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- Animal Care & Safety
My Dog Day Afternoon Adventure
Florence for a Nightengale
There are two types of people in the world: Those who will do anything to help an animal in distress, and those who won’t.
My career as an animal rescuer started when I found a baby bird who’d fallen out of its nest. Since this was decades before the internet, I had no idea how to care for a wild bird. I did, however, have an overwhelming maternal instinct to save it.
I have a vague recollection of mixing up some baby food (probably Gerber rice cereal, which was a personal fave long after we had any infants in the house). I emptied an old shoe box and gently put the bird in, along with the dish of cereal.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Yep. By the time I woke up the next morning, eager to take my new little pet to school for show-and-tell, he’d suffered an unspeakable fate. I found him encrusted with cereal, beak-first in the bowl.
Now you might think that after so inauspicious a beginning I would recognize my limitations. Instead, I grew up and married an even bigger animal lover
One fine Sunday morning Hubby and I were coming back from a weekend in picturesque Nevada City, California. On our way out of town we stopped to gas up. The gas station was at the intersection of two city streets and not one, but two busy highways.
As Hubby tended to the nozzle, he looked up to see a spirited Jack Russell Terrier trotting toward him. Now, I’ve never met an animal that didn’t take to Hubby immediately. This one took it a paw further. As Hubby greeted him with, “Hi there, Buddy, where’d you come from?” the dog put his front paws up on Hubby’s leg and jumped right into his arms.
Hubby called to me, “I think this dog’s lost. We can’t just leave him here.” He got no argument from me. I’m a sucker for terriers. No argument from him, either. The little guy hopped in the car as if he’d been waiting for the MM and Hubby taxi service. Unfortunately, being a dog, he couldn’t tell us where he wanted to go.
We spent the next hour canvassing the neighborhood, asking everyone we saw if they recognized the dog. Like detectives following a series of blind leads, we talked to people who pointed us toward other people who ended up knowing nothing .
Meanwhile, this sparky little canine was rapidly working his way into our affections. As we drove, he stood on my thighs with his front paws on the dashboard or passenger window. He sure did make a streaky mess! And every once in awhile he let out an adorable doggy yawn.
I should mention that before we set off on this wild owner chase we did check his collar for an ID tag. No such luck.
But he was wearing a collar – a Harley Davidson black leather collar. This prompted us to name him “Scooter.”
Little Scooter seemed to like his name. He seemed to like his new friends. He was perfectly content riding around in the car with us. But being pet owners ourselves, we knew that somewhere a Harley lover was missing his (or her) dog, probably worried as hell.
Our next idea was to take Scooter to the local animal shelter. We were able to find it, but guess what? It was Sunday and the shelter was closed. We asked a passerby if they had any suggestions. They pointed us toward an SPCA facility in town. The good news, it was open. The bad news, it’s a thrift shop only, no animal rescue services. Back to square one.
No one yawns like a Scooter dog!
We noticed that Scooter did have one tag on his collar. It stated he’d been vaccinated against rabies. “Eureka!” we thought. Maybe we can find the vet who administered the vaccine.
This being a small town, there was only one local vet. Closed for the weekend. But they did leave an emergency/after hours forwarding number.
The weekend vet was about 20 miles away and on our way home. But it could have been 20 miles in the opposite direction and we still would have taken Scooter there. We’d already invested an afternoon in our little lost pal. We'd come too far to give up now.
It was really, really hard to say good-bye. A bond had already formed – on both sides. After we left, I not-so-secretly hoped we’d get a call saying they’d been unable to find Scooter’s parents and he was ours to claim.
Instead, days went by and we heard nothing. Finally I called the vet. They had been able to track Scooter’s owners through his vet and they’d picked him up on Monday.
We never heard a word from the parents. Not a phone call. Not a card. Nada.
For a long time we were miffed. We couldn’t imagine why Scooter’s owners weren't all over themselves to thank us.
In hindsight, I can see things from their perspective. They might not have known Scooter was out or wandering near the freeway. They would never know the effort we put into finding them. The only thing they saw was that some animal loving nut jobs had taken their dog to a vet 20 miles away and they had to go and retrieve him—more than likely paying boarding fees, and who knows what else.
Well, Mr. or Mrs. Scooter Owner, let me tell you one thing. You’ve got one helluva great dog there. In future, you should be more careful and keep him leashed. Or next time he won’t be so lucky. He WILL get lost or run over. Or scooped up by some other dog lovers who won’t think twice about you and will claim him themselves.
And Scooter, if at any point your owners give you any trouble, or you just want to go for another ride – you know where to find us!
- Jack Russell Terrier Rescue - Russell Rescue, Inc.
Russell Rescue, Inc. - a network of volunteers dedicated to placing unwanted or abandoned Jack Russells into permanent homes.
- Jack Russell Terrier - JRTCA - Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Home Page
Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Web Site - JRTCA Terrier trials, Bad Dog Talk, Online Profiler, Advice, Picture Galleries, Caption Contest, Stories, Breed Standard, Books, Training and Question and Answer forum, Russell Rescue, Russell Refuge, G