Adopted by a Starving Dog

by Elsie Eide Kelly

It had dropped down to 8 degrees and that short haired, huge dog was still on the loose with no one able to corner him and get him the help he so desperately needed. According to the online grapevine, he had been running in our area for about 2 weeks, refusing help from those who offered and running from those chasing him away. I saw him first near my place outside of Wilbur and for about 4 days watched him. He refused to come to me. I think, in hindsight, he was sleeping under the juniper bushes near the back door of the house I’d been renting since my home burned in the Whitney Road wildfire.

I went on with my life and one morning I happened to look out the dining room window and saw him. Immediately I grabbed some dog food, a bowl, a collar and took my little heeler outside with me to see if we could coax him close. He saw Tika and immediately went to her. She is friendly enough that she didn’t run him off and I was able to put down the bowl and as I poured food into it he came running. As he was wolfing down the food I petted him and carefully expanded and put on the collar. I hollered for help from my roommate to bring me a leash. My roomie tossed it to me and I relaxed as I snapped it on and waited for him to finish. I couldn’t believe he was letting me do this, but he was damned hungry and cold. His ribs stuck out and he was a sorry sight for sure.

When he finished what was in the bowl I gradually moved him toward the door to get him into the house and evaluate our situation further. He followed at my side like he was used to a leash. He didn’t drag behind, somehow he sensed that this was what he should do. At the door, he hesitated. Maybe he wasn’t an indoor dog. Maybe he knew to stop and not come in, but I encouraged him and we went on in and I let him loose. I covered the dog door so he couldn’t go back out but he didn’t seem to know about that wonderful concept. In fact, it took him weeks to feel comfortable enough to use it.

Every day, many times a day, I let him out the kitchen door on a long lounge line from my horse tack storage. He could have escaped that collar, but evidently he was used to being tied up (it showed on the hair being worn down around his neck). He just did his business within the parameters of that line and would come back to the porch to be allowed in. What a dog!

He got along famously with my heeler, in fact, doted on her and I began to feel comfortable until we could hear from the feelers I had put out on our local rescue networks. Gina Habbestad told me to wait at least a month to find his owner and then it was up to me to put him into foster care until a placement could be found or maybe just keep him.

Now, I don’t want to be sexist, but I had never had a male dog and didn’t particularly want one. However, he was such a good dog and seemed to naturally know how I wanted him to behave that I began to relax and think that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. I had been thinking about getting another dog but wanted something like a blue heeler, a cattle dog, that would fit into my ranching lifestyle. This guy was the exact opposite. But, I discovered that he was a natural guardian of the place, barking whenever anyone even drove down the road. Interesting. Maybe he was the farm dog I didn’t know I needed.

Isn’t it funny in life that sometimes something shows up that you had no possible idea could be an important part of your life. That’s, I think, the most important thing I’ve ever learned. Go with the flow, be open to change, understand your needs and go with it. Not easy to do because there are so many variables in our lives and often so many others in our lives who don’t agree with what we’re seeing. That’s another thing to consider. How will my decision affect others in my life.

At the time, my roommate had just lost his dog of 14 years and was heartbroken. The arrival of this dog coincided with his need to have a warm dog body to hug and rub and relate to. It worked for both of us and knowing that I was going to be heading back to my ranch to live in a travel trailer while my ranch was rebuilt it seemed like this dog was perfect, as long as someone didn’t claim him.

The big question: who did this dog belong to and why didn’t they want to claim him after all the advertising we had done? That question will probably never be answered so he officially adopted me and I took him to the vet, after some trouble teaching him to get in the truck, had him scanned for a chip (negative), got his vaccinations, and made an appointment for neutering. Done deal.

He’s my dog now and he knows it. He likes me and I kinda like him.

Elsie is a local writer rebuilding her little ranch south of Creston, rediscovering her writing passion, and looking forward to a bright future.

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