Norma, an artist who owns a coop gallery here in town, was on her way home to Miramar on May 28 when she saw a small brown dog trotting along the lonely road. There are no neighborhoods in the vicinity, only open desert and beyond that, the sea. When she pulled over, he came right to her and she was shocked at the gaping wounds on his side and chest. He was dehydrated and emaciated as though he had been out alone without food or water for a week or more.
He was taken immediately to Vanessa, one of the two vets here in San Carlos, where he stayed for three days' observation, given vitamins and infection-fighting drugs. Then Norma took him home, with the hope of finding the owners or a new home for him. She posted flyers and an announcement on the local internet forum, Viva San Carlos.
He's a dachshund mix, with the golden brown brandy color common among dachsies but his legs are a little longer. His eyes are the exact same color as his coat. Norma tentatively named him Chiquito for his admission to the vet's office, but she had no plans to keep him, having already a large dog and two cats. One must know one's limits, she says.
And this is where I come in. I support the concept of fostering dogs, particularly since the canine refuge where I volunteered closed at the end of May (a long sad story better addressed in another blog) and fostering is all that's left here for dogs in need. But my small condo doesn't offer much space for a large dog and there's no question of keeping one outside, especially as summer arrives. But this dog is the same size as my Maltese, Chica.
Chiquito is my first opportunity to learn the skills of fostering. How hard can it be, right? It's just like taking any dog on a permanent basis...EXCEPT the fostered dog often has issues (physical or behavioral) and just when the issues are dealt with and overcome, it's time for him to move on, into his "forever home," as the foster folk call it. It's a bittersweet situation, but most people I've known who foster take great pleasure in knowing the dog's life was vastly improved by their intervention.
So Chiquito came home with me last night. His issues are definitely not behavioral: he acts like a well-trained house dog other than the fact that he's not housebroken. His first act on entering the house was to cock his leg and pee on a t-shirt the Capt had left lying on the floor. This morning he mistook a tower fan for a small tree. But I'm taking him out with Chica frequently, and she's showing him the ropes.
He doesn't bark. When Chica barks, he sometimes makes a "Mmmmf-mmmmff" sound, but that's all. I'm thinking that out in the desert he learned to keep a low profile. He has a innate dignity you often don't see in small dogs.
His meds are finished, except for an ointment I dab on his sores morning and night. Norma tells me one of them was so deep, she and Vanessa could see bone, when he was first examined. I'm profoundly grateful I wasn't there for that. He'll need his shots when he's a little stronger, and then neutering. When he's ready I'll work on arranging an adoption for him. It could be weeks, or months.
He follows me everywhere, sleeps under my side of the bed and seems very anxious to please. I imagine what he must have been through out in the desert, how frightening it must have been, and I have to admire the spirit that kept him alive along enough to find that road, and Norma, and me.