Monday, July 03, 2000

Dog days acquire a new meaning

By Dave Caudill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It began one morning on Columbia Parkway about four months ago. A big, beautiful dog, shepherd-like but with longish hair, was lopping along just asking to be clobbered by a fast-moving car. Of course she had to stop.

        The dog, sheepish at first, warmed up to the idea of bounding into the back seat of her car.

        I got a phone call at work later that day: “When you get home, you'll find a dog in your garage.”

        The call came from my best friend, the woman I intend to marry.

        A dog? In my garage?

        Yep. About 65 pounds of pure energy, looking slightly ragged and weathered, as if he'd spent a couple of weeks on the road. The long hair around his head, his mane, was matted and looked like someone had done it in dreadlocks.

        Whose dog? He wore no tag.

        Calls to the Hamilton County SPCA produced no answers. No one had reported a missing dog that sounded like this one. Someone probably missed this guy but wasn't taking the standard steps to find him.

        The dog was friendly to a fault, with a habit of standing on his hind legs to paw at your chest and put his nose in your face, a trait that is both endearing and maddening.

        I couldn't keep him. The lovely woman who found him has a dog that does not tolerate other animals in his territory. He proved this by biting Mook — yes, the found dog got a name — on the ear hard enough that the vet bill was $75.

        Take him to a shelter? The no-kill shelters have waiting lists and the dog's prospects for longevity at other shelters were not good. We wanted to see this dog get a good home.

        Fliers went up around town. A classified ad was placed in the Enquirer and the Post.Perhaps the owner would see them. But the owner apparently wasn't looking.

        The fliers produced some inquiries, people who said they truly wanted a dog. We settled on one such person and asked her to call if things didn't work out between her and Mook. Then we said goodbye. Or thought we did.

        A month later, Mook turned up tied to a tree in a neighbor's yard. I guess this was an abrupt and ungracious way of saying things had not worked out.

        The fliers went up again.

        Another call. Dog lovers. A wonderful retired couple who had owned shepherds. We deliberated — was Mook too much dog for them? Was he too rambunctious? They were willing to try him. We assured them we would take him back if things didn't work out.

        A few weeks later, it was clear that things didn't work out. Mook likes to stay inside; they liked to keep him outside. He hates to be by himself and barks to let you know this. Maybe it's the memory of being a dog on the run.

        So Mook's back at my house, and each day he occupies a slightly larger place in my heart. But I can't keep him. Two big dogs, one who hates the other obsessively, cannot happily co-exist in such a small place.

        “You should call that dog Boomerang,” one friend says. “He just keeps coming back.”

        The fliers are up again. I'm convinced a good home awaits Mook, somewhere.

        This has turned into an ordeal for me and the compassionate woman who saved Mook from a violent end on Columbia Parkway. And, of course, for Mook.

        But he remains playful and decently obedient. Whatever Mook thinks of this saga, he's not saying much.

        Dave Caudill is the Enquirer's Features copy desk chief. If you would like to make a serious inquiry about Mook, you can speak to him — Dave, not the dog — at (513) 768-8486.


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