Friday, June 5, 2009

Sally's Big Break--Part 1

On any Saturday morning at the low-cost vaccination veterinary clinic, dozens of very interesting people line up with their dogs and cats to get them inoculated. And by "interesting" I mean any of the following: weird, strange, loud, poor (not surprising), eccentric, etc. We take our pets there for their shots. If I had a dollar for every double negative I heard while I sat in the waiting room on a recent Saturday morning, I might be able to bail out General Motors. The interesting people probably thought my daughter Emily and I were the strange ones because we were sitting there in the waiting room without a dog or a cat. The other patients and owners did not know that Emily's Sally, our goofy terrier-corgi mix, was already in protective custody, again.

Before I tell Sally's unfortunate story, I should tell you about Sally. Sally was a rescue case who came to us to be Emily's dog about 8 years ago. She was 1-2 years old at the time. Though she has been a relatively trouble-free and low-cost pet, Sally has a few quirks. To wit, her stomach is more sensitive than a geiger counter--which means she never goes on trips with us (camping and so forth)--which also means we always have to find a dog sitter (usually my mother) when we go to the mountains or anywhere else.

Sally's weak stomach is exacerbated by the fact that she is a known poop eater. I won't say much more here, except this point: there's barf and then there's poopbarf. The good thing about Sally's stomach is that she's not usually interested in table scraps--because she pays for them later, I suppose. Sally is happy with her dry kibble (Target brand) in the morning and very happy with her canned Alpo (the slices not the ground stuff) in the evening. So, Sally stays at a svelte 15 pounds.

Sally does not seems to care about much. She likes attention, but she's not a lap dog. Sally doesn't get excited about going for walks, either. She does, however, exhibit a terrier-like compulsion to chase her B-A-L-L. Luckily, the dog isn't much of a speller. But if you even breathe that word, Sally starts barking, begging you to throw the B-A-L-L for her to chase. She will chase it and retrieve it until she is exhausted and you have to make her stop and drink water. At least Sally is good about bringing the B-A-L-L back and giving it up for the next throw. I don't know if anyone trained her to fetch (I doubt it), but we certainly did not.

Sally also came to us "crate trained," which means she can be put in her little dog kennel over night or during the day when we are gone for a few hours. I had never had a crate-trained dog before, but it's crazy how attached Sally is to her tiny home. In fact, she prefers her crate to the great outdoors. If we say, "Sally, let's go outside!" she will hop up off the couch and make a bee-line back to Emily's bedroom, where her crate is located. We lock the wire door on the crate, and Sally stays there, apparently content, until we come home. Sometimes, we come home and forget to let her out because she doesn't make any noise in her cage.

Because Sally rarely wants to go outside, she in fact spends very little time outside. And she's not comfortable outside. Occasionally, Sally will come out into the front yard with us to chase her B-A-L-L while we're doing something else (shooting baskets, for instance). If we don't throw the B-A-L-L for her, Sally will run to the front door or the door inside the garage and beg to get back in the house.

Our job is to pay attention to when Sally needs to go back in the house. Unlike other dogs, she has neither the ability to just hang out with us on the lawn nor the skill to know where she is in the great wide world beyond the front door. Sally gets disoriented outside her tiny environmental sphere. So, even though she never wants out, she will nonetheless drift off without close human supervision. In other words, Sally's rather stupid.

Well, that's really where this story begins.


  1. I liked this passage a lot......except when you called Sally stupid :( I can't wait to read the next part of the story and see how you tell Sally's miracle story.

  2. I don't think "stupid" is the right adjective either. Might it be "content" or "unaware" or, best of all, "simple." Anyone up for a revision?

  3. Simple? Stupid? NO......
    Content and happy? that is my opinion.
    Nothing wrong with that. Wish I had that spirit.