I was heading to Vegas the next day (Friday) and went out to the barn to see Jingle. We had a nice little ride, I gave him an extra long groom and some extra lovin', and then headed home. I was pretty happy with myself, I am notoriously late to arrive to events after being at the barn, but on this particular day it seemed I had the entire evening at my disposal. I was heading to Vegas with my mom, and we were going to get our nails and feet done beforehand. My plan was to head home, pack (I am a highly efficient packer), and then meet my mom for a little manicure/pedicure action, and then we were going for a nice birthday dinner with my stepdad.
I was zoning out, driving the old familiar stretch of highway home, when I saw a little speck on the side of the road. My vision isn't the best at times, even with glasses, through my squinted eyes I thought perhaps it was a bunny, or some other small creature. I instinctively slowed down, and watched as a small Jack Russel Terrier bounced down the shoulder lane of the highway - he was all white with just the smallest brown splotch on his hip. It was one of those moments where you wonder if you've been dreaming - I certainly was thinking something along those lines when I saw two more dogs, slightly more in the ditch than the adventurous terrier, at the bottom of the hill I was currently headed down. My bleeding heart took over the wheel before my brain could intervene and I pulled over.
I will preface the rest of this story with who I am as an animal person - I am a bleeding heart, a complete and utter sucker, and can be a bit stupid at times. When I was in grade 5, at the ripe old age of 10, I staged a revolt among my classmates during recess. A dog catcher was attempting to catch a loose dog, and I labelled him as evil, and we screamed and chanted at him to let the dog go. I'm not going to say whether or not we ran into the road and attempted to stop him from driving off with the dog... but... you get the gist. My parents, my teachers, and my Principal were not pleased with my antics.
However, instead of fast-tracking myself into the open arms of PETA, I learned a bit of logic, but continued to harbor the idea of saving animals in need. Which is why I pulled over, jumped out, and called to the two dogs in the ditch. They both came jogging up to me, tails wagging. One was a brown and white collie, pretty harmless looking, and the other was a bit of an odd mix, his head was massive - Bull Mastiff massive, and his body was more Boxer/Pit Bull, and he was drooling... heavily.
People began to pull over, each asked me if I needed help with my dogs, and each time I replied "Oh, they aren't mine!" I was quickly left in the dust as cars zoomed off... thanks people.
Bubba, and Collie, all tucked under my dash, in the background.
So, I figured the best thing to do was to put the dogs inside my truck, and try to go get that Jack Russell. Both dogs jumped in my truck, the big black one that I affectionately named "Bubba" into the back, and the Collie hopped into the front. However, he was clearly pretty rattled and huddled under my centre console as we turned around to go retrieve their third musketeer.
The Jack Russell was not to be caught, in fact he thought it would be fun to play chicken with all manner of vehicles, including a semi-truck while I plaintively called for him to come - he never did, and by this time I knew that I was causing more danger to myself, and probably the dog, by trying to catch him. I got back into my truck, pulled haphazardly over on yet another highway shoulder and watched the Jack Russell blend in, and disappear into the snow covered ditch.
So what to do now? I was literally right in-between Calgary, and Bragg Creek - both have vets, and I was at Priddis - doesn't have a vet clinic. I decided to call my trainer, and after some himming and hawing she told me that perhaps I should go down to the general store and post office, and see if anyone knew the dogs.
Collie... looking worried
I decided to knock on some doors around the area I had found them in. Multiple times I found myself ringing doorbells where people were clearly home, but hiding from me. This is a small ass town, are there actually solicitors bothering you people?! The only lady that did answer the door gruffly told me she didn't know the dogs, and when I went to ask her if she recognized them as any of her neighbors dogs, she basically slammed the door in my face. OOOOokaayyy.... General Store it is.
The General Store was a whole other matter of weird. The lady behind the desk was seemingly fixated on small details that really had no place of importance in what I was telling her. She seemed confused I didn't live in the area, and repeatedly questioned where I was from. Then, she went to look at the dogs, and said she kinda-sorta-maybe recognized the Collie, but Bubba... nope. I had mentioned that I thought Bubba was a Bull Mastiff - Well, let me tell you something - this lady knew her Mastiff's and she told me he certainly was not one - FOR 15 MINUTES.
"He is a pitbull! Definitely a pitbull!"
"Oh, okay, yeah, maybe... he's pretty big. Anyways, so you don't recognize him?"
"Sweetie, he is not a Mastiff, Mastiff's are absolutely massive, he is definitely pitty, yep, definitely."
"Yeah, maybe, so... where should I take them?"
"Have you ever seen a Mastiff? My daughter has one - let me show you a photo. See how big this boy is - he's only one ya know, that thing in your truck, definitely a pitty, way too short to be a Mastiff."
By this time, I was getting a little annoyed with Mastiff Breed Fan of the Century. I finally shut down the whole breed debate side of our conversation, and asked her what I should do. She said that she thought she knew who owned the sneaky Jack Russell, her name was Kelly, and perhaps she'd know the other two as well. She called Kelly, and promptly got ahold of her, told her the situation, and told me she'd be coming down. She was helpful in the end, she called a couple people around the small town, but seemingly no-one was home (or perhaps all ignoring their phones too!) on a Thursday afternoon.
Kelly arrived, she was young, a bit older than me, and was driving a work truck, it looked to me like she did Junk removal, or something along those lines. She promptly asked me where her dog was. I kind of sputtered up my coffee, and instantly felt bad, "I don't have him, just two others - I couldn't catch him." She sort of laughed and informed me he's really hard to catch. She kind of shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Only me and my friend Dan can ever get him, I'll have to finish up my shift and go find him - he runs away all the time, I bet you he found those other two dogs and suckered them into coming with him. He's like that." So her Jack Russell was a sneaky bastard... I, however, was a bit shocked, "Well, you know that he's running right on the highway right?" She just stared at me, I continued, "At one point he was literally weaving in and out of incoming and oncoming cars and trucks!" She laughed, "Ya, he'll be fine, I gotta go back to work - Thanks!"
She was about to turn in her muck-booted heels when I half-yelled, "Hey! Do you know these dogs or not?!" She poked her head into my truck, closed the door, said "Nope", and walked away. Thanks Kelly, you were a big help, and a stellar pet owner.
I trudged back into the general store and asked Bull Mastiff #1 fan what to do, she consulted with another lady who was hanging out there, and replied that I should probably just take them to a field and drop them off - they'd find their way home. She gave me convoluted directions to a ranch "oh about 4 - 6 km up the road" and told me to drop them there. I thanked her, and got back in my truck.
The Collie was shaking, Bubba was drooling, and my stomach was twisted in knots. I started to softly pet the Collie and he calmed down quite a bit and looked up at me with these big, sad, scared eyes. Was it wrong to pick them up off the side of the highway? Maybe... I don't know the rules and etiquette surrounding farm dogs. However, my two new friends were very clean, and looked well looked after, although neither had collars or tags. My dog is a "farm-dog" type looking dog, but is a family member, and if he got loose and someone just dropped him off in a random field hoping he'd find his way home, I wouldn't be too please. So, I went with my gut, and decided against it.
I figured I should try one last place...
to be continued.