Monday, May 23, 2011

Do You Know Where Your Dog Is?

Bingley is not a barker. But if he sees a cat or rabbit or small dog out the front window, he will bark. Usually, if I open the sliding door that leads from the kitchen into the back yard, he will race out, apparently thinking that he will find the critter of interest on the opposite side of the house.

Usually, after a few minutes, Bingley comes back in, tongue hanging out from his exertions, having forgotten that the critter still might be in front of the house. He's happy to have run around the back yard. I'm happy that he has been distracted.

This evening was different. When Bingley started to bark at something he saw outside the front window, I didn't bother to check the object of his concern. I simply opened the kitchen door and he exited. But he didn't do his usual inspection tour of the garden. He stood at the door, barking and barking. So, in interest of neighborly relationships, I let him back in and followed him to see what the bother was.

Across the street, in the front yard of people I know have only indoor cats, a young boy, perhaps five years old, was trying to corral a small white dog--without any success. The erratic movements of the little boy and little dog were what had set off Bingley's unusually strong reaction. Two moving critters that needed pursuit and no way for him to pursue them. What frustration!

I managed to wedge myself out the front door without Bingley's bolting, as he clearly wished to do, so I could investigate the situation.

The little boy confirmed that the dog was his: what appeared to be a Miniature Poodle/Bichon mix, named "Chubby." No leash, collar or tags.

I called the dog and started walking up the street to where the boy said he lived--about six houses up. Chubby was happy to follow me until we passed two houses across the street with open garage doors. Both houses have dogs and Chubby needed to investigate. But it wasn't hard to coax him back and a kind neighbor driving up the street was acting as a traffic break to protect Chubby from being run over. When we arrived at the house that the little boy identified as his, the garage door was also open. No mystery how Chubby had escaped.

Since no adults were in evidence, I told the boy to take Chubby inside and close the door. I also suggested that Chubby needed a collar and tags. But five year olds shouldn't be expected to remember messages of that nature.

The episode ended happily. Chubby and his little human got safely home. Bingley settled down after Chubby disappeared. You gotta love a good distractable Sighthound--Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

But we were lucky. On our short walk to Chubby's house, we passed one house where a Rottweiler lives and another house where a Pit Bull lives. Both are well cared for dogs with responsible humans. But on warm days, the Rottweiler's people let him bark and carry on with only a screen door for protection. I've always wondered just how strong that screen door is. And on some days an irresponsible young man visits the Pit Bull and he insists it's ok for the Pitty--"he loves everyone"--to run loose in front of the house.

Today the Rottweiler's front door was closed and the Pit Bull had no irresponsible visitor.

I hope today's escape was a strange event for Chubby that will never occur again. I certainly hope that I never encounter Chubby loose at 5am when I'm walking Bingley and Magic.

I really hate to walk up to a neighbor's house and remind them that they need to keep track of where their dog is at all times and that small dogs are particularly vulnerable if left to wander.

Perhaps I'll wait to see if it happens again.

But summer is coming. That's when a lot of people in our neighborhood keep garage doors open to cool off their houses.

I'll probably be seeing Chubby again.

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