I was on my way back to work earlier this week from my usual trip to Starbucks when I pulled into my old neighborhood and got behind a dark red SUV that was barely moving.
Knowing the character of this neighborhood, and knowing that the speed of crawl could be attributed to just about anything, I was annoyed. It’s a street that a lot of people use to get to southwest LaGrange, and the driver was truly holding up progress.
Then, a little white dog appeared out of nowhere.
First I thought the SUV, slow as it was, was going to hit the dog. Then, the driver’s side door opened and the little dog jumped in, reunited with his (her?) family.
So I say now, publicly, to the SUV driver, I forgive you. You are absolved. And thank you for being a responsible pet owner. We need more of you, not just in LaGrange, but everywhere.
Just ask LaGrange College Provost David Garrison, whose dog was attacked twice last year by two different pit bulls, one of which was shot by police to end the fracas.
But this isn’t a column about the evils of a particular breed. Whether any dog has a winning personality or one that gets him blackballed from obedience school is up to the owner. I had an incident several years ago with a golden retriever who had an owner, but frequently got loose in the neighborhood and frequently attacked my dog, to the point where I walked Hobie with a baseball bat in tow. One night, after exhausting other options, I wound up calling police and the officer wound up Tasing the dog after the dog charged him.
I felt horrible about it, but no one messes with my child.
Even Hobie had his own set of issues, as many of my friends and neighbors can attest, because he had been abused in his previous life, before being plucked from a shelter by a rescue organization.
There are stray dogs in nearly every neighborhood in Troup County, from inside the city to what would be considered “nice” developments north of town. Some of these are attached to an owner and some are not.
Many of them wind up at the LaGrange Animal Shelter and the LaGrange-Troup County Humane Society. Some get adopted, some are reclaimed by their owners and for many, many others, the end is not so promising. There’s such a surplus around here that the shelter and humane society participates in the “puppy pipeline.” Dogs are shipped up north to be adopted in cities and towns with more strict spay and neuter laws and less dogs available.
The pipeline recently adopted out its 10,000th dog from LaGrange. Ten thousand. That’s not a typo, and that’s just the pipeline. It doesn’t count the other dogs who go through the system.
No one should be buying dogs from a breeder or, God forbid, a pet store when there are shelters, humane societies, rescues and breed-specific rescues with tons of dogs available.
My mother used to give me grief about spoiling Hobie. I told her, “It’s not like he’s going to have to get up one day and go to dog work. This is his life.” And considering what he may have been through for the first five years of it, I was all about spoiling the little man.
Tracey Conway, the speaker at the Heart Truth lunch on Thursday, identified herself as the crazy dog lady. I immediately went up to her when the event was over, whipped out my phone with pictures of Millie, who came from the shelter, and told her I was a crazy dog lady too.
I admit that. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. If I had a fenced yard and a disposable income, I would really be the crazy dog lady. When I am elected president, we’ll all be able to claim our animals as dependents on our insurance. My favorite picture of Millie is one I had of her taken with Santa last year. She looks so happy in it, I hope to God she didn’t ask for a pony.
Our animals are our children, and they give us their complete devotion and unconditional love. In return, they are completely dependent on us. That means, among other things, not having more animals than you can realistically afford to keep, keeping track of your animal and not letting it wander the neighborhood on its own, taking the animal to the doctor for its annual exam and any other issues, and, like my friendly SUV driver, getting out and creeping through your neighborhood if the animal gets lost.
Why isn’t this common sense?