воскресенье, 3 марта 2013 г.

Throw-Away Dog

By Joyce Laird

The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind.
~Theodorus Gaza

Five years ago I had to do what every dog lover dreads the most, bring peace to a suffering friend and companion who had been at my side for eighteen years. My Lady Bear, a white Husky, could no longer walk, and at my age and with my arthritis I could no longer lift the large girl to carry her outside. I decided that after fifty years of dogs in my life, their lives were too short and mine was too long. Even though I figure I have about twenty years left, maybe more, and that would be about two dog lives, I was not going to get another and go through the pain of losing one again. But as the weeks turned into months, and even though I love my cats, I missed a dog around the house. My heart ached for Lady Bear. I missed the walks, the playing outside, the look of love in a dog's eyes when she looks up at you.
I started looking online and in the papers to see what a new pup would cost. I wanted either a Husky like Lady or maybe a Collie like my first two dogs. I'd always had big dogs. When I saw that breeders were asking three times my mortgage payment for a pup, it ended my search. I definitely could not afford it and even though my heart goes out to rescuing pets, I was loathe to try the animal shelter because any dog at my house had to get along with cats. I didn't want to bring one home, have a drama ensue, and then have to return the poor thing. So I simply stopped looking.

One morning, two years after Lady died, I heard a neighbor calling for help. There was a dog bothering her cat. I came out to help and found a Terrier-size dog sitting in her bushes with her cat. But the cat was not the one having the problem, the dog was. The dog was dancing around the cat and trying to lick the old Tom, who was not interested in being kissed by a dog. I grabbed the little dog to prevent him from losing an eye to the claws of the Tom, and took him to my yard until she could get the cat inside.

The neighbor suggested I turn the dog loose so he would find his way home. I hesitated but gave in. The dog seemed to be confused by his surroundings and started wandering in the street, obviously not used to traffic. He went from door to door in the neighborhood, scratching to be let in. People chased him away, and after I saw him almost hit by a UPS truck, I couldn't stand it and ran out and scooped him up. I brought him to the safety of my house and fenced-in yard.

The little dog was friendly and had obviously been raised with cats because he liked the neighbor's cat and wanted to snuggle up with mine when he came inside. I assumed he was a pet that had escaped from a local house because he was neutered and looked well fed, but he had no collar or ID. He found the cache of Lady's old toys immediately, pulled out several and started playing with them. It was as if he knew they were there waiting for him. I dismissed the thought that a greater force was at work.

I made signs and put them on the front fence and then proceeded to post them all around the neighborhood. I found an old puppy collar from one of my past dogs that fit him, hooked him up to a leash and started walking him for miles in different directions, asking everyone I saw if they knew the dog or his owners. No luck. This was no small task because the dog had no training and walking him was work. It was second nature for me to start training him as we walked, and I was surprised at how quickly he learned. At the park two blocks from my house a bunch of kids told me that they had seen a car pull up and toss the dog into the parking lot, and then drive away. Still I figured there was a chance that it was a mistake. The kids could be wrong. It might not be the same dog. It was summer and perhaps someone was on vacation and the dog got away. Maybe someone was dog sitting and the dog had accidentally slipped out through an open gate.

I took the dog to the vet and learned that he was a Puggle — half Pug and half Beagle — and about two years old. He had the coloring and was the size of a Beagle, but had the stocky build and the big round eyes of a Pug. He was a handsome little guy. I ran ads in both local and county newspapers in the "found" section, and posted online just in case he was lost by someone from another area. I had a few inquiries, but none was the right dog.

One day when I was talking about the dog with my neighbor from across the street, he said that I had done all that was humanly possible to find the dog's owners. He knew that I missed my Lady, and he said that God sent this little dog to me. The dog needed someone to love and I needed to mend a broken heart. By then, I had come to love the little guy. I named him Sparky because he came to me the week of the Fourth of July. That was three years ago. Today, he is my constant companion. He sleeps on my bed at night and only leaves my side to go out in the backyard. I have had great dogs in my life, dogs that I loved deeply and still miss, but my little "throw-away" dog has been the greatest gift I could ever receive at this stage of my life. I think we both found a way to heal our broken hearts when we came together.

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