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2009-11-18 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

The recording “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is #3 on a Rolling Stone poll of the most annoying songs of all time. It ranks right behind “The Macarena”. Irritating as it is, this Baha Men tune is not nearly as annoying or frustrating as the town shelter “Who Let the Dogs Out?” lament concerning unclaimed strays. Too few of the lost dogs picked up by animal control or brought in by Good Samaritans are redeemed by owners.

On Long Island, most adult dogs, unlike less fortunate felines, had a home at some point in their lives. Therefore, who DID let the dogs out? Furthermore, why don’t they come looking for them? It can’t be that in each case either a little old lady died or the former family was abducted by aliens, leaving poor Fido to fend for himself.

Some strays are so unique that it becomes more remarkable that no one is on their trail. From the “Babylon Believe or Not” files, the strangest stray to date has to be the Shepherd that entered Babylon Shelter circa 1990 wearing a handsewn pirate costume. Nope, it wasn’t Halloween. Staring now at his smudged Polaroid still in disbelief, I recall a new family adopted the pup sans his skull n’ crossbones garb.

1990 Polaroid of Babylon stray found wearing a pirate costume. 1990 Polaroid of Babylon stray found wearing a pirate costume. B. C. (Before Computers, that is) it was more difficult to track dogs via vets. Around the same time as the pirate pooch, a Doberman with an external othopedic rod and a limping Afghan whose leg x-ray showed she already had a surgical plate surfaced at the shelter. In both cases specialists had performed expensive operations, yet no one reclaimed either dog. With the help of various rescues, “Ruby” the Dobie went to ladies in Bayside while the Afghan received a new plate and then the doting home (and Icelandic name for “witch”) of an Afghan who had just died.

More recently Babylon Shelter took in atypical foundlings- separate Yorkie puppies; a litter of tiny Shihtzus; a senior St. Bernard and last summer a young Dogue De Bordeaux (Turner & Hooch Mastiff) wandering at Belmont Lake. Wouldn’t you notice if you were missing any of these dogs?

We realize that some folks callously dump their pets, whereas others are not telling the truth when they bring a “found” dog to the shelter; but until canines come equipped with polygraphs, we will have to piece together the clues to determine which are abandoned and which are really lost. This brings me to several current stray dog mysteries:

•First there is “Phelps”, the Retriever mix (see “Pets” Beacon 10/1/09) who swam the Babylon canal into the waiting arms of the police. After several months unclaimed at the shelter, he went to Last Hope where he had a leg lump removed which turned out to be mast cell cancer. He is doing quite well but still needs a home.

•Next “Jersey Girl” is a black Shepherd in a slim Greyhound figure found foraging on industrial Jersey Street by Babylon Shelter. Lo & behold, there was a microchip in this emaciated gal that traced to disconnected phones in Shirley. Because of the chip, we now know Jersey Girl’s real name, which shelter originally adopted her out, her age of 2 years 5 months old, but we haven’t a clue how she got the 30 miles from Shirley to West Babylon. She too is a Last Hope (www. foster now.

•Then there is “Pops” an older Mini Poodle, representative of scores of senior Poodles, Malteses, Shihtzus, and Lhasas who materialize at our town shelters. With a shadowy veil over their eyes and skin scarred with neglect, these dogs are matted, filthy, and terrified. Once upon a time there was a caretaker; otherwise the oldsters could not have survived to this ripe age. They certainly don’t look as if they would run away from home. Often it takes patience before these bewildered souls trust humans again, but they do after shelter personnel groom and nurture them.

•Finally there is “Roscoe”, now at Oyster Bay Town Shelter, another contender for the most unusual, unclaimed stray dog ever. A lady found him several weeks ago on Forest Avenue near the Massapequa/ Seaford border. “Roscoe” is a young Shepherd mix with a bobbed tail. More important, he has what looks like a congenitally deformed front leg bent at a right angle. Roscoe holds it up like a waiter perpetually balancing a tray of cocktails. The leg seems bothersome because it pitches him forward when he walks. Despite his disability, Roscoe is a sweet and loving fellow. Roscoe’s owner, where art thou?

As usual, the people who need enlightenment will never see this column. Preaching anyway- pet responsibility is an investment in devotion. Over and above food, shelter, and veterinary care, adopting a dog is not a whim or a phase, rather a lifetime- 15 to 20 year- commitment. Dogs should be wearing tags 24/7. Microchips with current contacts can always find you. When a dog goes missing, a reasonable search requires the owner’s effort.

Often the lost pet is as near as your town shelter. You won’t know unless you go there in person. To be perfectly honest, there are plenty of instances where the shelter staff and volunteers who truly care about your dog, hope you don’t show up. Then they can do their best to find your dog a better home.

For Adoption: “Roscoe” #746 the sweet Shepherd with the deformed limb is available at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (516- 677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset. However, “Pops” the Poodle #92872 and the rest listed are at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon.

Female: “Hallie”, “Roxy”, “Ginger”- vivacious variations on the Pit mix theme; “Penny”- eviction calico; “Silent Meow” in C-2- tabby with a dash of orange.

Male: black Corgi mix Cage 3; “Teddy”- Retriever Cage 6; friendly cats “Winston” & “Leo” in the lobby.

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