This past Friday, the beautiful dog pictured above trotted swiftly through Icehouse Tavern – a sports bar in Oregon City – where Greg, Evan and I were watching the Blazers’ game. There was a slight stir amongst the patrons as he paced quickly past them and out the door. The bartender called out to say dogs weren’t allowed. I popped up and ran out the door after the dog, clumsily making my way in high-heeled oxfords. “Here, buddy . . . how about a treat?”, I cooed at him, trying to get him to come towards me. He was more interested in sniffing out the territory and running off in what seemed to be random directions.
He zipped across the street and found his way into a warehouse. Two men sat outside enjoying a smoke in the early evening air. They tried to catch him but he escaped through another door and was moving at rate far too fast for someone as inappropriately shod as myself. My heart was in knots as I watched this Boxer meander across dangerous streets; I was full of fear for him. Others were out trying to catch him too, and one man finally managed to grab him and put a piece of twine around his neck.
By this time, Greg had come out to join me and we pulled the dog back to the bar to see if we could figure out where he belonged. This friendly, healthy boy had no tags or even a collar. Nobody in the bar claimed him. There was a big truck outside with two other boxers in it, also without collars, but this turned out to be nothing but a huge coincidence. Another patron posted a craiglist ad. I called the local police and asked if anyone had reported a missing dog. No one had. I left my number and said we would keep him safe.
Perhaps it was a sign from God, Greg jested. This referenced the fact that I have long talked of owning a dog- specifically a male boxer dog and here one was: fully grown, neutered, friendly, fun, and without identifying information. We decided to take him home and try to find the owner. If no owner could be found, he would stay as a part of our family. The game wasn’t over, so we put him in our car for safekeeping for the last quarter. He almost escaped at that point too because as I leaned down from the driver’s seat to look for food on the passenger’s side floor, he leapt over me out into the street again. Fortunately, Greg was quick and grabbed him in a half second!
I was thrilled that we were taking him home. I knew he was probably a family dog – his toenails had worn-off purple nail polish, most assuredly the work of a child – and that he would probably end up back with that family. I wouldn’t want it any other way for them. But a part of me hoped he had been left so that I could have him. He seemed like everything I wanted in a dog: the right breed, temperament, age, and sex.
Excited, after the game we rushed off to Fred Meyer to pick up some necessities: leash, collar, bowl, toys for him and our own dog, Ella. Just when I found the pet aisle, my phone rang. A woman who identified herself as Caroline said she thought we had found her daughter’s dog. She had gotten my number from the police department. My heart sank. As much as I knew it was right and good to get him to his real home, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. It was as if a gift had been dropped in my lap that I wasn’t allowed to keep. I asked her to describe him. She did and I was a little doubtful. So she said she would email a photo.
In the meantime, we decided just to go home, so we left the store. When we arrived, I looked at the photo. It was a different dog: a brindle boxer, not fawn, with more expansive white on his chest. I let Caroline know and sent her photos of the dog we found as proof.
This is where the desire to keep this wonderful dog began to dwindle: seeing our current dog interact with him. Actually, there wasn’t much interaction, just reaction. She growled and barked and raised her hackles and was more vitriolic than I have ever seen her.
She was protecting her home, but more than that she was jealous. She could see how much we liked this other dog. Despite his obvious advantages of strength and size, she had him cowed very quickly with her rage. We tried multiple ways to get her to be okay, but nothing worked. It was extremely tense. All I wanted to do was have fun with the new nice dog, whom we had already decided would be named “Wesley” if he stayed, but Ella would have none of it.
Bedtime came. We put down a blanket next to my side for “Wes”. Ella usually sleeps next to Greg’s side of the bed, or at the foot of the bed. “Wes” was not sure what to do, especially since he had to pass Ella to get my side of the bed. But eventually we were all settled in the correct spots. Greg commanded, “Go to sleep.” After a few reminders and admonitions to Ella, all was calm . . .
Until 3:18 AM, when I heard Ella growl and then bark from very close to Wesley’s blanket. Greg and I both popped up and prevented an attack. Poor Wesley had merely gotten up to go to the door. Greg fell back asleep. Wes did too. I did not. I could see Ella’s face at the foot of the bed. Awake. She was watching and waiting for us to lose consciousness so she could give this terrible intruder a piece of her mind. I kept up my own watch. She started growling several more times in the night and each time I put down the imminent revolt with a harsh “no” or “Ella, go to sleep.” When I wasn’t awake, I was having horrible dreams about the dogs urinating, defecating, or vomiting on people or things. Needless to say, it was miserable.
Around six in the morning Wes stirred again and I gave up. I took him out of the room, threw a sweatshirt on over my pajamas, and took him for a walk to make sure he didn’t have any accidents in the house. As we walked, I hoped and prayed that we would find his family quickly. I put up craiglists ads as soon as we got back.
Then I lay down on the couch, and he joined me, curled up at my feet, and let me sleep for real.
A couple hours later, my phone rang.
The voice of a young girl came through tremulously, “I think you found our dog. I saw your ad on the computer.” I asked her to tell me about him. “He is brown, with white on his chest and a bump on his left arm.” This bump looks like a little mole. Greg called it a nipple. I knew it was her dog. I asked about the purple nail polish. “Oh yeah, my sister did that.” I asked her his name. “Chipper.”
Frankly, Greg and I both think he looks more like a Wesley, but he is Chipper to Taylor and her family and that is what counts.
Taylor and her stepmom picked him up soon after. I was sad to see this dream dog go, but relieved just the same. Two dogs would just be too much. We’re grateful to have met Chipper – he was fun to play with and cuddle for the few hours he was in our care. We’re also glad we could get him safely home. I hope he has a long and happy life.
Meanwhile, my dream of owning a Boxer dog is deferred.