It was the seventeenth of May and I was minding my own business when I noticed a little Chihuahua on the drive-way camera. The lighting being what it was, I thought I was just looking at a silhouette of Cha Cha. So, concerned she had gotten out into the front yard I threw on some more appropriate outside attire to retrieve her.
Except in so doing, she poked her head around the corner, revealing she was indeed inside the house as I had thought she was.
But, I decided to go out anyway and say hi to our visitor. By this point he was on his way out of my yard and on to the next. He seemed friendly, coming up to me when I called him over. I let him sniff my hand and he let me pet him for a few seconds before resuming his exploration. I heard my neighbor building something next door, and knowing they had at least one little dog, wandered over to ask if the little guy I had just met was his. He told me no, and not seeing anyone else around he might have wandered off from, decided to put him in my back yard.
Little black dogs shouldn’t be out in the street. Cars and all.
I grabbed the camera, went out back and took a few pictures of him, which I then forwarded on to the local animal control along with a found dog report. Authorities notified, I set to making a found dog poster to print out and put up around the neighborhood.
I figured I’d have his owners located within the day. But alas, no call. For the next two days I kept checking with animal control for any missing pet reports that fit his description, also with no results.
So I start concluding that maybe he got loose from the motel up the street here and his people weren’t actually my neighbors. So I’d have to take some additional measures. Since micro-chipping of pets is common enough, I took him down to an animal hospital to have him scanned for one.
Here’s where the story morphs from a routine found-dog-trying-to-be-reunited-with-his-owners to the slightly-bizarre.
Shortly before leaving to do this, Gabe and I had been chatting. He had been with us for a couple days now and we still didn’t know what to call him. He threw out a couple of ideas, but he has this under-bite thing going and I say “He looks like an Elvis.”
So we’re in the lobby of the animal hospital waiting for a good fifteen minutes for them to come tell us if he had a chip or not. Finally they emerge and one of them hands the dog to Gabe saying “We’re going to give Elvis back to you…”
Gabe and I look at each other. We never mentioned any guessed names we had come up with, or anything to identify him by name for that matter. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks of the King when I see that under-bite.
“There’s some confusion.” they tell us, and then proceed to explain the conversation they just had. He does have a chip, but its not registered with the service. So they had to get ahold of the animal shelter who did have a record of it, from when they adopted him out. So they call the people of record, only to find out they had given him away to another family some six months ago. They try getting in touch with the girl they gave him too, but no response.
I’m put on the phone with what would now be the owners prior to the owners I’m looking for. We talk a minute, they’re at their son’s graduation dinner, but tell me about how they gave him away and had been getting frequent updates on him up until a month or so before, and then haven’t heard anything back from the girl. Said they’d text her again and see if she answered. Otherwise, they’d get in touch with me after the dinner to come pick him up.
So a bit later in the evening they call again and I’m trying to get them my address and ask what Elvis’ story is. They are Chihuahua rescuers that do what they can to put them into homes so they aren’t euthanized. Elvis was one such rescue, but they decided they’d give him a home. Unfortunately he is a very playful little guy and their other dogs are more lethargic. They felt he wasn’t getting the kind of interaction he needed from the pack and might be happier in a home with more active dogs. So they found him one. Now they’re second guessing that decision as ‘obviously she let him get loose’ and ‘we haven’t heard from her in a couple of months and she’s not answering our messages that he’s been located.’
Discussion continues around what his fate is. It’s a mutual feeling we don’t want him winding up in the pound again. They’re quite willing to take him home, but if I want to give him a try and see how he adjusts to my dogs, they’re okay with that and if for any reason it doesn’t work out, I just call and they come get him and take him back home.
So now I have four dogs. He’s getting on well enough with the rest of the pack I know they’ll all integrate just fine and I won’t need to be making any calls. So I go and register his chip to my name, because now his owner of record has given him to me.
Then he escapes my yard, finding a hole in the fences that actually both my existing little ones could have exploited but apparently have not. I find him walking down the street and retrieve him. I note where the hole is and make a temporary patch until Gabe can get home and figure out a more permanent solution. (I leave most of that to him since he’s far more adept with power tools than I.) Meanwhile, I’m actively monitoring all potty-excursions to the yard.
Gabe gets home from work and I tell him what happened and he goes out and makes a fix. We let Elvis out and I watch him closely. He runs right to where the hole was now whenever he goes out, so I know he’s trying to get out. (Most likely wants to go home, I figure, but we don’t know where that is and I don’t want him getting hurt looking.)
While observing it I conclude he could jump over the board, but hasn’t yet realized it. So I tell Gabe we need a do-over on that repair. He’s in the middle of his next project so will get to that shortly. Meanwhile I need to start dinner.
So I’m doing that and Gabe is going in and out of the garage a lot. And not being mindful of the dogs going out with him. I, however, am and after retrieving Elvis three or four times in the middle of cooking go tell Gabe to be more careful as we’re both distracted and not watching closely enough… and Elvis can get out. (In one of those retrievals it was discovered he realized he could get over our barrier and sure enough, he did.)
Sadly my instruction didn’t work out. Elvis slipped out back again, and then out front, and by the time I noticed he was gone.
Gabe and I take off exploring the neighborhood looking, fruitlessly. Little guy is now missing again. We figure he found his way home, as there wasn’t enough time for him to have gotten very far, and with no trace of him… he either found his home, or another person didn’t want him getting hit by a car and did the same thing I did, take him in to find his people.
After a sleepless night worrying about him, the next morning I get up and tour the neighborhood again looking for him. Then I go home and make up some more posters, this time about a missing dog, and go out and plaster the neighborhood with them.
I’m pretty upset by now and worried sick about this little dog I just met a few days ago. We bonded pretty quick.
Finally a get a phone call from an unrecognized number. Which I answer and it’s a lady telling me that that dog I’m looking for, it’s hers. She goes on to explain how he was stolen from her yard (but then mentions she has six kids), and that some red truck apparently slowed down next to their house the previous evening and released him in front of her kids… thus getting him to his house.
Yeah, this is where we go from slightly-bizarre to bizarre. Some random red truck dropping a dog off for kids. “They must have recognized him and knew where he lived.” I said. She dismissed that notion as they has just moved here and didn’t know anyone.
Whatever I think. At this point I’m experiencing several emotions. I’m disappointed he’s not coming back to my home. I’m relieved he’s safe. I’m happy he has been reunited with familiar faces. Yet I’m also kind of pissed off because I know this lady was just bull-shitting in her story, and felt she was accusing me of stealing her dog.
I call BS because I too was talking with animal control on a daily basis, even after I was given him by the previous owners (who, being the owner on record associated to the permanent ID be who the State of Nevada would decree is the owner… so at this point he is legally mine… not that I really want to take anyone’s dog from them.) If she had been calling them every day like she claims, that first call would have had animal control taking a missing dog report, which I would have seen.
Never mind that due to a glitch in their online software there are actually three entries in their database for him being found. Two of which have pictures.
So I’m not buying that aspect of the story, and if you have six kids, I find it far more likely he snuck out with all the traffic in and out of the gate on their yard. Plus, once I figured out the house he lived at, was even more annoyed because I know for a fact my “I found a dog in my yard” poster was put up on the street light directly across the street from them. Why didn’t anyone come looking for him?
I decide to just let it rest and get over it. He’s where he wants to be and after I walked by to go retrieve my ‘lost dog’ posters, got to see him and confirm he really was okay. Not that I was all that happy with what I saw. He was outside on a hot day and with little shade and no water around I could see. Still he was clearly healthy and well cared for when he arrived in my world, so I figured they took better care of him than that moment implied. Besides, I felt I was getting a bit judgmental because I was sad he wasn’t coming home to me.
A week goes by and I get another call saying she had seen a lost dog poster and it was her dog I was looking for. Now we’re crossing into bizzaro world. After some precision questioning I figure out she is the ‘daughter’ of the lady I spoke to previously and the one that had actually been given Elvis by the previous owners (associated to the chip). So I explain again what actually transpired, why he was in my care, and why I was looking for him. I also reiterate I’m just glad he got back to his people.
Still, my mind keeps telling me this isn’t over. As you may recall, I have his chip in my name now. I’m still unsure what to do about it. In my mind, I’ve now shown a higher degree of ownership and responsibility for a dog that wasn’t mine to begin with, when they have not. Gabe figures he just gets loose a lot and they stopped being concerned about it. The whole ‘he was stolen’ thing is just a cover story for when people start asking questions.
Great, I think. He’ll get out, get hurt, get help and I’ll be the one called to come pay for his repairs. A bridge to cross when we get to it. I mentioned three times in the conversation with the ‘mother’ that he had a chip registered to the wrong people. She didn’t seem all that inclined to care about that detail. I call the previous owners I had spoken too and give them the update. Not sure yet who would get that call as animal control has one set of owners and the HomeAgain service has me. Just in case they should get a call if he gets out again. She’s very appreciative of me taking the time to do that.
So as the days pass I make my peace with it all and am carrying on with the three dogs I have.
Then memorial day hits and I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. I don’t get it out in time but it’s a missed call from “Elvis’ People.” Then I note another missed call from them an hour earlier. Great, I’m thinking, he’s out and about again. But that first call had a voicemail, so I listen to that and now it’s a guy. The dad I assume, or at least the mom’s boyfriend. “We have to give up Elvis and you’re the first person that came to mind.”
So I call to see what’s up and get this story about how they have to move and can’t keep him and if I want him, it’ll just be a $40 re-homing fee.
Gabe thinks I’m being scammed for money and I’m inclined to agree, but at forty dollars, I think that’s a small price to pay to ensure Elvis has a good home and won’t be bounced around anymore.
So I go to the ATM, get the money, and then go get Elvis. I feel pretty good no one can challenge my ownership now. His permanent ID says he’s mine and the only party that could contest it is sold him to me. (Probably should have gotten a receipt, but I did some homework on how Nevada handles pet ownership and having permanent ID with my name associated to it protects my interests quite well.)
And that is the story of how I met Elvis, and added him to my pack.
Although as my neighbors I frequently am passing their house and they don’t seem to be moving at all. Which makes me wonder now why they really gave him up. I really hope he wasn’t sold for drug money. I don’t want to be a party to that. There were also kids involved and its sucky enough I’m the guy that came to take their dog away from them… they were old enough to grasp it all, but still obviously sad. Even ran into the guy at the gas station the other day.
To further the oddities of this story… the house Elvis came from is the same crap-hole house that Gabe and I seriously contemplated buying as a fixer-upper for ourselves. We ultimately opted against it due to this massive pit in the back yard that someone had been a swimming pool at some point. Ultimately we decided we’d be getting to far in over our heads with that place.
All in all, after a story like this, its difficult to not conclude it’s the Force’s way of making what needs to happen happen. While I didn’t really need/want another dog, I’m quite attached to the little guy. Now to teach him Dog 101 – how to sit, lay down, etc.