Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And Then There Were Three

This past Friday I was sitting outside Papa Joe's restaurant, at the base of the hill that leads to our neighborhood. A cute, friendly dog was running around the patio. I thought he belonged to some folks a few tables away.

Unless you have absolutely no powers of deduction, I'm sure you see where this story is headed.

Our dogs are currently in Montana with Jon and the house has been very quiet. I didn't check with Jon first because by now, he knows the deal with me and stray dogs. Firstly, they find me. Secondly, I somehow feel that it is my karmic duty to help them find good homes and I don't understand why more people don't feel the same sense of responsibility.

I got a piece of rope from our waiter, left my bike locked to the rack at the restaurant, and walked home with a stray dog. I stopped at our neighbors' house so that new dog could meet their exuberant black lab Eddie, as Eddie was going to be staying with me Saturday and Sunday. The dogs got along famously.

On Sunday, I took new dog to the vet to be scanned for a microchip (he had none) and then to our local pet store for their monthly low-cost vaccine clinic.

Monday morning, I found new dog's picture while flipping through the newspaper classified ads in the adopt-a-pet section:

I was almost certain that was a picture of new dog (tentatively named Gus the night before)! I called the number in the ad and when the woman answered, I said I was calling about the dog she had for adoption. There was a pause on the line. She sighed and then said, "well, unfortunately, he ran away a few days ago." I told her that I thought I had him and she commenced to tell me his story.

Turns out that her father Jim was working on an asbestos abatement project on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and new dog was hanging around the job site. Every day, they pulled up and he was always there waiting for their arrival. A couple of the guys got attached to him and one in particular, a guy named Ray, was going to take him back home to his place in Oklahoma. Well, Ray packed up his truck with barely enough room to spare so new dog dog sat in the front passenger seat. Ray got eight miles down the road and new dog somehow hit the electric window button and rolled the window down. Ray pulled over to remedy the situation and when he did, new dog jumped out and ran back towards the reservation. Ray called Jim who was still at the reservation and he ended up bringing the dog (they call him Red Rover) back to Boise in hopes of finding a good home for him.

Red Rover Gus escaped out of Jim's yard by jumping from a bench over the fence. Apparently, Jim was home for one day before leaving again for another job and Red Rover Gus got pretty stressed out by all of the change, hence his escape. Jim and I made plans for him to come by and pick up Red Rover Gus. He was headed back to Texas that evening, would see Ray again, and could try to hand off Red Rover Gus to Ray once again.

When Jim came by, Red Rover Gus was clearly excited to see him. We chatted for a while and I probed him about his plans. Was Ray a good guy? Did he think this was going to be a good home? Oh yes, he said, Ray and his wife have several acres in Oklahoma City with horses and other dogs. I could sense hesitation, though, and when I pressed a little, he said that he really wants to keep Red Rover Gus but his wife and family don't want him. He was hoping they would come around but he felt compelled to take Red Rover Gus to Ray since he didn't have time to rectify the escape route before he left that evening.

I offered to keep Red Rover Gus for a few days to give Jim additional time to think on it or work on his family. He agreed and said he would call when he returned on Saturday. If his family failed to come around, Jim would see Ray again later in the summer and we agreed that I should continue to try and find Gus a permanent home locally. When Jim left, Red Rover Gus was decidedly upset, whining and pacing for the remainder of the evening (except when I took him over to see Eddie for a play date, during which they both ran around like banshees).

Red Rover Gus is available for adoption, although I wish we could keep him. He's a really neat dog with good behavior and a calm disposition, sort of a playful but reserved Buddhist monk-type reincarnated in a dog body. A neighbor told me today that "res(ervation) dogs" are usually exceptional--generations of harsh social and living conditions means that only the smartest and strongest survive.

I've talked with several people in marketing Gus for adoption and so far everyone has said, "Oh no, I couldn't have a dog right now because of <insert reason here>." I know being a dog owner isn't for everyone and there are some that absolutely should not have pets. We will keep Gus until he finds a home: either with someone great or with us. He is proving to be a lovely dog with a kind disposition, sincere loyalty, and a unique history.

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