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A found hound

Posted by on Tuesday 8 November 2011 in meta | 11 comments

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (particularly my @louisa_ account, which is where I do my non-simple living wittering) will know that most of my yesterday was swallowed up by finding a dog.

We were just coming back from our Lily-dog walk when this little hound came hurtling up our road towards the very busy A-road at the top. We stopped her just before the junction and found she was shaking with fear. We didn’t really notice until an hour or so later but she was bleeding from the mouth – she’d either been hit by something or run into something very hard and snapped one of her fangs.

John ran home with Lily and we used her lead to bring the little dog back to the safety of our front garden while we tried to find her owner. The dog calmed down a lot when we popped her on the lead and walked well beside me, making us think she’s used to that and not free-roaming.

We found her tag: her name is Kia and there was a phone number on it too – but when we dialled the number, the line was dead. I spent the next hour walking her around the street (and calling in the woods) to see if anyone was looking for her, and asking every person with a dog who walked past if they recognised her. As I’m sure is the case in most areas, everyone with a dog is at least on nodding terms with everyone else with a dog, and many can link dog and human. While I was doing that, John phoned the (non-emergency number) police and the dog warden, but no one had reported her missing and the dog warden wasn’t available to pick her up from us “until tomorrow”.

By five ish, I hadn’t had any luck finding her owners on the street and I was very conscious about the blood around her mouth – bloody saliva rather than dripping blood at this point, so I took her up to the vets for a quick checkup (which is where we found out about the broken tooth) and for a microchip scan (there wasn’t one). Unfortunately I had to wait for longer than expected for a lift back from the vets and Kia got stressed out waiting: the traffic, the dark… She jumped on my knee but my hugs weren’t calming enough and the anxiety aggravated her bleeding tooth – it started dripping with blood, big dark drips all over my jeans and the floor. We were both very grateful when we finally got home.

We fed her – soft food, because of her tooth – and left her to sleep on the sofa in our office yesterday evening (with regular visits & wee breaks), and then overnight. She is very sweet and seems largely house-trained (she weed & did a little poo on newspaper overnight, but that’s possibly because our rhythms are out of sync), but we didn’t want her in the rest of the house because we don’t know how she is with cats (she’s met them and not gone for them but better safe than sorry) and we thought that Lily-dog might appreciate some alone time with us.

John and I always stop for lost dogs, or dogs walking down the road by themselves. We always have done, even well before we could think about having our own dog – I think because there is always the possibility that if we couldn’t find its owner, it would force our hand into keeping it. I think we both felt that way about Kia when it became apparent that there wasn’t a breathless owner with an empty leash just around the corner — we’ve idly talked about wanting another dog (usually when I’ve been looking at spaniel rescue websites – a naughty habit!) but know that everything is pretty settled in the house at the moment, and it would be a bit silly to rock the boat just for another pooch. But when one turns up like this… However, it’s been a really useful lesson: I’ve learnt that I don’t want another dog right now. Lily-dog has separation anxiety and needs a lot of attention, she likes being an only child (she is fine about sharing us with the cats but doesn’t even like sharing me with the chickens!) and I don’t think it would be right by her for us to bring anyone else into the house as anything more than a guest. She seemed jealously mopey whenever we paid any attention to Kia and while she is the most gentle dog in the world normally, I could tell she’d get grouchier over time and that might lead to snapping. That said, she actually got on with her much better than she gets on with most dogs: not as shy as she normally is, even around our friends’ much smaller Westie.

John took the two of them on a short walk together this morning and he stopped more people to ask if they knew her – they didn’t but she got lots of hugs, and even one half-offer of adoption. Then the dog warden arrived out of the blue at our house about an hour ago now. We had been worried about her going to the dog warden since they only keep the animals for seven days, and if they can’t be rehomed then they’re put to sleep. I also have a stereotype in my head of a gruff, angry man – but the guy who turned up here was lovely. He sat down and had hugs with her before leaving, and assured us that she’s exactly the type of dog who the Dogs Trust/RSPCA love to pick up: sweet, house-trained, not too big, very pretty in a scruffy, mad-eyebrows type way and in possession of the second softest ears in the world (jealous Lily-dog’s teddy bear ears still has to have the number one slot or she’ll sulk. Kia gets bonus points though for having actually effective ears, not like Lily’s hard-to-position flaps ;)).

She’s clearly someone’s pet and I hope she finds her way home again, or at least to another loving home (we’ve left our posters up around the area, so we can pass on that she’s with the dog warden or even if that half offer of adoption becomes more serious). A few people – offline and online – have suggested that she might be a victim of the recession: someone pushed her out because they couldn’t afford to keep her any more. That’s another reason why I wanted to track down the owner ourselves – because I don’t want to even think that someone who lives near me would abandon a trusting pet near a main road. But I’ll admit I’ve learnt something a little dark about myself too: I can now see why other people don’t stop to help animals. We had to have/risk somewhere to contain an unknown dog for an unknown period of time, I had to take on a charge at the vet because I couldn’t leave her bleeding (it wasn’t much, just a nurse consultation charge even though I saw the vet, but if she’d needed emergency treatment for a cut or something, I’d probably have paid for that too), and we’ve put in a lot of time trying to find her owners, taking her to the vet etc. If she’d been more likely to potentially face being put to sleep at the end of seven days, we’d have been reluctant to hand her and would have had to find a shelter or someone to take her instead. We’ll still help stray dogs in the future – but I really can see why other people might not feel able to take it on.

Why I’m writing this here: I know that most/many/all the people who read this love their animals dearly but just in case anyone is in financial dire straits and needs to give up their pets, PLEASE contact a shelter about it or re-home it directly yourself. Shelters and rescue places may have a waiting list but they make it clear they don’t judge people about their reasons for giving up their animals. If your pet needs medical care and you get housing or council tax benefit (the actual benefit, not just a reduction), you might be able to use a PDSA for free/very cheap treatment. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t just abandon them :(

UPDATE: just as I’m finishing up here, we’ve had a call from the dog warden – her owner has called to claim her! Hurrah! Apparently she got seriously spooked by fireworks (so maybe even over the weekend) and the poor scaredy pooch JUMPED OUT OF HER OWNER’S BEDROOM WINDOW (which may explain the broken tooth). We’re so glad she’s found her way home though :)

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