Bandit’s mom and dad were abandoned on the side of a hill in Los Angeles. A kind woman saw the dogs existing there with no food or water and took it upon herself to help. She supplied them with bags of dog food until she one day she discovered they’d had puppies. Immediately she contacted a rescue group who trapped the puppies along with mom and dad.
Bandit was one of the three puppies. His brother and sister were gregarious playful puppies. Bandit was not. It was easy for the rescue to find his siblings homes. Bandit was “too quiet” or “not playful enough”. To us, a household with kids, one of whom has autism he sounded like a dream.
The first two weeks he was here I wondered if I had somehow gotten the dog version of baby alive. Put something in the front end and it will come out the back side, but other than that you have to be the one to invent the play. I mean it. The dog didn’t move. He had to be carried from his crate to the backyard to potty. He ate and drank and tolerated us fussing over him. He half heartedly chewed on some of the many toys we’d showered him with and that was it.
What was I expecting… a tail wag, a lick or two, some indication that the dog would rather be here than living abdanoned on the side of a hill. I waited, the kids waited and we waited some more. I spoke with the woman from the rescue, Tami, who was great about it. Yes, she’d known the dog was mellow. She’d told us that. But there’s mellow and then there was this dog. I admitted to her that he was acting like a stuffed animal except for the eating/pooping part. She was willing to make a trade. They have puppies all the time and will be trapping some of his cousins soon she told me. She wanted us happy and I wanted us happy too, but I also wanted the dog happy and it was obvious he wasn’t. The behaviorist that works with my autistic son made a comment that the dog seemed depressed. He was acting like a sad old man, not a puppy. I had to agree. He seemed depressed. Tami wanted to know when I wanted to return him. It was that easy.
Return him. Like he was defective or we were, or any combination therein. She assured me that her fellow rescuer would keep him. He would probably be happy with a bunch of dogs coming in and out of the house. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know why, I just couldn’t. Even though I knew he’d be okay, that he wasn’t going to a shelter so there was no risk of him being put down, I hesitated. To return him seemed wrong, but to keep him and have him be depressed seem even more wrong. I really didn’t know what to do.
That was three weeks ago. Bandit prances now. Yes, you read that correctly. He prances across the yard to us. He also retrieves a thrown ball twice before he just wants you to pet him. He walks like a dream on a leash. He loves playing with our friends’ beagle. He lives for the moment in the afternoon when the kids return from school. His tail moves faster than a windshield wiper when he sees them.
But that’s not the end of Bandit’s story. Not by a long shot. His life is just beginning. Eventually he won’t remember anything but the easy life he leads. He’s one of the lucky ones. The majority of strays aren’t this lucky. It breaks my heart. And it’s not necessary. We have at our disposal the means to give each animal it’s best chance for life, for happiness.
But we don’t. We put off spaying and neutering, we allow “accidents” to happen and then feel no remorse when we dump mom and puppies to be euthanized at the local shelter. We allow high kill shelters to exist. We patronize backyard breeders and puppy mills.
I guess I have a little latent activist in me because even before I adopted Bandit I had written Laurel’s story. Laurel feels an affinity for animals, as a child she demands that her local animal shelter be a no kill refuge. After she becomes a vet she donates her surgical skills to help animals. She recognizes that there is a problem and does what she can to fix the problem.
There are lots of real life Laurel’s out there and I admire them for what they do. That they care enough to get involved, dedicate their time and money to help the helpless. It’s got to be the hardest thing for them to know that they only make a small difference. There are just too many unwanted pets, they can’t save them all.
And neither can I. If I had a bigger yard there’s no doubt I’d end up with a menagerie, but I don’t. I have to settle for a small troupe. Bandit’s not our first rescue, he’s our third. We have two cats who think we’ve lost our minds to let a dog invade their space.
For me, Bandit was a no brainer. I’ve always wanted a dog. They love you unconditionally. They provide fun and companionship. They’ll snuggle up with you while you watch tv or read. It astounds me how people can abuse such trust. But that’s another blog entirely. For now what I know is that Bandit is one lucky dawg and today that’s enough.