Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scruffy Finds a Home

This is one of those posts that really need pictures to illustrate it, but you'll just have to use your imaginations because I have no pictures of Scruffy.

Here's the story:

On Saturday afternoon, my parents and Caroline and I went to watch David play baseball.  He plays on a competitive men's baseball league and he's a pitcher and his team was in the play offs so it was kind of a big deal.  Also, he's thinking about retiring after this year...  something about not having enough time to keep his arm in shape, what with working and wanting to spend his free time with two awesome ladies.

(That's me and Zuzu.)

(Hopefully that was obvious, but reading back over that sentence made it sound like he has some dicey extracurriculars going on or something, which, no.  He just wants to hang out with his wife and daughter, thankyouverymuch.)

So anyway, we were at his game, which was actually very enjoyable for me (even though they lost, sad face) because my mom and dad entertained the baby so I just sat and chatted with my friend Angela like I was a teen mom whose parents were actually parenting my child while I hung out with my friend.

But back to the point of my story.  When we got to the ball field, I noticed a little gray dog playing with some kids.  I didn't think much of it because sometimes people bring their dogs to the ballgames (We don't bring our dogs because Little Mac doesn't do well with people and Cooper is hit or miss with other dogs and I don't enjoy being publicly shamed by my dogs' bad behavior.  Instead I'm privately shamed in my own home when people visit and my dogs are obnoxious.)

But then I noticed that parents were telling their kids not to play with the little dog.  And finally someone walked the little dog outside the fence.  And left it there.

A closer look at the little dog on my way to the concession stand revealed that it was a MESS.  It was very small, and looked like a little Yorkie, but it was completely uncared for.  Its fur was totally matted and disgusting.  It was filthy dirty.  The fur on its face hung in his eyes and the longer fur under his belly and tail was tangled and disgusting.  It reeked of flea collar smell, from a collar someone must have stuck on it because they felt sorry for it scratching.

And yet, it was the cheeriest, happiest, most hopeful little dog, sitting on the outside of the fence, still trying to play with the kids.

I asked the ladies in the concession stand about the dog.  They said that it had been hanging around the ball fields for the last couple of days.  They think someone dumped it there.  One of them said she would have taken it home except she has ten cats.  (Uh...  I know, right?)

I walked back to my seat and told my mom I was taking that dog home.

She protested a little bit...  first she said it probably belonged to someone.  Which... no.

Then she said someone else would take it home.  But I didn't believe that.

I know she felt sorry for the dog, too, but was thinking that I didn't need to be messing with a dirty, wormy, flea-bitten, probably not housebroken dog.

And I kind of felt the same way.

But I just couldn't leave it there.

After the game, David came over to greet us and I said to him, "I'm going to do something and I really need you to be supportive."

He said ok (gotta love a husband who agrees before hearing the plan), so I told him I was taking that little dog home and I was going to get him cleaned up and find him a good home (Because keeping him was NOT an option.  Cute as he was, the LAST thing I need/want is one more needy creature in this house.  I mean, do we need to go over how high-maintenance the two dogs we already have are?).  David has a soft spot for little dogs no one in their right mind would want, so he just said, "All right.  I'm going to hang out here with the guys for a little bit."

So after the game, I walked over to the dog and gingerly petted the top of its head (because it was DISGUSTINGLY DIRTY, you guys).  One of the ladies cheering for the other team had been sitting near the dog and when she saw me petting it, she told me that she'd called animal shelters but no one would take this dog.  Turns out that the town in which the ball field is located does not help fund any animal shelters, so no one will pick up stray animals in that town.  The police only pick up dogs that are dangerous and need to be euthanized.  So this little guy truly had no where to go, and had obviously been surviving on the streets for a while.  (Tears!)

So, while my mom and dad loaded up the baby and our bag chairs and cooler and stroller, I grabbed a blanket and used it to pick up the little dog.  I put him in the back of the Honda with the stroller and the bag chairs and we hit the road.

He was quiet the whole way home, just curled up on the blanket in the back of the car (probably terrified, poor little thing).  I named him Scruffy (but seriously had NO plans to keep him).

We got home and my dad took the baby in the house while my mom and I put Little Mac's leash on Scruffy and she tried to lead him down the sidewalk so I could go inside and get Cooper and we could introduce them on neutral territory, away from our house/yard, and then lead them into the backyard together.  (Little Mac was actually not a concern because even though she will bite people, she prefers to avoid other dog whereas Cooper has been known to be aggressive and embarrassing at the dog park).

This was a good plan, but Scruffy did not want to walk on the leash, and wasn't interested in the treats we offered (I think he was too freaked out to eat).

And Cooper, true to form, was kind of an asshole to Scruffy.  Although there was some sniffing and wagging, he got a bit growly.  Nothing major, but enough to worry me a little since he's so much bigger than Scruffy.

Eventually, we got Scruffy in the backyard, let Cooper back in the house, and I decided Cooper just had to be supervised when let out in the yard for the rest of the weekend.  On Monday, I'd take Scruffy to the vet and then to the groomer, and then I'd see about getting him adopted by someone else.

An hour or so later, David and I decided to let Cooper outside and see how he and Scruffy got along.  But when we went out in the backyard...  there was no sign of Scruffy!

A chill went through me as David checked the chicken coop but (thank goodness) the chicken sisters (Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy) were just fine and Scruffy was not in the coop.

He wasn't under the deck, behind the shed, in the compost pile, to the side of the garage, or hiding in the garden.

There's a small gap between our gate and the garage, and we kept staring at it, wondering if it were small enough that he could have squeezed through it (it's too small for Cooper, and Little Mac would never try to get out of the yard, but Scruffy was really small--less than 10 pounds for sure--and could have done it.)

So I went out in our alley and started looking for him.  Honestly, I figured he had a better chance of surviving in our neighborhood than in the one he was in when I found him, but I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Here I'd taken him from his familiar surroundings and then LOST him, and now he was going to wander and get hit by a car...

Our house backs up to an alley, and our neighbor across the alley is a couple from Laos.  Their house is a very bright green and they have four grown kids who have all gone to medical school.  They also have a furry little mop-looking dog who barks almost as obnoxiously as Cooper.  Their youngest daughter and her husband lived with them for a while when she was finishing school, and they had a doberman pinscher.  The son-in-law would go for bike rides with the doberman running alongside and he bought one of those bike-cart-attachments made for little kids so that the little dog could ride in it and go with them.  Um, cutest thing ever.  Anyway, the daughter and son-in-law have since moved into a house of their own, but the parents ended up adopting their own doberman, which makes a funny pair with their little mop-dog, and when the daughter and son-in-law visit, there are two dobermans and a mop-dog standing guard at their fence.  All this to say, they are dog lovers and their English is not perfect.  So the lady saw me wandering the alley and she came outside and asked me if I was looking for something.  I told her I was searching for a little dog, but not one of our dogs, a dog I had rescued.

She got all excited and did much gesturing and told me the dog was next door.

Her next door neighbors are a cute family from Bosnia (one thing I love about our neighborhood is the diversity of accents).  This family has an older son who is probably in fifth grade who likes to come over and pet Cooper and watch David practice pitching in our backyard.  They also have a younger boy (probably first grade?) and a little girl (she's about two and a half).  They're really friendly (even though I avoided all social interaction with neighbors for a long time after Eliza died).  They like to give us food when they barbecue.

So David and I walked over to the next house, and there was Scruffy in the fenced-in-yard next door, skipping around and having a blast playing with the three kids.  Obviously the parents are pretty laid back, because all the kids were petting the dog that I didn't really want to touch because his fur was so gross (poor little thing).  Anyway, the mom and dad asked if it was our dog (they know, of course, that we have Mac and Cooper) and I said, "No, I just found him wandering and he needs a good home!"  So the mom said she'd seen him in the alley, so she let him in their yard.  The dad said he was going to "give him a shower and put his picture on the internet" to try to find him a home.

David and I looked at each other and said, "OK, great!"

Scruffy was now someone else's project!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally relieved.  I'd already been imagining the logistics of taking care of this dog, plus my dogs, especially if all backyard interactions needed to be supervised, plus the baby, the trips to the vet and the groomer...  and what if we couldn't find him a home?  It was clear that his escape from the yard and rescue by this other family was basically the most serendipitous of events.

And I'm thinking maybe they won't give him away after all because those kids were having so much fun with him (and they don't have any other pets).

So basically, I rescued a dog and found him a home without even trying.

It makes me so happy to think of that little dog off the streets and living with a loving family (fingers crossed they end up keeping him).  I smile every time I think about it.


  1. Oh the heart of an animal never fails to get us in over our heads! I'm glad it worked out for you. And I too hope that family keep lil Scruffy.

    All three of our cats (growing up back home...only one left living now) were street rescues. I can take complete credit for the first, Amber. We had just moved, and it was my first day of school, at a NEW school, in the 6th grade. A cat had followed me from a block away from my home, all the way to school. I couldn't just LEAVE her!! She was so sweet, and affectionate. I walked her back to my home, and my mom was freaking out because I was supposed to be at school! My mother marched me back to the building, all in a nervous huff...and the cat followed us again! My mother fell in love. I went to school knowing this kitty would be home with my mom, and felt so relieved.

    Long story short, we kept her!

    There are some strays in our current neighborhood who I can only presume are the spawn of the devil...with those vacant eyes and empty, emotionless stares (they drive my cats nuts when they stalk at our back sliding door...when I try to shoo them, they stare back at me unphased...ready to steal my soul. *shutters*). But if I ever find another kitty like Amber, god help me!!

    Love your story! Sorry to flood the comments with one of mine... But you inspired a moment of nostalgia :)

  2. Like! I unexpectantly lost my dog (she passed away Tuesday evening suddenly) so this warms my heart to hear that there are still wonderful people in the world (like you) who really do care. You'll have to go by their house in a couple of days and see if Scruffy is still there! Thank you for resuing the little baby!!!

  3. You are a hero!

    There was a cute little dog who I named "little white dog" who roamed our street back in GA fairly often, but every time I tried to get close, she'd run away. I knew she didn't have a home because I had asked all the neighbors and I saw her in the saddest of conditions (wandering aimlessly during rain storms, etc) and it just broke my heart. Anyway, one day she FINALLY let us get close and Miles was able to put a leash on her. Then she walked home with us like we were BFFs. I took her to the nearby shelter (next door to the adoption facility I got Roscoe from) and left her there. I wonder what happened to sweet Little White Dog. I hope she found a good home. I swear, if it weren't for Finn - we would have adopted her on the spot. But I guess something about parenting a baby makes you think twice about adopting one more pup with a questionable background :)

    Cute story. I hope your neighbors keep her. Maybe bake them cookies as a "thank you" for taking her in and to hopefully lay on the guilt??

  4. You are so awesome, and so are your neighbors! This is absolutely heartwarming.

  5. Oh... that is so very sweet of you.
    Growing up as a kid, me and my sisters had rescued like 36 stray dogs, as early as when I was in first grade. There are tons of strays in need of good homes. We never rescued them to give them away though and didn't have to look that hard. we used to be so notoriously famous that everyone living in our street would dump stray dogs that their kids would gather, right at our doorstep. And how delighted we would be to be greeted by a whimpering little puppy, sometimes even litter of puppies early in the morning. Would totally make my day! Sometimes even hidding the puppies if mom was in a bad mood. And sneaking out food from the kitchen for little furries. Feeding litter of puppies who would have lost their mom, use to be such a delight. How lively and excited they would get when they smelled food; rolling on the floor barring their tummies and fanning little tails. How much I miss those days! I am sure I cannot take such responsibility now though.