Too old to climb stairs, mornings begin with a welcome sigh of relief from our dog, Chinook; she sleeps at the base of them on her bed, and although I pretend her eager tail wag is a euphoric response to my arrival downstairs, the truth is, she is all about her empty bowls.
The first order of business is to grab said bowls and replenish them; a little kibble and a lot of water equal one happy dog. After, with the sound of steady crunching as a backdrop, I always take a moment to watch dawn spread across the horizon.
Only this morning, although I did step outside to greet the day, her two bowls remained empty. And it hit me so hard in the gut; our sweet dog is old, old in a way that means she won’t be with us for many more years.
As it happens, Chinook wandered off last night, she managed to slip past us while we were doing chores. She made her way 5 houses down the street and there, a neighbor spotted her. Only she wasn’t wearing her collar—I know, dumb—so the neighbor brought her to the animal shelter.
One of the things we have come to know about elderly dogs is they smell, or she does anyway, which explains why she has been bathed about five times in the past three weeks by me. And when I towel her dry, I always take her collar off. Sometimes I remember to put it back on, but, more times than not, I forget.
So the neighbor brought her to the pound…
Mind you, we learned of her fate after we drove all over creation in my car, windows down, Jimmy with a flashlight invasively searching the yards of our neighbors like a criminal, but no Chinook. Out of desperation, I posted a message about her on Facebook. Still, no one had seen her. We drove some more.
Finally, we decided someone might have her, we went home.
Jimmy, still convinced she may be nearby, headed to the open space area next to the house while I went inside to search the number for animal control on my phone, only they were closed.
Minutes later, Jimmy came inside and reported that he spoke to one of our neighbors, and she told him she had brought Chinook to the animal shelter.
“She did what?…”
Mind you, we have watched countless dogs over the years — dogs like our dog — that had made their way into our yard. We have walked them around asking if anyone knows them, we have called numbers on ID tags. We made sure they made it home.
But never have we taken one to the pound.
As it happens, the dog shelter is closed until Tuesday, I called their emergency line, but the operator there said even though people will be there to feed the animals, we can’t pick her up until then.
This morning, day one, two empty bowls rendered me gutted — I feel as if I failed her — I imagine her happily getting into the neighbor’s car, pleased to be going for a ride. And then I picture her ushered into a pen, confused and now sad.
Two empty bowls remind me our time together is short — and I am nowhere ready to say goodbye.
The very nice people, the volunteers, and Supervisor, Mitch, over at the North San Diego County, Animal Services allowed me to break Chinook out of doggie jail today even though they were closed!
She is now home and happy to be on the right side of the bars!