Saturday, December 3, 2011

Alternative uses for the catch pole

This is a photo of Stella and her "other" boyfriend Pee Wee. Both of them like to sit out in my backyard and study squirrels.

I have a quick (ha) story about a trip I made over to Animal Control last week. As a prelude, I'd like to say that no dogs died in the story. Well, none of the dogs that are actually in the story anyway.

A Russian immigrant neighbor, has two Siberian Huskies. Their names are Baikal and Zima (they used to drive Stella mad). These two recently discovered that if they jump onto the air conditioning unit in their back yard, it's one more short jump to freedom and so of course, they did; two days in a row. After a long run in the neighborhood on the second day, someone called their owner, my neighbor (who is a school teacher) to report the dogs were in her custody. Since she couldn't leave school in the middle of the day so she asked the caller to return them to her yard and secure the fence. The woman agreed but when she got to the house the dogs wouldn't get out of her car. She then drove both dogs to Animal Control and asked them to "remove" the two dogs from the car. Since Animal Control closes before the teacher got off work (at 4pm), the pair of dogs spent the night there (ka-ching). The next afternoon, I came upon the woman in her driveway at her wits end. She had just returned home with the (smaller) female and was now on her way back for the male. Both were uncontrollable, she said and had to be brought home separately. It might be worth mentioning that the dogs spend time in their backyard but they never go for walks or receive any sort of outside stimulation. I was walking Diesel at the time I met her and she asked if I would take him home and accompany her to the dog pound. I agreed.

When we arrived there was a short wait while they retrieved the ninety pound Baikal (named after Lake Baikal) from whatever pen he was in behind the heavy, almost soundproofed door. We sat down on a couch in the reception area whereupon my neighbor said: "This is where you should bring that dog you have - Diesel - up here." I thought she was kidding at first so I followed up politely with a simple, "I don't think so." This woman though, doesn't tolerate "polite" very well choosing rather to shove you all the way to the wall on things, so rather suddenly, it became a challenge. Louder now, she said:

"You can't take care of that dog and feed it and pay the bills, why not? They have to take him if you bring him here."

In much softer tone, I said that I wouldn't dream of bringing him here and that was why I had him in the first place (so that he didn't end up here).

"Why?", she demanded to know. "They could find him a home," she argued.

I was starting to feel nauseated at this point but I really didn't want to offend the people who were working there so I had to think carefully about how to answer. Finally, I told her that if you surrendered your own pet to Animal Control, they almost always euthanize the pet. Believing I was totally misinformed, my neighbor then stood up then, walked to the desk and announced:

"She has this dog that isn't hers and she doesn't want him and can't take care of him. Tell her that if she brings him up here can you keep him until he finds a home."

Another woman standing in the lobby (waiting for the Husky) immediately turned and asked me what kind of dog he was while my neighbor grilled the woman behind the desk. He's a Lab mix I said, I'm not sure what he's mixed with but bringing him here isn't an option. He's my foster dog." I said. "I'm not even sure why we're having this conversation."

The lady behind the desk piped up then: "Metro won't let us keep pit bulls but we try to adopt out as many of the other dogs as we can."

"And, how long are they up for adoption before they're euthanized?" I asked her.

"Three days" she said without hesitating, "but by law, we have to euthanize all pit bulls or any dog that looks like one because you never know when they're going to rip someone's face off."

I came up out of the chair then hoping to catch a bus home and let my neighbor deal with her dog however she could. Before I could exit this fine facility however, the door opened and someone handed the big dog off to the woman in the lobby. What happened next was not what I expected. She (the dog's owner) flew across the room howling and wildly squealing the dog's name at the top of her lungs, over and over and over again like a crazy person. If she had stood on the coffee table and done the Chicken Dance it wouldn't have been any more ridiculous. This sent her already stressed dog - right off the deep end, lunging and barking without restraint. She turned to me then and said "See, he's so crazy and excited I can't even get him to the car."

It was no surprise that poor Baikal rode all the way home with his head wedged between my head and the passenger side window. I was just thrilled to find him still alive. He was tired and dirty and had the sweetest breath of any dog I've ever met.

So after all of that, I'm left wondering how it is so many people came to use the expression "rip someone's face off" when they're talking about dogs of the bully persuasion? I've heard those exact words used countless times and it had to come from somewhere. Some reactionary news outlet perhaps.. talk about misinformation.

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