“No, she’s just been roaming the streets this morning. I had some dog food in the car, so I tried to give her some. She’s very skittish. She’d take a piece of food, run away, and then come back for another piece. I thought I might take her home with me, but she’s really disgusting! I have a dog at home, and I don’t want him to get some disease from her.” I stared at the crossing guard in disbelief. The dog was clearly scared, clearly lost, clearly needing help and she was close enough to help her, but refused because the dog was dirty and possibly had parasites? Thankful that my sunglasses concealed what must surely have been a look of complete disgust, I turned my attention back to the dog. She’d just rounded a corner, turning away from her previous path that would’ve led to a busy four-lane street. “Good,” I thought. “Maybe I can get her.”
I parked the car, got out and stood stock-still, leaning against the car door. The dog crossed the street, nose to the ground, sniffing relentlessly – for food, maybe? “Puppy-puppy-puppy!” I called out in that high, squeaky voice that we reserve for babies and fur-babies when we’re pleased with them. She looked up at me, briefly. “Puppy-puppy-puppy!” I said as I clapped my hands and leaned over, inviting her to come to me. She looked up at me again, this time with a questioning look like, “hmmm…maybe that one has food!”
She came trotting over to me, hitting the halfway point in the road just as a car approached. I waved at the driver to slow down. He did, but the passing car was enough to frighten her and she ran behind my car. But then a woman and her daughter, little fluffy dog in tow, came walking down the sidewalk. The mom picked up the fluffy dog when she saw that “my” dog was eyeing it from across the street. Very interested in the fluffy dog, she crossed the street toward them. I asked the mom if she would stop for a minute and see if the dog woud come up to her dog because I was trying to catch her. She obliged, and as the dog made her way across the street, the daughter knelt down and held out her hands. The little dog ran right up to her. Meagan, the daughter, stroked her head as I slowly walked up and knelt down beside her. All three of us stared at her, taking in the sight of this poor, neglected dog and praying that our hearts would not break into a million pieces right then and there.
I put my arm around her and scooped her up in one swift motion. She gasped, then started panting, then tried to wriggle out of my arms. I pressed her to my chest, cooing to her that she was going to be okay, then put her in the car and drove her home. As I turned the corner, I told the crossing guard that I had the dog. “Oh,” she frowned, “what are you going to do with her now?” Well, gee, I don’t know…TAKE CARE OF HER, maybe? I had hoped that Hope Humane Society would take her into their program, so I emailed Jenny her pictures and volunteered to foster her. Jenny responded almost immediately with a yes! and we were all set. That evening, I snatched the poor girl from her comfy crate and took her to the vet. After an overnight adventure there, she came home with me – heartworm free, intestinal-parasite-free, and almost fur-free. With her fur matted all the way to the skin over most her her body, I was afraid that she’d have oozing sores and infections, but no, not even that. In fact, under all that fur, she’s a healthy, muscular dog.
Callie’s flight instinct is so strong. She’s so scared of everything, but especially of human touch. It’s difficult to get close to her, even to feed her. Wary doesn’t even begin to describe her demeanor. Yesterday morning, I sat down on the floor in my bedroom to spend some time with her. Callie wants attention, but is afraid of what kind of attention she’s going to receive. I touched her very lightly with two fingers. She moved a little closer to me. I stroked her with my whole hand. A wave of relaxation washed over her body. She closed her eyes and sank into my lap. “This is what I was born to do,” I thought. I don’t know why God gave me the ability to bond so closely with animals, but he did. It’s an ability that I can’t – that I won’t – waste. No, I can’t save them all. But I can save this one. And then the next one. And the next one. It’s what I was born to do.