Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grayzel Bars Dogs at the Cat Sanctuary

Maybe someone else refused a Christmas present. Maybe someone thought it would be clever to surprise me with a Christmas present. Maybe the human who'd wanted him died, and the survivors thought the Cat Sanctuary was the only alternative to a shelter. Maybe somebody was too mean to keep puppies and too lazy to have Mama Dog spayed.

All I know is that when I came in from work on Christmas Eve, my cats were all in hiding, and the cutest puppy I've ever seen was hiding under my front porch. He was smaller than the cats, hungry, shivering, and too scared to come out even when I called and offered him food.

Well, all I had to offer was cat food, which probably didn't smell very appetizing to this puppy. From the way he finally nibbled at some dry cat food the next day, I suspect that he'd never tried to eat kibble before. He ate like a six-week-old kitten who's started learning to slurp up wet food, but is really more comfortable sucking than crunching.

What breed is he most likely to resemble? It's too soon to tell; puppies this young often look completely different from adults of the same breed. German Shepherds, Alsatians, and similar dogs who will grow up to be big and wolfish, with pointy ears and short coarse fur, start out as little fluffballs with floppy ears and long soft fur. At the moment the puppy looks like a very thick-bodied, large-pawed, fluffy black coon hound with a tan patch on his head...sort of like the little guy on the left in this photo. Because of his immaturity I'm guessing that he's a very young specimen of a large type of dog, rather than an adoptable-age puppy who will grow up to be a medium or small dog. Dogs who are dumped out in strange neighborhoods like this are usually mixed breeds.

Anybody who has any sympathy for dogs at all would love this puppy. Unfortunately, my cat Grayzel has no sympathy for dogs. She thinks dogs are horrible creatures whose idea of fun is to bully and torment decent law-abiding people. (During her first pregnancy, Grayzel lost one premature kitten as a result of her exertions when a neighbor let his dogs out to "play.")

Grayzel said to me, "Either that creature goes, or I go." Oh all right, for all you literalists out there, that's my translation of behavior that consisted of hiding in the barn loft, refusing to come when called, refusing to let me touch her, and eating only a bare minimum of food once a day before bolting back to the barn loft. Her Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were anything but merry.

Bisquit and Candice were less intimidated by the puppy, but they made it clear that they didn't like it either.

I wasn't prepared to keep a puppy as young as this one, either. Where was I going to get the right kind of food for him? Where was I going to keep him? He's currently too young and vulnerable, and will soon be too big, to be a free-range pet; the cage I call "Cat Jail" doesn't offer a lot of protection from the weather; keeping a young untrained puppy in the house is out of the question, and so is keeping any dog tied up all the time until it becomes a hostile "bandog." Training a puppy takes more time and energy than I could promise to have, even for the cutest puppy I've ever seen.

Christmas Day was fairly mild, so the puppy spent the day in Cat Jail. Boxing Day was chillier. Because Christmas had fallen on Sunday, everybody seemed to want to spend Boxing Day with visiting relatives. The public phones I usually use were inside buildings that were closed for the day. The people who I thought might be qualified to offer a foster home to the puppy weren't taking phone calls when I finally borrowed a cell phone from a familiar stranger and made three local calls.

I'm not proud of this, but I want people to know the hazards of abandoning dogs at the Cat Sanctuary. I walked nine miles with this puppy in my arms. I let him walk on a lead on grassy patches, for all of five non-consecutive blocks...and it was the first time the little guy had ever walked on grass, and the coarse crabgrass and gravels lacerated his soft paws. I ended up tying him to the stair rail under the deck in the back yard of someone I trusted to be kind to him, while the person wasn't home. I was taking it on faith that this person would be home in another hour.

I would like to report tonight that the puppy is safe, warm, fed, watered, loved, and available for adoption, but so far I've not been able to talk to the kind person.

Readers, please don't bring us any more dogs.