As some of you already know, I have a dog. We found him last year through Petfinder and adopted him from the West Coast Spay and Neuter Society. Levi is now 5 years old, and we don’t know a whole lot about his history, other than the fact that he was found running alongside the highway.

He might have been abused, since he tends to growl and then hide from visitors, especially men, and is easily spooked by strange people and objects. He might have been a stray for a very long time, since he spends most of his time on walks with nose to ground, looking for food, and often tries to eat napkins, fast food wrapping, matchbooks, and anything food-like left on the ground such as pizza crusts or bones. He also eats grass and dead leaves from time to time. Levi definitely has definitely come a long way in the last year, but he does have these indelible quirks.

This morning, I was walking Levi in the park behind out building. Under a tree, I saw a little dog laying calmly in the grass, but no one was around. It was a puppy – a Rottweiler cross with long black fur. Such a pretty face. Levi, of course, wanted to greet the little guy, and one thing about Levi is that he’s wonderful with other dogs. The puppy showed no fear, didn’t run away, wagged his tail. I approached the puppy and noticed that although it wore a collar, the identity tag was missing. He was also missing part of one his front paws – but he hopped around quite happily on three legs, soaking up my petting and praise.

Obviously, I couldn’t just walk away – but what to do? Scoop him up and take him inside? Call the SPCA? If I went inside to get some food for the dog, a phone number, and a leash, would the little guy run away? If I called animal control, would the dog be in danger of being put down? (Unfortunately, the number of adoptable, homeless dogs far exceeds the number of good homes.)

A neighbour came out to walk his dogs, and I called to him for help. He went inside to look up the number for the local animal shelter, but he was taking awhile, so I took action. I ran up to my apartment with Levi, looked up the closest SPCA in the phone book, stored the number in my phone, grabbed a dog treat, and the extra leash, and ran back outside. The puppy was still there, so I fed it the treat, put the leash on it, and called the number. It was the wrong shelter for my city, but they gave me the right one to call. The animal control person on the phone said they would be there in about 20 minutes.

It was so cold this morning and had started to snow. The puppy had lovely long fur, but it had no body fat to keep it warm. It shivered, and when I petted it, I could feel all it’s rib bones jutting out. My neighbour brought out a dish of water, and the puppy gulped down all the water in less than a minute. My neighbour brought a second dish which was drank just as quickly. He thought too, that the puppy was abandoned, pointing out that a glop of dog food had been left on the grass.

Together, we walked around to the front of the building to wait for Animal Control. The puppy was obviously scared of the noise from the construction across the street, and I remembered how scared Levi used to be when we first got him. He would stop and refuse to go any further if he heard the noise of big trucks, cement mixers, or other construction noises.

We made small talk, and I confessed that I was scared that the puppy might be euthanized if he wasn’t adopted. Maybe we were rationalizing, but we talked about how friendly the little guy was, how cute and young he was, too. The only sticking point for someone might be his tripod legs – I didn’t want to think too much about what happened to half of his front paw. I half-hoped that perhaps someone from our building would come out, see how cute he was, and decide to spirit him home on the spot. I thought about taking him upstairs with me. I wondered if I ought to take him home and try to find a home for the dog myself, instead of just calling the city to take him away.

The Animal Control van arrived, and the officer recognized the puppy right away.

“I know who he is. The owner lives not too far from here,” she said. She also mentioned the dog had just been spayed and licenced a couple months ago. She gave the puppy a treat, loaded her into the van, and off they went.

I wasn’t comforted to know that this dog had an owner who is known to Animal Control. Had I just sent a defenseless animal back to its abuser?

My neighbour said “Well, I guess we’ve done our good deed for the day.” I’m not sure about that.

Levi tolerates a hug