I'm continuing the stories of how, for some reason, my neighbors have designated me as the person to go to when an animal is in need of help.
I'm awfully flattered by this and it definitely strokes my Farmgirl ego but I'm not really sure how it came about. You know half of knowing what you are talking about is acting like you know what you are talking about.
But honestly, you can make so many assumptions based on paying close attention and drawing logical conclusions. That's all I try to do.
Take the next case: Old Man
A couple weeks ago our building was visited by Old Man. A old and gray Golden Lab who had obviously been trained well enough but had somehow decided to roam around.
I had seen him before and come to find out, so had my neighbors. Last I'd seen him, he had hip displaysia (hip joints gone bad basically so his back legs looked bow-legged and his gait was uneven, drunken looking), a shaven spot on him and he was breathing like he'd just run a 20k race.
I gave him some food, which he ate readily, but being late at night there wasn't much else I could do so I prayed he'd be ok and find his way home then went inside. Sam did not approve of course and whined at Old Man, obviously wanting to say hi but I felt that was a bad idea.
And then, two weeks ago, Old Man was back and seemed much the worse for wear.
My neighbors had knocked on my door and apologetically explained that since I seemed to know how to deal with dogs (no doubt I can thank Sam for that compliment) would I come see this dog and figure out what to do?
So there was Old Man again, haggard, breathing very very heavily and restless, like he couldn't stand to sit still for even a moment. I thought he might die right here on our doorstep.
We brought him food, water, a fan to cool him off and I grabbed Sam's leash and collar and we kept Old Man from wandering off to buy us time to decide what to do.
Finally, after much discussion, it was decided we had to call Animal Control.
I know I know, Animal Control gets a bad rap but they truly do care about the animals and oftentimes they have after hours access to the local shelter to keep animals from getting hit on the road etc.
My neighbors wanted reassurances that nothing bad would happen to him and I had to be honest with them. While the local shelter is a no kill, their overflow goes to a different shelter that will euthanize animals but folks, I'm sorry, this Old Man was ready to go.
It's hard to accept death is part of life but this dog had already accepted it, we could learn from these pets of ours. I truly believe he was actually looking for a place to die and that was what had taken him out on a nightly prowl.
I thought to myself that if he was euthanized he would have a safe, noble death rather than be hit by a car. His owners didn't have tags on him and he wandered so much that it made me wonder how much they truly cared about him.
Sam has gotten loose many times. He's chipped and I've trained him to a crate so he will never get out when I don't want him to and put himself and others in danger.
The Animal Control officer was a nice man and he lifted Old Man up in to a small cubby in his truck and drove him away. In the morning, the shelter would have checked him for a microchip and he would have been held there for at least a week if no one called about him.
I think this was the happiest kind of ending that was possible in this case and while it is sad if he was put to sleep, I'm pretty sure that's what he would have wanted.
Animals don't romanticize death, they don't try to beat it, cheat it, ignore it or even acknowledge it when it is their time.
They don't even accept it. It just is.
I could definitely learn a thing or three from that Old Man.