Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good Samaritan or Dog-Napper?

Yesterday, during a daily walk with the poopies, I lost Albert......or, did I?

We were on the trail, above the house, a route we take almost daily. Once we passed through the gate, and got on the dirt trails, I let Albert and Rupert off-leash, to run free. Sniffing, exploring, chasing each other seems to be one of their great joys in life. They get so excited by the mention of the word "walk". As I am recovering from a cold (or flu?), I was walking instead of running. I didn't even change into my running clothes so I was not even tempted to run.

Rupert and Albert know to come when I call their names. Over the years, with development in the area, this trail has been discovered, and is now popular with other dog-walkers. Since Bob and I have little doggies, we keep an eye on them, within voice command, and often close enough to scoop up, as other off-leash dogs may not know how to respond to these curious, friendly little guys wanting a sniff.

Once off leash, the poopies immediately dash off, sprinting up the road before torn off the path by some enticing smell. It is fun and funny to see them run and pronk like deer as they race around the sagebrush. My pace was slower than usual, since I was not running, and I could see that they got ahead of me as they criss-crossed the road, expecting me to be further along on the trail. When both were out of sight for a few minutes, I started calling their names. Rupert is usually first to pop up on the trail ahead of me, and race back. Albert sometimes takes a few more calls, and can even be behind me, having been caught up in some especially enticing (but naughty) smell. (We have caught him munching on coyote poop.) This is the usual routine for our walks, initially letting the poopies have their fun to run around, but keeping them in contact through voice control.

After walking maybe half a mile, I was along a straight stretch of trial, and didn't see the poopies ahead, nor did I hear the jangle of their collars. I started calling out "Where's Rupert? Where's Albert?". After a few calls, Rupert popped out on the trail up ahead of me. I kept calling for Albert, but didn't see him. I figured he was ahead, so I kept on walking. When I didn't see him after continuing calling, I back-tracked, thinking maybe he went an alternate route, although an unlikely possibility as these doggies are creatures are habit. No Albert. Well, maybe he was further up the road than I expected, so I turned around again, and kept calling. I had Rupert hooked up at this point, and I could see he wanted to help, looking around for his brother/playmate. By now, I was getting nervous....where was he? So unlikely for him not to come running! The sun was sinking. I decided to call Bob. He suggested staying where I last saw Albert, and continue to call for him. I told Bob where I was, and he said he would come out. I turned around again, and headed back down the trail, calling, whistling, snapping my fingers. At the junction I stopped, and saw a figure walking up the trail towards me. It was not Bob, for this person was talking on a cell phone. As she got closer, she ended her call, and upon approach, asked me if I had another doggie. I said "yes", gesturing to my other empty leash.... and she proceeded to tell me about her friend who had picked him up....!! I don't remember the details of how it happened, only that someone had found Albert up there and decided to bring him home. This young lady told me which house it was. I repeated the description; I had to get Albert back! By then Bob was jogging up towards me..... I breathlessly told him that Albert was at someone's house, and gestured to the woman walking away, and what she told me. As we trekked on to the house, we speculated what may have happened. Apparently this woman had come across Albert on her run with her own dog. She must have decided to bring him back to her house. To me this seemed a bit odd. Didn't she hear me calling for Albert? Didn't she think to maybe look up the road for Albert's owner? She must have just taken him and kept on going, for I was never very far away, and certainly within voice calling distance.

Bob got to the house first. A male, who just bicycled up to the house, asked Bob if he was looking for a Boston Terrier. Bob called for Albert when the man opened the door in the garage leading to the back yard. Sure enough, Albert came trotting out. Apparently, the woman dropped off Albert in her back yard, then headed out to continue her run! Hmm....

As Bob and I walked back home, we discussed what had just happened. Was the woman being helpful by picking up Albert and bringing him home? What was she planning to do then? (He does have tags, and has a embedded chip.) Or, did she want to keep this cute, friendly doggie for herself?

I am grateful that this frantic episode for me had a good ending....however, I am not as gracious to the woman who took Albert. If I had found a loose dog up in the trails, I would explore a bit to find the owner. Usually, when I see a dog loose in the trails, the owner is either not far ahead or behind. Why didn't this woman look? I was barely up the trail. Or, was she plugged into a listening device so she couldn't hear me call?  It just seems suspicious that she was so eager to take Albert without further effort on her part. The man at the house did not seem overly helpful nor eager to let Albert go.

Today Bob and I walked the poopies, and did the entire loop, the one I didn't finish yesterday. We let both poopies off leash to let them run and explore freely. We had no misgivings.

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