Well here she is, Lily, our newly adopted stray dog, out for one of our morning walks. She is a sweetheart, but has been used to a pretty free life. With clicks and sounds (Dog Whisperer style) I can keep her close to me, but if I'm not paying attention she runs as hard as she can to chase squirrels, turkeys, and deer. Then she comes back when she pleases - which isn't usually but 30 seconds or so, but I definitely need to keep Lily on leash for our walks most of the time. I love to give her the opportunity to run, but have to pay attention to what other animals might be lurking behind bushes and trees.
Lily, we think, is the same dog we tried to adopt earlier this year. We drove 2 hours to see the "Black Lab" whose name was Lillian on Craig's list. She was definitely a small lab mix and seemed afraid of us, but we felt drawn to take her home regardless. On the way home in the station wagon that poor dog was beside herself. She was so afraid, she wouldn't look at us, drooled a bucket of saliva, and ended up throwing up several times. When we got home I ran into the house to pee (long trip and lots of water) and Nick opened up the hatch to let her out. Lillian bolted and the next thing I heard was the phone ringing in the house and Nick on the line telling me to "get the car - the dog ran away!"
For 3 days everyone in our neighborhood was trying to feed her and catch her, but she wouldn't come to anyone. We set up live traps and she'd eat the food carefully avoiding setting off the trap. We did catch a huge skunk though and it was very tricky letting it go without getting sprayed.
Finally the owner came out on Friday evening and we immediately found the dog. All she had to do was get out of the car, yell for Lillian and that dog flew to her mom. The woman, I remember her name, Jamie Lynn, promised she would build a fence for the dog. The problem had been that they let her run all day and the neighbors were calling the dog catcher on her. I understand why now as that dog loves to chase wildlife and a lot of people, including me, don't appreciate a dog doing that. This factoid was not told to us.
So that was May and fast forward to October. We're in Nick's wood boat with his family going across the lake to scatter his mom's ashes on October 2nd. As the boat is moving out away from the dock, I see the dog on our neighbor's beach and say to Nick, "Nick, look! It looks like that dog we tried to adopt earlier this year." We laughed, not really thinking it could be true. I just never thought that it could be her. A couple of days later I get a call from Lorna, a neighbor down the road who says, "your dog has been running around in our area for days." Since she was part of the crew in May that tried to catch the dog I guess she never realized that we could never catch the dog and it didn't stay with us. I told her that it wasn't our dog and explained the story, but to call me if she could catch it.
Then I started seeing the dog on our property so I would leave food out for her. She'd run as soon as I'd get close to her. Very shy, very afraid. Finally I got a call from Lorna. She'd caught the scared little dog in their kennel. Nick and I went right over and after some finagling I got her on a leash and ran home with her. All the neighbors were cheering.
Well, she is definitely the same dog so that means those people drove 2 hours out here and dropped their 2 year old dog off and drove away. How can people do that? It has taken time, but she is much more trusting of me, but think of the heart-ache she has had to deal with. Am I anthropomorphizing here? Maybe so, but she definitely has trust issues and rightly so. She also likes to run after wildlife and if I am not paying attention she will take off like a shot. She is a fast runner and I worry about the slow or young animal that can't get out of the way fast enough. We're walking on lead most of the time. In the morning to work off some of her high energy I let her run on the sandy beaches. If our roads were smoother out here, I'd get out my roller-blades and let her fly.
She doesn't trust Nick completely and we think it's possible, from the way she reacts to him even moving his feet, that a big man abused her - kicked her. This is going to take time and patience. I have enjoyed having her around and even our cat is trusting her more. The two are pretty funny and Bailey, our manx, walked with the dog and me down to the beach and back several times now. I'm also getting my rear end in shape and have been walking 3 times a day. Morning and evening walks are longer with a shorter mid-day fresh-air jaunt. We feel fortunate to be able to give her a place where she can learn to trust and be the dog she was meant to be.