Justin and I went out for our afternoon run a little after noon. I mentioned as we were getting our shoes on that I’m getting really tired of running in circles and Justin asked if I’d like to go back upstairs and plot a route that would take us around the neighborhood. I said that I’d rather not today because I wasn’t feeling very well and I wasn’t confident about my ability to finish the whole almost three miles. I’d rather not wind up 1½ miles away from home and be totally wiped. So we went off down to run laps around the pool like normal.
We normally run in the dark. Saturdays are the only days when we run in the daylight. And there are lots of squirrels in that area and other small critters, so when we’re running, there are always things making noise in the underbrush and leaves off to the side. You just learn to ignore it after a while. But one lap, I looked around to see if I could identify what it was making all the noise. And I saw a little brown dog sniffing around in the leaves. I thought, “Huh. Must be someone’s pet that got loose or a stray in the neighborhood.” Nothing too unusual.
The next time around the loop, I looked for the dog again and I noticed that it hadn’t moved from where it was last time. And I wondered what it had found that was so interesting, so I stopped to look more carefully.
And that’s when I noticed that the dog was tied to a small tree. It was a little Chihuahua with a short leash wrapped around its neck and the other end tied to a sapling. There was a Tupperware bowl with a little dry dog food off on the other side of a tree, but it looked like it might be too far away for the dog to reach. And there was no water.
I stepped closer to the dog and it started barking at me a lot. Nothing too violent, not snarling or baring his teeth (I could see up closer that the dog was male), but enough that I was nervous that he was going to bite me if I got too close, just out of nervousness and anxiety. When I got closer, I could also see that the poor thing was nearly all bones. Every single rib was clearly defined through his fur. All the bones on his hips and his legs and across his back, were all clearly identifiable through his fur. He was nearly a skeleton.
I stepped back to wait for Justin to come around the loop to where I was hunkered in the path, looking at the dog. The dog calmed down when I backed away and just stood there looking at me. Shaking like a leaf. Justin came jogging up and asked what was wrong and I pointed at the dog. He was as surprised as I had been that we hadn’t noticed him earlier in our run, but there are always so many things making noise that we just never look anymore. I asked Justin what we should do and we spent some time talking about our options. I told him that I really didn’t want to leave him in the woods. When I was out running errands last Friday, I picked up a pamphlet for Maranatha Farm, an animal rescue group who takes in abused and abandoned animals and gets them fixed up and out for adoption to good homes. I wanted to call them and see if they would take him. If we could get him back to the house.
I asked Justin to give me his shirt so I could put it over the dog and keep him from biting me. As I walked up to him, he started barking again, but backed away from me. When I got close enough that I could untie the end of his leash from the tree, he calmed down immediately. I gave Justin back his shirt and we walked out from the woods and back toward the house. Justin ran ahead to find some dog food that was left when his mom’s dog was visiting and a bowl of water. The dog and I followed more slowly so he could stop at every puddle and lap up some water. And try to pee on mailboxes. Apparently male dogs are all the same, even when they’re totally malnourished and dehydrated.
Back at the house, we attached his leash to the table on the back porch and let him drink the water and eat the food Justin had put out for him. He drank a full dish and a half of water and a whole can of wet food. For a little tiny dog, that was really impressive. I’m not sure where he stored it all. I called up Maranatha and asked if they could help us. Their base is actually about 45 minutes from where we live, but the woman I talked with on the phone told me that they were out at the PetCo in Bluffton doing adoptions until 5:00, just 15 minutes from our house.
The dog was still shivering something awful, but he was getting more energetic. The food and water really helped. Justin went up into the attic and pulled down a dog box that we have for his mom’s dog and we went out to the car. I sat in the back with the dog in the carrier and Justin drove us to PetCo, where I handed him over to some really wonderful people. They “oooh”ed and “aaaw”ed and “poor puppy”ed and said they’d take good care of him. When we drove away, one of the women had him wrapped up in a blanket on her lap.
The Maranatha people will take good care of him. They have a lot of experience in this thing, it sounds like. I trust them. I feel really good about handing the dog over to them.
I also feel very angry at whoever it was who tied him up in the woods like that. If you don’t have the time or money or resources to care for a dog, then you don’t deserve to have one. And if you can’t care for a dog, you don’t just tie it up with a little food and pretend that it’ll be just fine. You find someone else to take care of it. We keep wondering if someone’s going to come back and find out that we’ve taken their dog and I’m tempted to leave them a scathing note telling them what I think about how they were treating the dog. That they don’t deserve to keep a pet if this is the way that they “care” for him.
At least it doesn’t seem like he was abused, which is a small consolation. It’ll be easier to find him a home when he doesn’t have that hurt to get over. He’ll put on weight quickly at the Farm, they’ll make sure he’s healthy and neutered, and then they’ll make sure he finds a good home. And he’s adorable! Who doesn’t like small, perpetually puppy-like dogs?
One of these days we’ll have resources enough to have a dog of our own. It was kind of nice remembering what that would feel like, walking back from the pool track to the house. But I feel really good about handing him over to the Maranatha folks. They’ll take excellent care of him. I think I might drive up there next Friday to check out their facilities and see if I can say hello to him.