So, I was a bit of an emotional mess last night. And it was because of a dog. In fact, I'm still fairly distraught and half-convinced that my dog-lover card should be revoked. Oy vey. Here's what happened:
Last night, I went outside to read (The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, if you're interested) while Spike stayed inside to wrangle together a PowerPoint presentation for class. I love being outdoors around sunset, so I happily parked myself Indian-style on the trunk of the Capri, facing west (yeah I know, I'm a little bit redneck), and cracked open my book. At this point, there were a pretty good number of kids, couples, and dogs outside up and down the street, so I didn't pay too much attention when I saw a little white dog trot down the sidewalk. I remember vaguely noting that he wasn't in my mental Catalog of Neighborhood Pets, but I didn't let him distract me from my novel for more a second or two.
Fast forward 45 minutes or so. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, the light was starting to fade, and I was the only person still outside on our street. I saw a little white blob in my peripheral vision, glanced up, and sure enough--it was the same little dog that had trotted down the sidewalk earlier. He was meandering through the field across the street, so I walked toward him, crouched down, and called him. Immediately, he trotted up to me and nuzzled against my ankles. I was a goner.
Upon further inspection, said little dog appeared to be an adult--I'm guessing a Jack Russel terrier mix. His tail was short, half his face was light brown, and one ear stood up while the other flopped over. He was very thin and not wearing a collar--but on the flip side, he wasn't terribly dirty, and I didn't see any ticks or (noticeable) fleas.
After petting the little guy for a minute, I tried picking him up, which he submitted to with no protest whatsoever. Then, I did what any other wife would do--I called my husband.
To make a long story a bit shorter, we went to the neighbor's house to see if he'd ever seen my little stray. No, he hadn't--but said stray just snuggled against my chest as I held him during the ensuing discussion on artillery between Spike and our neighbor. At this point, I wasn't sure what to do--it was nighttime, and we had nowhere to keep the dog until morning. He'd have wiggled under the boards of the fenced-in side yard in 2 seconds flat, and Spike and I aren't SUPPOSED to have any animals inside our duplex--if the landlord found out that we broke that rule with no pet deposit, we could be fined pretty heavily.
Personally, me and my bleeding heart would have risked letting the dog spend the night in the guest bathroom, though Spike was much less enthusiastic about this plan. Visions of chewed-up cabinets were dancing in his head. In the end, though, the decision was taken out of our hands. I set the little dog on the ground, naively expecting that he'd stick close, but he promptly trotted away. I called him and went a few steps after him, but he was moving fast, and Spike (understandably) didn't want me running around the Oklahoma landscape, barefoot and in the dark, in pursuit of a small dog.
I was crushed! I felt (and still do feel) like I've somehow failed as a human being in not being able to help this potential stray further--and I especially feel terrible that I didn't do a better job of protecting him from having to wander around on his own. I tearfully sniffled all of this to Spike last night, who tried to reassure me that the little dog's departure wasn't my fault. "After all, he left very purposefully," Spike pointed out. "He probably belongs to one of the farms around here."
Maybe so--but I couldn't stop thinking about how thin he was. So I put a bratwurst from fridge out on the sidewalk before I went to bed. It was gone this morning (honestly, it could have been eaten by any number of creatures), but I hope the little white dog found it. I've been looking out the front windows all morning, but no sign of him yet. If he comes back, I'm not letting him out of my clutches until his owners are found, he's in a no-kill shelter, or I've convinced Spike that we need to adopt him.
Meanwhile, all I have to show for myself is a bruised dog-lover's heart and at least 12 distinct mosquito bites. Dash it all!