Years ago, a surfer-looking ragamuffin of a dog showed up at my house and started to "help" by digging up my just-planted tulip bulbs. Although he had a ton of sticks in his hair, was covered in fleas and ticks, and probably had not eaten for weeks, he followed me around the garden, seemingly happy to find anyone who would give him attention.
After a trip to the vet, and a bath - I suppose I should have done it the other way around - I put an ad in the paper to see if anyone had lost him. When no one responded, we settled Wally into an old doghouse in my back yard.
Wally really lived inside the house when I was home, although he loved nothing better than to keep me company in the garden if he wasn't trying to chase one of my inside cats. I suspect the cat started it but Wally was the one who usually got caught.
One day, Wally disappeared, chain and all. I put notices in the paper and on the radio but no one called. I worried for weeks; couldn't go out in the garden without missing him. Gradually the pain faded and we accepted the fact that Wally wasn't coming home.
I thought about Wally when, about a week ago, I heard about two dogs found near Mill Creek Campground, near Newburg. One was a Scottie mix, the other a Great Dane with a bad leg. Knowing that most people will not want to take on such a big dog, and having been raised with Great Danes, I took off during a lunch hour to see if I could find them. No luck.
I met a neighbor, and talked to a sheriff's deputy, both who had fed the dogs.
They said the little Scottie was friendly but the big dog barked - more like a "I don't know you bark" than anything threatening, but they couldn't get close.
The next day, one of the neighbors called to say the dogs were spotted in the same area. The little Scottie came running up as soon as I got out of the car. The Great Dane stood back and barked. I opened my door to get them water. The Scottie jumped into the back seat, followed by the Great Dane. When I looked inside, they were both sitting up in the back, looking around as if they were used to going for rides.
The vet found a microchip in the Scottie's ear but it wasn't registered. The type of microchip is issued at military installations so these dogs may have belonged to a military member who could no longer care for them because of a deployment. The Great Dane needs to be sedated for her paw to be x-rayed - she either had a previous injury or has an untreatable cancer but she's too weak. She's going to get a few weeks of TLC and food, then go back in for an x-ray and diagnosis.
Page 2 of 2 - They know commands and are not territorial. When I gave the Scottie a Milk Bone, he took it over to the Great Dane to share.
If these are your dogs, please contact me, I will be glad to return them.
If not, "Newburg" and "Mrs. Doolittle" represent a problem we have had in this area for years, dumped and abandoned animals. The City of Rolla is researching how to build a new animal control facility prompted by a generous private donation but so far, there is little indication of county support. And yet, Phelps County continues to be one of the counties with rabies warnings, in part because of abandoned pack dogs. I know a number of people who have been in car accidents because they either hit, or tried to avert hitting, a dog.
Pack dogs dig up gardens, harass and sometimes kill cattle, chickens and other livestock, leaving farmers no choice but to shoot them. Law enforcement personnel, both at the city and county level, will attest to this being an ongoing problem, not to mention well-intentioned people who can no longer care for their pets but don't have a place to take them because existing facilities are full.
We can't fix the deficit but can we set politics aside and take this opportunity to work together to build a facility that will service the whole county?
I know "Newburg," "Mrs. Doolittle" - and Wally - would appreciate it.