Monday, August 8, 2016

A Story About a Pandering Dog Catcher


This summer I made the acquaintance of a very large dog. By the time I met Brutus, my wife and he had been best of friends for some time. My wife, whose name is Mary, used to visit the neglected St Bernard  two usually three times a day, and, lord, you should have seem them together. Let me explain.
Brutus occupies a dog house at a fairly busy intersection outside Canisteo on Route 36; his plight is well known. Apparently, many caring passersby reported the conditions under which this tragic creature is forced to live. However, the dog control officer, a character named Hadsell, who is known to hold little regard for his charges and does the minimum he can get away with for them, insists that all that’s necessary for keeping a pet is to supply food and water (apparently amounts are not specified). Such fundamentals as grooming, socialization, walking, petting, playing fetch are apparently not necessary in providing a wholesome environment for one’s dog, which is after all, a sociable creature. And, besides, Hadsell would say, the owner is a friend of mine - leave the poor man alone.
Brutus’ plight is that he is chained out in the hot sun day after day. From all reports, no one in the owner’s family pays the slightest attention to him. My wife first met the big galumping creature during her rounds for Meals on Wheels. Mary loves people and she loves animals, particularly horses and dogs. She carries treats in her car for every dog on her route, and seeing this big dog all alone every day inspired her to stop and say “hello”. Brutus, of course, was pleased as punch to have somebody pay attention to him. My wife offered treats and Brutus was pleased as punch to take them from her.
During her visits she noticed that Brutus’ food and water dishes were always empty, regardless of the time of day she stopped by. Often in the afternoon, during the hottest part of the day – and they’ve all been at least ninety degrees this summer - there was no water. She began carrying quart bottles of water with her; she said he often drank the whole thing and wanted more. And she began carrying much larger snacks – she discovered rather quickly Brutus had a liking for pizza – and, of course, pork chops! Before long, he would hear her car coming from a half-mile away and emerge from wherever he could find shade, to greet her. Brutus would bound about playfully, roll on his back, long spindly legs waving in the air, and lay contentedly while he was combed.
Keep in mind, my wife was not sneaking around to visit Brutus. She had asked the owner’s permission to spend time with him and to bring snacks and water. He said he didn’t mind. What the heck, she was doing his job! She could not tolerate the animal’s plight and was doing all she could to see him through. She’d often go to him, just to be with him, pet and comb him. It’s seldom one sees a happier dog – and my wife is always happiest when she’s helping someone – human or creature. Those of you who know her know what I’m talking about.
How sad it is that she’s been barred from visiting her new friend. It happened this way.
Apparently, of the many people who would stop and talk to Brutus and pet him (he’d become a bit of a tragic celebrity), one was a little girl who stomped on his tail. He bit her – don’t blame him; I’d have bitten the little cretin, too. There was no broken skin, no serious injury. However, the kid’s parents were not going to let their little darling be responsible for her actions, so the incident was reported: Brutus was locked up in the local “shelter”, under quarantine, and the cretin got to go home. He was “sentenced” to ten days, ostensibly for observation (but with no broken skin, there can be no disease, so what’s the point?) Mary and I, upon hearing of his incarceration, went to visit the inmate. A locked door barred entry, so we looked in a window. Believe me, it was not a place fit for life. The place stunk, the fan was off and it was the usual ninety degrees-plus day. Poor Brutus, obviously sick, lay in a large puddle of diarrhea. He recognized my wife’s voice and rose on long, wobbly legs to greet her. There was barely room enough for the big fellow to turn around in the cage. With his coat matted down with feces, his malnourishment was even more obvious. I swear there was a haunted look in his eyes. My wife and I agreed he was better off chained to his dog house out on the crossroads.
We discovered, to our edification, that the dog control officer (in this case, an obvious euphemism for dog catcher) had complete authority as to the plight of dogs in the shelter. That meant that the putz Hadsell had the say-so over Brutus. My wife talked to Hadsell several times, each time mentioning she wanted to buy the dog from the present owner, in order to provide him with a good home. Her request was turned down, and in our opinion, was never passed on to the owner. She called the owner with the same request but was turned down.
If the putz Hadsell had been conscientious about doing his job, instead of pandering to his friend, Brutus would have been examined by the local veterinarian for malnutrition and general body condition, inasmuch as he was always chained to his doghouse and, seemingly, never exercised. (Young dogs – Brutus is about three years - according to vet guidelines need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day.) Brutus’ exercise comes from walking from sun to shade several times a day, while chained. (Brutus is never off the chain.)The local vet says he has to be requested by You-Know-Who to do an exam. That request never came, likely because the results would not have produced a favorable outcome for You-Know- Who’s buddy or You-Know-Who.
Meanwhile, after his sentence was up, Brutus had his day in court, in absentia, of course. Sadly, due to the machinations of the inept Hadsell, Brutus was returned to the intersection to spend his days in ninety-some-degree sun, likely with little or no water and little if any food. Meanwhile the property has been posted. (Word has it there is a place under some trees a distance from the house where Brutus could be kept, but it's a bit of a walk. God forbid! He likely would never be fed or watered, in such a case. Otherwise, one would think, he should have been moved there months ago.)
The town justice ordered that Mary could not visit him anymore (apparently the putz said she was interfering where she had no business). Mary asked the town supervisor – the putz’s boss – if she could become a volunteer to the shelter (we live less than a mile away and I think she would have actually considered it an honor to be of help to these creatures, many homeless), but the decision was up to Hadsell and he said he didn’t need any help – what he needs is replacing. We have it on good authority that the only time he does anything worthwhile is when he’s under the gun.
People of Canisteo: If you love your pet and the hapless creature ends up in the Canisteo Animal Shelter, get it out of there yesterday - lest it stay under the authority of a man with no job (dog catcher is not a full-time position – or it better not be), lives in a trash trailer, and sells brown eggs for a living.

 My wife says she’s thinking of asking for the position at the time such appointments are made (January). Every dog and dog owner in the village should welcome such a candidate.

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