A Little Brown Dog
This story isn't about a brown dog at all, it's actually about a pretty little Brittany Spaniel. One particularly wet and windy winter day in the Pacific Northwest I left the local high school where I was a volunteer coach. It was late in the afternoon and my eldest son, David, who was about 5 at the time, was with me. As we exited the massive entry doors there was something amiss, call it a wrinkle in the universe or whatever it is that piques intuition. In any case, I glanced about and there, behind the door in a corner was a shivery, wet and muddy very small spaniel. I called to her gently. Her response was appealing. David stood off, just in case. Carefully approaching, she was receptive so I touched and pet her slowly. Poor thing, she was so cold! The little dog was obviously about a year old and had no identification, not even a collar. Knowing full well a dog can slip a collar I still expected her owners would be frantic. So, we took the little dog home, gave her a bit of food then cleaned and warmed her up. The bathing exposed her beautiful and mostly white coat with a few liver brown markings on her. Regardless, David pronounced the new dog should be called Brown Dog and so she became.
David and his little sister understood Brown Dog was a lost dog and not our own but yet our responsibility to love and care for while we tried to find her owner. It was more than surprising that the initial phone calls to the humane society, local and county police and sheriff, the 911 center, the local radio stations, and every one of the veterinarians in the county yielded nothing. Not only had no one reported their dog missing, none of the vets even registered the care of such a dog as I described. I didn't much like having the care of a dog that most probably hadn't had her shots. After several days of daily calls to all of the entities I'd originally contacted in addition to all of the local grocers (many people post lost and found notices on community boards at grocers) our family decided it was time for shots for Brown Dog.
Month followed month, Brown Dog accompanied our family of four and our two other dogs as one of the family. Our children understood that Brown Dog was our guest, but, after three months if were unable to find her owners then she would be ours. Three months to the day we adopted Brown Dog. Early that morning we took her to the vet and filled out the paperwork, getting her license and a tag which we added to the collar we had put on her at the start of her stay with us. We stopped at the gas station on the way home and the attendant, who had seen us, all of us, dogs included, at least once a week every week for the past 3 months, said, "That looks like the dog my sister lost." With the phone number given I contacted the sister who was able to accurately describe Brown Dog. She was full of tears and didn't know what to do having already replaced Brown Dog. I was unmoved. She had been irresponsible from the start. I explained I was raising my children to be responsible pet owners, that animals were not whims. She could have Brown Dog back but she needed to make the decision by the end of the day. The sister called late in the afternoon, and, given every opportunity to rescind her decision, gave us Brown Dog.
The very next day Brown Dog disappeared from our fenced yard. The same yard our other two, and larger, dogs were safely in. The same yard Brown Dog had happily used for the last three months. Our family was shocked, sad and angry wondering what had happened to Brown Dog. A week went by with the same calls as I'd previously made but this time I was searching for a lost dog instead of reporting a found dog. Again I called the police, the local radio stations, the sheriff, the State Police, the Humane Society, the veterinarians, the grocery stores. Nothing. Day after day, nothing. Then, one afternoon, my husband Tom went to the local Post Office and as he walked to the door he heard the excited yips of what had to be Brown Dog from across the street. As he looked across sure enough there was the bobbing head of Brown Dog jumping as she could but not able to visually clear the fence. She had heard the familiar sound of our car! Tom quickly crossed the street, reached over the fence and picked up a very happy and squirming Brown Dog. Almost immediately, the door to the trailer home, whose yard Brown Dog was in, opened and a big and burly man called out "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" but quickly closed the door when Tom called back just as authoritatively, "This is my dog and I can prove it."
It was a very happy homecoming but short lived. Only a week later Brown Dog again disappeared from the yard. Again we called the police, the state police, the sheriff, the Humane Society, the veterinarians, the grocery stores and the local radio stations. We put up posters. We let everyone know. Our family could not believe Brown Dog was gone, again! Tom checked the yard of the previous miscreant, but it was empty. Again, month followed month and through those many weeks we bought our gas from the same station and the same attendant as before. And yet again, after hearing our ongoing tale of searching for Brown Dog, it was several months later that the attendant finally confessed that his sister and one of her friends had come into our yard and had stolen Brown Dog.
We were in a quandary. We had two other dogs and were faced with concern for their safety wondering who and what we were dealing with. We could not trust that someone who was so morally corrupt, criminal, without compassion and treated dogs and people so heartlessly. We wanted Brown Dog back, but would we be risking our other two dogs, or who knows what trouble, from someone so troubled? We were all very sad, as was everyone we we worked with and all those who had come to know Brown Dog. We never saw or heard of Brown Dog again. But we learned something valuable: if you find a lost dog, and nobody cares enough to find that dog within a week or two, then either immediately keep it or find another home for it far, far away. Lie if you have to to keep a dog safe from cruelty.