Saturday, February 2, 2008


Every so often I drop by the local animal shelter to look at the dogs they have there. And no, I’m not looking for another dog to adopt. So the fact that I walk by rows and rows of caged dogs without any real intention of taking them home makes me sound a little sadistic. But truth is I’m curious.

A few weeks ago, I was out walking my dogs in the evening when I noticed a dog walking down the other side of the road. I assumed its owner was probably jogging or walking some distance behind it. Then all of a sudden, right before my eyes, the dog dashed smack into the middle of the road, into the way of oncoming traffic. Panic stricken, I searched frantically up and down the street for its owner. It was then that I realized that the dog didn’t have an owner – it was a stray.

Screeech! A car slammed hard on its brakes, then swerved around the dog and continued down the street. A few other cars zoomed by, honking loudly at the dog, without even bothering to check up on it. Perhaps they too, like me, had assumed that its owner was somewhere close by. The poor dog, terrified by the cars zooming past it, scurried back into some bushes along the side of the road.

I hurried back to my apartment, just a short distance down the street and locked my dogs up, all the while stuffing dog treats and a spare nylon leash into my pockets. Sure enough, when I rushed back to the spot where I last saw it, the stray dog was still there, hiding in the bushes, shaking with fear. “It’s okay, sweetie”, I coaxed it softly, stretching out the dog treats in my hands. But to no avail. It was just too terrified and dashed around wildly from one bush to another. Soon a crowd of people had gathered around, asking who the dog belonged to. Everyone took turns, cooing softly at the dog, trying to get it to come toward them but all the noise just scared the dog even more and it dashed once again into the path of oncoming traffic in an attempt to get to a “safe” place. The crowd gasped as a car once more screeched its brakes and swerved around the dog, zooming past it down the street. As the dog stood frozen in the middle of traffic, someone grabbed the leash out of my hands and managed to put it around the dog, leading it back to the safety of curb of the road.

Amidst the confusion that ensued next, I somehow wound up with the dog, while the rest of the crowd dissipated back to their separate ways. I walked back to my apartment with the dog. ‘It’ turned out to be a ‘she’. And she looked up at me with her big, brown, sad eyes, not knowing what to make of me. Was I someone to be trusted or should she put up a struggle? I petted her head and scratched her chin, talking to her, and trying to put her at ease. But she was still skittish and very unsure around me. Back at home, I offered her some dog food and water. She sniffed hungrily at the dog food and gingerly moved toward it, before scooting back in fear toward the door, deciding she still didn’t trust me enough to eat anything I had offered her, no matter how hungry she was.

After tying her leash around the leg of a table and leaving the food and water in front of her just in case she decided to eat, I dug through the yellow pages searching for a local humane society. Several wrong numbers later, I tried the last phone number on my list. A quick glance at the clock showed exactly five in the evening, and I hoped beyond all hopes that they were still open for the evening. Miraculously, someone answered the phone on the first try. I explained the situation, and thankfully, someone promised to come over to pick the dog up within the next half an hour.

The whole time I was on the phone, Lucky (what better name for a dog who had survived this ordeal?) eyed me suspiciously. I hung up the phone, and knelt down on the floor beside her. She was clearly hungry yet too distrustful of me to eat. As I petted her and ran my fingers through her long, matted hair, I wondered how she had ended up on the streets. Did she once belong to someone who had cared for her? Had she just run away from home? Why hadn’t they put a tag on her if they really cared about her? Why wasn’t someone looking for her? Did someone just dump her on the streets because they no longer wanted to care for a dog? Did she know her way back home? Did she in her doggy little head wonder where her owners were? Or what she had done to be left out on the streets? Did she miss them? All sorts of questions ran through my head. And then all of a sudden, she nuzzled close to me, laying her head down on my lap and letting out a big sigh.

Just then my phone rang. It was the humane society – they were just a short distance away and wanted me to meet them with the dog at the entrance to my apartment block. So I gently pushed Lucky’s head out of my lap, got up and clapped my hands, “Come on, Lucky…let’s go…walk?” Clearly, all words she had heard before, because her ears perked up at the prospect of a walk as we clambered out of the door. As we waited out in the streets in the frigid weather, I wondered what would have become of her had I or someone else not seen her on the streets. Would she have made it through the cold, winter night? I realized she still hadn’t eaten anything yet, and I remembered the doggie treats in my pockets. I extended them out to her yet again. This time, she finally took a bite, and then ate ravenously out of my hands. I emptied out all the treats I had on me, and she ate them voraciously – she had clearly been hungry all along. She finished them all and started to lick my hands. She has just begun to trust me, when the humane society minivan arrived.

What ensued next is the worst memory I have of the entire evening. As soon as the man got out of the car and opened up a crate in the back of the minivan, Lucky seemed to know exactly what was going to happen next. As the man coaxed her to come toward him, she dashed behind my legs, yelping and looking up at me with the most betrayed look on her face. I felt like a horrible person inside – a conspirator in some hideous disgusting crime. She was just starting to build trust in me, and I already betrayed her. She put up a struggle, all the while yelping and whining and trying to hide behind my legs. Finally, the man managed to grab hold of her and shoved her into the crate in the minivan. As he slammed the door shut, I heard her barking and whining loudly inside. The last memory I have of her is her face as the door shut behind her – her panic stricken, frightened eyes looked like they just lost all faith in humanity.

Do you know what I hate the most about the entire ordeal? The fact that I don’t know how this story ends. I don’t know if it has a happy ending. I don’t know if Lucky ever found her owner. Or if she has a new home. Or if she’s still in a shelter somewhere waiting to be adopted. Or whether she was euthanized because she just wasn’t "adoptable" and the shelter didn’t have enough space or time to give to her. I hate the not knowing how it ends….and it haunts me.

I peak into rows and rows of caged dogs in the shelter because I’m curious. I wonder if I’ll see Lucky again. I wonder what became of her.

~vagabond~ © 2008

Disclaimer: I do not by any means claim ownership to the photo used in the blog above. The dog in the photo is not "Lucky". I simply searched around google images and came across this photo of a dog that looks remarkably similar to Lucky.


trisha said...

euthanize, they delete it?! humane in a way shows they care enough not to let it wander, but also who are we to decide such things? found this at last...can relate to ur apprehension and anxiety completely. We have had generations of pariah dogs breeding in our unused garage back home, mum actually had the grill cut n smoothened so the puppies didnt get hurt climbing in and out while sheltering there during bad weather and use it as home during night.they were included whn meals were sure Lucky's alive n well somewhere. A hug for you tho.

~vagabond~ said...

Yup. Sadly enough not all humane societies have a no-kill policy. While they do take the dog off the streets, if noone adopts the dog or the chances of adoption dont look too good for a dog, and the shelter is cramped for space, then some "humane" societies will euthanize the dog to create space for some other dogs that have a higher chance of adoption. Sad reality.