So, I don’t know if you guys remember, but nearly a month ago, a dog followed The Smelly and I home on a walk.
Our puppy spent the day outside, overjoyed to have a new playmate. They seriously went at it all day (with minor interludes of me yelling at the new dog that That Was Enough With The Humping, Already!). The two of them tore all over the yard chasing, and play-barking, napping for twenty second shots, and investigating what The Smelly had clearly marked as Interesting Smelling Spots. He may even have shown the new pup his treasure holes. Well, some of them.
After a long day of play, and no response to our ad on Kijiji, or our reports with the city and the Humane Society, The Boy and I took Lostie to the vet to have him scanned for a chip. There wasn’t one. We waited a little longer, but eventually had to call the city to round him up. We just couldn’t wait at home anymore, and with two cats we weren’t about to chance leaving a strange dog — as friendly as he was with our dog — in the house unattended. So, the city picked him up and dropped him at the Humane Society shelter.
We did the right thing, right?
Due to forgetfulness on my part, and beaurocracy on theirs, I didn’t get an update on whether or not he’d been adopted until this morning. A sincere-sounding lady called me back to report that unfortunately Lostie had been humanely euthanized about a week earlier. When I’d asked if he was sick, she paused. Apparently due to privacy rules she couldn’t give me all the reasons why they’d had to put him down, but among them were his breed mix (anyone who guessed part-pitbull guessed right), but also the fact that this wasn’t Lostie’s first time there. Worse still, at no point after I’d called the city did his owners contact the shelter to ask about or pick up their dog.
I’m not embarrassed to state that the call was followed by more than a few shivery minutes hiding in a bathroom stall crying. (Which was followed by an awkward stiff-legged walk back through the cubes populated by typical male salesguy types to my desk. What a day not to have my lab to hide in. At least there’s free hot chocolate in this location.) Is it rational for me to be mourning this dog who was only on my lawn for a few hours? Probably not. I don’t think that’s what I’m really upset about though.
After she’d broken the news to me, the lady from the shelter tried to point out that if I hadn’t called, his fate might well have been much worse: being hit by a car, freezing in the upcoming cold, possibly being mauled by other animals. She thanked me for calling to check up on his status and encouraged me to call right back if I ever needed anything else.
I know she’s right: the chances for once-pet dogs surviving on their own are pretty low. But what if? What if some kind soul (and there are a lot of sympathetic dog owners in our neighbourhood) had adopted him? What if I’d held off on calling the city for another hour or two and someone had driven by who knew his owners? What if my actions robbed him of a proper second chance at a happy life as someone’s loved pet? I don’t blame myself for his death, really. I just wonder if it was really as inevitable as it seems.
I’m trying to comfort myself with the thought that at least one of his last days was a happy one filled entirely with treats, ear scratches, and a big, fluffy playmate.