One year ago this past weekend I traveled four hours through a wind and snowstorm from Boise, ID, to Elko, Nevada to pick up a stray dog. I had only seen a couple bad pictures of the guy. He was a wild looking mess of a dog, mostly German Shepherd with a little something else tossed in there to spice things up., guessed to be almost two.
It started when I saw him on petfinder and he looked a bit like the old fellow we had just lost. I was living in Boise alone and a bit lonely and thought a dog would be good company, but I always think that so that doesn’t count for much. I called to get a bit more info and got bad news instead. See, Elko, mainly known I learned much later for its brothels, has a huge animal overpopulation problem. The woman at the shelter said they had more strays in town than people. Any animal that comes in gets two weeks. If that time passes and no one comes to claim it, they are put down. This dog was on deadline. Literally.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll take him, but I can’t be there for another ten days.” That was almost a week after his execution date.
“Since you’re coming from so far,” she said, “We’ll hold him as long as we can, but if we need the space, he’ll have to go.”
We talked some more and worked out a deal. If they decided they couldn’t keep him, she would take him to a nearby kennel and I would be on the hook for the cost and the surrender fee if for some reason I decided I wasn’t going to take him and dropped him back at the shelter.
So on January 23rd, I made the trek to get him. When I arrived about fifteen minutes before the shelter even opened and there was a line of people outside. Only one other person of the ten or so was there to adopt. The rest were surrendering animals, some obviously lying about why.
I followed the shelter worker through an overcrowded pole barn to a small chain link kennel. A dog much larger and younger than I had expected practically cried for attention as we walked up.
“So,” she asked, “still want him?”
I did. So I filled out some paperwork that basically amounted to a vague promise of getting the adopted animal spayed or neutered.
She led him out to my car, flipping and flopping and fighting the leash the entire way.
He hopped into the jeep and we were off.
It took only a few minutes in the car to realize that he was dirty. Very dirty. Covered in something that wasn’t just dirt.
I made the four hour return tri[ in record time and went directly to a self-wash place where the newly-named Loki and I get very intimate as I cleaned an amazing amount of yuck off him.
Since then he has become a great leash walker, an even better cuddler, and a much-loved addition to the pack. He is still learning. So am I.