Thursday, September 24, 2009


The first beagles showed up several months ago, trotting alongside the highway. They sported collars and tags, but the owner was unconcerned when called and said not to worry about it—they’d find their way back home. Then one day at work another beagle showed up with a little orange cat as a companion. Both were friendly, sweet, and in good health. I posted a “lost and found” ad on Craigslist, but no one claimed them. The dog was microchipped and registered to a breeder in Arkansas, but he never returned phone calls. My boss decided to feed and care for the pair while searching for a suitable home, even going so far as to take them in for surgery. As it turned out, the cat was already spayed, and the beagle was already pregnant. An operation cured that—too many unwanted pets in the world already, and these strays could obviously attest to that. Still, two months later, no one has offered to take them. Both are pretty fantastic animals—young, cute, affectionate, respectful, healthy, house-broken. Huh.

And then, last week, I was driving home with my mom when we noticed a dog shambling down the pavement. I would have kept going, with my failing compassion and growing cynicism, but in a turn of character my mom instructed me to pull over.

Immediately the dog approached us, cowering and scraping the ground and whining pitifully. She slumped into a puddle of loose hide over bones at our feet. The most noticeable aspect of her appearance was her “pot-belly,” or rather, her hugely swollen and distended teats, obviously the result of nursing a recent litter. The rest of her, however, was painfully emaciated, with the flanks drawn up, the ribs lining the barrel like bars of a cage, and the spine jutting up along the top like a ridgeback. The edges of her ears were torn and bloody and covered in miniscule seed ticks, while her tri-colored coat was dull and filthy. Her paws were raw with pink hairless sores from the rough asphalt. All in all, she cut a pitiful picture as she cringed on the ground.

I produced a few packages of the horrible gas station “cheesy peanut butter cracker” variety, and she gratefully snatched and snarfed the offerings whole. All except the last two, that is, for those she carried carefully away, disappearing through underbrush along the road until she found the perfect place to bury them for later, no doubt fearing future famine.

These actions were so heartbreakingly adorable that it was immediately decided that the dog would have to come home at once. She hopped right in the passenger side when encouraged and spent the ride home crawling on top of me, flailing around, making a mess, and generally wrecking the (*cough*) pristine condition of my car.

I named her Luka. She’s a good dog. She stays put and doesn’t bark excessively, unless she’s trailing some real or imagined varmint. She plays with our dachshund and comes with us on trail rides, something we can’t trust our own dogs to do. After getting her wormed and feeding her well, she’s starting to look pretty nice, too. And now it’s time to find a home for her. Someone volunteered, and we’ll see if that goes through. My parents and I will donate money toward her spaying fund for whoever takes her.

Yeah, but I’m kinda gonna miss her.

Oh, and did I mention that I don’t even like dogs?


secret agent woman said...

That is a great photo of the beagle.

Do you know the 10,000 Maniacs song Luka? Good for you guy sfor taking her in. It breaks my heart that people abandon pets.

Mozart said...

I'm not familiar with the 10,000 Maniacs version. I actually named her after the Suzanne Vega song (which, incidentally, Luka Bloom named himself after).

Funny story about the beagle: we gave her to a friend of a friend. The first night in her new home, she dug out of her pen and was lost. I posted ads on Craigslist trying to find her and we drove the roads--but figured she was dead or gone for good. Then my dad took an alternate route miles from home, and lo and behold, there was a couple walking her down the road. Seems their daughter fell in love with her and renamed her Lilly. So she's got a good home after all.