saw his behavior, his breed didn’t worry me and once we knew he didn’t care about chasing chickens or harassing the livestock, I was content to let the kids visit with him and include him in their activities for the day.  I figured he would go home when he was ready.

Mistake.

Because he didn’t go home.

And after our friends left, The Other Half checked with all the neighbors to see who the dog belonged to.  When we found the owners, who lived down the street, they weren’t at home.  So we brought our dogs in the house and put him in the backyard with a biscuit to hang out safely until his owners were home.  It’s what I would want someone to do if they found our dogs running loose.  After all, we live off a winding country road where speeding cars make road kill out of pets every day of the week.  Plus, some people will shoot a loose dog that looks like a certain breed, just out of fear.

He hung out in the back yard, getting pats on the head as we went about our business and when the rain moved in, he snuggled in the kids’ play fort and waited it out comfortably.

Mistake.

Because when the owners finally got home, turns out they weren’t too surprised he was loose.  And they weren’t so eager to have him brought home.  And they mentioned he was hard for them to handle and suggested we keep him.  And when we insisted he was their dog so he should be with them, they shrugged and pointed to an old cobwebbed kennel.   And when he didn’t want to go in the kennel and was determined to follow us back home, they sighed and gave us an old rope that we could tie him up with.  They said he didn’t have a collar (we had figured that like with most lost dogs, he had simply pulled out of it) so that would have to do.  And we left him there. Tied with a rope around his neck, with people that didn’t want him, watching us leave.

It gave us that sad little feeling you have when you see animals in dire straits.  And you tell yourself you can’t save every animal and you owe it to the animals that you have chosen in your life not to overextend yourself trying to rescue every critter and you think that owners have to step up themselves and take responsibility for their pets and you remind yourself of all the bad things that could happen when you bring an unknown adult animal with his own complicated history into the mix and, so, you walk away.  With that little sinking feeling in your chest.

And you pretend that you are not that excited to see him show up on the doorstep the next day.  With a chewed up rope around his neck.

Well, some of us pretend.  The children rushed out with hugs and kisses and shook hands with him and had a hundred schemes on how he could be their dog.

Mistake.

All that loving was what got us in trouble.  Why would he go home to where he wasn’t wanted when he could come here and be treated like visiting royalty?  Add in the biscuits we gave him in the back yard and we had really, really, messed up.  Because he wasn’t going home to stay.  And you can damn sure bet they weren’t coming over looking for him.

But he can’t stay here.  Our dogs have been together since they were puppies—-they are litter mates.  They aren’t good with other dogs.  And an intact male dog would be sure to introduce dominance issues.  Plus, he has an alarming habit of jumping on Little because, of course, he is the littlest.  He just wants to play and it’s something that you could safely break in a puppy, but it’s dangerous with an adult dog of unknown temperament and even though he is all about hugs and kisses, he might not be pleased with a knee in the chest to keep him down.  He follows everyone readily, but the minute you put  a leash on him, he gets tense and still and reuctant to be led.  Leashes are a necessary part of dog ownership—there are trips to the vet and being taken on walks and a million other reasons that a dog needs to accept the leash.  Especially an intact male who is likely to hightail it after the first female in heat in a 10 mile radius.  Plus, although his toenails look well-kept and his teeth are shiny white, he has a bit of mucous in his eyes.  Could be just a bit of crud from being outside for days on end, could be conjunctivitis, could be a chronic issue.  Really, who knows?

That’s the thing about him—-who knows?

That, of course, will be his downfall.  You can’t expect a family to take him on when they really don’t know him.  The shelters are not going to keep him when they can’t say they know him either.  Animal control can be called and the owners can be fined but it won’t keep them from surrendering him to be euthanized or dropping him off in some other part of the country, where the cycle will be repeated again.  Sooner or later, that not knowing is going to be the end of him.

So, loving him, even for a couple of days, was a big mistake.  Letting him walk the kids down to the bus in the morning and meet them at the bus stop in the afternoon was fun.  Rubbing his big blocky head in our laps, until he started to doze was cute.  Shaking his paw was adorable.  Accepting his kisses that were so delicate, despite those big slobbery jowls, was sweet.

But it was a mistake.

Because we know he’s a good dog.  And we know he doesn’t stand a chance.  And we have to live with it.

Tomorrow we will contact the local no-kill shelter to see if they’re willing to accept him.  I will try the pitt bull and boxer ( we think that’s what he is a mixture of) rescues to see if they have room.  He has a slim, slim chance of finding a home where they will be happy to shake his paw and let him lean against their legs while scratching his ears.

Losing such a sweet and big-hearted dog is a mistake for this world.  But it looks like it’s a mistake that he just might not be able to avoid.

Comments

9 Responses to “Mistakes.”

  1. Laura
    September 5th, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    So sad. Sensible but sad. I hope someone sees this that wants to have him. He is paying for the owners’ irresponsibility in not training him, not neutering him, not loving him.

  2. Kim
    September 5th, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    He looks like a Boxer mix? What a lovely boy……… Could you possibly keep him but have his “parts” dealt with, then teach the kids to teach him how to have his leash on, to behave properly with your dogs and then you wouldnt have that little sinking feeling??!!! Am typing too fast in trying to convince you to keep him, he is a Dog of Fate and has arrived for a reason, you just can’t see what that reason is yet :o )

  3. judi
    September 5th, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    He looks like an American Bulldog to me….and how sweet he is….with his parts! We had an American Bulldog that looked so much like him! She was the sweetest….so be careful or he will worm his way right straight into your heart! Sorry that you have to deal with someone else’s bad behavior! Bless you for being so watchful over him!

  4. Carolynn
    September 5th, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Dammit. Damn irresponsible owners. I’ll hold out hope, along with you and your family, that someone who knows dogs and has no other animals at home, will bring this one home and love on him, as he deserves.

  5. tami
    September 5th, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    A wonderful, heartbreaking post. I can’t say anything that you haven’t thought of, written, or cried over I’m sure. This just breaks my heart. But I can’t fault you for your reasoning. I’d likely do the same. Put out as many feelers out there as possible. Vets, craigslist, perhaps see if the local paper might want to take your post and publish it. You might get some responses. Do your best to save a life. There’s lots of us out there who will take a dog like that. (I have one and I know what people think when they look at her.)

  6. Andrew
    September 5th, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    We will pitch in some money to help get him “fixed” if that makes things any easier to keep him or foster him until you can find a home for him. If everyone who reads your blog pitches in a few bucks, that’ll easily take care of that expense, and it will increase his chances of staying with you or eventually finding a good home.

  7. lin
    September 5th, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

    Can you please supply me with a happy ending to this story too?? You know, like Tina. This just makes me really sad–for him, for you, for the idiot owners who will probably get another dog, for that other dog……

    I hope this works out for him. I hate to see a good dog pay the price for bad humans. Not you, of course–those other fools. Thanks for helping him.

  8. sherry
    September 6th, 2012 @ 4:34 am

    In Alamane County there is a cheap spay/ neuter program offered for Pitt Bulls. I think it is through the Humane Society, but I’m not sure. He sure is pretty and friendly. The Alamance County dog pound would put him down as soon as he got there because of his breed. They don’t want people who fight dogs to adopt dogs like that who come in. So sad. I wish you could keep him. It’s obvious you and your kids love him.

  9. Sue
    September 10th, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    You could try to contact an American Bulldog rescue… they can often find foster homes for dogs at risk of euthanasia.
    http://americanbulldogrescue.org/

    Good luck!

    ~Sue

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