By Ed Kostro of Illinois
Winter had arrived, the holidays were fast approaching, and I was sadly thinking about all of the relinquished and abandoned pets that do not have a loving home of their own. That’s when I got the following message:
“I’ve heard that you rescue dogs, and I’m wondering if you would help this one. There’s a little red dog on the loose that has been homeless for several months now, and I can’t catch him. He is extremely frightened of people, and whenever I try to approach him, he races off down an alley.
“I’ve called dozens of rescue organizations, animal control departments, and the police department, and no one will help this poor dog. He sleeps on a pile of leaves in my neighbor’s yard, and it’s really getting cold out now. I doubt that he will survive the winter out there.”
His Bed Was a Pile of Dying Leaves
Before very long at all, I found myself at the address provided to me. I immediately spotted this little homeless orphan curled up against the bitter cold in his bed of dying leaves in that yard. But as soon as he spotted me, he jumped up and raced out of the yard and down the alley.
I knew that it would be pointless to chase after him, so in his absence I set up and baited my trusty old dog trap. Then I quickly hid in the garage awaiting his return. I didn’t have to wait very long. Within a few hours, his enormous hunger led him right into my trap. This homeless little orphan would not have to wander the mean cold streets or sleep on a pile of leaves anymore.
Not long after I pulled him out of the trap, he became a completely different dog. He very quickly began loving the gentle pets, the gentle words, and the human companionship that he had not experienced in a very long time.
At the animal hospital, we soon discovered that he had no microchip. While he was being boarded there for the next several days, we searched and searched, but we could not find anyone that was looking for a lost dog matching this sweet little street orphan’s description.
He Stares at Every Car That Passes. Was He Dumped from a Car?
Luckily for him, a marvelous Min Pin rescue group in Illinois decided to take him under their loving care and they soon decided to call him ‘Rudy’ after the red nosed reindeer. Rudy’s adoption listing explains:
“Rudy is a three year old red male, neutered, housebroken and crate trained. He is the perfect dog and we have not found one bad habit yet! He is good with dogs, cats, ignores the caged birds, rarely gets on the furniture, eats whatever he is given and he loves to snuggle. Maybe it’s because he was on the lam for several months as a stray that no one could catch. Several people were feeding him and keeping an eye on him, but no one was able to catch him until one day a kind soul set out a live trap with some food and he was caught within hours.
We have no idea how this little guy survived the cold spell that we’ve been having, or the rain, or the vehicle traffic where he was found. Rudy was obviously a well loved dog that was originally very well cared for. He wants nothing but the companionship of a beloved human again. We have found him to be downright clingy when out in the yard, and when taken for a walk he does not pull or try to get away. Sadly, he just stops and stares at every car that goes by, making us wonder if he was dumped out there…”
To Help a Stray Dog Near You
If a stray dog has been in your neighborhood, it’s important to understand that many of the people around you may have already created a list of reasons why they can’t get involved. “I have a cat.” “I’m allergic to dogs.” “My husband won’t let me.” “I’m just too busy.” Yes, it’s human nature to say, “Someone else will do something.” But what if that someone is you?
When trying to help a stray dog, consider using a humane trap to safely capture the animal and to safeguard your own well being. Traps are sometimes available for loan from a local animal shelter or animal control office. The devices are essentially a wire cage which you will ‘bait’ with a dish of food. When the dog steps on the trigger plate inside, the doors shut. You may want to have a sheet ready to cover the trap to allow the dog to feel hidden and safe during those first few moments when fear is at its height. Never reach your hand into a trap with a frightened dog inside.
For especially fearful dogs who won’t go into the trap on the first day, consider leaving the trap outside several feet away from the food a couple days so that the dog can get accustomed to the sight and smell of the object. For those of you in a cold climate, also consider putting out an improvised shelter and leaving a garage or shed door open near the feeding station. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and make arrangements for support from a local shelter, veterinarian or rescue group so that you have a plan in place once the dog is caught.
Please remember that chasing a dog rarely works out and will usually only drive him out of the area. On some occasions, rescuers have reported luck in sitting down quietly and speaking or singing in soft tones, not making direct eye contact with the fearful dog. A nice smelly treat and a few “Come here buddy” calls in a happy, upbeat tone can go a long way. Dogs who are only mildly fearful may come around once they see that you are not a threat; but for dogs who simply can’t bring themselves to come close, a trap becomes soon becomes man’s new best friend.
Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase