2008-06-04 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
Babylon has a new doggone mystery, and this time the puzzle has nothing to do with Westminster Kennel Club or canine archaeology. This strange Southern epic echoes "Gone with the Wind" mixed with "The Incredible Journey." How is it that a little dog found caught on a bush in Amityville turns out to be a Feist gone missing from Atlanta six months ago?
Last week a man found a small Jack Russell type dog, about 15 pounds, tangled up near his North Amityville home. He did the right thing and turned the dog into Babylon Shelter as a stray. The pup, dragging a retractable leash, was wearing a collar and flea collar but no ID; however, a scanner turned up an AVID microchip that traced to a lady in Georgia.
When Ashley, the owner, got the call, she burst into tears because her dear "Blaze" had been lost since December. Ready to scoop him up at her local humane society, she then heard the folks from the Babylon Shelter repeat they were calling from Long Island - New York!
"Was he brown and black?"
"Did he have crooked teeth?"
"Yes, the cutest underbite, just like false choppers."
Stop right there. How did this little guy who seems to be in great shape manage to hitch a ride approximately 930 miles from home? Did someone take him on a long trip? Did he pass through the hands of several people, or was he a stowaway on an interstate truck? If only dogs could talk; or else operate tiny camcorders. At least the fictional pets in "Homeward Bound" had Sally Field, Michael J. Fox and Don Ameche to voice over their odyssey.
Let's back track a moment. What's a Feist? According to the omniscient Internet Oz, Wikipedia, a Feist is a rural Southern dog, similar to a Jack Russell or Rat Terrier, bred for hunting, not show. They may be mixed or "purebred," though not AKC recognized. They tend to be taller, smoother, quieter and more agreeable around other animals than the scrappy Jack, and have a special talent. Many Feists are adept at treeing squirrels. (I guess my Afghan Hound is part Feist.) Lincoln, Washington and Faulkner wrote about these quintessentially American Terriers, but the name goes back to the Old English for "small, snappish dog." Hence, the adjective "feisty; now an insult to the breed because Feists are typically sweet.
Ashley, a nursery school teacher, told me that she bought Blaze at a Georgia pet store that listed him as a Feist puppy- Jack mixed with Doxie. Then she re-registered his microchip. A friend was supposed to care for Blaze two months last fall while she was in Florida on business. In November, he escaped from the house unleashed and did not return, as he had other times. New Year's Eve, right around his first birthday, Ashley returned to Atlanta and intensified the search. No leads; no sightings. She kept looking. In fact the day before the surprise Babylon call, she went to the park where she walked Blaze and called his name. She loves her pup that used to pal around with two Great Danes, and desperately wants him back home.
Getting Blaze on the midnight train to Georgia is easier said than done. Ashley doesn't have a car and would take a train to the airport. We could put him on a flight, but we'd like an escort. So far we've considered adding him as a passenger on the return leg of a Southern rescue transport. A group is driving dogs from Alabama to a Vermont shelter this weekend. Blaze could thumb a ride back, but this idea is complicated and not secure. I don't want him adopted out by mistake. I'd rather that he's latched in a carrier, laden down with 10 ID tags, and accompanied by French Foreign Legion bodyguards.
Babylon Shelter's kind groomer, Tina, is flying to Florida next weekend, picking up a car at her Mom's and driving home. She wanted to meet Ashley on I-95 in Savannah. We called Continental in Newark. Oddly it's half the price to fly Blaze in the cabin with Tina than it is to ship him in cargo. Sounds good, we prefer him safely tucked in the cabin. However, Ashley doesn't have a ride for the 500-mile round trip rendezvous.
Now we're looking into alternative plans. I'm trying to convince AVID that helping fly Blaze home would be great PR for the microchip company. "Pilots- N- Paws" is a compassionate network of volunteer pilots who transport rescue dogs. Not sure if they would consider an owner/pet reunion. Also plan to put the word out with various networks, including Team Vivi, formed after the massive search for the Westminster Whippet carelessly lost by Delta at JFK. Bonnie Folz of Team Vivi recently shipped a rescue Pharaoh Hound to Wyoming on Continental out of Newark because of their safety record. If need be, I'll contact other media outlets, plus dog show folks who may be going to far away shows.
Homeward Bound: In the meantime, we're not seeking funds, just a traveling companion for Blaze. Anyone flying or driving to Atlanta in the near future, who would like an adorable sidekick, please contact Chris at Babylon Shelter 643-9270, or call me at the Babylon Beacon, 631-587-5612 or Amityville Record, 631-264-0077. If the fugitive Feist bonds with you during the journey home, he may confide the secrets of his trek. All Blaze's expenses will be paid. We might even fill your tank, just once. With geysering gas prices, I have to be careful what I promise in print.
For Adoption: The rest of the Babylon Town Shelter pets hoping to go to loving homes were lost or surrendered locally. (At least we think so.) "Flounder" in Cage 6 is a huge, goofy purebred yellow Lab found wandering by Bergen Point. His chip says he'll turn 8 this summer and his phone is disconnected. Meanwhile the shelter learned that this female Shih-tzu also picked up as a stray is 14, but the caller has yet to come in to claim her. The timid senior has been groomed at the shelter (643-9270) which is located at 51 Lamar St. W. Babylon.
•More Dogs: "Scooby" pudgy Pit Cage 2; "Teddy Bear" sweet senior Malamute Cage 16; semi-feral puppies about 8 wks. - Retriever mixes, young enough to be socialized with a touch of TLC.
Cats: "Mousy" wants to move his condo into your home; "Kelly" in C-7- declawed calico, many kittens.
Remember to mark your social calendar:
•"Poetry & Pasta " with Darrel Ford as Whitman persona Last Hope's wine tasting at the W. Whitman birthplace 6/13- from 6 to 9 pm. Call 516-385-4945.
•Amityville Heritage Fair "Pet Show"- free- Sat. 6/14, registration begins at noon at the Park North School grounds. Call 631-661-6164.