more than a number

But if we wanted to assign him a number, it’d be 4.

desert stray

That’s right. This little guy is the FOURTH stray dog I’ve picked up this year. Found him Friday morning when I was supposed to be doing my volunteer shift at a local garden. He’d been spotted several times earlier in the week, running scared in the nearby desert. At one point, a visitor reported that she thought she’d seen a mountain lion. A mountain lion…or an 18-pound Chihuahua mix. He was pretty feisty, that’s true.

In fact, even though he must have been hungry and thirsty, and even though the temperature was well on the way to 105 degrees when I saw him, it took me over an hour to lure him in. But with the aid of some bacon donated by the cafe, and a rope loaned by the staff, I collared him. He then spent a merry afternoon in the office (duties included eating kibble, soaking up the A/C, gnawing on a stick, and knocking over the trash can) while we tried to find out if anybody was looking for him. Answer: No. So now he’s being fostered by an all-breed dog rescue. Which, I’m happy to report, is not my house.

Let’s call this a win all round, shall we?

And that reminds me that I never gave a proper update about the other foundlings.

Dog #1: Luna the husky/shepherd mix was at my house for more than three months, during which time nobody ever answered my Found Dog ads or placed one looking for her. One day, I was taking her for a walk a few streets south when a woman recognized her. The woman told me that Luna had run away from her next door neighbors. They had kept her in the backyard, where she lived in the dirt among discarded furniture and appliances, and had been bred in order to sell the puppies. I have seen the house in question and the story rings true. When I mentioned that I’d had the dog spayed, the woman flung herself at me: “OH! God bless you, lady! I’ve been praying that she ran away to nice people.” When I added that she now stayed indoors and slept on a cushy dog bed, the woman started crying. Then she begged me to never, ever walk that dog on her street again.

Not a week later, some wonderful friends-of-friends heard about Luna and stopped by on a whim. The whim part faded as soon as they met her, and they took her straight home, where their eleven-year-old son was surprised when he got home from school. His parents decided to test the waters, telling him they were dog-sitting for a few days. On day two, he said: “I wish she was our dog. She’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.”

So now she is their dog.

Luna update

Dog #2: The little Bichon mix went to an excellent Bichon rescue. He’s still in foster care and is up for adoption. Even I have to admit that he’s very cute—for a small curly haired male dog.

Dog #3: Mayday the hungry Labrador was accepted by a local lab rescue group, but they didn’t have any foster homes available, so I agreed to be her foster home. What the hell, at that point, right? The vet who spayed and vaccinated her said she was about two years old and had probably been “without adequate nutrition” for several months, if not her entire life. He said it could take six months for her to get up to her optimal weight, which he estimated at about 70 to 75 pounds. She weighed 51 at the time.

A few days later, after May had recovered from surgery, I snapped a picture and wrote a bio and told the rescue group that she was ready to be listed as “up for adoption.” The list of adoptable labs went out via email at 7 a.m. I got the first phone call at 8. And, because foster parents are responsible for taking the dog to meet prospective adopters, I drove one hundred and thirty miles that day, acting as a sort of animal-social-worker-cum-matchmaker-cum-chauffeur. The first call was from Moon Valley, in far Northern Phoenix. From there, I headed to Fountain Hills, way out east of the McDowell Mountains. Then to Queen Creek, in the extreme southeast corner of the Valley. I told the woman in Surprise (forty miles west) that I’d let her know if nothing else worked out. I said the same thing to the lady from Williams (just south of the Grand Canyon and nearly 200 miles from here).

But I didn’t have to drive to Williams. In fact, I could have saved a lot of driving, because Miss May was a perfect match for the very first home, and vice versa. And so now she lives in a big house with a big yard and a big pool to swim in and an utterly devoted owner who takes her for two walks a day to help rebuild May’s muscles, which were wasted from starvation. She has two beds—one in the living room, one in the bedroom—and was the star of her obedience class. I get updates every couple of weeks, and the one from last week included a photo:

Mayday update

Good dogs deserve good homes, don’t you agree?

Four down. Twelve million* to go.


*I didn’t make that up to be dramatic. The estimated number of stray dogs in the U.S. is between twelve and twenty million. Twelve and twenty million. It’s gonna be a busy year.