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Posts Tagged ‘Recreation’

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at the Paws and More No Kill Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa. I took this picture. This looks just like my dog Yuma. He was from a shelter in Evanston Il. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toby’s 30 hour journey has a good ending. After losing sleep and not being able to justify to ourselves that we had made the right decision for Toby and were not just completely selfish, we called the Cincinnati SPCA on Sunday afternoon and asked if we could get our dog back. We talked to them why we came to the shelter in the first place. We expressed our concern that he would not get adopted and be put down. As much as we want him to have a good home, we are not willing to take the chance with his life that he will not.

My mother told my wife after we had dropped Toby off on Saturday that he was one of God’s creatures and Toby was in His hands now. Though this offered some solace to her, it did not to me. What is God wanted for Toby to have a good home and we were it. Were we giving up too soon on training this dog to be better? After all, when we picked up Wolfie from the Knoxville Animal Shelter nearly 20 years ago, we gave a larger donation to get free basic obedience training classes. She became a wonderful dog, even in the small apartment we had at the time. She still chewed and did things, but we loved her.

It was a race against the clock to get to the shelter before 5 pm. It took them some time to find him, worrying us that he had snapped at someone and they hadn’t updated the computer. The animal handler came back empty handed once and my heart sank. She left again to search a different area. In a few minutes she returned and asked if this was the dog. It was.

Toby sniffed around the waiting area and then saw us. He was overjoyed at our return. He smelled like the shelter. A bath was in his future when we got home. He is back with his toys. He has already peed again in the house. Snuggles has stopped her wondering all over the house looking for him and is now sleeping. Her tail again wages.

The next few days will be very telling. We know we must work harder to train Toby to be the dog he can be. It will take work and discipline. The kids will need to understand what having a puppy means. The dogs they knew growing up were well passed that stage. They’ve never experienced not being able to ignore a dog for too long. The journey will be bumpy, but it will be fun. And should the need ever arise where we must give away a dog? We will make every effort to never take a dog to a shelter.

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A few months before my wife and I were to marry, a stray dog showed up around my parent’s house. They were living and working at Johnson Bible College then and I was commuting to the University of Tennessee. I walked my future wife to her dorm (she was a Johnson student) and the dog followed me around.

Surely this stray dog belong to someone in the community. After all, Johnson had a fence around most of the land, cattle were still kept in those days. I made a sign and placed it at the local Kimberlin Heights Post Office. I had people I know ask in the local schools. No one claimed her. Against perhaps better judgement, I kept the dog.

Sandy was an outside dog and a free spirit. We kept her chained up and I tried to walk her every day. The yellow lab that lived the next hill over would come by nearly daily to play. Things were good.

As my wife and I looked for a place to live, one theme kept repeating: no dogs. Some places did allow dogs, with a small weight limit. Also, Sandy was not an inside dog. She could not live in an apartment, even if she was under the weight limit. Finally one day we had to do what we didn’t want. We had to take her to the pound. We made a good donation to help pay for her keep. I can still see her face when we left. I never knew what became of her.

On that day I swore I’d never take another dog to the pound that I had kept for so long. It would be one thing to take a dog that was wondering the streets or try to find an owner. But not one we had kept for months.

Today, I broke that promise. I broke that promise to a little dog named Toby. A stray the kids said they want to keep. A stray that they grew to not like. A stray that never seemed to get fully house broken. One that would be nice and then snap at someone. A dog that would be chewing his toy, then go and grab a figurine of my daughter’s or a model of my son’s or, as was the last stray, a hardback book of my wife’s.

He last day with us was full of the things he would keep doing. I found him under the bed happily chewing a book, though he had a new toy. He peed in the house before we left, though he had been let out not two hours before. Fragments of his rope chew toy were all over the living room. Pieces of my son’s superball were under chairs. The carpet padding he pulled out where everywhere. He got into my son’s comforter again and pulled out more stuffing. It was a typical day.

He took him to the Hamilton County SPCA. He peed in the parking lot, but didn’t bark or pull when other dogs barked at him. He behaved so well in the office and just looked at us when he went into the cage. All those thoughts of Sandy flooded back to me and the forgotten promise rang through my head like a bell. I couldn’t believe I had to do this again. Was I just throwing his life away on convenience or was the right thing? I didn’t know. I still don’t know.

As before, we made a good donation. We tried to tell them he was good and needed a home. We cried, more than once. I still cry. Oh Toby, be a good doggie and find that 9 year old who needs you to play fetch. Please forgive us for taking you to the most terrible place. Please live out a happy life for a long time. Please Toby, please.

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It is mid-August and Summer is doing its best to hold on to the weather. The days are still warm, but without the humidity normally associated with Cincinnati. The nights too are cooler than summer. It is the yearly reminder that fall will soon be here and summer will be gone again till next May.

Fall is a great time of year for those who love the colors and terrible for those with allergies. Some do prefer the term Autumn, though somehow it feels more archaic to my ears. Coming from one who strives for the proper use of whom and laments the passing of Old English letters such as Þ and Ƿ this may seem odd, but the word Autumn just has a feeling of foreignness about it. This may be due to its French and Latin roots. This does make it a loaner word while Fall is more Germanic in etymology.

The colors will soon be returning, their level of brilliance determined by the amount of rainfall at the right moments. I’ll no doubt be out looking for chances to take pictures. It will also mean a cooler time Geocaching under the forest canopies. In all, a welcomed time of the year.

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It is the day before leaving on vacation. Final preparations have started: grass is being cut, laundry is being sorted, clothes are being packed. The organized chaos flows amongst the early excitement of traveling too long with other family members. The family trip to the beach is finally here.

What started as a family reunion on the wife’s father’s side has become a nearly yearly tradition. The travel to Emerald Isle, North Carolina was first undertaken from Marion, Ohio, but for the last 10 years, Cincinnati has been the place of origin. There is nothing like a 14 hour drive in a car to really bring a family together.

When backs were younger and the kids more likely to sleep, it was a one day affair with driver changes every few hours. Time has plague upon us its subtle cruelty and now the traveling is best split upon two days. This year it is my turn to get the vehicle ready and pick the wife up at work at the end of her slightly shortened day. The schedule is to stop about 4.5 hours at Charleston, West Virginia and stay the night. The second day is still a bit long, but nowhere near the tiring one day event. This year, however, there is something different.

This year, there is Geocaching!

Yes, there are several spots along the way, most notably at the rest areas, where Geocaches can be found. We have to stop anyway, so what is a few extra minutes looking for a Geocache? It helps stretch the legs and get the heart pumping a bit. The high amount of muggles will just add to the fun. Part of tomorrow’s ritual will be viewing the maps on the website and noting where things are. Saturday is the prime day to find them.

And what of our destination at Emerald Isle?

Yes, Geocaches are located there too. Now the bored father can not only look for photographic subjects, he can look for hidden gems amongst the foliage. It is going to be great!

PS – Some may wonder of the family members left behind. My parent’s have graciously offered to walk them at regular intervals, at least till the messes start. Be good Maggie Dog, Snuggles and Bayley. I’m sure the latter will be barking all day long.

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