Last night was…interesting. One of my roommates, Samantha, had gone to pick up pizza on account of how none of us felt up to cooking. I was in the living room watching TV when she got back, and I suddenly heard a startled yelp, the words, “No! No! Bad!” and a thumping noise. Naturally, I drew the conclusion that one or more of the pizzas had just hit the floor, and that Echo (the tuxedo cat who lives in the dining room–there’s a complicated detente among our household cats, with a bonded pair of girls who stick to the basement, a bonded pair of boys who stay in the living room, and Echo disdainfully scorning them all to stay in the dining room) was attempting to snack on the scattered remains.
Naturally concerned about the status of the evening’s dinner, I immediately made my way into the dining room to see Samantha holding all the pizzas, and Echo settled in her cat bed. “What happened?” I asked. “Oh, nothing much, she replied. “A stray dog came in behind me and was chasing Echo a little bit, and I shooed him out.”
Now, this is not a normal occurrence in our neighborhood. I don’t necessarily know if roving packs of feral dogs are normal occurrences in any American neighborhoods, but it was certainly a novel experience for me. But when I looked through the glass doors, sure enough, there was what looked to be a purebred Doberman Pinscher staring back at me as if to say, “Is this my house? I forget.”
It had a collar on, so I pulled on some winter gear (not that it was particularly cold, but it occurred to me that I might be happy to have some protection for my arms and hands just in case it wasn’t as friendly as it seemed) and went out to see if I could find a tag. As soon as I got outside, though, the dog scampered over to the driveway. It didn’t seem actually scared, just wary, so I walked over to it while trying to look as non-threatening as possible. (Which is pretty non-threatening. In fact, not to brag, but I got an A- in “Non Threatening Studies” at Body Language University.)
The dog clearly thought we were playing a game, because it started running long loops of my yard, the neighbor’s yard, the neighbor’s neighbor’s yard, across the street to see if the person who just came home was their owner, back over to me, back over to the yard…I was getting tired just watching him. I decided this may be a job for the professionals, and pulled out my smart phone to look up the number for Animal Control.
Animal Control was closed. So I called the police. They told me that Animal Control was closed, but that they’d file a report and see if anyone was missing a dog. I wasn’t really happy with this answer, because the dog was crossing the street multiple times and I was more than a little concerned about a car accident, but they didn’t seem inclined to do much more. But just as I was on the phone with the police, the dog decided it was bored with the game and wanted to go inside. It trotted back over to the door, and this time when I went over to it, it let me hook my hand inside the collar no questions asked.
No tag, though. Shit. I decided the best course of action was to stash the dog in the garage for the night, and call Animal Control again in the morning. (One thing I should interject here–I already knew that our city has a no-kill shelter. I would have taken very different actions if that hadn’t been the case.) So I led the dog over to the garage…and no dice. Wouldn’t go in. Practically yanked my shoulder off backing away. I got Samantha to get me some dog food (we’d fostered a dog a while back, and still had some leftover paraphernalia) and I tried to lure it in with that…and no dice. Even though it was a skinny thing, it wasn’t willing to be suckered with dry dog food.
So I took him into the house. I kept a hand on the collar in case he bolted after Echo, but he had no interest in the puffed up, growling cat with its back arched as tall as possible, apart from a few alert barks to warn us that a dangerous feline predator had infiltrated our home. Once he was in the light, I got a good look at him–he was skinny but not painfully so, and his fur was glossy, so he clearly either hadn’t been stray for long or was good at scavenging. Evidence pointed a bit to the latter, as he continued to ignore dog food but made several spirited sallies towards the garbage can that I’m still feeling today in my shoulder muscles. I was at this point acting as a human leash, keeping him restricted to a small circle of kitchen floor while we figured out our next move.
“Our next move” turned out to be introducing him to the whole family. One by one and in pairs, everyone came in to see the pooch, and he was thrilled to see all of them. No licking–he was clearly still a little nervous from the strange sights and smells–but he gave everyone a friendly sniff and let himself be petted. The only real sign he gave that he was even a little bit uncomfortable with it all was that he’d occasionally lean into me the way that big dogs do when they’re nervous and they want body contact to reassure them. We determined that he knew how to sit on command during the round of introductions, but he didn’t really want to do “stay”. He’d sit for a moment, then do some more lazy circles of the small area around my body and charge towards whatever looked most interesting until I managed to distract him with petting.
Finally, we got an old dog crate and dog bed set up in the garage, and made another attempt to settle him in there. (With a space heater going. It was unseasonably warm for Minnesota, but still chilly.) He was reluctant to go in, but finally the bribe of a whole can of chicken lured him to the crate and I was able to give my arms a rest. I looked up Animal Control again, to see if they had their hours posted…and lo and behold, there was a 24-hour “report a lost or found pet” number to call!
When I called, it connected me right back to the police. This time, though, with the animal in our hands, they said they’d be willing to send someone to the shelter to receive the dog. This was a good thing, as he’d responded to the dog crate and the absence of humans by wailing loudly in distress, and that wasn’t going to work as an overnight thing. We loaded the crate into the back of the station wagon, took him to the shelter, and deposited him there with some food and water. The officer took our contact information and promised to let us know what happened, and I was finally able to get to my pizza after only a two hour delay.
So if you happen to know anyone in the Bloomington, MN area who’s missing a Doberman Pinscher, feel free to let them know about this. And if you want to learn about my exciting new “Doberman Workout”, which works the shoulder and arm muscles rigorously to build strength and endurance, send check or money order to–
Too much? Too much.
UPDATE: The dog’s owners stopped by the shelter this afternoon to collect him (don’t know if they called to report a missing pet, or if the dog was microchipped, and don’t care so long as it worked out okay).