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Part of a little dog’s tale

Thursday, 28 July, 2011

Last night as I was returning from dinner break, the anticipated gathering of smokers conscientiously fifteen feet away from the entrance to the plant, appeared to be focused upon something. It was not unlike a large group of people watching television. In the midst of the arc was some kind of animal. I presumed, at first, a wild animal of some kind because no one was reaching in to touch it, although most bothered to mention how cute it is.

I approached the inner layer and found a dog. She looked mostly like a beagle, although with deep-brown fur and a white diamond on her chest, but much smaller. In better times she probably would be a 8-to-10 pound dog, but was so ravaged she could be no more than 5 lb. The dog appeared to have a particularly serious case of mange. The top of her head, the fronts of her legs, large spots on her torso. Scratching had led to minor scabbing.

I knelt to investigate. She rushed toward me. Unlike everyone else I could not resist touching her. Yes, I know the protocol. She’s full grown. She wears a higher-end black nylon collar, like the $10 one from Petco rather than the $3 from Wal-Mart, but it was filthy and in poor condition. Somebody loved this dog once.

I didn’t spend much time as work was calling, but I did the check for tags and a superficial check for injuries. No tags. She was so sweet, I knew she was a couple of courses of selamectin and a few cans of Iams away from being a wonderful companion for somebody, but not me. I mean, Bob is categorically afraid of dogs. I now live in a cat-only building. I just got here …

Walking onto the floor, I bugged the guys in my department. “Gentlemen, who needs a dog?”

One of the guys was thinking about it, until he saw her poor condition. This is exactly the opposite of my reaction. I could not resist putting on a pair of nitrile gloves and spending a couple of minutes with her every half hour of so for the remaining hours of my shift.

I had to do something. It got to the point that folks walking through my department would remind me, “Hey Stan! Your dog is still out there.” I googled up the number for a 24-hour vet not too far away. The essence of the conversation was: “Just bring her in, we’ll take care of her.” They, of course, encouraged me to “take responsibility” and properly adopt her. It was tempting, despite my circumstances. This includes, as I like to say: I’m bi but I prefer cats.

One of the crew gave her the remnants of a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Not my first choice, but obviously enough to keep her hanging around. The lid of a large container was adapted to a water bowl. The last couple of visits she was so excited to find a kind hand she dripped a little urine. I could have been more clever about not getting her to follow me into the building, but this was somehow achieved in a series of Chaplinesque maneuvers.

At the appointed hour I grabbed a paper box, we have many laying around, stuffed it with craft paper and she readily, almost eagerly, let me put her in the box and place the lid on top.

I drove to Austin Vet Care on N. Lamar and following a prolonged sequence of her drinking water out of a cup while we waited, and my attempt to feed her a biscuit from the provided tin in the waiting area. She was turned over to the authorities.

Among the reasons she did not have much interest in the biscuit, or the half-Burger, was that in the clear light of the vet’s office she revealed no teeth in her lower jaw. The mange was even worse than was apparent in the dim light of the plant exterior. The Doc saw some inflamed skin and suspected her condition was exacerbated by sunburn. She almost certainly has been on her own for weeks. The Doc took none of my information. He stated twice that she was a puppy, although to my amateur eyes appeared full grown but tiny.

She would almost certainly be adopted once brought back to health, a process which would start immediately, and sent through the Austin Animal Center, which we both still called “Town Lake”.

Bob is due for his monthly selamectin in a couple of days, but got it early this morning as a precaution, and that was that. Well, as of 4:40 in the morning my car still smells of filthy dog. I did what I was supposed to do. Why do I feel guilty?

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