In the Clearing Stands a Boxer

I live in the woods on an acre and a half. The eastern third of my property is fenced with 5′ high chain link. The fence gives me a sense of security and satisfaction.

There was a house built on a neighboring property about 10 years ago, and the people that built the house cut down most of their trees. When the housing market tanked some years back, the people put the house up for rent and moved back to Florida. I have never met any of the renters. It doesn’t seem that anyone stays there for a long time.

Sometimes the house through the woods is listed for sale. I’ve seen a For Sale sign appear and disappear over the years. If I wanted to know badly enough that the house had been sold, I probably could figure it out from the online property records. But I’m busy minding my own business and working and taking care of animals.

Last spring, something changed at the next property. I could hear a dog barking late at night. It sounded like an older dog perhaps, a soft continuous woof that went on for hours. One day I went to the back of my property which looked into the side of the neighbor’s property, thinking that I would see an old dog in a pen or tied to a porch post. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. No dog. Nothing.

The barking continued. It didn’t bother me, but this phantom dog had something to say.

One day the barking stopped.

*****

A month ago, I was headed to the car for work one early morning a few days before the Fourth of July. There was a dog at my gate, and he skittered away into the tree line.

I called to him. He was unsure.

“Come on, Bubby, come on out. I have canned food for you.”

I put a can of food into a Pyrex dish. He didn’t eat immediately. Was he waiting for permission to eat or was he not hungry?

He held a pretty sit for me, then he settled in to eat an entire can.

I noticed he wasn’t neutered, and I could see his ribs. He wasn’t wearing a collar so he probably wasn’t microchipped.

Now comes the great dilemma. Debate, debate, debate in my own head.

If I take him to the shelter this early in the day, I have to put him in the overnight lost and found enclosure. What if there was already another dog left there? I won’t have time to take him back home, and the shelter won’t open to the public until 10. What if I put him in my fence? He had already met Mr. Packett through the chainlink, and they seemed compatible, but what if his owner drove around looking for him and saw him in my fence? What if he let Mr. Packett out? Plus, I remembered that it was a Monday and the shelter was closed to the public.

I went to work. I put his photos on my Facebook page, asking if anyone knew where this dog belonged. I contacted the shelter who had no report of a missing boxer. I contacted the chairman of the board of the shelter, and she said to call animal control. But what if he wasn’t standing by my gate when animal control went out? Plus it was approaching the Fourth, the holiday when most dogs go missing because of fireworks, and I’m thinking the shelter would be full.

He was there for three straight mornings, and I decided if he were there on my next day off, he was going to the shelter.

On Saturday he was not there. I went outside to feed the cats, and I heard a noise through the woods to the property next door. I heard crying.

I walked to the back of the property, and over my fence I saw this…

My friend was tied up in the muck. His bowls were turned over, except for one rain-water-filled bowl that he couldn’t reach. He couldn’t get to the shelter of his dog house.

His bed was half-buried in the dirt.

I took a bucket of water and a can of food to him. He was restrained by some ridiculous harness contraption, and his tie-out lead was hopelessly snarled at the tie-out post. No one was home.

I knew I could take him to the shelter, but I wasn’t ready to steal a neighbor’s dog since I could monitor his situation and give him some comfort.

The following morning he was not there. I headed to the front gate to feed the cats, and there he was waiting for me.

I called Sugar on the phone, opened the back door of the car, and the dog climbed in, easy as pie. We went to Sugar’s house to pick him up, and we three went to the shelter.

He was checked for a microchip, while everyone exclaimed how wonderful he was. There was no chip, and we left him in good hands. I supposed I’d never see him again.

No person had been at his house for approximately 2 days, and that Sunday evening I walked through the woods when I heard an engine start up, and saw a man mowing his yard on a riding mower, like business as usual. So his people had returned home after leaving him tied out during the afternoon storms, tied with a cable that had become shortened and tangled down to three feet, and an overturned water bucket.

*****

Last week, I headed to the car about 6am to see if it would start properly, because the day before there seemed to be an issue. When I got out of the car, there was my friend, apparently having been reclaimed. He had been neutered, which told me that he had also gotten his shots and was microchipped and that his people had to pay an adoption fee to get him back. I gave him a can of food, and when I drove off an hour later, he was still at the gate, and ran after the car for a quarter mile.

When I got home that night, he wasn’t there. The next morning, I walked back through the woods, watching for snakes and spiderwebs, and saw this scene over the fence.

I went through my side gate, taking a can of food with me.

He was living in disgusting circumstances. They had put his food in a cardboard box, and flies were laying eggs in the debris.

He was wearing a collar that was snugged tightly to his throat, and the aircraft wire that he was tied to was wrapped around his throat. I got him loosened up and gave him a can of food.

Two days after that, his circumstances had not improved. The voices in my head were debating how this could play out. If I call animal control, then I’ve made an official report. The owners would probably be given a warning, and they might opt to relinquish him if they can’t or won’t do better. At any rate, I can’t steal him. I mean, I *could*, but I won’t.

Yesterday morning I checked on him. There was a car at the house, but the dog’s situation looked bad. I made a report to animal control. I reported how he showed up for 3 straight days, no collar, no one looking for him, I fed him, I took him to the shelter, he was reclaimed and tied up, he got away again, he was tied up again with a collar so tight that he could barely swallow, he had aircraft wire wrapped around his neck and in danger of strangling, or at the very least the line would cut into his skin, his water was overturned, his people would leave him for days at a time without attention and there were thunderstorms and he couldn’t get to his house because his tie-out had become shortened to 3 feet. The ACO told me that a dog had to have water and shelter at a minimum and that this county doesn’t have a law against tying a dog, BUT the dog has to have ACCESS to the house, and a dog can be tied out to a collar, but not tied out around their neck without a collar. She said that she would go out that day.

Last night I got home and he was gone. I walked over to check for sure. His collar was just lying on the ground. Had his owner gotten so angry that he took the dog off and dumped him? Had he killed him? But there was a full cardboard box of food. Why would you feed your dog and then get rid of him? Maybe animal control took him. Sugar thought they would give a warning first before taking him. I thought that they had already had a warning when they reclaimed him, and that my report would be strike two.

We thought we’d never know.

This evening, I saw this notice on Facebook.

When you zoom in on his photo, you can see where the wire was cutting into his neck.

Here’s how my voices guess this played out. The owner dumped some food into the cardboard box and went away. Animal Control went out and saw the conditions, the physical limitations of the situation, the poop on the ground, the tangled wire, the flies in the cheap dry food, the fact that his ribs were showing, and that his recent surgical site was exposed to the dirt, and said O No Not Today. Even though he had a clean bucket of water and food in his bowl and an inaccessible dog house? O No.

Not today.

10 Responses to “In the Clearing Stands a Boxer”

  1. righteousbruin9 Says:

    Such behaviour towards an animal is disgusting and I certainly hope that the boxer found a fine home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      Within a few hours, he had dozens of “likes”, “loves”, shares, and positive comments, and people tagging other people. He’ll be adopted soon! And will not have to live in filth any longer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aquila Says:

    Thank heaven you were watching out for him. Most people just see that and walk away. I only wish people who leave their poor dogs in such conditions would have to spend the exact same amount of time in those same conditions. It makes one wonder how they treat their children. I’ve learned over the years that people who can’t or won’t treat their dogs/cats well won’t treat their children well either. I hope he is blessed with the perfect forever home.

    Like

  3. Audrey Bateson Says:

    Lucky for him you live next door!  You have a kind and gentle heart Ruth ❤

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Like

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      I am regretful that it took so long for him to get some relief. I’ve had complications – nothing impossible – for the last several months which prevented me from taking better action.

      Like

  4. Libby Hromika Says:

    Bless you, Ruth. I pray that gorgeous boy is curled up beside someone who loves him in an air conditioned house. Stories like these break my heart. Thank God for those who care.

    Like

  5. The Coastal Crone Says:

    I read the second part first and then this one. You did all you could. I am so happy that it turned out this way. He is a beautiful dog! It breaks my heart to see dogs tied up. Thank you for all that you did!

    Like

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