The little grey fuzzball, very much like a slightly larger and heavier version of Petey, came right up to me and I quickly grabbed him. He was friendly, and Eddie liked him, so I threaded Eddie's leash through Fuzzball's collar. He had no tags, just a not-very-tight, very worn cloth collar. He was docile enough, however, that I figured a double loop of the leash and a tightening of the collar would suffice to keep him safe.
Dog number two, a young brindle minpin, was another story. He clearly wanted to be with Fuzzball but was very skittish and would not come near us. I started walking towards home, Eddie and Fuzzball walking nicely side by side on the one leash. Brindle Badboy did the twostep around us, always keeping just beyond my reach.
Though I was very conservative with my movements, many times he darted out across busy Queen Street, and twice just barely avoided being hit by cars. After the second time, which scared him as much as it scared me and the driver, he took off back up the hill we had just descended.
I decided to follow, hoping he would lead me to his home and I could get Fuzzball back to his owner. No such luck. We walked and walked and walked and soon we were on the busiest street in town - the one road out to Duncan, our nearest 'big' (using the term loosely) city, Osborne Bay Road.
Worried for his safety, I sat on the curb with Eddie and Fuzzball, and after some hesitation, Brindle Badboy calmed down and came close enough for me to wrap an arm under his belly and lift him up. He had no collar, he was wiggly, and he had very smooth slippery skin, and for a smallish dog he weighed a ton. This was not going to be easy.
I thought of taking Eddie's collar off to use for Brindle Badboy, but was not willing to put Eddie in harm's way. Eddie's offleash behaviour is pretty good now in the park or trail, but he still can't be trusted off leash around streets and cars. (In fact, we had a close call the other day when he hopped out of the car at my friend Liz's, and he panicked as he realized he didn't know where he was - ears, eyes, head and tail said he was all poised to bolt. Thankfully, Liz grabbed his leash before he could dash off. But it was a heart-stopping moment for sure.) I didn't want to save a stranger's dogs only to have mine lost or run over. Plus the likelihood of getting a collar off one dog, resizing it and getting it on a scared dog in my arms without losing the other two dogs or my balance - well, it seemed pretty unlikely.
And so I started plodding my way home - Eddie and Fuzzbutt on one leash, fifteen pound Brindle Badboy in my arms.
And that's when it happened. Eddie decided to have a dump. On the sidewalk. In front of someone's house. With cars going by.
I am anal (pun intended) about cleaning up dog poop. I am the Dog Poop Hag. I rant and rage about people who don't pick up after their dogs, whether on the sidewalk, on trails, on the beach, or in a back lane. If your dogs makes poop, you scoop. Period. And don't toss the filled baggies into nearby bushes and trees! I have written newspaper columns and letters to the editor about it. I have offered people baggies, I have bagged it myself and left it with a note on the offender's front step (when I saw my neighbour's dog doing it on my yard for the umpteenth time). I become incensed at the sight of unclaimed dog poop.
And so I could not walk on, leaving Eddie's poop for others to step in.
You know what's coming, don't you?
As I squatted down to scoop the poop, two dogs on one leash and another in my arms, slippery, slidey, wiggly, skittish Brindle Boy saw his chance and with one great heave flew out of my arms. Across the busy road. Up the hill. Headed for Mt. Richards.
I knew I couldn't catch him now, so I continued on home, planning to call the pound (no, I didn't have my cellphone with me - I should have. Shoulda woulda coulda. I'm just not a cellphone kinda gal.), crate Fuzzball, and head up there to look for the miscreant.
But just as we walked up my driveway, a car pulled in behind me. The owner of the runaway dogs and his dad. Dad lived in town, son was visiting from elsewhere. Dogs were son's. Dad had put dogs outside and then forgotten about them. They escaped - for the second time in two days!
I reamed the dad out for letting visiting dogs out unattended. I reamed the son out for not having collars and tags on his dogs and for not keeping his dogs on leash in unfamiliar areas. (Readers know, of course, that I am not only a Dog Poop Hag but also a 'keep dogs safe' hag. I have no patience with people who do not take every precaution to keep their dog safe in unfamiliar environments).
Last I saw of father, son and Fuzzball, they were speeding up the hill toward the top of Emily Street and access to Mount Richards. I hope they find Brindle Badboy. And I hope they keep their dogs safe.
And so, as we head into spring and summer visiting and travelling, this not-so-gentle-reminder: If you are travelling with your dogs, KEEP THEM SAFE. If you have people visiting with dogs, KEEP THEM SAFE. We may hear wonderful stories of legendary dogs travelling 3000 miles cross country to find their vacationing owners or to find their way home, but the reality is that many lost dogs in unfamiliar environments end up one way and one way only: DEAD. Don't let it be yours. This is a public service announcement.