Last Thursday I did another 15-mile, full-pack training hike to the Honeysuckle Tea House. Though it was 90+ degrees, I knew that the flash I saw bolting through busy traffic wasn’t a heat-induced hallucination. It was, in fact, a dog. A dog that ended up in my yard and welcomed me home as if we were already well-acquainted.
Over the next few hours, I posted pics on Craigslist and Facebook of this male, pit/beagle mix with a black collar and no tags. I hung signs in the neighborhood. I contacted a local dog rescue facility and the Orange County Animal Services, and visited the vet to see if he was micro-chipped (he wasn’t). I even took the dog on an additional circuitous, long walk through Carrboro hoping that someone might recognize this dog — who obviously had humans. He walked at my side and never pulled the leash I’d made out of climbing rope. He was clean, smelled good (if that’s possible), and was extremely well-mannered around people and other dogs and cats we met along the way. The pads of his feet were very soft, making me wonder if he was an inside dog. But I can’t lie, I secretly hoped that all my efforts in due-diligence were in vain. He and I were bonding, and with a quickness. I called him “Little One.”
Little One and I must have put in a good six miles on Thursday. I bought him some food and treats and even let him nap on the couch. Shockingly, neither his fur nor his saliva aggravated my allergies. Katie gave me the green light to keep him overnight and we took turns tending to him when his crying woke us up. Eventually he crept into our room and slid under the bed. I assume he fell asleep.
The Lost and Found Pets of the Triangle informed me that found dogs must be registered with Animal Services, either online or in-person. So I took Little One in my friend’s car to the shelter where I was given two options: I could leave the dog with them and he’d be put in 5-day quarantine. They’d give him necessary shots, get him fixed, and if he was determined healthy, he’d join the adoptable population in less than a week. Or, I could hang onto him and after five days consider him my own. I was torn.
Little One and I took a seat and I called Katie to talk it through. At the same time, one of the shelter employees looked on their LOST page for a match. Sure enough, she found one – but from 4/15. A minute later, another employee found another lost report filed that morning. We got the owner on the phone and thirty minutes later I was delivering Little One (now known by his real name, “Eli”) to his person – literally a quarter mile from my house.
His person told me get gets out “all the time.” Said there are always tons of kids coming and going and he likes to go outside. Said he’d been out a number of times this year already. I told her she might want to reconsider her strategies for keeping the dog safe. I also gave her my card and said that if she doesn’t want to manage Eli and all that comes with him, that Katie and I would take him in a heartbeat. She seemed embarrassed. And there’s no doubt I was upset. She offered me a dozen eggs and $20. I took the $20.
In a mere 24 hours, that dog got me. I won’t be surprised if he shows up in my yard after escaping again. Next time I might not be so quick to bring him back.