Monday, 3 August 2009

Technological Technicality

Thursday evening we got a call from a local vet.
Not ours.
They said they had our dog which had been found wandering the streets and could we come and get it.

This triggered a confused freak out.
Our goofy-assed labrador has never even tried to get out of the backyard let alone wander all the way across town and hadn't she been in the backyard half an hour ago before people left the house?

We asked if she was OK.
The vet said 'She?'
It wasn't our goofy-assed labrador.
It was our twitchy maltese shih tzu who we had found another home for three years before when it became evident that living in a yard that had dogs in the three yards that bordered our own was eventually going to drive him delirious and possibly break his bark-box.

This may sound lazy and like poor pet ownership, I know it's possible to reduce barking behaviour in dogs with proper and consistent training but we didn't really have the chance.
My brother and I were in Europe at the time.
My sister was in the last half of Year 12 and was at school all day and the library every evening.
My father was away all week for work.
My mother had just had foot surgery and had to keep her foot elevated at all times.
One of our neighbours had started pushing threatening letters into our letterbox, had filed complaints with the council about the barking and a few other imaginary infractions (the barking we'll cop to, he did do that, but all the rest of it was bull taffy), and according to the council employee who came around to explain the situation to us we had two weeks to reduce his barking or we would be fined by the council and the neighbour concerned would take us to court.
This lovely neighbour never actually signed any of their letters or confronted us face-to-face or let us know what their name was*.

So we found twitchy maltese shih tzu another home a bit further out of town with a young family on a larger property who had another dog to keep him company.
We visited him to make sure he was happy and being treated well, which he was.
And then at some point after that... we managed to completely lose all of the other family's contact details.
We couldn't even remember their name or the name of the suburb/town they lived in.
It was all useful fragments along the lines of 'I think they were about this far from us' and 'their name might have started with this letter... or maybe that one'.

But all these years later the twitchy maltese shih tzu still had our contact information on his microchip.
So the vet contacted us.
And when they told us that we could either pick him up or they would send him to the RSPCA we picked him up.
We didn't want to risk him being put down by accident or if his other family didn't find him and the RSPCA couldn't re-home him.
So three years after we'd last seen him we brought the twitchy maltese shih tzu home again.
We still had his little jacket and one of his collars.

Being a list-making, panicking weirdo I wrote up a 'found notice' for the local newspaper, typed up posters for the area he was found, started estimating the likelihood of finding his new family and researching obedience classes for if we couldn't find them and had to readjust him to our still dog-filled neighbourhood.

On Friday we tried to check with the RSPCA whether anybody had called up looking for a maltese shih tzu.
At first the person we spoke to thought we were looking for one and explained whilst they didn't have any in at the moment there was a lovely little terrier who was looking for a home.
We explained we already had a maltese shih tzu who used to be ours but wasn't any more and we thought that maybe somebody might have been looking for him...
They got confused and asked if we were trying to surrender him for adoption.
We said we weren't and started telling the story about the microchip.
We got passed to somebody else who actually got what we were talking about.
But nobody had called for him.

I reminded twitchy maltese shih tzu of the existence of 'sit' and 'stay'.
Goofy-assed labrador got a little excited and decided that twitchy maltese shih tzu was a spy sent to steal her food and started trying to ignore her 'sit' and 'stay' commands and bolted her food so quickly that she almost swallowed her tongue.
I reminded goofy-assed labrador of the existence of 'sit' and 'stay'.
She obeyed and then bolted her dog treat, giving twitchy maltese shih tzu a suspcious squinty look.
I started planning taking both of them to obedience classes and the logisitcs of parallel training and walking two dogs at once.
Twitchy maltese shih tzu was now nine years old so I also started compiling a list of things to run past the vet and any nutritional requirements he might have as an older dog.

Saturday morning we tried calling the RSPCA again, asked whether anybody was looking for a twitchy maltese shih tzu and they were!
Half an hour later twitchy maltese shih tzu's new family was in our yard making a huge fuss of the little nutter who was going completely mental with joy.
Turns out he'd managed to climb a new bit of lattice fencing they'd put in (and were now going to take straight out again) and gone for a trot across town.

So happy ending for everyone!
Twitchy maltese shih tzu went home to his new family who spoil him absolutely rotten.
New family was reunited with their little dog.
We filled out a 'change of information' form for the microchip and wrote down new family's details in about seven places around the house just in case.
Goofy-assed labrador stopped inhaling her food**.
I threw out my accumulated spreadsheets and badly calculated estimates.
And as far as we can tell the jerky neighbour must be one of the ones who have moved out in the intervening years because for the few nights twitchy maltese shih tzu was back and proclaiming this excitedly to all and sundry we received exactly zero threatening letters.

So that's what happened to me this week.
Sure, I could probably have summed this up in about a paragraph... but where would be the fun in that?

The moral of this story?
Um... Microchips work and you should always remember to fill out change of details forms when getting or re-homing a dog and not just take the other party's word for it that they'll remember to do so.

Also labradors are apparently a little paranoid, who knew.

*In another cranky resentful note: As soon as we'd found twitchy maltese shih tzu another home and our yard was silent it became apparent that our neighbourhood was full of yapping dogs and it might not have been our dog that had been bothering the jerky neighbour in the first place as soon the sweet little old lady down the road started receiving threatening notes in her letterbox too.
**She's still going to those obedience classes though

No comments: