I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our family. Jethro is a 4 1/2 year old, 90 lb. Harrier. When Lynne asked me if she could adopt a dog, as my Christmas gift to her, I said, “sure, if it makes you happy, do it”. Of course, at the time, I was thinking of a lap dog. A Terrier, Beagle, Spaniel, etc. Maybe she was too. But when she saw Jethro in his concrete jail cell, looking, as my youngest daughter Amber put it, “defeated”, Lynne’s heart melted and knew he had to come home.
Jethro has had a rough time of it in life, and has been in and out of county lock-up since 2013. He has been adopted, and returned FIVE TIMES. He is not a bad dog. In fact, I haven’t noticed any behavioral issues with him. But he is large. He is fast. He is strong. And he may be a bit clumsy. Very loving and friendly, but can appear to be a little aggressive while playing. Nothing more than growling and pushing his weight around, but it can be frightening to small children. Something some of the previous adoptive parents should have considered before taking him home, then breaking his heart by returning him.
Since Jethro has been adopted and returned so many times, the case worker (is that what they’re called?) handling Jethro wanted to be sure he was going to a good, stable, loving, PERMANENT home this time. I think this was Jethro’s last stay of execution…literally. You wouldn’t believe the stack of papers and checklists Lynne had to initial and sign. She might have even gave up a kidney to make this happen. But this animal guy handling Jethro’s case, suggested to Lynne that she bring me up there to see him first. No, it wasn’t misogynistic/sexist….he wasn’t telling her to get my permission. He just wanted to make sure there were no surprises – that the family knew exactly what we were all getting into. Again, this was Jethro’s last shot, and this guy obviously cared and wanted Jethro to have a family, – the right family, rather than last rites.
So, Lynne picked me up from the bar, and took me to doggy jail to meet Jethro. My first reaction was a jolt – not expecting quite so large of a dog. But, I got down on my knees to introduce myself, and as soon as I looked into his sad eyes, I asked him if he was ready to come home. I too, was hooked.
Now please bear with me for this short rant. The FEMA camp for animals closes at 7 p.m. We got there at 6:35 p.m. There were SEVEN gubmint employees sitting behind the receptionist desk, doing absolutely nothing. Not answering the phones. Not filing paper work. Not writing reports. No customers to deal with. Nothing. Just chatting among themselves. “Sorry, the deadline for adopting is 6:30 p.m.” Jethro would have to spend another lonely night in his cubicle of concrete, because not one of these seven welfare whores was willing to overlook 5 minutes and actually do their god damn job. </rant>
The next afternoon, Lynne and Amber were able to get back and officially adopt our new baby and bring him home. As it is when bringing any dog into a new environment, Jethro was excited and rambunctious, trying to discover this new world, and Mariah (muh kitty) was not happy at all.. So, since Lynne had to take Amber to work, she decided to let Jethro ride with them, while I Jethro-proofed the house. Apparently, he is very calm and content when riding in the car.
When Lynne and Jethro got home after dropping Amber off, Lynne tried to re-hook his leash, but couldn’t get a good grip while inside the car. So, she got out, went to his door, opened his door, and like a bolt of lightening, Jethro was GONE! He took off like a bullet. My dear, sweet 52 year old wife, who currently has strep throat/bronchitis, and suffers from chronic asthma, instinctively took off after him. I’m in the house and have no idea this has happened. Lynne ran, at full clip, for nearly a mile trying desperately to catch Jethro, but he is just too fast, and at this point, she just couldn’t see him any more. Crying and in extreme panic mode, she called me. I run out of the house, on foot, phone in hand, trying to calm her down, and find her. After I finally caught up to Lynne, we walked around looking for Jethro. I saw a jogger and asked if he had seen him. Then my son pulled up in his car. We rode around looking, but no signs of Jethro.
The only thing I could think to do at this point, and I hated knowing it was the only thing to do, was call the dog prison and tell them what happened. I felt, as Jethro looked in his cell, “defeated”. I couldn’t help thinking, “if the jailers do find him, they will take him from us. Within an hour, we had caused him to run away from home. What shitty parents we are.”
Pulling into the driveway, Lynne crying and feeling like a failure, me dreading this phone call to the animal pigs and still shaken up fretting over what could have happened to Lynne by chasing after Jethro, an amazing thing happened. A family in an SUV pulled in behind us with Jethro inside! He had made it out of the neighborhood onto a very busy road, and when this father saw him, he pulled over, opened the back hatch, and Jethro jumped right in! They had called and come to our house a couple of times while we were out looking. They went to my neighbor’s house, who informed them we don’t have a dog. But the man noticed Jethro’s tags were brand new, and my neighbor just wasn’t aware we have a dog. So, they decided to wait at the end of my court until we returned. What an awesome family!
Earlier I said I haven’t seen any behavioral issues with Jethro. I think it is important to realize, he was not being a bad dog. He just had no earthly idea where his boundaries were. To him everything outside his old jail cell was his new world to explore. And while Lynne was chasing after him and calling his name, Jethro probably thought this was a game they were playing. Neither of us were angry with him, or had any desire to punish him. We were just happy he was home, and eternally grateful to the family who found him. But now it is Daddy’s job to teach Jethro about property lines.