Four years here in The Compound on this ravine and we’ve had emergency services out four times. HazMat came first with several big red trucks and firemen, then two ambulance calls with accompanying fire engines, and, right at dawn this morning, a stuck-dog call.

I first heard a dog crying at 4:30 this morning and wondered if I was dreaming. Or was it Murphy whining?

Yesterday, Dad told us about his dream the night before. He was hooked up to all manner of tubes and restraints a la hospital and could not get loose. I suppose that was akin to a nightmare. He woke, not realizing he’d had a dream, and began to look for the things that bound him; finally got out of bed, turned on the light, and got on the floor to look under the bed. After he got back up from the floor, which is no easy feat for an 83-year-old in the middle of the night, he forgot what he was looking for and decided to go back to bed since he couldn’t find whatever it was. He said he didn’t recognize the occurrence as a dream until he was almost asleep again—and it woke him up again.

So, this morning, foggy-headed, I guessed I could have been in a stupor post dog-dreams. I ambled into the bathroom where, after a few minutes, I placed the sound as real and coming from the patio under the window. Foxes mating, maybe the foxes were mating. Is this the time for the foxes to mate? I ruled out Murphy because she was in her crate at the other end of the house. I tried to see the patio from the bathroom window but there was not enough light in the pre-dawn.

I put on a pot of coffee and checked the view from the from the dining room. I made out a shape of a large black mass that looked to be flopping around down there.

Astigmatism, uncorrected, makes objects appear much larger than they really are and I was wearing my computer glasses which do not afford me the best vision for distance. I searched for, and found, my better-suited “spare pair” for a better look. He was big. He was a big black German Shepherd—maybe a mix—with brown paws and brown around his mouth and maybe some on his belly. He seemed to be hurt. He got up only to drag himself a few feet and cry again.

I was reminded of a canine hit by a car in the hindquarters, not a pretty sight. I turned from the window, a hollow feeling gathering in my middle. And if he’s not hurt, I said to myself, he must be sick. Rabies?

And then I heard scraping. When I returned to the window, there was enough light to see that this “somebody’s buddy” was stuck, caught; by what? Was that a wire? And where was the wire caught? He had dragged the wrought iron teacart several feet out into the yard from its normal position beside the picnic table.

Caught on a serving cart. No, wait, the “wire” was red, and maybe a lead of some kind, and it was wrapped around one of the bird feeder poles now pulled from the ground. He really was caught.

5:25. I decided to wake Dave. Actually, I figured he might be awake now, anyway, because he went to bed very early. If he wasn’t ready to wake up, he should be.

“There is a big dog…” I began.

When I finished, Dave said, “I thought I heard Murphy doing that thing she does when she’s dreaming.”

“What should we do?” we asked each other, agreeing that there was no use in calling our pitiful animal control service. We’ve had experience with Metro Animal Control, an office that is staffed less than 40 hours each week. Animal Control will come to pick up an animal, or ask a neighbor to quiet a barking dog, IF the complainant does the legwork; you know, somehow trap the dog or chase it back home and make a note of the house number.

We weren’t sure that the big black dog was friendly so neither of us wimps were keen to get close to the animal.

“You know,” I said, “I think I’ll call the police. They’ll send somebody and maybe they’ll bring a net.”

“Good idea. Don’t call 9-1-1, though,” Dave said.

“No, I’ll call the non-emergency number. You remember what that is?”

***

Two police cars and two fire trucks arrived five minutes after the call. I’d had just enough time to throw on what could loosely be described as clothes. I headed out to the side porch to meet them.

And there, curled up against the gate to the porch, was another big black dog just like the other one, and he wasn’t about to budge.

Oh, he got loose, I thought, so I headed to the front door to tell the firemen. But, on the way I looked out the den window and saw the first big black dog with the red lead, still caught on the teacart and the birdfeeder.

“Hey,” I called in the most voice I could muster. I’ve had laryngitis for a month. “Here I am,” I squawked. “There’s another dog. Right there, on the ramp.”

One of the four firemen and three policemen in the driveway answered me, “Yeah. Well, where is the other one—the one you called about?”

“Down the driveway, in the back,” I said, and they all traipsed down the hill.

I ran down the inside stairs to The Cellar. By that time, one of the firemen had removed the lead from the dog’s neck and wound it into a circle. Another was stroking our new friend’s head. I opened the door.

“He’s friendly,” he said. “This lead was on a stake, see?” He held it up, the contraption that anchored the poor animal to my yard furnishings. There was a screw-like thing attached to the end of the ropey thing.

“Looks like he pulled the stake out of the ground and got loose. I think he’ll go home. They usually do. But now, he doesn’t have any tags for us to see where he lives.”

All of them started back up the driveway, the men and the big black dog.

“What about the one on the porch?” I asked from the rear of the parade.

“You don’t know that dog? It’s not your dog?”

“No. It’s just like this one.” I pointed to the first dog, the one that had just been un-hitched.

“You want us to get him off the porch?” One of the firefighters sounded a bit indignant. The whole bunch stopped. I did, too.

“Well, I don’t know if he’s friendly,” I said.

“You want me to check?” he asked.

“Yes, please, if you wouldn’t mind.” They resumed the trek up the hill. I followed.

“He’s okay,” I heard one call. “They’re together.”

“Right,” I said. I never would have thought of that.

One of the policemen was radioing and I heard him say “animal control”. I could have sworn I heard him follow with “tried to snap”. They were all headed back to their respective vehicles. The fireman who un-bound the dog turned to ask, “Is there anything else we can do for you, ma’am?”

“No, and thank you,” I said and then asked the policeman with the radio, “Did you all call Animal Control?”

“Yes, I did.”

“But they won’t be out, will they?” I asked. “They’re not even open yet.”

“I left a message,” the policeman answered.

My fireman turned around and walked back to the driveway.

“No, they won’t be out,” he said. “By the time they get to the office this morning, these dogs will be gone.” Then he added, “They’re practically useless anyway unless the dog is violent or dangerous—and then we’ll get them out of bed.”

He looked toward the two dogs walking into the street together. “But these dogs aren’t bad. We like to give them a chance to go on home.”

“I agree,” I said. We both turned our heads toward yet another police car pulling into the driveway but neither of us cared much and resumed our conversation.

“They look healthy and well-cared-for,” I said. “And I’d hate for them to go to the pound.”

“Yeah, they’re definitely somebody’s pets.”

There were no sirens, but one car and one fire engine left with their lights on.

Dave says the neighbors are going to wonder about us.

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