So said I back in March 2006. Mrs grog and I, cat people poster children, were faced with the prospect of finding homes for a neighbor's two cats and his three-legged dog. Our neighbor was an elderly man finally moving out of his rather squalid existence and into senior assisted apartments. They didn't allow pets and we assured him and his one living relative, a niece, that we'd handle placing the animals.
Given where we live, in the second reddest county in Missouri, a rural place where animal attitudes remain antiquated, trying to place animals in good homes is problematic at best. But placing "defective" animals? Impossible. Remember, attitudes here are antiquated, thus, a three-legged dog isn't viewed as good for much. Follow be below the squiggle for the start or our 6+year canine journey.
We moved here in 1996 to restore and run the Dauphine Hotel:
Almost immediately, we were overwhelmed by the stray cat problem. Over the next 9 years, we took in, fixed, fostered, adopted, etc., well over 20 cats, going so far as to build them a dedicated "cat room" in the garage behind the Dauphine:
In 1998, we did deal with 4 puppies from a feral female that roamed into town. Bottle fed them, found them homes but other than that, our lives, when it came to animals, revolved around cats.
We're located right along the Osage River and there are weekend homes and RV pads, mostly for people from nearby Jefferson City but plenty are owned by "locals". For years, these owners would come down with a dog, spend much of the summer weekends there, then close the places up for the winter...and leave the dog behind. Every October, we'd have 2-3 new "strays" in town. The locals (aka "the insiders") would grumble and complain but not do anything about it. Keep in mind there are no laws here, law enforcement authority (the sheriff) is a joke and as such, there's nothing close to "animal control". Our only option is to grab the animal and haul it an hour away to the shelter in Columbia, where it would most likely be euthanized. Nonetheless, in many cases, we would do that since the stray dogs weren't being fed and it would only be a matter of time before one of our gun totin' "real" 'Murkin neighbors would shoot em.
The other observation we made about the "insiders" is that every dog that wasn't specifically theirs was "vicous", made no difference how nice the dog actually was, you'll never see a group of people so scared shitless over a strange dog: it could be a chihuahua and they'd avoid it like the plague for fear of getting an ankle bite.
So, shortly after we dealt with the stray puppies, another stray wanders into town, a medium-sized brown dog (70-80 pounds) who predictably was labeled "vicious". Only not to Mrs grog. The guy (and he was clearly a guy and "intact" as the animal people like to say) would jump up putting his front two paws, note I said two paws, on her whenever their paths crossed. Wag his tail and that smile! That was really our first indication of the warped perspective people around us had towards dogs; it's far worse towards cats but after 2 years of living there, we kinda got that message already.
The dog didn't technically remain a stray for long. We had an elderly couple (actually brother and sister) who lived two houses up from us who moved to town shortly after we did. They had two Boston Terriers and for the most part kept to themselves. He would occasionally go off his rocker yelling about Jehovah which didn't really endear him to his Catholic neighbors, otherwise, we didn't interact with them much. After the new dog was in town for a couple of weeks, they just sort of took him in. He still wandered around but at least he had a "home porch" to sit on and they brought him in at nights.
Which is more than we could say for the people around them, those "insiders". Animals are viewed as chattel...and dirty. They'd no more allow a dog inside the house than they'd vote for a Democrat. And yet, this old brother and sister, everyday, showed more compassion than any of our regular, Mass-attending Catholic neighbors (it's very Catholic here) by bringing the dog into their home and, in their own way, showed him every kindness their very limited means could provide.
They named the dog Bozo. Where Cliff (the old guy) pulled that name from, we'll never know. Bozo followed them around, wandered around on his own and was always upright in the front seat whenever Cliff drove his 1970-era land barge into town for medicine or groceries.
This went on for perhaps a year, maybe two. Then, Bozo's proclivity to lie in the street to take a snooze almost killed him. That's in the next installment.