I’m a dog person. I’m a cat person, too, having grown up with/had both cats and dogs most of my life.
In fact, to be completely accurate, I’m an animal person. There are a bunny and a hamster (my daughter’s) living with me, at present. I don’t know that I’m madly in love with being a rodent-caretaker, but they’re pretty cute and I still talk with and baby them both as I tend to them. As a kid, I rescued and tended a little baby bird (unfortunately, my ministrations weren’t sufficient to keep him alive, but I was a dedicated worm-chopper/eye-drop feeder for that week); I “raised” a tadpole ’til he became a frog; I once even broke down in tears when my Mom smooshed a spider I’d decided was my “pet” (yeah, that was kind of weird.) You’ll be hard-pressed to pull me away from an opportunity to ooh, ahh, pet, or snuggle pretty much any animal. Sharks or alligators, maybe.
But above all of the rest of the cute, furry critters, and in my heart of hearts, I’m a dog person. I shared my heartache at the loss of my good boy Pringle here, in 2019.
Pringle’s loss was a gut punch, in multiple ways, and I still grieve. But it inspired me to start volunteering at the shelter from where I’d adopted him. (My colleague Andrew Malcolm wrote up a lovely piece on his own experience volunteering at a shelter just this past week.) Thus, most every Saturday morning, I’m up at 5:30 am and heading off to the shelter (a 40-minute drive) to tend to its residents. We take them out to potty and exercise, feed and water them, clean out their kennels and runs, and — most importantly — give them lots of love and treats. (If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’re treated to weekly “Saturday Floof” pics of my charges.)
As Andrew rightly noted in his own write-up, the dogs no doubt appreciate the care, but it’s me who’s really being tended to. For two or three hours every Saturday morning, the cacophony of culture wars on social media, the gloom and doom of the “news” on traditional media, and the stress from work and life in general are tuned out. I’m just walking dogs and wiping down their beds and cleaning up their messes and scratching their ears. And it’s helped my heart to heal and been good for my soul.
This morning was no different in that respect. We had eleven pups to tend to and all went fairly smoothly. The “new girl” had just been spayed and had a bit of tummy upset, so I alerted the volunteer coordinator and made a point to drop off a sample with the animal hospital up the road on my way out, just to be sure all was well.
Then, continuing on with my normal Saturday morning routine, I pulled into the McDonald’s to get a Diet Coke and hashbrown (because #healthy). As I pulled into the drive-thru line, suddenly, a beautiful husky bounded out of nowhere and began dancing between the cars in the drive-thru. She (I’m pretty sure it was a she) happily hopped up to a car with a small pup barking out the driver’s window, then weaved back through the cars, almost getting clipped as one pulled forward.
I threw my car in park and jumped out and called her to me. She’d run toward me but then dodge away. The last thing I wanted to do was play tag with a dog in the middle of a bunch of cars, but thankfully, she eventually ran over to a young woman who was able to catch hold of her collar. She asked if the dog was mine and noted there was no tag on the collar. I told her, no, but I’d throw her in my car to keep her safe until we could figure out whose she was. So, into my car Ms. Husky hopped, and I pulled over into a parking space. I got out and walked around, asking a couple of people if she was theirs or if they knew where she’d come from — to no avail.
Finally, I called the animal hospital to ask if they had any suggestions. They had me bring her over to them to see if she was chipped — unfortunately, she was not, though clearly, she was someone’s pet. (Both the collar and her super-friendly demeanor made that abundantly clear.) They suggested I try the local animal control number (which appeared to be closed as it was Saturday).
I really didn’t want to bring her home with me — I mean, I did, but from a practical standpoint, I didn’t. I knew her owners must be in the vicinity, while I live 40 minutes away. I’m not really set up to care for a dog at home at present (not to mention, there’s a rabbit and hamster) and I obviously didn’t know this dog’s history, needs, etc. So, I went back to the McDonald’s parking lot with her and scanned the area to see if anyone appeared to be looking for a dog. No luck.
I called the local police department and advised the dispatcher of the situation. She said she’d send an officer over to assist. She asked if the dog was friendly, just as Ms. Husky was showering me with kisses on my ear and the side of my face — she got a good chuckle out of overhearing that.
The officer arrived in about a minute. (This is a “small town” on the outskirts of the metropolitan area and I’m fairly certain things are pretty quiet there on Saturday mornings, from a law enforcement perspective.) The officer had a lead with him and threw it around Ms. Husky’s neck and escorted her over to his cruiser, assuring me they’d get her squared away. I’m fairly confident they will — this was a well-cared-for dog with a collar on. I expect her people were already in search of her and will soon be reunited with her if they haven’t been already.
In any event, it felt a bit like I was in the right place at the right time this morning. I got to have a little adventure and hopefully help a pup stay safe and get back to her rightful owners. And yes, I then topped it off with a Diet Coke and a hashbrown.