I don’t know why, but in my current neighborhood I always see dogs running around. I’ve never lived somewhere where it is this common. I’m not in the boonies, either- this is a densely populated suburban area where there are lots of cars zooming around, and it always scares me to see a dog trotting on the side of the road.
They are owned dogs. I know this because I always stop and take them home. I can’t help it. I keep a leash in the back of my car for just such an occasion. I do it because I’ve been on the receiving end of Dog Vs. Car in the emergency hospital, and I prefer to avoid that whenever I can. The kids are used to Crazy Mommy pulling off to the side of the road and coaxing some dog or another into the cargo area of the car, and detouring to drop it off at its house. They will grow up thinking most people do this kind of thing.
I know Nutmeg, in fact, by name. Nutmeg is an escape artist who gets out at least once a month. Their owners have a gate at the end of the driveway, with the bottom 2 feet covered in chicken wire, and somehow the dog still makes a break for it on a regular basis. The last time it happened the family had left their dogs in the care of a 12 year old neighbor, and when she opened the gate to let Nutmeg in, the other dogs ran out the gate and down the road, and in her panic she dropped Nutmeg, who also took off. So we had to herd the dogs, her on foot, me in the car with the children- who thought this was great fun. Poor girl. I hope they paid her well.
On Saturday, my husband and I were coming back from a late night on the town when we noticed a dog looking confused in the middle of the road, blithely staring into our headlights. Because I was in the car, my husband pulled over (I don’t kid myself on that one) and I tried to coax the dog into the car. He panicked and sat down stubbornly, so I had to lift him in. Did I mention this was a bulldog? Bulldogs are not like other dogs. They are made of the same material as black holes, super dense substances heavier per square inch than concrete.
We then located his house, where I apologetically rang the doorbell at midnight to make sure the dog was safely returned. Thankfully the owner was grateful, as I imagine that could have gone either way. No matter, the dog was safe, and I was happy.
Until the next morning. When I picked up the bulldog, I forgot he was a bulldog, and lifted him like I would, say, a poodle. The next day my back knotted up like a Miller’s knot (that’s an inside joke for you vet types- you’re welcome) and I spent the day downing Aleve, bemoaning my existence and cursing the fact that my husband doesn’t keep a dang leash in his trunk like any respectable dog type would.
I had a flashback to senior year of vet school, when I lifted an 80 pound lab onto a table by myself and the chief clinician- a man in his 50s- looked at me in wonder and then said, while holding his lower back, that that was not the best idea. In retrospect, I concur.