Operation Dog Rescue

The Long Drive

It was a long drive back from Orange County to San Jose. I’ve made this drive many times as my family lives in Orange County, but I’ve lived and worked in the San Francisco bay area for several years. I can make it in 6 hours if traffic is good and I don’t take a break, but often it takes longer.

I was almost home, driving up Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose, when the car in front of me suddenly braked. A small dog was considering running across the road. I pleaded with it mentally to not dart in front of me, and he didn’t, but he did dart across the road after I passed. In the rear-view mirror, I saw he didn’t make it; he was hit by a car heading west and rolled down the road, lying motionless.

The Rescue

I pulled over and went across the road to where his body was lying. It was still in the driving lane and cars were driving over him, straddling him with their wheels. They likely didn’t see him until the last moment. I put myself in the middle of the lane to run interference as I jogged back to his body. A couple cars honked their annoyance with some guy jogging down the center of the lane, but at least no more cars ran over the dog.

I picked him up and felt his heart beating a mile a minute, but he was comatose. I carried him back to my truck, wondering what to do with him. I decided to take him home and find an animal hospital. I called my neighbor, who has dogs, to get a recommendation. She suggested one nearby. Luckily, they were open for another hour.

Meanwhile, he did slowly start to wake up. His eyes weren’t focusing well, but he was aware of my presence and crawled into my lap, maybe looking for protection. By the time I got to the clinic he was awake; a little reserved, but calm and cooperative.

They did a check-up. Aside from some scrapes and a road rash, he seemed in surprisingly good shape. Without x-rays, we couldn’t be sure he didn’t have any broken bones, but he didn’t seem to have any sensitive areas. I decided to skip the x-rays, which were pretty expensive, and see how he moved and acted to see if he might need more medical attention. I left with 2 sets of pills, a painkiller and an antibiotic.

They did a check-up. Aside from some scrapes and a road rash, he seemed in surprisingly good shape. Without x-rays, we couldn’t be sure he didn’t have any broken bones, but he didn’t seem to have any sensitive areas. I decided to skip the x-rays, which were pretty expensive, and see how he moved and acted to see if he might need more medical attention. I left with 2 sets of pills, a painkiller and an antibiotic.

The receptionist suggested the name Simba because he looked a bit like a lion, but that reference was lost on me. I agreed he looked a bit like a lion though, so I went with Cecil, after the lion who’s hunting caused such an uproar about three years ago.

Living Together and Bonding

I took him home and stayed with him in my office. He seemed nervous of me and stayed under a wing-back chair that I have. Over time, as he got more comfortable, and maybe had less pain, he chose to stay on top of the chair. I put a blanket down to protect the upholstery.

The first night he defecated, but I cut him some slack as he’d just been hit by a car. He didn’t defecate in the house again.

Over the next few days, he got much more comfortable with me. I gave him his medication by pushing the pills down his mouth. He didn’t like that and tried to spit them out (sometimes successfully), but he never bit me nor tried to avoid me when I picked him up.

My neighbor Suzanne brought over a collar. It had a tag for a dog she had that had recently died. Since I wasn’t planning on keeping him, I thought that might be good enough for people to find me if he ran off. She also brought a ball for him to play with, but he wasn’t interested. I’d toss it and he’d just look at it, look at me, and lie down. The only time I got some reaction was when I took him for a walk; this was the only activity that interested him. Since I was home all day, I took him walking 3 times each day.

On the 2nd night, he wanted to join me in bed. It’s hard to say no to such a cute dog, and he was still getting sympathy favors. After this, he always wanted to sleep with me, but on day three I discovered that he urinated in my bed right where I sleep. The location seemed a little precise to just be an accident that he was trying to hide, so I presume this was a message. And here I thought we were bonding so well. He was banned from being in the bedroom after that, and spent the night in the kitchen. He complained in his grumbling, strange way, but never barked. The second night he was more accepting, and the next he was fairly quiet.

What To Do with Him

My original plan was s to find him a home, but I was open to keeping him. My wife Michelle has a dog named Teddy, I presume because she doesn’t respect him enough to call him Theodore. I thought Cecil and Teddy might become good friends.

First I tried to find the owner. Cecil had no tags and no embedded chip, so I suspected he was dumped. I posted on Nextdoor.com to see if someone was missing him; no luck. I was somewhat relieved because I was hesitant to return him to an owner that took no steps to identify him if he ran loose. But, things happen; maybe that was a good home. Maybe he was missing his family.

A receptionist at the animal hospital was interested in adopting him, but she didn’t get back to me. I decided to take him to Orange County, and see how he got along with Teddy. It was time for a road trip.

He definitely liked rides, watching and smelling as we drove. I tied him to the passenger area so he could move around and stick his head out the window, but not be able to jump out; I didn’t trust his judgment. It also prevented him from climbing all over me as I drove, something he was prone to do, so he got as close as he could.

The long drive went pretty smoothly. I stopped once to let him walk around and urinate.

The Meeting

Michelle wasn’t keen on the idea of having another dog in the house, but since I wanted it she decided to give it a try. I stayed for the weekend to see how Cecil got along.

They posed for a nice picture but never seemed to bond. In the left picture, you can see how Teddy is on the couch in the foreground, and Cecil is far away on the ottoman just watching. He didn’t seem to want to be around Teddy. Teddy would initiate some play, but Cecil just ignored him. He was never aggressive but never responded positively.

After the weekend I headed back to San Jose. While I was there, Cecil became a real problem in the house. He defecated and urinated in several places, including on upholstery. The Orange County house is empty during the day, so Cecil had to wait for 9 hours or so between relieving himself. He either couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Maybe he was sending a message again. He probably wasn’t happy I brought him to this house and left him, as he didn’t seem to appreciate another dog and more people.

Michelle had to make a decision: does she find him a home, or give him over to a shelter. He wasn’t going to be able to stay with us unless we got some help on how to train him, and maybe better understand his lack of interest in socializing. It turns out he made the decision for us.

The Explorer

Unlike my house in San Jose, the house in Orange County has a fenced-in backyard so he was free to roam, but he wasn’t content with that. He kept finding ways out. The first time he escaped, Michelle searched for him and found him walking around the neighborhood. The second time he escaped, he came home on his own. The third time, he didn’t come back.

We have coyotes in the area, and I didn’t like Cecil’s chances being on his own. After a couple days, I gave him up for coyote food, but then I got a call. It turns out he was picked up by Irvine animal control. They called the number on his tag, which put them in touch with the animal clinic to which I took him when I rescued him. I didn’t realize the phone number on the tag was the vet’s number, not my neighbors. The vet called my neighbor since that tag was identified as belonging to them, and they then got in touch with me.

I followed up with the Irvine Animal Shelter. Since he wasn’t my dog per se, they decided they had to keep him and see if the owners picked him up. It didn’t make much sense in this case since if he had owners who wanted him back they were in San Jose, not Irvine, but it was also a time to treat and evaluate him. They neutered him (maybe that’s why he was interested in exploring), de-wormed him, and checked his temperament. I was told he’d be watched and trained for 10 days, and then made “adoptable” to a home unless they found some problem. We weren’t going to take another stab at trying to bring him in our home unless that was his last option, so we let the shelter do its thing.

Finding a Home

After a couple weeks, I called the animal shelter to find out what happened. I wasn’t sure if they could determine which dog I was talking about, but after describing him and the circumstances, I was told he was adopted on 13 April 2018. This would’ve been about 12 days after he was picked up, so it seems he found a home pretty quickly after he was eligible. Look at the face; of course he was adopted. I sure hope his new home is working out.

Rescuing Cecil turned out to be a lot more work than I expected. The problem was he was just so darn cute, and you feel a bond with an animal you rescue. I wanted to keep him, but I also didn’t want the burden of another dog. Finding him a new home was the best result.

I bought Michelle some flowers to thank her for giving Cecil a chance, and to apologize for dumping a problematic dog on her. She’s busy as it is and Cecil only made her busier. She wanted no part in this adventure, but she gave it a try for my sake.

Enjoy your new home Cecil. Please socialize a bit, don’t be so eager to check out the neighborhood, and stay away from busy roads.

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