Thursday, December 31, 2009

You've Got a Friend

"You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come runnin' to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend"

Our Christmas morning started out just like millions of others who celebrate Christmas Day. We knew that the moment we awoke, a fun-filled day of surprises had already been promised. But we never expected to open our front door and find a German Shepherd dog (the size of a small pony) staring back at us. When we heard his very low, very deep ... and loud bark, I thought I'd have to pull Paul out from the ceiling. Of course I'm sure it was just Big Dog's (as I affectionately, but accurately call him) way of wishing us a Merry Christmas and trying to let us know he was lost and needed help.

After several hours of watching Big Dog circle our home, investigate our deck, look inquisitively through our glass solarium door, and stretch out beside our front door, it was obvious that Big Dog had taken up residence. And it was obvious that he was lost and needed help. After feeding him a huge Christmas dinner (ok, I shared Jake the "regal beagle's" dry food with him, but he did get Honey Baked Ham), making sure he had water, I called my neighbors.

We finally gained his trust, and he allowed us to pet him and to be led to his temporary home, which was my neighbor's garage. Now, Big Dog would be out of the cold and wet winter weather; have food, water, and a loving touch. We all fell in love with Big Dog, and knew that our next task was finding Big Dog's owner. My neighbors went online looking for German Shepherd rescue shelters. I took pictures of Big Dog and made up flyers and distributed them in stores and on telephone polls in our area. I knocked on people's doors, put an ad in the local paper, called a local radio station who was kind enough to make several announcements for me, and went to some of the lost and found websites and posted as well. It's six days later and no one has claimed Big Dog.

And, my neighbor called me to let me know that they took him to the animal shelter to see if he had a microchip, but that there was none. And ... that they had surrounded him to the shelter. At first I was broken hearted. I spent a good part of the evening crying for Big Dog. I felt that he had found his way to my door for a reason. That he was sent to my door because it was somehow predetermined that I would help him. And ... I felt that I had let him down.

Things did get better! The more I learn about this particular shelter, the better I feel about the love and care they give not only Big Dog, but all their dogs. And, I have gotten a call from someone who listened to the radio show and would love to have Big Dog. I also know that he will get his microchip, and he is getting a thorough check-up. So, maybe this is the journey both Big Dog and I have to take to ensure him a loving home. I'm feeling better now, and I vow that I will do everything I can to make sure that he is not euthanized and does make it to the home this sweet and beautiful creature deserves.

Big Dog and all dogs (and yes all animals, but I'm talking dogs right now) are beautiful creatures and have proven time and time again that they truly are man's best friend. Unfortunately, we as individuals and owners have not always proven to be their best friend. I'm guessing that Big Dog is approximately 5yrs-6yrs old. He was never neutered, he had no microchip, and there wasn't any evidence that he had been wearing a collar. With all this in mind, I have to question whether or not he was getting any type of preventative care for heartworms, or fleas and ticks. More than likely, he hasn't had his rabies shot, either (purely speculation on my part).

With ownership, comes responsibility to our pets (I prefer calling them family members). Dogs are not toys. They are not to be discarded because of behavioral problems. (If we did that with my immediate family .... we wouldn't have any family left). If you don't have the money to take care of a dog, then don't get one. If you do bring a dog in as a new family member. Be a best friend to that dog. Make a life-long commitment to that dog. Make sure he gets the preventative care he needs to ensure a long life. Make sure he gets a microchip implanted because things do happen and all he/she really wants is to get back home. Make sure he has a collar with contact information and all his tags ensuring he/she has had rabies shots. I really wish Big Dog had a microchip. He would be at home right now instead of at the shelter.

It's really so simple. Dogs truly are man's best friend. They deserve to have best friends, as well.

I'll keep you posted on Big Dog. This isn't the end of the story, it's the beginning.