News from the Path Valley Hotel: Dog Juggling
This story is like the riddle of the farmer, the fox and hen and the sack of grain. Remember that one? A farmer is faced with a daunting task as he crosses a river. He is traveling with a fox, a chicken and sack of grain. The little row boat can carry only the farmer and one other thing yet he must cross the river with all three to get home. If he leaves the fox and chicken together on either shore, the fox will eat the chicken. If he leaves the chicken and the grain as he transports the fox, the chicken will eat the grain. So how does he manage it? It takes some juggling.
I was traveling home a few weeks ago when I got caught behind a line of traffic dodging something in the roadway. There were no houses in sight where the flash of brown fuzz came in an out of focus. A large dog was lumbering down the center lane and seemed quite comfortable doing it. A few cars in front of me, a woman pulled over and I followed suit. The dog, an Airedale, raced across the westbound lane and made her best attempt to jump inside the woman’s open window.
As I approached, the driver seemed very happy to see me; she thought I was the owner. We realized then neither of us had a plan, only an objective to prevent a horrible incident. The dog had a collar and license but no owner information. The shelter was already closed as was the Dog License Bureau. The driver had two kids in her small, crowded car. I had a Jeep with no one it. The dog didn’t need an invitation to jump into my front seat.
Our family has executed a lot of rescues over the years so this was a familiar drill. This one was complicated this time by the fact that I already had kittens and two dogs at home. My first step was to meet up with my daughter to plot out our logistics.
My daughter followed me home and dog-sat to keep the Airedale in the Jeep while I let our two dogs out. She took the Airedale out of one side of the Jeep while I loaded our dogs into the other and drove them to another house to spend the night. Meanwhile, Katy put our kittens in their crate where bouts of barking produced a return volley of swats and growls. A blanket over the side of the crate helped with that out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing. As soon as I came back; Katy left.
I took the visitor outside with no results. I had no idea if house-broken was part of the dog’s vernacular but at 11:00 p.m., I looked into those soft brown eyes and told her we were going to bed. Aside from a random sniff and reciprocal hiss from the imprisoned cats, things seemed off to a grand start.
I awoke about 2:00 a.m. and realized my arm was asleep. It was also wet. When I opened my eyes, that big curly head was resting on my arm with Purple Squeaker Monkey, my dog’s toy, in her mouth; I was covered in drool. I got up and put her on the leash for another visit into the great outdoors. This time we had success and I rewarded her with a cookie.
Apparently three hours of sleep was all she needed. After her break, she picked up the monkey and started again. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak-squeak. 20 minutes passed before things got eerily quiet. I realized she had disemboweled the toy and ferreted out the squeaker, a wonderful choking hazard. I turned on the light, traded the squeaker for a cookie and retrieved the remains. The toy is now named simply Purple Monkey.
Lights out. I felt her head on my arm again. This time she had brought me the TV remote. Then she gave me a Q-tip, followed by a CD case, a pack of gum and then a pine cone. I’m not sure what all this says about my housekeeping but I don’t think it can be good.
At 3:30 she was nosing me again and moved to stand by the door. Outside, she squatted for about three seconds. Inside she immediately sat down, smiling. I realized then I had just taught a new dog how to train a human to give out cookies.
By 6:30 we were up again and I gave up my last hope of getting sleep. I loaded the Airedale into the Jeep, released the cats, drove to the place my own dogs had been vacationing and let them out for their morning romp — all while making sure no one got any visual contact. Then the Airedale and I headed for McDonald’s. I needed coffee.
I was already dialing the moment the Dog License Bureau opened and they knew exactly who she was: Maya .She is a frequent flyer. If there was a Post Office billboard for canine escape artists, apparently her picture would be on it.
By 9:30, I had driven to a parking lot 14 miles away to reunite her with her family. She was happy.
Back home, my dogs enjoyed a major sniff-fest while I took a morning nap. My cats let me know they were ticked off for the next two days but in the end, no one had been eaten. I learned as the farmer had, you can’t solve every problem with a direct solution; it might take a bit of juggling.