(Adopted) I saw the post about a little brown dog running in panic near Kubota Garden. I was about to go there to help, when Judy, a volunteer, called me to say that the dog was being chased across busy streets. She had also read the post about the dog and had stopped on her way home to see if she could help. I told her I was on my way and I would be there soon. When Tino and I arrived, I talked to Judy and a woman who lived in the neighborhood and was wanting to help. We drove up and down the nearby streets looking for him, hoping to find him before he was hit.
They said he had been staying at a particular spot at the park, next to the fence by 55th Avenue. I pulled up to the spot where there was a blanket and a food bowl and a water bowl. I didn’t see him anywhere. Tino is in the habit of muttering at dogs he sees. As I was looking in the distance in all directions, Tino muttered and looked down between the car and the fence. In the right side mirror, I could see that the little brown dog had come to our car to check it out as if he was hoping it was his people coming to pick him up. He disappeared into the bushes before I could get a chance to try to use calming signals. Tino is very good at helping me find stray dogs, using his eyes, as I am driving and have to watch traffic sometimes. He often sees them before I do, and he mutters to let me know.
Now that we knew the little mutt was safe, and not running in traffic any more, I talked to the nearby resident who was trying to help him. Her name was Alissa. She said he had appeared the day before, and a bowl full of rice was placed at the location he kept returning to. The bowl was china, not a dog’s everyday bowl. When food is left, and when a dog insists on returning to a certain spot near a road, these are indications that a dog has been dumped and he is waiting at the spot where his family said, “Stay,” and then drove away. He had barked all night that first night, calling for his people, and residents called the police. The officers chased him, trying to catch him, and sent him running into traffic on busy roads. Fortunately, he hadn’t been hit and killed by a car yet, as so many dogs are in these situations. The fact that he had approached my car to see if it had the right smell was another indication that he may have been dumped, although these observations of his behavior could not be taken as proof he had been abandoned. His behavior was helpful to us, though. Since he kept returning to a specific location, this made it a good situation for setting the humane trap and a wildlife camera to watch it.
I came back later, after dark, with a trap and camera and set them up near the dog’s chosen spot. Kari was there looking for the dog. When I drove by his spot, I thought I saw something like a black garbage bag near the fence. I turned the car around and rolled by to get a better look. It was the dog, curled up in a tight ball, right near the fence, like some bit of unwanted debris. I parked a short distance away, and I messaged Kari that I saw him and I was going to try calming signals. She said she would stay a while and try to keep people away while I worked. I grabbed a can of Vienna sausage from the tool box and walked past the little dog as if I didn’t know he was there. Then I sat down with my back against the fence, about 15 feet north of him, as if I was completely uninterested in him, as if I just felt like sitting down with my back against the chain link in the dark by a busy street. People do weird things, so how is a dog supposed to know that this wasn’t normal human behavior? The main thing I wanted to say with my body language was that I was not interested in him at all, and therefore not any kind of threat.
It was dark enough that I had to use my phone’s camera to see his face, to see how he was reacting to me. Using night mode, I could take a picture that was a long exposure and the resulting photo looked almost like it was taken in daylight, except it was a little grainy. The photos showed he was curled up tight with his nose tucked under his tail, preserving warmth. There were plenty of lights from the neighboring houses, but they all shined in my eyes, blinding me, and they seemed not to illuminate the puddle of darkness that was a stray dog. If I hadn’t been looking for him specifically, I would have walked by him like he was a shadow. The air was smoky again from the forest fires in the foothills. The only star visible was Jupiter, which was just a few days past it’s perigee. All the other stars were lost in the haze and the city lights. I thought of calling him Jupiter.
I opened the can of sausage and pretended to eat the disgusting little cylinders packed in gelatinous slime. He took no notice. I tossed a few pieces of sausage his way, although it was too dark to aim very well. I was sure he could smell the sausages. My dogs can smell it even when the can hasn’t been opened yet. I took another night mode picture of him and saw that many little disks of meat had landed near him, and one even landed on him. He sniffed at it and curled up again, ignoring the treats. Over a period of about half an hour, I would periodically shift my weight and inch a little closer to him, scooting toward him bit by bit until I was almost in reach. Cars drove by on the neighborhood street, and people stood in their driveways, talking. Some cars stopped in the middle of the street, right near us, with their engines running and their lights shining in my eyes, blinding me, as people leaned in their windows and murmured. I stayed near him and he continued to ignore me. I held out my hand with a bit of sausage on the tips of my fingers. He sniffed at it and then he slowly got up and walked away a short distance. I didn’t want to bother him, or displace him from his comfort zone, so I left for the night. He wasn’t ready. The camera would send me pictures if he went in or near the trap. Kari returned later with signs asking people to just ignore the little dog. The signs said, “Recovery in Progress.”
The next morning, Judy returned to try her luck with him. He was in his spot again, not far from the trap. She stayed with him a long time, just sitting on the grass and tossing him treats. He was finally hungry enough to eat some of the Vienna sausage Judy tossed to him. Eventually, he would eat out of her hand. If she left her hand there too long, he would sneer at her and give her fingers a little nip, to communicate that she was pushing him a little too much. Judy brought toys for him, which he sniffed at but didn’t play with. Over time, she led him towards the trap with a trail of sausage bits. He circled the trap for quite a while, investigating the cache of food at the back of the trap from all sides. With Judy nearby, helping him feel safe, he eventually went into the trap to get the food, and he stepped on the trigger plate and the door fell down behind him. He was safe. The little stray dog was caught, in a very undramatic, anticlimactic fashion. My wildlife cameras sent me pictures of the dog in the trap about the same time that Judy sent me a message to say he had been trapped.
Then what? The shelters have been over capacity with found dogs. All the shelters emptied out when the pandemic hit and everyone stayed home. People wanted furry companions for their many long hours isolated from society. With the pandemic declared over and people returning to offices and schools, it seems that many people don’t have the time or resources to care for dogs any more. I get calls every day from people trying to surrender their dogs and cats to me because Google has us wrongly categorized as a shelter, which we most definitely are not. My business, Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people who are searching for their lost cats and dogs. The nonprofit I founded, Useless Bay Sanctuary, has a mission of helping stray dogs with no known owner, like this little dog in the trap. Neither entity is designed to perform the functions of an animal shelter, housing thousands of lost and stray dogs and cats every year. People call me every day and leave messages saying that the shelters are full and they are desperate and they need to give me their pets. I cannot help them, even though I wish we could. All of our foster homes are already full, and we have a hard time finding places for the stray dogs we find, like this sweet little brown dog.
Diane agreed to take the dog overnight while we searched for a foster home. Judy took him to the outdoor kennel in Diane’s yard, a safe place where we have taken many stray dogs we’ve caught, to keep them secure while we figure out where they should go. Judy scanned him for a microchip and didn’t find one. We had already seen that he was not neutered, which usually indicates that a dog does not have a microchip. Or maybe I should say that dogs that are spayed and neutered usually have microchips. The two procedures are often done at the same time. The fact that this little dog was not neutered and had no microchip made it seem more likely than not that he was dumped. Judy sat with him a long time. At the beginning of her visit, he didn’t want to come out from under a bench. By the end of her visit, he was sitting on her lap and refused to get off. He was a loyal dog, a loving dog, and he had been separated from the family he was devoted to. Now he had to decide who would be his new family. Almost all dogs are separated from their mothers, and humans are very fortunate that these kidnapped dogs learn to love us as family. We were asking a lot of him, wanting him to accept us and let us help him after he had been abruptly severed from his family, with no way of knowing why.
The next day, I came to visit him. I planned to take him to a new foster home if I could arrange one. I worked on my phone as I sat in the outdoor kennel with him. I looked at applications and one looked very promising. I kept inching closer to him, and he didn’t seem to mind. I love all dogs, instantly. I am ready to bond with any dog at the drop of a hat, and I really want dogs to like me. The best way to do that, with some dogs, is to just ignore them and give them time to get used to your presence. As I was waiting for him to warm up to me, I thought about what to name him. Some people were calling him Brownie, for obvious reasons. I was pretty much the only one that thought Jupiter was a good name for him. Others were calling him Kubota, after the park where he was found. I decided to call him Jupiter Brownie Kubota. That way, people could choose from the menu of what to call him. After about an hour, Mr. Kubota allowed me to get a harness on him, and I took him for a walk around Diane’s yard. He met a couple of her dogs. He was cautious about them, but not defensive or worried. I took him down to the lake and sat with him, to let him warm up to me. He drank from the lake and then sat on the lawn near me and looked around.
As I was sitting with JB, I looked at postings for lost and stray dogs. I read that three dogs had died the previous day, all three hit by cars. As I had been working on Brownie’s capture, I had seen the posts about those dogs running around. I had wanted to help them, but I couldn’t be in two places at once. When I read that they had died, I couldn’t help but feel that I was somehow partially at fault. I’m sure I could have saved them if I had been able to reach them in time. I have the knowledge and tools to save dogs like Brownie. With Calming Signals and humane traps and Vienna sausage, I can catch dogs that people have been chasing for weeks. Even if I can’t help every stray dog in person, if I could get people to listen to my advice, so many dogs could be saved. I was grateful to Brownie for letting the other volunteers and me save him. Knowing how easily he could have died, how likely it was that he would have died, made his survival more significant to me. I took about a million pictures of him, and hours of video. All the while, I was not brandishing my camera at him or staring at his beautiful little face. I was sitting with my body angled to the side, with my iPhone resting on my leg, at an angle, as if I wasn’t concerned with him at all. I was still helping him decompress, with calming signals, and suppressing my urge to scoop him up in my arms and hug him.
While sitting on the lawn with Brownie, I had finalized the arrangements to go for a visit to a potential foster home. I walked him out to my car. He didn’t jump in the open door, but he didn’t mind when I lifted him in. As we drove to the foster home, he finally allowed me to pet him as he sat in the passenger seat. About twenty minutes into our drive, I got out to get gas, and when I returned to get in the car, he wouldn’t get out of my seat. I sat right next to him, half on the seat, hoping he would move over, but he stayed firmly rooted in my seat. I had to pick him up by the harness and move him over. As we drove the rest of the way to the foster home, he stayed very close to me, in contact with me at every moment. This made me vary happy, of course, that he was accepting me, that by giving him space and time, by letting him know that I respected his space and his situation, that I understood he had just been through a traumatic separation from his family, he eventually accepted me.
We reached the foster home before they got home to meet us. We went to the school across the street to hang out. I walked and ran with Brownie and captured slow motion video of him trotting and running. In the first video of him trotting, you can see that he is warming up, accepting his new situation. In the final running video, he looks happy, galloping with his tail flying and his ears flying. I had become his ally. When the potential foster arrived home, she brought her dog over to the school to see if Brownie would get along with her. She was at least twice his size, and she was a little too intense. We walked around the school yard, hoping they would settle down and warm up, but it looked like it wasn’t going to work out. I had to take Brownie back to Diane’s kennel for one more night. She brought him in the house that night, and he was an angel, no trouble at all.
Brownie spent a couple of nights at Judy’s house before we got him into a great foster home. I have been receiving pictures of him looking very relaxed and at home. One picture shows him on the couch with his new person, in front of the fireplace. I am so relieved and happy to know that we have him in a safe, stable situation. We are still looking for his former family, in case there is some other explanation for why he showed up at that park and behaved as he did. In the days since we caught Brownie, one of our volunteers witnessed a woman in the process of dumping a dog in a parking lot. She put the sweet little beagle out there with her crate and blankets and food and toys, along with paperwork showing how she had bought the puppy from a pet store for $5,000. This woman’s husband had died, she lost her home, and she could not afford the payments for the pet store puppy they had bought with financing. Her family had fallen apart. The shelter for her jurisdiction was requiring people to make appointments weeks in advance to surrender pets because they were 100% over capacity. I don’t doubt that this woman loved her kind and gentle little beagle. How could you not? But she had reached the end of her rope. Fortunately one of our volunteers happened to be there and agreed to take the beagle. Did something similar happen with Brownie’s family? I imagine a scenario such as, maybe they had a new child and that child couldn’t understand that you can’t just grab at a dog. You need to respect a dog and speak his language. Maybe Brownie nipped the child as his way of communicating that he needed space, and not out of malice. Maybe his family was forced to abandon him because they couldn’t have him nipping a child, I don’t know. Whatever happened, it obviously wasn’t Brownie’s fault. He is a sweet little dog who is fitting in perfectly at his foster home.
Dogs have no choice but to love us humans, even when we let them down. Through evolution and selective breeding, nature has created an animal that loves us more than he loves himself. It is a dog’s job, his reason for existence, to love a person or a family. When dogs like Brownie lose their families, it is never their fault. I wish I could help all the Brownies in the world. I’m so grateful he let us help him. Because Useless Bay Sanctuary volunteers knew how to approach him and speak his language, we were able to get him off the street, help him calm down, and place him in a safe home. UBS will be a safety net for him throughout his life, and wherever he goes, we will always be around in case he needs our help again, in case he becomes lost or is in danger of losing his home through some misfortune. I’m thankful we were able to communicate with J. Brownie Kubota in his own language and help him reach safety in a moment of crisis. Knowing how much I love my Valentino, and how I couldn’t live without him, it makes me sad that he had to leave his former family for whatever reason. I’m also relieved that we were able to save him and get him off the streets. I feel confident that Brownie has a great life ahead of him, one way or another, and he will get to be the great little dog he always wanted to be, part of a loving family.
Please watch this video showing his transformation from a scared dog on the run to a loving, happy boy ready for a home.