Pet ownership lesson No. 1: Don't let them run loose

Our family today has grown by one.

He stands about 10 inches tall, has four short legs, two large ears and goes by the name of Toby.

That’s what his former owners told us. He’s now ours.

But this tale is about the idiots who gave him away and the method they tried to employ to find him a good home.

It goes like this.

Our 12-year-old great niece is visiting us for a few days. She likes to take walks through the neighborhood. She did so the other day and then returned with a little dog that followed her home. “What do I do with this dog?” she asked. “Put him in the back yard,” I said.

We looked to see if SPCA would be open Saturday. No luck; it would be closed for the Labor Day holiday. “We’re going to take the little guy to SPCA first thing Tuesday,” I told her.

Our niece then took us to the alley where she found the pooch. We talked to some neighbors. They didn’t know a thing about the dog. We brought him home. He spent Friday night in our back yard.

We awoke Saturday and our niece decided to take the pooch for a walk. We had purchased an inexpensive leash and a collar. They went for the walk and a few minutes later our niece returned home — without the dog.

“Don’t ask!” she said angrily. She stormed into her bedroom, then came out a few minutes later to tell us this: “I found the dog’s owners and they still want to get rid of the dog. They told me they just turned him loose at night hoping someone would pick him up. That is just awful! How can people do that to an animal? How can they treat their pets like that?”

She was angry. Then my wife and I got angry.

I declared at that moment that if were a dictator I’d declare those people guilty of animal cruelty and I would send them to jail, throw away the key and feed them dog food. I became so angry that I wanted to hunt those people down and tell them what rotten SOBs they are exposing that dog to harm.

Other dogs could injure him, or worse. He could be hit by a motor vehicle. He could be picked up by someone wishing to do terrible things to him. You name, I thought it.

Well, we awoke this morning. We had a full day at the rodeo. We returned home and our great-niece went for another one of her walks.

A few minutes later, we saw her walking toward the house — with the little pooch at the end of the leash.

She had found the owners yet again and told them that her aunt and uncle wanted the dog. They gave her the dog, told her his name is Toby.

The only remaining issue — and this is a big one — is whether our 12-year-old cats will accept this addition. This has been their house for a dozen years. Cat owners know what I am saying here.

We are cautiously optimistic that they’ll be all right. Toby doesn’t pose a physical threat to them. We’ll get him to the vet soon and he’ll be looked over. The curious thing about this dog is that he appears to be well-cared for. He’s been neutered and he is a loving, affectionate little fella. I guess he’s probably around 2 or 3 years old.

As for Toby’s former owners, it’ll take time for me to cool down. I remain quite angry over what we understand was their strategy for ridding themselves of an unwanted pet.

They have set the standard for what not to do. And for my money, they have disgraced themselves.

Oh, but hey, Toby’s now home.




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