Friday, April 11, 2008

Rescue Unlimited

No one blogs without a reason, right? Three years ago, my reason was to have an outlet for my excessive enthusiasms other than my friends, who could grow weary of my love of alley forage, or the epiphanies from my nighttime wandering. It seemed downright miraculous what I was seeing a year or two ago on my rambling journeys around town.

So we're back to my favorite topic of, ‘It’s amazing what you see out there’ when you cruise the byways of your little town or countryside. Ten days ago today I was heading east on 7th Ave, driving the few blocks between Polson Animal Clinic and my house. Up ahead, I spied a procession of four or five vehicles barely moving westbound. What I couldn’t see until I got closer was the leader of the parade, a pint-sized "Benji' proudly dashing up the middle of the lane like he was getting a prize for it.

I pulled over and jumped out and did the excited puppy speak which got him close enough to grab. We drove around trying to find a vet who recognized him. After leaving my number with veterinarians, Polson’s Animal Control Officer, Lake County Dispatch, KERR Radio and both newspapers, I did a photo shoot and put up some wanted posters, I waited for the inevitable phone call: a harried mom or dad of heartbroken children crying with relief. Or an older dog owner telling me how the collar broke. Nine days of silence, folks.

Then yesterday a call that resulted in a visit today; a young man who slumped against the fence when he saw this one wasn't his. Benji junior was the fourth dog in a month I encountered in the middle of a busy road. One was too fast to catch, and the other two were galloping Main Street in Ronan on consecutive days. I carried the puppy into the Ronan Police Station and tippy toed out while everyone was petting him. The Rottweiler cross I had to unleash as Ronan has no dog catcher. As I was talking to the officers, I said, "I'm letting him go now. He might cause and accident..." As far as I know he just wandered home again after chasing a few cars down the road.

Last week, a barely weaned Shar-Pei puppy ran under the tires of a young woman’s car. She loaded him just like I did and took off marveling, “I guess I’m the owner of a Shar-Pei now.” Of course, she will do the same thing I’m doing, which is go to heroic lengths to find the original owner.

I even came across a velvet black, domestic rabbit in my neighborhood, so tame it started to approach my dog. That was so far from a good idea, I can’t tell you. But it told me that the bunny had been gently treated so far, and maybe had signed a truce with the legions of local cats.

Speaking of coots, which of course we weren’t, I see the north end of Sacajewea Park looks like the aftermath of a giant pillow fight. Bald eagles have returned to Polson for their favorite winter and spring delicacy. Most of that bird ended up being dinner. Only the fluff (and a head) remained.Like I said, you're really missing a show if you sit inside morning and evening and don’t allow yourself to be part of the silent pagaent being played out each moment. Eugene and I were dining in Ronan City Park a couple weeks ago and spied a seagull who had a stout 3-4 inches of string coming out of his mouth with a red clump of something attached to it. This made eating corn chips or anything virtually impossible as the string kept getting caught and winding around his beak. When he flew, it whipped around and nearly drove him to ground.

We explored the possibility of capturing him and at least cutting the tiny ‘ball and chain’ from his beak, but we couldn’t find any equipment nearby. Obviously humans have to be careful what we leave laying around outside. Birds are curious and attracted to odd things that can ultimately kill them. Depending on what was on the other end of the string, that one’s chances of becoming a lasting part of the gene pool had probably become almost nil.

Back to mini-Benji who has taken up residence here and shows no sign of missing his former digs...As each caller who has lost a dog calls, I try out the name they give me and get no response. It made me realize that there are a heck of a lot of dogs roaming far from home-from Post Creek to Clarice Paul to Polson Town. Lucky for this one, everyone who sees him wants to take him home. Right now it looks like a showdown for ownership between two families.

My life time best rescue however, was a loon trapped on Skiff Lake, New Brunswick by faulty oil glands. She got waterlogged and couldn't get airborne. That yarn will have to wait for my next post wherein you learn of the ill-advised trek onto a newly frozen lake in December that ended much better than anticipated. As I recall there was a good deal of hand wringing on the shore. My reputation among locals as a risk taking wacko dates from that time.

Alley grazers, don't forget to check out those dandelions. Great eating. The roots, boiled or roasted, taste like asparagus, sort of.