Saturday, March 25, 2006

Honey

We had an interesting guest at our house earlier this week. She was a greyhound/basset hound mix we named Honey Bee.

Honey came barreling into our lives while I was out walking Max. We started to pick her up around mid-January as we were walking down our main street. Honey, who was actually named Larry at the time by her current owner, would escape from her yard and go visiting around the neighborhood because she was bored and lonely. When she spotted us she'd come flying up the street and literally shoot under Max. It later turned out that her owner would just tie her up out in back of his house when Honey wanted to go out. Honey would then throw her collar and take off.

This kept up all through February and on through March. I'd be out with Max and then Honey would show up, and then they'd play together. Then Max would get back on task (walking) and Honey would follow along right next to him. And that was a lot of following. Max and I would walk (and run) three to five miles/day. On a long run one day, Honey spotted another dog across a road (Dr. Phillips Blvd) from where we were. Honey took off across four lanes of traffic to visit the new dog, and then to come running right back to us. I nearly had a heart attack as traffic zoomed on both sides of the road. It was at that point I decided we had to do something to protect Honey before she got killed.

The problem was that Honey had no collar most of the time, and when she did, she had no tag. When my oldest daughter was down for spring break, she was out one day shopping with her mom. They spotted Honey loose in the neighborhood. Lauran got out of the van and quickly talked Honey into the van, then everybody came home. Honey then got to spend the rest of the day with Max and Babe. Everybody loved it.

Because we didn't know Honey's owner at the time, the girls put up 'Dog Found' signs around the neighborhood. That evening we got a call from Charlie, who identified Honey. We were sad that Honey was going home, but happy that we finally found her owner. We got his name, phone number, and address. I thought that maybe, just maybe, it would finally sink into Charlie's head to take better care of Honey.

But such was not to be. After her initial return, Honey started to show up at our front door on a regular basis. Honey remembered where Max lived (with us, of course). She would show up around late afternoon or early evening, and whine. I'd go to the front door to see who it was, and Honey would then walk right in to visit Max. I'd put all three dogs (Max, Babe, and Honey) in the back yard, let them play for about an hour until they tired, then I'd put Max and Honey on leads and walk Honey back home. I did this multiple times, getting to meet Charlie's wife and one of his sons in the process.

Finally, this past weekend, after Honey showed up at the front door at midnight Saturday, I made the decision that we were going to adopt her. It was obvious that Charlie was not taking care of Honey, and it was equally obvious that Honey wanted to stay with us. Judy and I fixed her a place to sleep, and we started to feed her and include her in the family activities. Honey fell right in to the schedule.

On Tuesday, March 21st, Judy took Honey to our vet, Phillip Callahan. Phil has been our vet for nearly 20 years. He's been with us as through four labs, two that have passed on. Phil helped place Babe with us. While at the vet Honey got a complete checkup, her rabies shot, and an official tag. Phil didn't charge us for his time, just for the shots and medicines. Everybody in the clinic fell in love with Honey and her story, and Honey fell in love with the clinic staff. One problem discovered about Honey that couldn't be fixed at the time was Honey's severe overbite. Phil suggested he take out one of Honey's teeth so that the jaws would fit better. Phil was afraid that over time Honey wouldn't be able to eat well. Judy scheduled to drop Honey off and have the simple operation performed. I thought we were set.

Unfortunately it wasn't to last. That evening Charlie, the original owner, showed up with three Orange County deputies to take back Honey. Officer R. S. Brooks showed up with support to ask bluntly why I had taken Charlie's dog. I don't know what Charlie told the police, but the attitude of the police towards me was as if I had walked into Charlie's yard and stolen the dog. I had to spend the next 45 minutes, with Judy's help, explaining everything that had happened over the last three months. In the mean time I walked Honey out of the house on a lead. Charlie pounced on Honey, quickly pulling off our lead and slapping his on in its place. He couldn't get out of there fast enough. By the time Officer Brooks left his attitude had changed markedly, from aggressively confronting a possible dog-napping felon to wondering if he'd made the right decision. Judy was in tears. All I could do was to sit down on a bench outside the front door in disbelief over what had happened.

I haven't seen Honey since. I know she's not being walked. I have no idea if she's still in good health or not. I know that Charlie doesn't want the dog because it was forced upon him by a daughter living in Tampa. He even told my wife he tried to give the animal away last year, but the people he give Honey to brought her back. I have no idea what his motivation for taking the animal back like that was. But I do know this. If I had to do it over, I'd still have done the same exact thing. Honey was the sweetest little thing. She loved her walks with Max and I, and she certainly enjoyed the family interaction. I'm keeping my eye out for her, and if she gets loose again I'll have to send her in to animal control, then challenge Charlie for her ownership. But I'm concerned for Honey. I hope she's all right. I certainly don't trust Charley to do the right thing.

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