I usually don’t take my phone with me on weekend runs. This morning I left the house later than I wanted to, plus my plan was to run about 6 miles door to door, staying close to the streets around Greenlake in case I needed to grab some water and find a toilet. This morning, as I approached the Greenlake Way from Ashworth, I spotted a big dog sitting by himself behind some dense shrubs on the sidewalk so it was impossible for drivers and joggers to see him. From a distance, I couldn’t tell if he was alone or with a human companion. As I got closer, I knew in my gut something wasn’t right.
His breed? My first guess was Coonhound- English Pointer mix (or German Shorthaired Pointer) colored liver and white, and probably 70 pounds. Like a slow motion scene in a movie, he wiggled, shuffled and wagged his tail as I jogged down the hill towards him. He rocked side to side and walked slowly to meet me. Arthritic with multiple tumor masses made him look heavier than he actually was. His nails were very long, and his front feet turned out like a duck. Who knows the last time someone thought to cut them back? His feet turned out to the sides as he shuffled along. This old man was no escape artist- he was dumped.
I told him he was a good boy and examined to see if he had tags. No tags. Running my hands over his back, clumps of white hair brushed out and I could see several tumors on his side and tummy, and a balding back. A man on his morning walk approached around the corner wearing headphones and I motioned with the international “need to use your cell phone” hand signal. He stopped and took out his earplugs and I told him about the situation. He handed me a phone and I dialed J. After a couple of attempts, J finally woke up and answered. I think I got to the words “dog was dumped” and without question was on his way to get us.
As I stood there waiting with this old gentle soul, I imagined his life leading up to this day. So many scenarios entered my mind. My guess is that someone, somewhere, did love him very much once upon a time. They were no longer there for him. He was so lovable and kind, and knew very well that I was no threat. He waddled over to the grass to pee. He knew how to “sit.” He was a good dog.
Several years ago, I read The Dogs Who Found Me, by Ken Foster http://dogswhofoundme.blogspot.com/. There was a line I remember, though not verbatim. It was something like, “when you find a stray for the first time, you are forever hardwired to see strays.” This is the second dog that I’ve found at Greenlake since moving here. The first one was clearly someone’s pet who had escaped home. He had tags and phone numbers to call if he were lost. After a hilarious effort to use my t-shirt as a leash to get to the nearest vet’s office from the other side of the lake, he was eventually reunited with his owner.
So I go to Greenlake with my doggie radar turned on. Today, this guy was just sitting there, like a tired old man who just needed a soft place, some water and someone to pet him.
J pulled up and we loaded him into the Jeep and got on the phone to call the Seattle Animal Shelter. They advised us to take him to the animal hospital down the street so they could scan for a microchip and would hold him until they could pick him up later. They took J’s name and number in case someone came for him. They would “take it from there.” We said good bye and gave him a hug. He seemed happier to be indoors and the woman was very nice. We knew no one would come.
So he’s better off …off the street. This old dog whose life was full of mystery and heartbreak found me. I think of all the animals and people who have been dumped, left sitting by a busy street and no one noticing.
It’s not easy walking around with my doggie radar. It can be heartbreaking knowing that you cannot just walk by and do nothing. There is a purpose to life. We are here to look after each other, or at least make sure we get to the next soft place safely and comfortably.
I would like to thank the man whose name I didn’t get, for letting me use his phone and being patient with me. He was allergic to dogs but I thank his kind heart.
J dropped me back where he found us…so I could “run it off.” I came home and gave my dog a hug. The whole ordeal threw our morning off, but so what? We’re going for a walk with our dog now.