August 16, 2010
Barren

Saturday some friends and I went to Barren River Lake. We rented a pontoon and a cabin and made a day out of it. It was 100 degrees with a 118 heat index. We drank a lot, had fun and made a few good stories. Here’s one:

We parked the pontoon for most of the day. About 2 hours in, we spotted a mangy dog walking along the shore. He was all black and looked like a lab or maybe a retriever. He was checking us out, as we were just a 9iron away. We whistled and called for him and he continued to look us over. Soon though he lost interest and continued walking down the shore.

Ignoring the G.I. Joe public service announcement about stray dogs that I’d seen 20 times as a kid, I grabbed a piece of ham and hopped on one of my friend’s jetskis. I slowly rode over to him. Once I reached shore I could see him much better. He was still 20 feet away and very unsure of me. He was extremely thin and unkempt looking. He cautiously looked at me, unwilling to come over despite my best dog calls.

I gave up on hand feeding him and threw the ham in his direction. He checked it out immediately and scarfed it down just as fast. His demeanor did a 180 and he walked right to me, as if to ask for more. Again, ignoring the GI Joe PSA, I called for him to hop on the jetski. I was as close to the shore as possible. The jetski was resting on the ground but there was still some water between us. He wanted to hop on very badly but was afraid of the 3 foot jump he’d have to make.

What the hell.

I grabbed his front legs and gently pulled him into the 6 inch deep water. Once he understood he could stand he climbed on the jetski with me. My first reaction was ‘wow this is kinda dumb, but fun, and OMG this dog stinks’. Stink isn’t the word for it. Rotten. Filth.

Judging by his extreme slender build, his cautious nature and his putrid smell, I determined he’d been living on his own in the woods for at least a few weeks, if not his whole life.

I took him back to the pontoon (of course) and we all loved on him and fed him more ham. He was shy, cautious and extremely gentle. He never once growled or barked, bit or snipped. He was just scared and hungry. He also never smiled or played. He was tired and laid around a lot, always under a seat in a small tight spot. He had burs in his fur all over. He also had at least one tick and seemed infested with fleas. He was a mangy mutt.

Once it was time to return the pontoon, I either had to take him back to shore and drop him off or take him back to the cabin. For me that was a no-brainer. If he was aggressive or mean, I’d have to have returned him. But come on. This dog needed some love. I cut as many burs out of his fur as I could find and carried him to my truck.

He stunk up my truck and once we got to the cabin I gave him a bath. He didn’t like being wet but once I held him firmly he allowed it. Again, he never got aggressive. After the bath I was able to remove the flea on his eyelid. He smelled good and looked almost like a normal dog.

We kept him in the cabin that night while we had our fun. He behaved well and kept to his gentle, unsure and timid nature. I did the only two tests I know for a dog to be a good pet. I pushed the inside middle of his paw—he didn’t flinch. I put him on his back and put my hand on his neck—he submitted and waited for me to remove it. This guy was a keeper. And keep him I did.

The next day we drove home and I told Brittany about the dog we saw on the shore. “You put him back, right?”

I lied.

I knew once she had a few minutes with him she’d fall in love.

Once I showed him to her and explained how he is as passive as a dog can be, never bit barked or growled and passed both ‘good pet’ tests, she was on board. We hopped on the internet to find a vet that was open on Sundays. We kept him outside while we searched, since he was a walking flea hotel.

Once we found one, we loaded him back in the car. The vet gave him all the tests and to our surprise he was good to go. No heart worm, no Lyme disease and he also tested negative for some other test they give animals who’ve lived in the woods—forget the name. He weighed in at 36lbs and she estimated by his tooth growth that he was 7 to 8 months old. She gave him all his vaccinations. Even during the blood draw and vaccinations, he didn’t have an ounce of aggression in him. In my opinion, anything beat the 100 degree woods. She gave us a spread of medication to kill the fleas and ticks and to get him going to be a healthy dog.

Back in the truck and to the pet store. We got all the basics including a cage for him to sleep in.

As we loaded back into the truck I remember thinking “This guy has no home. He has no normal. He was on the shore, then the jetski, then the pontoon for 5 hours. A short truck ride led him to the cabin for a night. Then a long truck ride put him in my yard. Back in the truck to the vets. Truck. Pet Store (ya he went in). Truck, and now my house again. Finally he’s going to the same place twice. Finally he can have a home. Poor fella.

I am sending a fax to the marina at Barren Lake to put up a “Found” sign. I will be shocked if anyone calls, since he just doesn’t behave like he’s been owned before. He is clueless how to walk on a leash, always going between your legs and tripping you up, and he doesn’t equate outside with potty. Outside was home. That being said, if he is someone’s dog I will return him. But I’m hoping he’s just some stray who got lucky and I’m hoping he’s my pet for the rest of his life.

He did great last night and for the first time, played like a dog is supposed to. It took about 24 hours for him to truly smile. He is slowly shedding his 100% survival mode mentality and starting to become a playful happy puppy.

Oh, I almost forgot. After playing around with names, the guys and I decided the best name was Barren.

Just after having blood drawn for tests:

Getting some much needed rest in the air conditioning