Dogs, the Good in Bad Situations and New Friends

Dakota

I apologize for my unexpected absence from the blog on Tuesday. It has been the “Week of the Dog” around here.

Dakota, our Doxie/Beagle mix is having terrible problems with her allergies again. This past spring, she dug her eyes so badly that she actually created what the vet called a “divot” on her cornea. It took us several weeks for us to get that to heal so she wouldn’t lose her eyesight.

This past weekend, she began digging everywhere (except her eyes, which now required two medications, twice daily). By Monday, she had scratched herself raw and by the time the vet could see her on Monday afternoon, she was bleeding from her ears, her neck….you get the idea. She was miserable, we were miserable and it was a mess.

Fast forward to this morning and she seems to be healing, the allergy meds and antibiotics to clear the bacterial infection from scratching are starting to take effect and she is acting more herself.

The vet has no idea what suddenly caused this outbreak, but suspects it was a diet change more than a month ago. We switched from one high quality food to one I felt was even better. While they all seem to enjoy the new food, Dakota’s sensitive allergy system didn’t, so back to the old food for her.

Now, Abbi has severely cut her paw and she will not allow me to put anything on it (she immediately licks it off), so I foresee another trip to the vet in our future.

We hate it when our dogs are ill or in pain and cannot tell us what is wrong.

What’s worse is when they are lost and we cannot find them.

Last Friday, Dale called me around noon, so frantic I could barely understand what he was talking about. I caught ‘radio’ and ‘dogs,’ but not much else.

He had been listening to the local “Trading Post” radio show, an hour in which people call in and place things (aside from real estate, running vehicles or firearms) for sale or trade. People with lost or found pets call in too.

“A lady called in and said her two Jack Russell Terriers were missing from our mountain and I saw those dogs this morning!” Dale said.

Like any good mechanic, he was up to his elbows in grease at the time and couldn’t get to a pen and paper. He wanted me to call the station and get her number, call her and tell her he saw a woman in a red car going back to pick them up, but he didn’t know if they actually went with her.

“Tell her they were fine as of 5:30 this morning,” he said.

I found the woman’s number from the receptionist at the radio station and called. She answered the phone anxiously. I relayed Dale’s story. “The woman is behind him quite a few mornings, so she must work in town,” I told her. “I would get some signs up at the corner on Cheek Mountain before the end of the day.” I also advised her to call both of the local papers and get ads in the “lost” classified section.

She thanked me and we hung up. Of course, I thought of the times I had dogs go missing. Ana in 1994, when my mother in law was dog sitting and last year, Emma. Neither incident ended well for us.

I just hoped this woman didn’t receive any cruel crank pot calls like we did with Ana. This woman was offering $500 each for the return of her dogs and I knew she might get some weirdoes responding to her plea on the radio.

About 15 minutes after we hung up, she called me back. “I really hate bothering you, but if your husband sees this woman again, will you have him try to stop her and give her my number?” The woman was beyond anxious now and her voice was breaking, I could tell she was on the verge of tears.

I told her it was no bother, of course I would. But I felt certain that after seeing that kind of a reward posted, the woman in the red car would be in touch on her own.

On Saturday morning, I was still thinking of the two dogs and the woman. The sign was still up on Cheek Mountain. I was looking around for any sign of the dogs and nearly crashed my car again.

I vowed that if the sign remained when I came home, I would call the woman back and offer to help her go door to door. Losing a pet is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced and what makes it even worse is knowing that no one else really cares for your pets as much as you do.

A neighbor might take you out on the boat to scour the shoreline for an hour, as ours did in our search for Emma, or ‘keep their eyes open,’ but no one else, but an actual friend,  would walk the woods with you and put in real time in a search.

Long after our neighbors forgot about the missing posters and our friends thought we should be “over” Emma’s disappearance, Dale and I still searched, gridding our woods in a lonely effort. Of course, we knew she was no longer alive, but we just wanted to bring her body home.

As a fellow Dog Mom, I knew what this woman was going through.

But, the signs were down by the time I came home from town on Saturday. I knew one way or another, her dogs had found their way home. I hoped it was a happy ending for all.

On Sunday, the woman called and thanked me for the information on the red car, which did lead to the return of one of her dogs. The other dog had bolted from the woman in the red car and found her own way home.

I told her I wished I could have helped her search on Friday and told her I was going to call to offer my help on Saturday. I also told her I wish Dale could have picked the dogs up first. We wouldn’t have, in any way, accepted the reward, as the woman in the red car had.

The woman with the two Jack Russells and I talked on the phone for about a half hour and we seemed to hit it off. They live not far from us. She invited me to her place for coffee and to meet her and her dogs, as well as her assorted other animals.  I told her I would take her up on her offer soon.

“I’m glad we met, although I’m sorry you went through what you did worrying about your dogs,” I told her.

“Something good can be found in almost any situation,” she replied. “You never know when you’re going to meet a friend.”

Sounds more and more like my kind of people.

Has a difficult situation ever led you to a new friendship or other good things?

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33 Responses

  1. Donna Hull says:

    What a lovely story. I’m glad your neighbor found her dogs and that you might have found a new friend.

  2. Ember says:

    I love happy endings to stories like this. I work at PetSmart in the pet care department so I’m always looking for great pet stories to read. My boxer has food allergies so he’s on one food (Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul) and my pug has allergies to grains so he’s on Blue Buffalo Wilderness Small Breed. Both of these are premium brands and extra healthy for their well being and allergies. Remember not to switch your dog’s food all at once. Add a tiny amount of new food more and more over the course of ten days is strongly recommended or you may get horrible results (For example at day 5 you should be using half new food half old food). Usually food allergies don’t appear for at least a month or two after switching so that’s probably what it was! It’s great that you made a new friend from all this as well, I know I was worried sick when one of my dogs was missing for seven hours. It was the longest seven hours of my life!

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for sharing the food switching tips, Ember. I didn’t realize food allergies didn’t show for that long until the vet told me. I had switched them from Wellness to Innova, and everydog did great but Dakota. She’s fine now that she’s back on Wellness. I just had to let all of mine out for their morning ritual and was worried the whole 20 minutes they were gone. It is the start of the hunting season here, which brings on a whole new worry.

  3. I’m happy there was a happy ending too. I’m with you, I’d go door-to-door to help someone find a missing dog–or two!

  4. mat says:

    I grew up in…well, not so much a house as it was a cat shelter. Revolving door of cats. When my mother didn’t keep them. We had to be soooo careful in the summer to not leave the screens open. I remember replacing the screens pretty often because cats would like to climb on them, tear them, and get out. It was always so strange to me, to see these housecats outside, sniffing around like they had no idea what was going on. I don’t think we ever had a jailbreak where we couldn’t recover them all, but it was always a joint effort. Good family activity….

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, Mat, I hope those are mostly good memories and it does sound like a good family activity. I’m sure it helped you develop a healthy empathy for all living things.

  5. Sheryl says:

    Isn’t it wonderful how dogs bring people together, especially like-minded people?

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    What a busy week you’ve had! So cool about the new friend. Yes, animals connect us in unexpected ways.

  7. Merr says:

    I’m glad the story ended happily. In reading the post it make me think of, how, in our neighborhood, everyone who has dogs seems to know the names of one another’s dog before the person’s name! It’s funny and kind of cute.

  8. Vida says:

    Hi Kerri,

    For Abbi’s paw, if it is a front paw, you could use a sock, sew a bit of wide elastic to make a loop and put the sock over the paw and sling the elastic diagonally over the head. I’ve done that many times for my dogs and it works. Of course you have to have replacements if it gets dirty, but it allows you to put medication and even bandage the paw.

    As you know, we have fox terriers and they’re always getting into trouble because they love to chase cats and hunt. They are all microchipped but I can’t put a collar and tags in them because they lose them in the undergrowth. I can’t put them on too tight because if they get snagged on something then they could get stuck.

    I worry if they are gone more than a few hours and sometimes we have to go looking for them. Luckily they are very vocal and if they find an animal they usually bark their heads off which helps us locate them. I can understand how that poor lady felt about her two Jack Russells and I’m very glad for her that she found them.

    Good job, you and Dale for helping!

    • kerri says:

      Thank you Vida, for this tip. I can use it next time. We had to have Abbi get stitches last night, her pad was completely split and there was no other way to help it heal and keep infection from setting in. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another, right?

      • Vida says:

        Kerri, another tip: for deep cuts if you can’t get to a vet for whatever reason, you can use superglue. You clean and disinfect the wound and then you hold the wound closed together with your fingers and apply superglue ON TOP of the skin, over the edges (making sure you don’t get any on your fingers!). After 2 seconds, the skin will stay together and the wound will be closed. Obviously this works much better for areas without too much movement (Not so good for underside of paw) and if it is a clean cut, rather than a ragged wound or a bite.

        I’ve done it and it works. If SuperGlue sounds funny, consider that they sell a version of it called VetBond which is essentially the same component at 10 times the price.

        • Kerri says:

          Thanks, Vida! Wow, you have a lot of dog veterinary tips! I should tap your expertise more often, especially at the rate mine are getting sick and injured!

  9. Alexandra says:

    We made a new friend through a cat! She ran away when his brother brought a bigger cat into the house for the summer. We fed her and were sad to have give her back once I got her tame enough to be picked up. My husband is allergic to animals, so I really enjoyed the time she was here. Now we know her owner, a yoga teacher who lives on the other side of the woods. Yes, sharing a love for a pet creates a special bond.

  10. I love this post! Lost dogs have such a special way of bringing neighbors together; I’ve met many fine folks while embarked on rescue missions when I find a lost dog wandering the streets.

    • Kerri says:

      Well, you know some guys go to dog parks looking for love. We animal people have a way of attracting other animal lovers into our lives somehow!

  11. susan says:

    Oh I hope she turns out to become a friend! That would be so nice. It’s hard to find like-minded people when it comes to animals sometimes.

  12. NoPotCooking says:

    I’m so glad it all worked out in the end – and you made a new friend. We’ve had dogs take off on us. Once my husband ran for over a mile trying to catch up with my parents’ dog. He got her back safely, but it was a terrible stressful situation.

    • kerri says:

      Oh, my, we’ve been through that too. Your story reminded me of two times when we were traveling from KC to Our Little House with Dakota before we started harnassing the dogs in the truck. When we first got her, we might stop at a town for a bite to eat or a break and she would bolt from the truck. Once, she ran through a residential section with me chasing. The other time, she bolted from Dale across a field right toward the highway. Very stressful, I agree.

  13. V Schoenwald says:

    Three times I have been in situations where I took over two months on each incident to look for lost cats. Two of them on I-80, from car crashes during winter storms, one in a camping park not far from me. The two interstate cats I found 2 months later, with hours of searching, and driving and gas, (during a time when the gas was not high). The camping park cat did not survive, as we had coyotes, and coons in the area, and all I found was a small carcass, to my very sad, upset heart. That incident was all summer long, looking.
    This type of looking, especially along interstates was dangerous, crossing pastures with bulls, weird people traveling along the roads, and coyotes that were not afraid of you, I ended up taking my husband’s high powered rifle with me looking as coyotes around here would follow you. One session of looking, I went riding around with my rifle, and a rancher who was so very sweet, taking me on the ATV to look, and eliminating some rabid coyotes.
    I don’t think that I can do that again, first, I am much older, it is emotionally draining, and physically demanding, walking. But I will tell you it was worth it, especially when we found the two cats and that they survived being in Nebraska out in the country with all of the wild that we have.

    • kerri says:

      What an amazing story. The wildlife is what I was afraid of with these two dogs. When I almost crashed on Saturday, I was actually watching some buzzards circling a field not far from where Dale last saw the dogs. We also had 2 cats go missing years and years ago. One of my dogs found one about a week later in some bushes behind our house. The guy who owned the field behind us had put out poison to kill field mice or something and we suspect both of our cats found it. Not finding the other has always haunted me, as has not finding our Ana.

  14. Your post doesn’t say whether the dogs had tags or were micro-chipped Kerri, but this is another example of why both of those should be done to protect pets. What a shame that the woman in the red car was kind enough to stop for the dogs, but not generous enough to decline the reward money. I would feel terrible accepting money for returning someone’s dog. The reward is in knowing you’ve reunited dogs to their frantic owner.

    As you know, when we first got our dog, TJ, she ran off several times, had no problem scaling our backyard fence. She came from a shelter where she’d been dumped by a previous owner, at seven years old. She was so traumatized that I don’t think she trusted anybody, even though I lavished attention and treats on her. In her mind, I was just another human who might take her back to the hellish place she’d been released from, and dump her there again. Gradually, she learned that this is a good place where she can feel secure in being loved and cared for, but the first few weeks were rough. I learned quickly the importance of making sure she had I.D. on her at all times.

    How wonderful that Dale was listening to the radio that day and because of that, the dogs were returned to the owner. He is actually the one who deserved the reward (though I have no doubt he’d probably refuse it!)

    • kerri says:

      We all know that having “indoor” pets is no reason not to have id tags or microchips, but even I am guilty of this, Kathleen. My two little ones do not wear their collars unless they are with the pet nanny, simply because we are so far out in the country and they are never out of our sight. The incidents of lost country pets after the Joplin tornado woke me up to this error in judgement, at least with our big dogs, and we invested in permanent id collars the last time we were in KC. Right now, Dakota cannot wear a collar because of her allergies, but once she can, we will also affix new id tags and make them wear their collars all of the time as well. Microchips are much less common here, as there are no public shelters and many vets do not even invest in the scanning equipment. You’re right, too, neither of us would have accepted that reward. I just think it’s not right.

  15. Great story. I’m glad it worked out OK. It’s true … you just never know who you’re going to meet in these situations.

    We once helped a really old dog Tom found wandering in traffic near a highway “home.” It took some serious detective work on my part (as you know, being a reporter helps) because the dog’s family was traveling, but I tracked down the person who was supposed to be caring for the dog while they were gone. It wasn’t easy, and it required figuring out where the owner worked and calling there, but it all worked out.

    • kerri says:

      So glad it all worked out for that dog too, Roxanne. We also had a similar situation in KC. I have no idea who was supposed to be taking care of an older dog we found, but we kept him for several days until the vet (no id, but a rabies tag) finally reached the owner, who had been out of town.

  1. March 29, 2012

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