Hump Day: Late-night encounter, sad story have animal lover feeling anxious

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I don’t think I would have won any awards for kindness to animals when I had my dog Milane out for her last bathroom break of the night on Sunday. Well, it was actually early Monday morning by the time I brought her out at 12:30 a.m.

She dilly-dallied around like she usually does as I stood on the front steps waiting for her to do her thing. Sniffing. Lots and lots of sniffing, with a glance over to the park now and then to see if there was anything at which to bark.

There are usually a few loiterers in the park late at night in the summer months, although not usually this late at night. They usually don’t bother anyone. Sometimes they’re there for a late-night tennis game or throwing a basketball around until the lights go out. More often than not, the dark, faceless strangers can be seen sitting under the park shelter chatting. Sometimes there are beer bottles there the next morning — but most often it’s just young people looking for a place to congregate in groups of twos or threes.

Most of the time, you wouldn’t even know they’re there. If Milane hears them, she’ll let out her “Take one step over here and I’ll lick you to death” bark. A couple of tugs on her harness and a verbal admonishment from me will usually keep her quiet.

This night, though, she didn’t just bark, she went completely over the bend with barking, growling and lunging forward like there was something right in front of her. Within seconds, I did the usual admonishing and tugging, and then saw another dog charging from across the street. A split-second check of the park for a possible owner showed no one there.

Now, I say “charging” because that’s what it seemed like at the time. In the blur, I could tell it was a medium-sized white shepherd mix. In fairness, it wasn’t barking or growling. It may have been running over to play.

But at 12:30 a.m. trying to control my own dog who was in the middle of an instinctual protective tantrum and trying to analyze whether it was Cujo running at us or Benji, I was in no mood to get into a deep analysis of the situation. I needed to get Milane out of there just in case the dog was not friendly and to ensure Milane stopped her meltdown.

I yanked her back, thinking she would calm down and run to me, but she wasn’t letting up. She was going to protect her master. That was very nice of her, mind you, but an elderly butterfly could pretty well drop-kick her into unconsciousness, so I thought it best for me to protect her rather than the other way around.

Still resisting my tugging and seeing the urgency to get her inside and away from a possible nasty situation with another dog, I lost my patience and took matters into my own hands and brought her into the house so fast that I’m not sure her little white paws touched the steps on the way up. Like I said, I’m not sure I would have won any kindness awards right then and there. Safety sometimes trumps kindness.

Being an animal lover, though, I went right to the Internet once I got inside to see if there were any dogs reported missing in the neighbourhood. Nothing. At least if I found something, I could ascertain whether or not the dog was friendly and get a name. There was nothing, though, so I went back outside to see if I could call him or her over and check its tags if there were any. And yes, all of this at 12:30 a.m. At least the next day was a holiday.

I called, whistled and looked around for signs of the dog, but it was either hiding or had run off. Thankfully, it was a very warm night and was not raining. Also, there was very little traffic in the neighbourhood so getting hit by a car was less of a probability than it would have been normally.

I don’t know what happened to the dog, but as I was writing this column I checked online again and read that a dead dog in a garbage bag was found in a vacant lot not too far from here. Either it was someone who couldn’t afford to properly dispose of their deceased pet or maybe it was the dog I saw that night. I hope it wasn’t that dog.

As I age, I’m becoming hypersensitive to animal abuse, illness or homelessness. I can’t handle seeing photos on television or online. I can’t handle the sad commercials with dogs and cats looking at the camera from behind their cages — hoping that they’ll be adopted, found or rescued soon. I have to turn the channel. Lately, that hypersensitivity has also evolved into lost animals. If I see a photo of a lost pet online, I have to move on.

When I was a kid, I remember finding a stray dog in the neighbourhood. I can’t remember how I found him (or was it a she?), but it was a very nice dog. Gentle. Affectionate. Looking back, I think it was an older dog. I remember walking around the neighbourhood looking for its owners. It even slept in my bed with me for a night until we brought it to the SPCA the next day in the hopes that its owners were looking for it. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve never stopped wondering whether it found its home.

So, anonymous white dog who ran toward Milane and me the other night, I hope you found your way home. Sorry I couldn’t help you right then and there. Unfortunately, my protective instinct kicked in and Milane’s safety became my first concern. And I hope you aren’t the dog found so unceremoniously dumped in a garbage bag in that vacant lot less than 24 hours later. If you are, I’m so sorry. I wish I could have helped. I tried.

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