by Joyce Brandon
Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Fresno.
Driving down the hill last night a brown blur darted across the road in front of us. My husband said, “Look, a coyote!” Upon closer inspection, it soon became obvious it wasn’t a coyote but a terrified brown Chihuahua. He was running as fast as he could and I could see him open-mouth breathing and knew in a flash this was a dog in serious trouble. The only fate awaiting him on this rural mountain road was going to be a collision with a car or he was going to become supper for a hungry coyote. I pulled over as quickly as was safe and got out of my car hoping I would be successful in catching him.
Often times, especially it seems with Chihuahuas, you can cause more harm than good by trying to capture the little strays. It is a horrifying thought to me that I might actually cause them to run out into traffic, so I’m always very careful. The little man was quite a distance from where the car was parked and I was relieved when I saw him pause and look at me. I kneeled on the ground and called him in my most friendly Chihuahua voice. He perked up, strolled very confidently up to me and stopped just a few feet short. It was clear that if I reached for him he would bolt; patience is a virtue in situations like this.
I spent probably 5-10 minutes talking to him and soothing him, but he remained just out of reach. I noticed that he was interested in the car so I decided to get back into the driver’s seat and sure enough, he propped his front feet up on the side of the car to investigate further. He inched in and when finally his entire body cleared the opening I shut the door as quickly as I could. I waited for the explosion anticipated when you trap a strange dog, but it didn’t follow. Instead of an explosion, this little man was so happy to crawl up into my lap and receive a hug. I looked him in the eyes and asked, “What’s your story?”
I wonder that a lot when I meet my wonderful rescue dogs. How did you end up in the middle of nowhere running down the highway? How did you end up so distrustful? How did you end up with babies in the shelter? How did you end up sick and abused? How did you end up old, blind, and deaf and alone in the world? So many questions I would ask them, but maybe it is better they can’t answer. It’s tough enough to work in rescue and come face to face with the ugly part of human nature all too often. I suppose some questions are better left unanswered.
The real questions should be, I suppose, how do you continue loving us when we’ve stopped loving you? How do you remain so loyal when you’ve been betrayed? The stories which rescuers experience daily are stories of unconditional love, overcoming adversity and limitless loyalty. These are the stories we enjoy retelling, those that fuel our hearts and keep us going.
My little highway man has a story. I’ll probably never know how he ended up running down the road and in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter. I will search for an owner, but experience tells me that there isn’t likely a family searching high and low for this little tan Chihuahua. His story will go something like this:
“Once upon a time I found myself alone and scared and running for my life but my luck changed on that day. A human cared enough to stop and help me. I saw the kindness in her eyes, I heard the soothing tone of her voice assuring me everything would be ok, and I felt the warmth of the car inviting me to safety. I am now a rescue dog and whether or not my family is found, I am safe and assured of a future. My new mom calls me Buzz Lightyear…To Infinity and Beyond! That’s my story, that’s my happily ever after.”
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to ACT.