Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How I Saved Dopey the Dog

My dog, Sadie, has been barking recently.

It doesn't happen too often, but 99.9% of the time, it is directed at other dogs that she sees out the window or when we are on walks*.

*The other .1% of her barking is directed at the vacuum, but it makes an appearance so rarely that it is negligible.

When I first got her, she either ignored other dogs or she whimpered when she saw them.  After a few weeks, she began growling at certain ones.  And after a few months she began barking at those dogs and growling at the rest.

There are a few that she still completely ignores, but overall she really seems to hate when other dogs are around.

It truly is a delightful show.
I'm fairly certain that it all traces back to the fox hound chase during one particularly riveting episode of Downton Abbey.  To be fair to Sadie, though, Downton Abbey has a propensity to unleash all of our wild beasts.

But other people are telling me that she is growling and barking at other dogs because she is just trying to protect me. 

Me!  Can you believe that?  My little dog, in all of her thirteen-pound glory, wants to protect little ol' me!

It's a nice thought, but this new barking thing is still annoying.  And I look fondly back to the days when she would handle the situation by being a little wussy*.

*"Wussy" was my third choice in description of how she acted around other dogs, but my first two choices could be misconstrued as offensive to women.  And dogs.  And cats.

One day in particular comes to mind.

A few weeks after I got Sadie, I was taking her for a walk and I noticed another dog across the street.  He was a dopey little Bulldog and he was all by himself.  His leg was lifted as he was finishing the task of watering the bottom of an unfortunate picket fence.  When he was finished, he set his sights on my side of the street.

The angle and trajectory that he chose to cross the street was anything but direct, as he sauntered down the asphalt, perhaps only one or two degrees away from parallel.

Like this.

At this point, I sprung into action, picking Sadie up in my arms and running into the middle of the street to stop traffic*.

*While I intentionally made this sound heroic, there was actually only one car in the street, and it had already slowed down to a near halt, having seen the dog a mile away.

I wasn't sure what the correct protocol was once I reached the dog, but with a little encouragement, he seemed perfectly happy to follow me.

Sadie, on the other hand (paw), was anything but happy that this other creature was following me.  She squirmed and wriggled in my arms, totally confused and panicked as to what was going on.  Her writhing body seemed to say, Get me the fuuuck out of heeerrreee, and I'm sure it had to do with the fact that she was at the end of her first heat and wasn't sure this guy's intentions were pure.  Or perhaps she wanted something a little better for her offspring than this dopey suitor who didn't even know the proper way to cross the street.

The unleashed beast at my feet was playing it cool, though, not wanting to look too desperate in front of her.  Either that or he simply didn't care about her at all, as the only thing he was interested in was licking my ankle.

Sadie's arch enemy
I bent down and checked his collar.  He had a rabies tag but nothing else.

"Hey boy, where's your home?" I stupidly asked, assuming he'd turn and point somewhere specific.

"Don't pet him!" Sadie said through her vicious thrashing, "He's unclean and unworthy of your hands!"  Her nails had come out and she was etching demonic symbols onto my arm with scratch marks, much like she does when I try to give her a bath.

My instinct in these kinds of scenarios is to look around and ask someone, "What should I do?"  But no one was around. 

It was just me, two dogs, and one leash.  One dog was calm.  The other was a psychotic bitch.  They couldn't both be on the ground at the same time, for fear of fighting, sex, or one of them running away.  It was like some stupid riddle that your sixth grade Social Studies teacher asks the class, but the solution is a trick that you don't figure out until the teacher finally reveals the answer after nobody gives a shit anymore.

The solution I came up with was as follows:  I unhooked Sadie's leash, holding her tighter than ever so that she wouldn't squirm free.  Then I somehow managed to lasso the leash onto Dopey's collar with one hand, as my other arm struggled to hold onto the bucking bronco that was my tiny dog.

We trekked like this for a quarter-mile back to my apartment, where I dumped my insane wimp-of-a-dog.  I then walked back to the road with my new canine friend who ambled around the world without a care, noticing nothing but ankles and grass.

The dog and I retraced our steps back to the spot where I found him, and I looked around, wondering which way to bring him.  I had a feeling that it was going to be a long and annoying quest to find his home, and I imagined that after an hour or two of looking that I would have to make a decision as to whether I bring him back to my place.  Or to a shelter.  Or to a police station.

I wasn't sure of the protocol for when you find a dog.  But I figured the best place to start was where I saw him first, so we crossed the street to the white picket fence that he had marked. 

As I walked down the street, I wondered if it was appropriate to just walk up to someone's house, ring the doorbell, and ask them if it was their dog.  The family would probably be angry that I had disrupted their dinner, saying "No!  Do we look like the type of family that would own such a dopey dog?  Get out of here before you get dog hair on our tweed sweater vests that your imagination has made us wear!"

Then they'd slam the door in my face.

It would go on and on like this, from house to house, from street to street, until the sun had set.  Where most men and dogs would have given up, Dopey and I would push on. 

But our patience would be wearing thin.

And finally, I would take no more.  I'd stick my foot in a door and say, "No!  That's the last time I take 'Get the hell out of here' for an answer."  And I'd hold Dopey up and say, "Are you sure you haven't seen this dog before?  Look closely."

And then a look of recognition would sweep across the face of the tweed-sweater-vest-wearing father and he'd say, "Now that you mention it, that's our next-door-neighbor's dog that I see every day!" and he'd point me in the direction of their next-door-neighbor's house and there I would walk/jog in the home stretch of my victory lap.

I'd ring the doorbell, and it would be opened by a grief-stricken man, also wearing a tweed sweater vest.  He'd see Dopey in my arms and say "Judith!  Come quickly and bring the kids!" and the whole family would come to the door at the same exact time, and they'd see me, with my face and clothes muddied (so as to signify that I had been through quite an ordeal) and in my arms they would see their dog, licking my face (so as to signify that I'm trustworthy and an overall great guy). 

And then, with a giant smile, I'd say my line. 

"Is this your dog?"

And they'd give a collective sigh of relief, their tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy in an instant.  They'd hug Dopey and they'd hug me, inviting me to come in for dinner.  And, even though it was August, there'd be a Christmas tree in their house and snow outside.  Because it was a miracle and miracles like finding a lost dog only occur on Christmas.

With these thoughts in mind, I approached the very first house on the block.  I was about to turn up their front walk, when I noticed a Mexican man getting some stuff out of his truck a few houses down.  I decided to talk to him first, since it didn't require ringing a doorbell and disturbing someone's dinner.

"Hi," I said as I was twenty feet away.  "Have you seen this dog before?"

"Sí.  Yes," he said, calmly, unsurprised, and unemotional.  "This is my dog."

"Oh!  It's yours?  I found him across the street."

The man said something to Dopey in Spanish as I unhooked him and handed him over.  "Okay, thank you," he said to me and turned towards his house, carrying the dog low in one arm, the way a non-athletic person might carry a thirty-pound football.

I stood there with the empty leash in my hands, stunned by what had just happened.  Not knowing what else to do, I turned and walked home, empty leash in hands.

Before I crossed the street, I turned back, looking for some kind of gratitude.  Perhaps a Mexican family standing on their lawn and waving to me.  Or a little boy playing with the dog.  Or even just Dopey wagging his tail and looking for me, seeing what my ankles were up to.

But the only thing I saw was the guy, already back to his truck and tinkering with some tools.

*   *   *

As I approached the door of my apartment, I heard Sadie crying on the other side.  She thought I had run off with another dog.  That I had left her.  That I was lost.

I opened the door and she saw me holding nothing but an empty leash.  Her leash.

Her cries of sorrow were turned to cries of joy in an instant.

And that was good enough for me.

-Youngman Brown


  1. YB-- you are a great story-teller. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what would happen next. Nice writing.

    And I am sorry that the guy was not more grateful (or grateful at all, actually). Maybe he had been trying to get RID of the dog and you foiled his diabolical plan?

    Looking forward to your next piece of writing gold-- sort of like little Christmas presents for my brain. Thank you.


  2. I thought for sure tweed vest guy would have a beautiful daughter that fell hopelessly in love with you after you saved her dog.

  3. B'aww, that's a nice story. Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to return a runaway dog because my dog was always the one doing the running away. Though, I'd usually be the one to catch him when he stopped for a pee or poo wherein I'd tackle him and bring him home.

    But, I can't stand unappreciative people. Granted, I'm not expecting a cash reward or a date with their supermodel daughter (well, maybe sometimes), but at least say "thank you" 4 times with a smile on your face. That's all I ask.

  4. Aw, he's so cute! You are a great guy, Youngman, for saving him. Well done, even though the dumb owner didn't appreciate you.

    I think aside from protecting you, Sadie is showing fear aggression. I recognize it, because it is exactly what my dog before I had Kodi did. I really think you should get her in obedience training as soon as possible, because they can work with her to be more comfortable around other dogs. Not being bossy, it's just I know how difficult it can make things to have a dog that doesn't like other dogs. If only I had known how beneficial training can be!

  5. That guy should have worshiped the ground on which you stood, and he should have kissed Dopey and told him how glad he was to have him back. Some people don't appreciate dogs -- and rescuers -- the way they should. I used to have a dog who would go nuts at the sight of other dogs when we were out walking. I would tell him NO! and then I started warning him, Now here comes a dog. Be on your best behavior. He improved and no dogs were killed in the taking of our walks.


  6. Such a romantic to think that people in this day and age would show appreciation... Come over to the dark side with the rest of us pessimists, ha.

    Great story, loved that the ending had you getting a little tail.

  7. Poor Sadie :( she thought you were cheating on her.

    Great story Youngman :)

  8. My dog is certain that the entire world is going to end when I walk out the door, and that other dogs love to have her hang off of their faces.

  9. Cute story as always, your dog tales will make you famous some day!

    Your riddle conundrum reminded me of the "logic" boat, with the cabbage, goat and wolf, where you can only transport one of them to the other side at a time, and you can't leave wolf with the goat, goat with the cabbage, etc.

    Speaking of logic boats:

  10. I thought the flight of fantasy of returning the dog was awesome. As well as the anticlimactic actual returning.

  11. Best dog story I've read all month! And I love a good dog story. Much like your little Sadie, my Chase barks and/or growls at most other dogs. Unfortunately he's 120 pounds, so it's a bit less cute.

  12. I've always loved a good canine story.

  13. Wow, some people have no appreciation. I remember when I thought I had lost my dog. I was inconsolable for 2 days, until I found out that a family on the street directly behind me had found my dogs and had kept them warm and safe even though they just had a huge liter of puppies themselves. I was in tears and offered to give them money, but they refused. They were just happy to them returned to their rightful home.

    Great story Mike!

  14. Dude, great story, you do have a great way of telling a story. By the way, I want Dopey. That is the kind of dog I want to own but instead I have a 10 pound hotdog

  15. Great story! I love your imagination! :)

  16. I'm sorry the "Dopey and Family Reunion" didn't happen like you had imagined... although I'm glad you didn't have the long and arduous journey you thought you'd have. Sadie, on the other paw, is adorable!


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