January 19, 2012

Doing the right thing shouldn't feel so sad

As Brex, Muttola and I entered the park, she slunk from between two parked cars. She crouched just ahead of us, ears pinned back to her head, tail tucked hard against her belly. Her distinctive head made me nervous about cornering a pit bull mix. I didn’t want to walk away either and trigger any prey instinct. Muttola was on full alert, but relaxed. In a soothing, happy voice I murmured, “It’s ok, sweetie, we’re not going to hurt you. You’re ok. Don’t worry, it’s ok, relax...”

Slowly she stood up a bit, after a minute or so, she half crept, half scrambled so she was in the free space behind us. Her blue collar made me think she was someone’s pet, but there were no tags. She looked skinny, but not gaunt (though I worried her round belly might mean she was pregnant). As she relaxed, we walked ahead and she perked up and scampered along with us, always behind Muttola, as close to me as she dared.

This park, two blocks from our house, has a small pond with a sidewalk all the way around it. It’s a favorite with families, walkers and people who just like to chill on a bench and watch the ducks and herons. As we strolled around the pond, the brindle pit bull’s ears began to stand up, her tongue came out, her tail began to raise and she began to bounce as she walked. Muttola was completely on her dignity. She barely marked (which if you knew her, is close to a miracle) and when the little dog began to run in joyous circles under the leash, around the mutt, up the hill, back down, around the leash, up the hill, tearing quickly over the ground, Muttola just stood still and watched the antics. I laughed since just this past weekend she tore similar circles around Jrex when we took her to an off leash area. Big faker.

As we came to the other side of the pond, the little dog ran off to the basketball court and was petted by a guy there. I assumed it was her owner and kept on going. Within 20 feet, she was back. As I walked home, she stayed close to my side. I hadn’t said anything to her, didn’t want to encourage her and hadn’t petted her at all. She stayed right next to us all the way.

When we got to the house, she scampered up the stairs after Muttola. As I unlocked the door, she sat on the mat and looked up at me with confidence. I felt awful as I let our mutt in, but gently kept her out on the porch. Our big wooden front door is flanked by narrow panels of leaded glass. I could see her shadow on the other side as she silently looked in. After a while, I didn’t see her there. It got dark, I’d heard nothing on the porch, our motion lights hadn’t gone on, Muttola was relaxed. Just to be sure, after an hour, I opened the door to make sure she’d left. Out she crept from the corner of the porch. I said, “It’s ok girl. I’m sorry!” and quickly shut the door on her again.

Now I had to do something.

I called a neighbor who frequently handles strays. She wasn’t able to take this one on. She told me we should get the dog into our yard and then call animal control or put out notices that we found a dog.

I walked out the front door with Muttola and Little Grey scampered behind us as we walked around the house to the back yard. I left them both out there while I went in to get food and water for Little Grey. Muttola let her eat and drink in peace (also a miracle) and didn’t seem at all jealous. After Little Grey finished her food, she came over to be petted. As eager as she looked, when I lifted my hand to pet her, she cringed belly to the floor. As I petted her, she eventually raised back up. After seeing that, I had NO desire to let her owner know where she was. I left both dogs in the back and went in to help Jrex with the baby’s bedtime routine (Brex cries if I don’t sing to him and then put him in the crib. Nothing Jrex does seems to equal that mommy moment. Poor guy.)

We came downstairs and started trying to figure out the animal rescue deal. We worried about leaving her outside all night since it was supposed to get cold. All offices were closed, but I saw that the main SCPA near our house had evening drop off hours. Jrex began cooking soup for dinner while I went out to take the dog to the shelter. Looking at her hopeful brown eyes, I was SO tempted to keep her. Yet, two dogs and a baby? An abused pit bull mix with an eventual toddler in the house?

To get her in the car, I had to climb into the back seat and call her gently to jump in. As soon as she got into the car, she again cringed and slunk along the floor. I climbed into the driver’s seat and she ended up standing with her feet in the back seat area and her paws on the console between the seats. If I petted her, she tried to put her head in my lap. It would have been cute, except she smelled like long dead fish.

We pulled in front of the building. No lights. No open doors. Then I saw a lit area to the right of the front doors. In the wall were eight metal squares with handles. Most of them gaped open. I drove closer. It looked like kennels built right into the wall. If I could get her to go into the outside door, there was an inside door on the other side for them to admit her. A doorbell and papers to fill out meant this could be totally anonymous, or you could give them what info you knew about the dog. Talk about a no shame system!

I had no worries about her running away when I let her out of the car. Sure enough, she stayed right next to me as we walked over to the kennel doors. When I waved my hand for her to get in, her belly hit the pavement and she wouldn’t move. I moved slower and called for her to go on in. She got up and crouched as she sniffed the kennel, but she wouldn’t go forward.

I heaved a sigh and then crouched down and duck-walked into the space. She crowded in after me. I got her in front of me and then gently petted her one last time. “Stay, sweetie. You’re ok”. I closed the door, rang the bell, saw her little shadow as they let her in and then turned and walked back out into the darkness.


Inkling said...

It is so sad what this generation has created in terms of so many abandoned and abused pit bulls. My college friend just recently went to adopt a dog after their last one died, and she said the pound was full of pit bulls. In my grandparent's town, they are the most common dog because of all the gangs and other "riff raff" getting them to give them street cred and to provide a semblance of protection.

My brother was attacked by one who knew him and had been properly trained and cared for. But for some reason on a visit, the dog started to lunge for my brother's wife and attacked my brother when he got in between them. That experience has made me realize that they just aren't predictable enough to be okay with having them in my home, even if they once were called "nanny dogs". I don't blame you one bit, but I too can totally feel the sadness. I'm so sorry you guys had to deal with that heartache - both you and the dog.

Anonymous said...

You were gutsy to handle a stray pit bull so lovingly. Yes, it was a tragic occasion, but you did well -- actually much better than could be expected -- and I'm glad the angels were protecting both you and Brex.

Lil'Sis said...

I'm sorry OTRgirl, that is so tough and so sad, you did the right thing, but no way around it just sucking. I will send up good prayers and wishes for Little Grey and prayers of thanks for folks like you.