Saturday, December 22, 2012

Clabo: Dog in Need of Home

In the late summer of 2011, I drove to Claiborne County to meet a new client.  I had the wrong address - for her home instead of her office - and so found myself on narrow, windy country roads with no cell phone reception.  Slowing to make a sharp turn onto a one-lane bridge across a river, I saw a dead dog lying in the gravel on the side of the road.  It looked as if it had been there for days, as its abdomen appeared to be gone.  It made me sad for a moment, but the stress of being late to a meeting that I couldn't find kept me moving.  I looked away to drive across the bridge.

Then, as I turned my head away, the dead dog wagged its tail.  I stopped the car and stared.  The dead dog picked up its head.  It was wearing a collar, and was lying at the end of what could have been a gravel driveway.  I thought it must belong to one of the local houses.  And I was late.  So I drove on.  Ten minutes later I was still lost and ended up back at the bridge.  The dog was standing in the middle of the road.  I stopped the car.  He resembled a young Great Dane.  He slowly wagged his tail once or twice, as if to say, "Are you....?"  Again I noticed the collar.  There were a few houses within a quarter mile.  Totally lost and late, I continued on, driving back toward civilization where I could get a cell phone signal.

Two hours later, I was finishing my meeting.  I said to my client, "There's a bridge out near where you live, and I saw a dog...."  "Oh, the black one?" she asked.  She explained that the bridge is a favorite dumping ground for unwanted dogs.  This young dog, she said, had been there about a week.  She had taken him food once, she said, but she already had six dogs and several cats, all of which she had rescued from that bridge.  She couldn't take one more.

I started to leave town for the 2-hour drive back home.  But I couldn't leave.  I drove back to the bridge.  The dog was gone.  I got out and slammed the door of the car several times, whistled.  No dog.  I drove across the bridge and a mile to the right, a mile to the left....  There was a small Baptist church by the river with a picnic table.  A car was parked there.  Several children played by the river while a mother sat at the picnic table.  Several dogs played with the children.  Among them was a black dog....
I stopped and spoke to the woman.  She said that the black dog was not hers.  The other three dogs she had there, she had rescued them all from the bridge.  One of them, a beautiful, old golden retriever mix, had been shot when she found him.

I watched the young, black dog.  He was skinny - so skinny that you could count every rib.  The impression that he was starving was amplified by his high belly, like a greyhound.  He played and romped with the children and other dogs, with a clear preference for the children.  The woman, her oldest daughter, and I coaxed the dog to the car.  He came to me when I leaned over and held out my hands, but bolted when I tried to take hold of him.  We eventually coaxed him into the back seat with some food and I drove away.

He was silent on the drive back home, sitting upright in the back seat and looking out the window.  I stopped at Walmart, bought a clean collar, leash, bowl and dog food. He ate in the parking lot, then sat on my foot when he was done.  I noticed that he paid particular attention to any children that he saw.
I made several calls on the way home, trying to find a no-kill shelter.  But it's Tennessee and I am not "plugged in" to the rescue community.  So I took him to the vet, who picked a pound of ticks off him, gave him shots, and pronounced him a healthy dog of approximately one year. He sat on my foot in the vet's waiting room.

We got him neutered.  My older dog, so used to being an "only child," did not appreciate the intrusion.  We asked around for homes.  He was completely untrained, but very quickly became house-trained and learned his basic commands - come, sit, heel, stay, no, lie down, okay.  He has boundless energy when he is first released outside, and can outrun a rabbit on the foot (which we saw him do).  He has a soft mouth, and has never hurt anyone with his teeth, even in rambunctious play.  The most risk he poses is an accidental bump to someone's knees.

We have had him over a year now, but we are still only a foster home.  We had to send my old dog to stay with my in-laws because two new kids, one new dog, and one old dog was just too much.  Clabo - that's his name - still bears at least one BB or shotgun pellet under his skin from his time in Claiborne County, but is otherwise a civilized, indoor dog.  He needs lots of exercise and an opportunity to run.  Daily walks are not really enough.  Most days he runs laps around our yard, under voice control only, and comes back inside when called.  Occasionally he will go run, just to run.  I turned my back on him one morning last week as he was running laps in the yard and I was about to leave for work.  When I next saw him, he was on the other side of the boulevard in front of our house, leading a car by about 10 feet at 25 miles per hour.  A quick, "Clabo, come!" is all it takes to bring him running back.  He rarely ignores that command, and will come from who-knows-where if he has disappeared.

He had an episode of separation anxiety about a year ago, but has not had any since.  He is crate-trained, and stays in his crate when we are gone during the day.  He is loose in our home when we are there, and sleeps on a dog-bed in our bedroom at night.  Although the cat may disagree, Clabo is good with the cat and only wants to play on occasion.  To a good home, we will send him with his bed, crate, bowl, etc.  He is micro-chipped and is up to date on all his shots, and has been on Trifexa since we have had him for fleas, heartworm, etc.

He stays off the furniture.  Unless you are on it.  If you are sitting on the couch, he is likely to sit at your feet, then place one paw on your lap, then another....  Next thing you know....

This started as Clabo sitting at her feet. He is very subtle.

He loves to be outside with the family, mulching or doing whatever else you want to do.

"Out of the kitchen" is a commend he knows well, but it lasts for only about 3 minutes before is back looking for fallen food.

He is such a sweet dog that a spray bottle is the only deterrent you ever need.

If you know of a good home for Clabo, please contact me at or (865) 236-1073.


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