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We saved 6 dogs in 2011

While brushing Minnie on Friday afternoon, I spotted one of our old wayward dog friends sniffing her way down the trail. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to catch fleet-footed Stella, the boxer/pit bull/greyhound mix that we helped home more than once over the summer.

True to form, Stella zagged toward me when I called her name, but zigged in another direction before I could get close enough to grab her collar. Luke and I tailed her for a couple of blocks, and another young couple, dressed in formalwear, pulled over and tried to catch her, too, but Stella wasn’t having it. When we gave up, she appeared to be running toward home.

While I wasn’t able to ensure Stella’s safe return this time, six months into the Wayward Dogs project, and at the beginning of a brand new year, I would like to review the results of my attempt to help lost dogs get home. Since June 11, 2011:

  • Zach and I have helped “save” — by returning, rehoming or fostering – a total of six dogs (including Stella).
  • We also spotted or unsuccessfully pursued seven wayward dogs (including Stella).
  • Nearly half of all loose dogs we encountered appeared to be bully mixes (including Stella).
  • The vast majority of the dogs we spotted or caught had collars or were otherwise recognizable to us as neighborhood dogs (including Stella).

The two truly wayward dogs we caught — whose owners, if they existed, we were never able to track down — left special paw prints on our hearts.

One of those dogs is, of course, Charlie Machete, who remains with us as our foster dog.

We knew from the moment Zach slipped a leash on this big, black dog with a pitty head would have little hope at Kansas City’s high-kill shelter. And so, with some initial vet care assistance from Friends of KC Animals, we embarked on a mission to find this dog a home. Fostering him hasn’t been easy or fun all of the time. But this gorgeous, mischievous, whipsmart and cuddly creature has taught us so much and shown us more love than we ever could have expected. We truly hope that early 2012 brings Machete face to face with someone or some people who will appreciate him, farts and all, as much as we do.

Ironically, the other traildog who captured our hearts in 2011 also went on to become a Charlie.

This handsome Boston Terrier started out with us as Meatball. Had we not already been caring for Charlie Machete at the time, we no doubt would have fostered this snuggly and polite hunk. Instead, we passed him to a friend, Luke’s foster mom, who enrolled Meatball with The Animal Rescue Alliance when his owners could not be located. A true charmer, Meatball immediately bewitched a forever family, who changed his name and are, reportedly, massively in love with him to this day.

I honestly don’t know what the past six months of wayward dog experiences mean. Do I just notice more loose dogs because I keep an eye out for them? Do we actually encounter more because we happen to live on the Trolley Trail, a jogging path frequented by dog owners and therefore a mecca of scents that naturally attracts wayward dogs?

Or do I have some kind of pheremone only noticeable to dogs that means “total sucker”?

Regardless, I plan to continue keeping track of the wayward dogs we run into on the Stats page. Maybe over time we will begin to see more patterns.

What are your experiences with wayward dogs? Do you know how many you tend to see in a year?

A one-eared, six-toed dog and other random encounters

As a matter of housekeeping, I must begin this post with these additional photos of Tilly, the lost German Shepherd mix whose foster dad I ran into as he was putting up posters last weekend. As far as I know, Tilly remains at large. These photos were taken during the 12 hours that she was in her foster dad’s care before she escaped.

Also at large, in my neighborhood, is a small, gray cat named Gretta. Having noticed a hand-scrawled poster in the area earlier in the week, I actually ran into her owner Thursday afternoon as I passed through South Oak Park with Luke and Machete. The older gentleman explained that his shy, two-year-old cat always returned from her daytime excursions, but she hadn’t been seen since Sunday. “It’s like the earth just swallowed her up,” he said.

Imagine Gretta all grown up.

If you live near me — and you know if you do — please call the number on this poster if you think you’ve seen Gretta.

Apparently, Gretta is up to date on her shots, but she doesn’t have a collar or a microchip, and her owner said she’s timid around most people, which is unfortunate as far as her chances for recovery go. But maybe she’ll just show up again on her own… I used to be so terrified of my own cat getting lost back at our old house that I outfitted him with more tags than any of the dogs, plus a microchip. He looked pretty blingin’.

Luxor -- heavily accessorized

And now for the part of this post that you started reading for.

Later on Thursday night, Minnie and I had an encounter with a truly unusual wayward dog. We were having an after-dark, girls-only stroll through the neighborhood when a tall, white and brown, bully mix appeared in a yard and began ambling toward us. His posturing was friendly — who could blame him with a bombshell husky mix like Minnie around?

She'll put a spell on you.

I wasn’t scared of the dog, however, the street was pretty dark, and there seemed to be no owners standing by. (This isn’t an unusual occurence in our neighborhood. In fact, just this week, Our Waldo Bungie featured a post about an unfriendly loose dog.)

As the dog got closer, I noticed two things: 1) he had a collar with a name tag and 2) he only had one ear. On one side of his head was a normal flap of white; on the other was just a hole.

Trust me, this is the ear-less side.

As he wiggled around Minnie and me, I noticed, too, that each of his back dewclaws held not one but a pair of nails, each of which had curled long past the need for trimming. They didn’t seem to be curling into his skin, thank goodness, but they clearly needed attention.

Another bad pic. Sorry.

Whether his ear anomaly owed to injury or birth, I have no clue. If injury, it was not recent. Murray, as the tag hanging from his Ed Hardy collar informed me, seemed to be a mellow and happy-go-lucky guy. Since several minutes had passed with no sign of his human, I squinted to make out the phone number below his name and called. The result: worse than no answer — disconnected.

At this point, my heart started to sink. While there was no way that I was about to leave a one-eared, six-toed dog alone in the street, I dreaded the thought of bringing him to our overdogged home, where kennel cough continues to circulate. Fortunately, in the midst of my perplexity, a woman appeared in the doorway of a home on the other side of the street. She wasn’t Murray’s owner, just a friendly neighbor who said she was quite certain of the dog’s owner and she was willing to watch over him until that person arrived home. Relieved, Minnie and I headed to our home.

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