The garage door opened. I unlocked my bike and rolled it outside. Philip looked across the street and said, “There’s a dog over there. I hope he hasn’t been thrown out.”
The dog saw us too. He came, bouncing full speed. An energetic young man, cheerful in the welcome. Blond, with the typical black mask markings of a German Shepherd. Maybe 40 pounds. Slender but not skinny, crisp white teeth, tidy short coat, no bruises or abrasions.
What he didn’t have was apparent training. Requests to “sit down”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/oct/09/the-futures-of-blondie-and-the-pit-bull/ “get down” and “stay ” have gone ignored. He was not wearing a collar. Blondie escaped from a yard or was released.
This is not the first time we have encountered stray dogs in the neighborhood. Not so long ago, a cute pit bull mix with gorgeous green eyes walked into our driveway. She was alarmingly thin and had scratches on the tops of her ears, but didn’t seem suspicious of humans.
So we did the same for both: picked up a big bowl of kibble and a bowl of water, then escorted each renegade to the fenced dog park near our house. Each dog ate hungrily (the pitty was especially grateful), gulped water, then frolicked happily around us, seemingly unfazed by what appeared to be precarious circumstances.
Now what? We couldn’t bring either dog into our house, which is already occupied by two feisty, aging little terriers who in the past have been taken for prey by larger dogs. We have a 200 square foot dog playpen at the side of the house, but it cannot be seen from the street, which would not be helpful in the unlikely event of a restless owner looking for their lost pet.
Leaving Blondie alone in the dog park was not an option because as we closed the door and tried to cross the street he started yelping. He may have been dumped, but he doesn’t appear to have been abused. He wanted to be around people.
Fortunately, we are fortunate to have the services of North Little Rock Animal Control and Shelter. In each case, Philip asked Siri to call the shelter. A member of staff responded immediately, got information on where we were and what type of animal we had encountered, and within minutes dispatched a wonderfully empathetic driver and truck to pick up every miscreant.
The young man who arrived at this time knew his business; he immediately observed, “That’s a happy pup”, and Blondie obliged, rushing exuberantly towards him. He hugged the youngster as we talked to him about feeding, watering and entertaining the animated creature, and describing how he had come to our attention.
“I think he’ll be able to find a home,” I ventured shyly.
“Oh yeah,” said the shelter worker. “He’ll be fine.”
And they left.
I guess I understand why people find themselves in situations where they can no longer care for a pet. They may lose their job, get divorced, move into a rental property that doesn’t allow pets, have a baby, develop allergies or health issues. Maybe they just can’t cope with an animal that came to them as a cute little furball and matured into an unruly 60-pound powerhouse causing disruption and mayhem.
Maybe they neglected to neuter an adopted dog and find themselves dealing with an unwanted litter of puppies with their mother. The list continues.
But there’s no excuse for leaving them to fend for themselves. Shelters are often at or near capacity when it comes to providing care for homeless animals, but hey, you can at least try to make sure the dog has a fighting chance for a new life.
North Little Rock Animal Control ensures the health and welfare of residents and animals within city limits by caring for abandoned animals and preventing potentially dangerous wildlife-human interactions.
The facility responds to an average of 500 service calls each month and adopts an average of 600 pets each year, finding new homes nationwide through animal adoptions and rescues.
Obviously, there are a lot of animals they don’t adopt.
We don’t like to think too much about math; we know we can’t help all stray animals. But we try to help those we can. Several years ago, when we lived west of Little Rock, we took in a mix of stray Irish setters, an affable, hardy dog who, for reasons hard to articulate now, reminded us of a former governor of ‘Arkansas.
The Little Rock facility was packed, so we colluded, with the help of a co-worker who lived near a shelter that only served that co-worker’s town, to place Jim Guy there, where he would be in security.
Obviously, this is not something we recommend; if everyone used subterfuge to get strays into shelters, it would disrupt an already overburdened animal control system. But Jim Guy was a special dog and he deserved a chance to find his family.
But then Blondie and the Pitty too. So do what you can to help a dog that seems to be alone. As Homeland Security recommends, if you see something, say something. So do something.
Karen Martin is the editor of Perspective.[email protected]