Another neighbor from down the road who I’d never met came to my door one night, quite drunk and bleeding from having negotiated her way through the barbed wire fences between her place and mine. She asked me to call the sheriff to escort her back home after spending a couple of delirious minutes on my porch. I obliged.
The woman who lived in the lot next door seemed to be a truly nice woman when I first met her. She owned a number of young dogs – all rescues, according to her – as well as a young bull calf who followed her around everywhere, including to the mailbox and back. Her place was as squalid as the rest of the area, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was caring for the animals the best she could.
Two of the dogs came over quite frequently to play with my Dobermans. Peppy was a tall black-and-tan setter/shepherd cross and Sadie was a tiny black cocker spaniel mix. My two Doberman puppies adored Peppy and I appreciated the way he mentored them, even though he wasn’t even a year old himself when he first came to visit. Sadie was a little dynamo who ingratiated herself with anyone she met.
|My Dobies - Lance (L) and, um, Phoenix (R)|
About a year after I moved in, I was on my way to work when I saw a tired and muddy dog plodding along the road about 8 miles out. It was Peppy. I bundled the grateful boy into the car and brought him back to my neighbor, who told me he’d jumped out of the back of their truck when they’d gone to the little country store that was 6 miles away. She seemed pleased to have him back, and I left it at that.
I was crushed. Especially since she hadn’t asked me if I wanted any of them first. She and I had never been close as neighbors, but she knew some of her dogs and mine played together. I ditched work and drove straight to the county animal shelter. There was no sign of Sadie or Peppy – who I’d also decided would come home with me – and the shelter manager told me no one had dropped off 7 dogs in recent memory. I went home and called every shelter in the area. Not one of them had seen any of the dogs I described.
Only then did I realize that not only had the neighbor lied to my face, she had no doubt purposefully lost Peppy on the side of the road a couple of weeks earlier. Where she’d abandoned him and Sadie and the others this time I never found out. I had been too late to save them by no more than a couple of days. That I had been so close to enabling a different outcome for them ate deeply at me for a long, long time. I suppose it’s still eating at me 20 years later.
A couple of weeks after the pups went missing, I noticed the calf, who’d grown into quite the hefty bull, had also disappeared.
Not long after, I was working near the fence between our properties (we couldn’t see each other’s homes otherwise) when the neighbor came out carrying an 8-week-old bulldog puppy she’d bought the week before. She showed him off to me without apology and told me she was picking up a shih tzu puppy the next week. She cuddled the little bulldog close, kissing him on top of his head, and went back into her house as though nothing were wrong.
I wished the puppy god-speed, knowing he had maybe 2 good years ahead of him. I’d finally figured out the woman had a special kind of hoarding syndrome. She collected BABY animals only. Once the animals outgrew their cute phase, she’d simply get rid of them and start collecting all over.
I moved before that happened again.
Twenty years ago in a poor neighborhood, in an even poorer county, outside any city limits and with nothing but circumstantial evidence to go on, what could I have done to prevent the woman from cycling again?
Abuse and neglect come in many forms. If only they were all obvious.
|Good dogs both - forever missed.|