I don’t think you guys understand the severity of the pine pollen around here.
It rained and thunderstormed all night, so all of that accumulated within, like, twelve hours. The asphalt is dyed yellow! Fear the pollen!
Although, admittedly, the pollen on my shoes is fairly recent. It’s probably only been there for two hours. I had the great joy of tramping about with a couple of excited dogs. Yes, I decided that, now that I was no longer working all day in the middle of the day, that it was time to start volunteering at the animal shelter again.
My first dog was Arianna.
I chose her because obviously. Look at that dog. Look at that face. Her ears are two different colors! She has an eye patch! She was so sweet too. She did tend to jump a bit and she was a little mouthy, but she never bit. I was easily able to get a collar on her and get her outside. She was good on a leash, too, and she had this weird tendency to just sit randomly, and then look at you, waiting for a treat.
I was hesitant about walking Big Boy, although he was next in the kennel order. He’s 61 pounds. But he sat calmly in his kennel, so I gave him a shot. It turns out that I can’t handle 61 pounds of boxer energy. He pulled me without even trying — his stride was just that long. But he was a sweet dog. He stopped just so he could lean into me and demand pets. I was very happy to oblige.
Huxton is my new buddy. He’s an eight-year-old beagle, and he has something important to say. When I came into his kennel and tried to put the collar on him, he started howling. Then he would stop howling and give me a serious look, like he was trying to gauge my opinion on whatever he had just howled about.
I would pat his rump and say, “Yes, you are a good dog.”
This was apparently not what he was howling about, because he would start howling again, then look at me to see how I reacted. This happened several times before I was finally able to get the collar and leash on him.
The biggest problem with the kennel is that we have to walk all of the dogs past all of the other dogs in order to get them outside. All the dogs go nuts, both in the kennel and out. Some of the walking dogs get scared and won’t walk. Some dogs in the kennel jump and snarl at the walking dogs. We try to pull the dogs as close to our bodies as we can and get them out into the sunshine as soon as possible.
Huxton was totally chill. He ignored the other dogs and heeled perfectly. Once outside, he padded along nicely, sometimes next to me, sometimes in front of me. He sniffed things like he was a connoisseur. He maintained this air of perfect dignity mixed with asthma. He would walk, then stop and pant, and then walk some more. I brushed his back with my fingers as best as I could, and he would look at me as if acknowledging that yes, I had done something, and he appreciated it.
Huxton was the best.
Tiffany was the last pup I walked. She was all about playful energy, so I prepared a toy to distract her while I got the collar on her. It worked perfectly. Tiffany was all about playing. She wanted to be everywhere, to sniff everything. It took a lot of energy just to keep her from running us into the road.
While we walked, I noticed another dog following us. It was a smallish dog, mostly black, but with a brown chest. It had huge, pointed ears. It stared at us. Tiffany ignored the dog. I walked along and kept my eye on the dog. It was definitely following us, and I couldn’t see a collar. It slowly closed the gap on us, but I could tell it was going to keep its distance.
I walked Tiffany back a little faster than I would have otherwise. I walked her to the front of the shelter, rather than the back. Ricci Kearney, the volunteer coordinator, was standing in the reception area with two boxers and a tawny pitbull; three administrators were at the front desk. One of them was on the phone, talking about trapping kittens.
I wasn’t sure who to speak to, so I just said, loudly, “There was a dog following us.”
The administrator asked, “Who was the dog following? You or Tiffany?”
“I couldn’t tell,” I admitted.
Ricci took charge. He put the boxers and the pitbull in the volunteer office and emerged with treats and a leash. Tiffany and I went with him. I described the dog; he said it was a shepherd mix, probably. But the dog was at the field across from the shelter. “That looks like a Chi,” he said.
Tiffany pulled at the leash, trying to run to the stray. The stray began to back off. Ricci had me take Tiffany back inside so he could focus on catching the dog.
I put Tiffany and all my volunteer gear away and then emerged from the Center to find Ricci and another volunteer trying to slowly encircle the dog. I decided to join them. So did another volunteer, an older woman bearing dog treats. The sheer amount of us frightened the dog and he disappeared into the woods. I felt guilty; I should have just left. Ricci said that they would put out traps for the dog.