On Thursday evening, a large dog showed up on my porch. I noticed him through the window. Knowing how my cats feel about the species, I usually shoo dogs on their way. You should know that, although I no longer have dogs, I really love them. But I have a responsibility to protect "my own" [cats] and, truth be told, it's probably the dogs who I am most protecting. My cats are extremely territorial and possessive. Any animal who might divert their human's attention from them is in danger of attack. I'm not exaggerating. On two occasions, I dog-sat for my sister's dogs (different dog each time) and on both occasions, despite my best efforts to protect them, I sent the poor dogs home injured. But I digress.
This dog was a great big, beautiful yellow lab. I wish I had taken his picture. Hindsight. I stepped onto the front porch intending to shoo him away, but his enthusiastic greeting was so charming it got the best of me. I couldn't do it. I patted him on the head and went back inside, knowing that my outside cats were on heightened alert on the side steps.
I began calling the few neighbors whose phone numbers I know. When my inquiries were unsuccessful, I stepped back out onto the front porch to find that the pooch wasn't there. Hoping, but not believing, that he went home, I checked around the house. He'd moved to my back deck and was trapped up there by a hissing, threatening, male cat and a diligently watchful female cat. I tried to get the dog to come down by stepping between him and the aggressors. He made a move to comply, but my male cat shot around me, hissing and growling. This huge dog just laid back down and averted his eyes. This produced a big tug on my heart strings because I once had a 70 lb. Samoyed who would do the same thing when threatened by a little 5 lb. kitten. I finally just scooped up both cats (injuries sustained were minor) and secured them in the garage.
Back in the house, I called one neighbor a second time. Lori has a true love of animals that I can relate to. Either her husband shares this passion, or he is a very tolerant man. She has three dogs, two horses, rabbits, and at least one cat that I know of. Lori, it turned out, had both the means and the willingness to keep the dog penned up overnight for me. At dusk, she and her teenage daughter, Maggie, walked up the road to meet me. My new friend heeled most of the way there, as if he'd been obedience-trained. When he saw Lori and Maggie approaching, he got excited and ran joyfully up to greet them, suddenly backed off for a second, then proceeded with his usual friendly greeting, soaking up the attention and pets they showered him with. It was as if he thought he recognized them from a distance but, up close, realized it wasn't who he thought it was, and then his sunny disposition quickly dispelled his disappointment. Another big tug on my heart strings.
On Friday morning, I collected this sweet-natured beast, piled him into my vehicle and drove around to knock on some doors. These inquiries also produced no results, unless you count the incident where I was attacked by a vicious dog whose teeth penetrated and tore my flesh and my favorite jeans. Fortunately, I was able to forgo medical attention until I concluded my lost & found efforts. The beast's owners never did come to the door. I prefer to think no one was home. But I digress again. From that point on, I thought it best to simply leave a short note on the back of my business card in people's mailboxes.
Next, I embarked on a thirty minute drive to my vet's office in Mandeville to have them scan my gregarious friend for a microchip. During the drive, he decided he was attention-starved and climbed up to the front passenger seat, huff-puffed sweet nothings in my ear, and demanded that I scratch his chest and rub his ears the rest of the way.
At the vet's office, all personnel behind the counter kept remarking on how familiar the dog looked to them. They named the breeder that they were certain this dog had originated from. When they scanned, they found that the big, friendly galoot was micro-chipped. BUT (you knew there had to be a "but", didn't you?), their scanner didn't read this particular chip's format. So, they sent me across the highway to another vet's office that has the correct scanner for this format.
Across the highway, the other vet's staff scanned the dog, got the number from the chip and placed a call to get the registry information. Meanwhile, they kept commenting on how familiar the dog looked to them and echoing what the other office workers had said about the breeder the dog had to have come from. The phone call didn't produce the owner's info - the chip hadn't been registered. Next, they called the manufacturer or distributor or some such place to trace the lot number and determine where the lot had been sent. While we waited, one of the workers said, "Watch it be here."
And so it was. In checking their own microchip records, they discovered that the dog in question was actually Sonny (Sunny?), the vet's dog. The vet, it turns out, lives in the subdivision across the highway from me (at a house whose door I had not knocked on, of course) and had been frantically searching for his pet for days. He had just had flyers printed but hadn't yet posted or distributed them.
Don't you just love a happy ending?