Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Doggie dumping

Not all rural traditions are worth preserving.

Appeared in the orchard last week: one collarless young-looking black lab sort of dog (bitch, actually). She is next located under the house, acting suspicious and growly, eating the eggs that chickens had been stockpiling down there. A couple of mysterious chicken disappearances during this time are highly suspicious. On one of her skittish emergences from under the house, I notice (oh joy) that she is pregnant.

After a couple of days, I come around the corner and she is out from under the house. At first she is scared and growling; I decide to try sweet talking her. Almost immediately the ears drop, the growling stops, and she approaches me. Within a minute or two she is on her back in my lap having her very pregnant belly rubbed and letting me start pulling off a horrific number of ticks. No collar, but the faint smell of flea soap lingers on her. She is not malnourished. She is very accustomed to being handled and groomed. She obviously has been a family pet. She is also very young, perhaps no more than 8 or 9 months. Pregnant on her first heat while she is still a puppy herself. We drive her around to all the neighbors within a mile (that's only like 6 houses here), and no one has seen her before.

She is a dump-ee: the old tradition of just driving an unwanted dog far enough from home and chucking her out of the car to fend for herself. It's pretty obvious that she was dumped because she was pregnant. I can envision the kids at home weeping when daddy tells them their sweet little labrador girl "ran off," when in fact he drove her off, removed her collar, and dumped her because he was too cheap to pay for having her spayed and too lazy and irresponsible to deal with the inevitable puppies that result.

So now we have a pregnant foster bitch for the next two months, until the welps are weaned and grown enough to try to place in homes. Just in case we didn't already have enough critters here to take care of. City folks think we farmers have an infinite capacity for absorbing their excess animals, it seems. The local humane society (a woefully underequiped and 100% volunteer organization) is able to ship some adoptable dogs north to Wisconsin, where thanks to good spay and neuter programs they actually have a shortage of pound puppies. So long as the pups don't come out looking like daddy was a pit bull, we can hopefully get them and momma all in the program. If not, well... the options are limited.

We're calling her "Nursie" after the character from Blackadder II: "Can someone help me with my udders?"


At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are really good people to try and do the right thing by the dog. Hope it works out.

I have been the recipient of this "rural tradition" numerous times. The kind of trash that does this makes me quite ill. The same type of crowd that will trespass, litter, poach, etc.

The positive is that some of the best dogs I've ever had were dumpees.


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