Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Doing the right thing

My day has been completely monopolized by just one thing: doing the right thing by a stray dog my husband found this morning.

Found dog: Yellow lab mix

Michael was walking Grace, our white shepherd, at a local park when this young yellow lab mix ran up to them. He seemed friendly and walked with them for a few minutes, then ran up to the next person he saw with a dog. He and the woman realized the dog was stray, and decided to catch him. In the end, it took four people to catch him — despite being friendly, he was a bit skittish, probably because he was scared.

Of course, he is young — perhaps a year — and intact. Probably he's experiencing his first real rush of hormones and ran off to look for a good lay. He's also skinny — not starved, but his ribs and hip bones stick out more than they should — and almost completely untrained. Yet he has clipped nails. His owners went to the trouble to clip his nails, but they can't feed, train, or neuter him? This stinks to me of white trash...

So my day has been spent trying to decide what to do with this dog, whom I've been calling Charlie. (He already answers to it, too — he is ridiculously smart!) I started out thinking that maybe we could keep him, but quickly realized he is probably too much dog for our already-full household. Primarily this is because he is an escape artist, and quite adept at scaling our chain-link fence. I had to chase him down and bring him back three times this morning before I learned I had to keep him inside — no exceptions! He also figured out how to open the storm door on our back door within 10 minutes of being inside the house, so I've had to be careful about that too.

The law in Denver dictates that all dogs and cats must be neutered unless the owners have a breeding license. Even if it weren't for that, though, one of my biggest issues has been the thought of giving him back to his owner still intact. It's against my morals. So I was really hoping we wouldn't be able to find his owners, but I wasn't sure what to do with him if my wish came true (which, so far, it has).

I called my favorite no-kill shelter, only to be told they were full. We took him to a local vet to have him scanned for a microchip, but he's not chipped. We also drove around the neighborhood where we found him, looking for signs and putting up a few of our own. I called animal control, but I worry that because he's nervous, a bit mouthy, and lacks training, he'll be labeled as aggressive in a big, busy shelter. Finally I called my favorite shelter back, and was told I could bring him in tomorrow, as they have a kennel opening up after all.

So we've at least found him a decent place to go. Whether or not his owners show up (which I suspect they won't), he'll be neutered before the shelter releases him. Also, this shelter has a stringent application process to ensure he goes to a really good home.

But now that we've found him a place to go, I'm wishing again that we could keep him. His personality has changed dramatically since this morning — he went from being skittish and aloof to affectionate and sweet. I suspect he's not used to being around people or inside the house, but he's taking to it quite well. He's also learning to recognize some commands as well as his new name.

If only we didn't have a small house, a low fence, a cat who is easily upset, and two big dogs who already keep all four of our combined hands busy on a walk!



At August 5, 2009 at 9:42 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

No reason to feel guilty for not being able to keep him. You set him up for a good future. If I took in every stray animal I found, I'd be living in a great big pile of $#!+.

My mother once found a big black lab running around a highway out in the middle of nowhere. Someone had obviously dumped him, because there was no town for miles. She brought him to my place temporarily. We had to go out for an hour, so we locked him inside, and he instantly busted out through a screen on our window, but not without first shredding everything in our house. Male Labs are especially destructive when they come of age, even when they are neutered.

At August 5, 2009 at 11:24 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...


I hear ya about not being able to take them all in. My in-laws don't have much restraint in that area, and they are drowning in pets as a result. I do wish we could keep this guy, though, even if he is intensely frustrating (mainly because of his escape instinct).

As for labs being destructive, I imagine it depends a lot on the individual animal's personality. I've known a lot of families who have male labs, and never known one to be especially destructive. I imagine the one you found probably panicked at being trapped in an unfamiliar place. After all, he'd have no way of knowing you were trying to help him, or that you'd be back in an hour. We've been taking Charlie everywhere with us today for that reason.


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