The Dog that Did Not Save Christmas

The Dog that Did Not Save Christmas—But the Neighbors Did!
Guest blog by SPCA adopter Judy Crowder

“Doggone!” Normally, I, a self-professed “pun junkie,” would have enjoyed this. But on December 23, it wasn’t funny—not at all.

My husband and I had lost our beloved Scotty dog, Bridget, to old age and cancer the previous October. Although we still had Sophie, a half Bloodhound, half Bassett rescue dog, we were still feeling the vacancy. Walking Sophie alone was hard, with the sight of an empty leash hanging by the door daily reminding us that we had lost a family member. I began to half-heartedly look at available rescue dogs online. Sophie was a gem, a goofy dog that looked like a Bloodhound with short legs, so we were dedicated to getting rescues from now on. But I put the search on hold. The “kids” were coming for Christmas and holiday chaos would keep us busy.

Then Seth came into our lives—for an hour. My husband, Larry, and son, Elias, returned home from “errands” and placed Seth in my lap. A Wirehaired Dachshund mix, Seth was a small, scruffy little guy with big brown eyes and a decidedly un-Dachshund-like tail that curled up onto his back. An absolutely, perfect, adorable early Christmas gift. An owner no longer able to care for the two-year-old dog had turned him into the SPCA for Monterey County.

If his pedigree was doubtful, his qualifications were not. Good with other dogs? Check. Larry and Elias had sneaked Sophie out to meet him to make sure. Good around cats (We had several rescue cats too)? House trained and good around children, etc.? Check, recheck and check again. But Seth was a little guy. Some adjustments to our fenced yard would be necessary. Not a problem! The kids were all home. They would help.

Then disaster struck.

When my daughter saw Seth standing by the door, she let him out. In an instant he was under the gate and gone, with the whole family in pursuit. How could his four short legs outrun us so easily? We enlisted the help of a neighbor when we saw Seth head for his yard.

Nothing. Our helpful neighbor put an alert on our neighborhood website. We searched until dark, then returned home after leaving “wanted posters” with a photo and phone numbers all over the neighborhood, vet offices, pet stores and nearby parks.

We searched again the next morning, and the next, with our panic increasing by the hour. Seth was small, fast, and hadn’t bonded with us yet. Our Rancho Tierra Grande neighborhood in Carmel Valley, California, was full of hills, woodlands, and spread-out houses. Worse still: there were also coyotes, a few bobcats and large turkey vultures. And the nights were cold. We began to feel helpless.

What did help—a lot!—were the neighbors who called, helped search and shared our concern. Even at Christmas time folks we didn’t know came out to search. Our area is a very dog-loving place, and neighbors of all ages, armed with doggie treats, dedicated whatever spare time they had to comb the area. A few garage doors stayed open with food left inside. The SPCA for Monterey County sent a caring volunteer with Seth’s former kennel mate, Lilly, to try to coax him out of hiding (“Bolting,” we learned later, sometimes happens with rescue pets). Soon the Seth search resembled Elvis sightings. We would get a call about a, “Seth sighting” and, immediately hopeful, head out.

On Christmas morning the celebration was somber. “If and when we get him back,” Elias, said, “you can write about it. I have the perfect title: ‘Revenge of the Seth.’” My son’s pun failed to lighten the mood. We continued to glean comfort from expressions of concern from neighbors offering assistance or asking for updates.

Finally, a “Christmas miracle?” Our veterinarian called. After hitting a dog with her car, a distraught woman brought him to her vet (coincidentally, our vet, too). The chip number matched. My husband raced over. It was Seth, with two cracked ribs and other injuries. The vet was “cautiously optimistic.” He transferred Seth to a nearby twenty-four hour vet clinic, so our dog could get constant attention.

Two days and a two-thousand-dollar bill from the twenty-four-hour vet clinic later, we had our little Seth back. Eventually, he recovered completely and bonded with the human, canine and feline members of our family.

For the high price of a “designer” or pure breed dog, we have a scruffy shelter dog that has wagged his way into our hearts. We have signs posted prominently at our front and back doors saying, “Do not let Seth out!” We also have the knowledge that we live in a special area with caring neighbors and outstanding local SPCA—priceless.