I recently saw an ad for a lost 1-year-old Jack Russell-ish terrier running amok in Ashland. The pattern of seduction, abandonment and loss is one I know well. His name was Artie. He could have been this dog’s sibling — or at least first cousin.
The trouble with Artie was that he always came back — never gone for more than a day, covered in slippery slime that enabled him to ease out of his harness and ID, leaving it wedged under a fence somewhere. No matter, the neighbors all knew where he lived. They’d bring him home at all hours.
Calling for him was simply a vocal exercise. If he was within eye-shot of me, he would simply turn to stone, assured that his superpowers rendered him invisible. Imagine the absurdity of seeing a woman bellowing at a small dog who seems to be frozen in time and place.
It was a 10-year adventure punctuated with stratospheric vet bills.
I thought surgery for a blown ACL would put him out for the season. No such luck.
Then he was dissected by two hormone-crazed female dogs who left him to bleed out in the driveway. His ribs looked like spaghetti in the X-ray. The vet wrapped him in Saran Wrap until he was stable enough for surgery — $1,000, Ka-ching!
And there was the doe with twin fawns who cleanly sliced open his belly one night. He staggered over to the passenger side of the car, knowing full well where he had to go. After-hours surgery. Ka-ching!
Why didn’t I fence the beast, you say? I tried repeatedly. The final solution was thick wire fencing with cattle panels stapled into the ground to prevent digging out. Another $1,500.
When the time came to move into town, I wondered how he would react being in a backyard of square feet instead of acreage. Quite predictably as it turned out making his way across four lanes of Stewart Avenue traffic to the Chevron station. They fed him corn dogs and called Animal Control.
I was heartbroken and put an ad in the paper with no real hope of seeing him again. Two days later, they called and said, “I think we’ve got your dog.” And they did. A mere $60 to bail him out. He made one more foray across the street for more corn dogs, but this time he had his ID on him, so it just cost me another batch of cookies for the guys at the Chevron. I really can’t remember how we finally corralled him, but I think it involved cement blocks.
For the last year of his life he dutifully took twice-daily walks on a leash accompanied by two cats who weren’t pleased about living in town, but they accepted it.
When the time came for the final home visit, I was struck by the irony of now paying, once again, for veterinary services, though not to prolong his life, but to end it. And a kindly friend in Sams Valley offered a burial plot so his final resting place would be near his old stomping grounds.
So to the “owners” of the missing dog, the wandering terrorist, er, terrier, grieve for the loss of your sweet pup, but think twice about laying out big bucks for her return. You just might get what you pay for!
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