>Because It's What We Do

>I’m a little sad today. It is good news, actually. The dogs that we rescued the day before Thanksgiving have been returned to their “parents.” They stayed at our house for almost a week, though, and it is impossible not to start to love them in that amount of time. So I’m sad. Here’s the story:

Last Wednesday (the 24th) was a huge day. So much to do, I took a half day off from work to do it. The day before the Turkey Trot (the 5k race we put on in Palm Desert), there were many last minute preparations to attend to, including picking up the U-Haul truck we use to carry tables, chairs, cones, sound system, etc. for the race. Also on the agenda was shopping for Thanksgiving and hopefully getting a few things prepped. I wanted to do some last minute cleaning before my family arrived. And, finally, I had promised to sit with my grandsons while their mother did her Thanksgiving shopping. Since I had prevailed upon her to host not only Alan and myself for dinner, but my sons, my niece, and my future daughter-in-law, it was the least I could do.

As soon as I got home from work, Alan and I left to pick up the truck. It was about noon and while we were waiting for the truck to be brought to us, two little dogs wandered up. No collars (of course). At first we thought that they were the “U-Haul dogs,” that someone brought to work with them. So we asked. No such luck.

They were very friendly, relatively clean and groomed dogs. A poodle and a Maltese. They weren’t scared at all, in fact, they came right up to us. When we put them down though, they seemed to be heading right toward Highway 111, which is always loaded with traffic. No way could we let that happen.

So I brought them over to my car. I tried to give them some water, but they didn’t seem to be thirsty. So, what to do? Well, if you’ve read this blog and if you know me (and Alan especially) you know that I put those two little dogs in my car (Alan took the truck and headed on to pick up stuff). There was a neighborhood behind the U-Haul place where I hoped I’d find someone who would recognize the dogs.

First off, I climb into the car and both dogs crawl up on my lap. Cute, but that’s not going to happen. I moved them to the passenger seat, where they promptly lay down and cuddled together. I’m thinking, “Please, please, let me find their owners. I’ve got so much to do today!”

I drove around the neighborhood, which looked like government-assistance apartments (which did not take pets according to someone I spoke to), plus some single family homes farther back in the area. I asked the few people I saw, but no one claimed to recognize the dogs.

Now what? I wasn’t going to take them to the shelter, no way, no how. So I took them with me. First off, I needed a couple leashes and collars. I went back to my house, left the dogs in the car while I went in to grab two leashes (and endured my dogs sniffing me up and down–I’m sure they figured out the whole story). I had a couple choke chains that we don’t use, but they were huge. Next stop: Walgreens, where I bought two collars. Yeah, well….

I was heading over to my daughter-in-laws for grandkid-duty, so I brought the dogs along with me. I needed something to call them so I named the poodle (who was an apricot color) Peaches and the Maltese, Misty. The boys were, of course, happy to see the dogs. And Misty and Peaches were very well behaved. They walked well on their leashes, seemed to be house broken. They wanted to sit on my lap, pretty much all the time.

I ended up spending the rest of the day there. I had brought some of my dog food with me when I stopped at my house, but the dogs didn’t seem interested in my vegetarian chow offering. When I finally left about 7:00, I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish of what I intended, but I did stop by Henry’s to pick up some vegan marshmallows (necessary for my sweet potato casserole, in my humble opinion). I was afraid they’d be closed on Thanksgiving, and that is not an item you will find at your neighborhood Ralph’s.

Next came the doggy introductions. It was 7:30, we were tired, stressed, and cold. We usually do the “neutral turf” intro, bring the dogs outside, one by one, to meet the newcomers. Not this time. Alan carried one, I carried the other. We walked into the house, holding them above the fray until our dogs had calmed down somewhat. Actually, it went very well. A few growls, a few snaps, a few “what, again?” looks, but our dogs seemed to welcome Peaches and Misty into their pack. They even allowed them to join us on the bed that night, Peaches sleeping on my pillow, Misty cuddled up against my side.

Thanksgiving dawns very early in our household. Alan is up at 2:00 am, so he can be out setting up the race course by 3:00. I’m up at 3:30 so I can be there by 5:00. In spite of the apparently welcoming attitude of our dogs, I was a little concerned about leaving the new ones at home, so, along with the registration materials, prizes, medals, an
d other miscellany, I loaded up Peaches and Misty and headed over to El Paseo for the Turkey Trot.

Here I will give thanks to the daughter of one our our volunteers. When they arrived, I told Maya that the most important job of the day was to care for Misty and Peaches during the race. While I whipped around working the race, Maya and the dogs played, walked, and bonded. By the time the race was over, she was wishing she could take them home and I think they were wishing the same thing.

Over the course of the next several days, the dogs merged into our pack. We changed their names to Molly (formerly Misty) and Dolly (formerly Peaches). They still slept on my pillow. They learned to use the doggy door. Our morning walk was quite a sight to see. I had to work on Friday, then Saturday we were so exhausted that we accomplished nothing. Sunday, however, we finally made up some posters with pictures and headed back to the Indio neighborhood where we had found the dogs.

Monday went by with no word. We discussed what we were going to do if no one called. As Alan said, six dogs is one thing, but eight dogs sounds like you are a little crazy. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, we got the call. The man had left the dogs with his mother for just a little while. His wife was furious. His children were heartbroken. We believed that this was true because we knew how sweet and loving his dogs were. He came over right away to pick them up, received a stern lecture about collars and tags from Alan (you know, if they had tags you would have had then back in 15 minutes!). I gave them the collars that I had purchased. They were very happy to see their people, but I think I saw a little wistful look from Molly.

We know we did the right thing, both rescuing the dogs, then returning them to their home, but we still have this little sad feeling inside.

Most of our friends, even those who know us well, wonder why we would go so far out of our way to rescue stray dogs. I guess the only answer is, “It’s what we do.” And, it’s who we are:  We Call Him the Dog Rescuer, Olivia. Lily or Here We Go Again, Our Pet Family.

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