Last week, my 13-year-old dog managed to escape. Escape is a word used very loosely in this case. She’s mostly blind, and has developed the slowed, almost-halting gait that comes with old age. These days, she doesn’t usually explore the fenced backyard. She goes out, does her business, and comes right back in. It’s another story if you are outside with her, then she’ll settle down into the grass and sigh heavily. She’ll let the sun beat into her dark fur, and on a really good day, she’ll still roll around some getting the grass and the dirt to coat her back. She’s happily content staying in one spot for an hour or more.
So, when my husband called me last week saying that he couldn’t find her, my first thought wasn’t, “Maizie has run away.” Instead, I pictured her old body giving out in our bed of daylilies. I assumed that she was just done. After checking every nook and cranny of the backyard, Jason had no choice but to think that she’d managed to get out through a gate that was slightly ajar.
After exploring the neighborhood a bit and seeing someone who looked sketchy (i.e. not one of the usual suspects around the neighborhood), both of us went to the worst place possible – assuming that someone had actually stolen our blind, stiff dog out of our yard for dog-fighting bait. It seemed so implausible. She’s so obviously blind and old that she wouldn’t even make a “good” bait dog. She would have no idea what was happening, so she probably wouldn’t even look scared. That’s where my mind went. How horrific is it that this world even has such a place to send your mind?
Jason called the police, and as he walked outside for one more walk down the street while he waited on the officer visit, a patrol car pulled up. One of Memphis’ Finest had heard the dispatch and remembered seeing a neighbor coax a dog matching ours’ description into her house. She was just up a street from ours. The officer walked with my husband to the lady’s house. Knocking on the door, he saw the old black dog laying on her side on the cool kitchen floor. There was food and cool water nearby, and a small child playing in the next room. This woman saw Maizie stumbling into mailboxes and cars parked in driveways, and she talked her into her house figuring that a dog that old had to have owners nearby.
It’s been a week since the event, and we haven’t decided what to do about this. Obviously, we’re keeping the gate more secured – blind or not, when that old girl decides to take a walk, she will find a way! Because we want to give a gift, a reward for that kindness that brought us relief, because we need to show our gratitude to the kindness of strangers, we have spun some ideas around. We’ll probably end up doing a gift card with a nice note. It just doesn’t seem like enough. There was another neighbor who came out as Jason and the officer walked to the street one up from ours. He just watched her from the inside of his house. This woman didn’t have to have a soft heart for an old dog. She certainly didn’t have to let her into her house, and she could have just as easily called Animal Services. But she didn’t, and we are so grateful.
From a quiet death to dog-fighting terror to a cool shelter and back home in under an hour.