I like dogs. No, I love them. I love MY dogs anyway. I believe everyone should own at least one, but only if they have proper time and resources to devote to the dog. Because here’s the thing—even free dogs are NOT CHEAP!
A month ago, I was driving to Chatom as I do every Monday morning and when I hit a certain point on the Chatom-Bigbee Road, my phone lit up with multiple text messages from my daughter.
“There’s a black lab at the school. He’s real sweet.”
“Can I have him?”
“Some kids are scared of him and some are being mean to him.”
“Mama, are you getting these messages?”
“Hey. You aren’t answering, but I already talked to the office and they said I could have him.”
Insert eye roll here. I was well aware of the dog at the school. He had been there for days because there were multiple social media posts about him. By the time I got parked and had enough service to respond, she had sent more messages, assuring me that this dog was sweet and that he needed a good home. I finished my work in Chatom and went by the school. I was told of how my child loved the dog and had been in tears because no one had claimed it. Another eye roll.
I made arrangements to get the dog home and into the fence, which he immediately climbed over. We put a collar on him, bought him a bed, fed him and gave him a name. We took pictures and plastered them on social media BEGGING his rightful owners to step up. No, he wasn’t the average stray dog. I have never met a true stray that can fetch, sit and shake on command. The dog showed appreciation for his rescue by leaving the good home that he’d been given. I was frustrated; Tatum was heartbroken. I assured her that we had done everything possible to make him feel at home. She just knew he’d appreciate all that we’d done and stay and no one had claimed him. I secretly hoped that it was over…and the dog showed up again.
This time, I got him to the vet and had him fixed because all of my other pets are fixed and they don’t roam. I naturally and wrongfully assumed that this would be the case with “Leroy” and I was wrong! To show his gratitude for updating his shots and “fixing’ him, he left again. This time he was gone for 9 days. But last Tuesday night, he came back and he has stayed…so far. I don’t trust him.
So, Leroy the Labrador has a home right now, even if he is a most ungrateful member of the family. There is much research that indicates that owning a dog does beneficial things for a person’s health and mood. Those researchers never met a confused rescue dog who had to search for his home on his own. That particular dog caused elevated blood pressure and a decrease in good vibes. As I usually do, I am learning to accept the dog that I never wanted.
I have a reputation for rescuing strays. It has almost gotten me attacked by a mama coyote, but I tried! The pup that I tried to pick up was her pup! It has caused some lively debates with my husband, but an animal can’t help that his owner is not responsible. Once while on vacation, I rescued a dog in South Dakota and brought him home and he’s been grateful for five years. This Leroy dog will never be that grateful. Come to think of it, I don’t even think he was on the porch when I left for work this morning. Who knows? I sincerely home that he settles in and realizes that we do like him, albeit begrudgingly and that we want him to stay safe.
So, here’s to Leroy, our “free” dog, who has cost me quite a bit of money and sanity over the past month. May you live a long, healthy life somewhere in the vicinity of our home. My child doesn’t know it yet, but if Leroy sticks around, he will be in her senior portraits, a most unique souvenir of her high school experience.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.