This column is being written in honor of a dog I met about ten years ago. His owner moved away and I lost track of him. Judge me harshly, if you want to, but I hope he is in heaven now.
He was such a cute little fluffy puppy who had the misfortune of being one puppy in a litter of unwanted puppies. Some may believe that he was one of the lucky ones, because he was given away to a home. His owners may have sighed with relief because they did not have to bring him to the shelter, and his new owner sighed with relief because they didn’t have to pay for him.
For a few days, he was able to stay inside. But, as large breed puppies do, he grew quickly. Suddenly, he became a lot of trouble, so out in the yard he went. An old doghouse was still left over from the previous tenant’s dog, so for just a few dollars a chain was bought, old pans were taken from the kitchen, and the dog began his new life. It was a life that consisted of a small circle around the doghouse. After a short time, all the grass died from his constant pacing.
After a while, all of his straining at the chain worked, and he was able to break free. He didn’t wander long, however, before he was picked up and brought to the shelter. His owners came to claim him, paid the fees, paid for the rabies shot, bought a city tag, and took him home. A new chain was bought, this one a little bit heavier so he would have to strain more to break free. Immediately, his schedule was resumed. He sat staring at the house, hoping that his owners would come outside so he would not be so alone. When they went out to put food and water in the old pans, he got so excited that he jumped on them. They yelled and left. It was the routine.
People drove by and called to complain about him. When they called, all we could do was tell them that the legal minimum requirements (of that time in Danville) were being met.
He would whine and cry when visitors came into the yard. The owner told us one time she used to sit on the porch, but he disturbed her so much by whining that she had to stop doing that.
Even an exuberant, friendly dog can have the zest for living drained out of him. The last couple of times we visited him, he did not even acknowledge us. Why would he? No one ever paid any attention to him.
We offered money to buy the dog, and the owner was told repeatedly that told the dog needs more attention.
And so, this beautiful, once-enthusiastic dog was destined to live his life at the end of a chain. He did not know it, but his story helped us work so hard to get an anti-tethering ordinance passed in Danville. The law can make you provide shelter, food, and water for your animal. The law can make you give the rabies shot and buy a city or county tag. It is a pitiful fact, however, that there is no way the law can make you love your animal.