I’m not a dog person. This doesn’t mean I dislike dogs. I’m rather fond of some of my friends’ dogs. I would just never choose to have a dog myself. I don’t have a “dog” personality. Yes, I’m a cat person. Also, I wouldn’t want to take on the very big responsibility and commitment it takes to have a dog.
Despite not being a dog person, I still find myself in the odd position of occasionally coming across lost doggies wandering in some neighborhood, and jumping in to help that dog find its way home. If I don’t care about dogs, why do I do this? Well, I know how devastated I’d be if our cat disappeared. I also know my dog owner friends would feel likewise if they felt they the canine member of their family had run off.
I also understand that even the most conscientious dog owners can wind up dealing with a runaway Fido, even after installing all the reasonable safeguards in their homes and properties. Some dogs just have big cases of wanderlust, right, and they manage to find their way over, under, or around fences.
Bad, bad dogs, huh?
I’ve generally had a good, easy time getting lost dogs back to owner. The only time I actually spent a day or so babysitting a lost dog was back when my son was 2, I was a stay at home mom, and we lived in a small town up north. A very pretty black lab wandered through the forest into our back yard. Unfortunately, he had lost his tags along the way. I was in the situation, being at home, and we had the space in our house to let the dog stay, while waiting for the owners to check in with the town police department and come across my found dog report.
My son and I briefly got attached the the lab he named “Bobby,” and my husband, who has fond memories of the black lab his grandparents had when he was a kid, contemplated that we might end up having to adopt him.
In most of my other found dog situations, the dogs had tags, and I was able to call the owners’ numbers and connect with them almost immediately. I didn’t have to deal with reporting the dog lost or taking it to the county’s animal services shelter.
Well, yesterday, I had the frustrating experience of picking up a sweet lost beagle (not the one pictured here), and not being able to reach his owners for hours. It was actually one of those days where I was feeling a bit frazzled, from not sleeping much all week with my Moon Mania. Then I had been up much of the night trying to finish a work project, and I was looking forward to putting the finishing touches on said project yesterday afternoon.
But at around 1 p.m., while driving back to work after dropping my son off from school, I came across the poor wandering beagle.
I stopped my car, called the dog to me, and he came. He was friendly, sweet, obviously well cared for. His tag said his name was “Cody.” I called the number and reached what sounded like the voicemail for a home number.
People, a home phone number in this situation, and in this day, is rather useless. That’s because most people aren’t at home during the day; they are out shopping, picking up the kids from school, at work, or out of town. Or they aren’t picking up their phones if they are at home, because they don’t want to deal with telemarketers.
There was an address on the dog’s tags, but the street did not sound familiar to me. I noticed, just up the street, a U.S. postal truck. The dog happily hopped into my car, and I drove up to the truck. I asked the nice female postal worker if she knew the address. After all, this was her “beat.” It didn’t ring a bell to her, and, it turned out, she lived in the neighborhood. She called back to her office, and someone there tried, but failed, to find the street name in their database. She admitted that she had seen the beagle out in the neighborhood a couple hours earler.
Okay, I had to get back to work… I couldn’t take Cody home, and I couldn’t keep him for a few days. I was going out of town first thing Saturday for a work trip. … I put Cody in my car, drove to my office, left the windows cracked open, left him in the car, and ran in to do my own search of his address, and to call around to see what my options were. Of course, he started to wail as soon as I left him alone in the car.
Still no answer at his owners’ house. Like me, some co-workers were worried that if I called Contra Costa County Animal Services to come get him, he’d wind up at risk of being euthanized in a few days if his owners didn’t claim him. As it happens, the worker I reached at Animals Services said they were so understaffed and so overwhelmed with service calls that they couldn’t come out to get him anyway; I’d have to bring him to their office, unless I could keep him myself?
So, I took him out to the shelter out by the Interstate 680/Highway 4 intersection. It’s actually a nice, newer building, and the staff there were really friendly and welcoming to Cody. They looked more carefully at his tags and found that they were old, from 2005. Their records showed a different address for the owners than the one on his tag. And on a street that, Google maps showed, was way the hell on the other side of Walnut Creek. Several miles. Could Cody have wandered that far to the place I found him? How long had he been missing?
The county’s records also showed two different phone numbers. One was disconnected. But the other got me through to a voicemail that presumably belonged to the owner. Maybe a work number. Maybe a cell phone. I called and left yet another message.
I said good-bye to Cody and hoped for the best.
I got back to the office, but was too frazzled by the misadventures with Cody and concern about his well-being to get much more work done. I had spent nearly three hours dealing with poor Cody. I was also thinking how I had to get home, pack, and get ready to leave on a trip first thing Saturday morning.
My husband, son, and I were enjoying at dinner at Le Cheval when my cell phone rang. It was about 7 p.m. It was Cody’s “mom.” “You called several times?” she said. I explained I had found Cody wandering in this particular neighborhood, tried to reach her, and ended up having to take him to the shelter.
“He’s such an escape artist!” she said, with a nervous laugh.
“Well, thanks for your trouble,” she said before hanging up.
I didn’t really care about getting her thanks. Frankly, I was annoyed. Sure, I had lost some valuable work time dealing with her dog, but I would have done it anyway. What annoyed me is that, for her “escape artist,” she had outdated tags and old or not very useful contact information on his licensing information
I mean, six hours went by before she finally got back to me!
I thought that, for some dog owners, their dogs are like members of their family. Isn’t that right? I couldn’t stand finding out that a valued member of my family had been missing for six hours, and I didn’t know about it. With my son, there is all sorts of contact information on file at his school, or when he goes on a field trip. Yes, his home number is included in that contact information, but that would be mostly useless. That file has work numbers and cell phone numbers for me and his father, as well as phone numbers for other relatives.
I’m not saying Cody’s tag needed to carry all his owners various contact numbers. But it would have been nice if it had contained that one phone number where his owner could be reached immediately–not six hours later.