After summer’s heavy rains painted the landscape in an incredible variety of greens, autumn’s dry days bleached the color from most things. The cottonwoods are holding onto some of their color, variegated greens and yellows, but the grasses are a tan that’s almost white, leaves are gone from many trees, tumbleweeds are cut loose from their moorings and drifting into the roads and piling up against fences.
Already—and it seems early to me, though I don’t remember for sure—the sub-freezing nights are here. When we rise at 4:40, the temperatures are in the low 30s or high 20s, and they go down from there until the sun rises and begins its warming.
On a few nights and mornings recently, the motion light in the carport has been coming on mysteriously. Then, on Wednesday, the day after our first morning in the 20s, Maryelizabeth found out why. There was a visiting dog (we had seen other dog-signs, but assumed that one of the neighbors’ many dogs had been over), who had been spending nights in the open laundry room off our carport. Not exactly warm in there, but warmer than outside.
Once he decided to show himself, he was friendly and well behaved. He’s a mutt of some kind, with a coat like a Dalmatian but a head like a Boxer, maybe, far more squared-off than a Dalmatian’s. We kept him separated from our dogs, that first day and night, tried to encourage him to go home. He seemed pretty convinced he already had.
Thursday we called the local radio station’s Trading Post, the call-in show on which people in this area report lost and found dogs, offer items for sale, and so on. Nobody called for him. Given where we are, out at the far end of the paved road, it seems more likely he’s an abandoned dog than a runaway. At any rate, he showed no interest in running away from here. We gave up and let him go into the corral with our dogs, since although there were a few tense moments, they were happier having him inside than running around outside while they were in.
Yesterday afternoon, we went to a movie. When we got back, our dogs met us at the front gate—which they shouldn’t have, as they had been confined to the corral when we left. They made a hole in the fence and got out. The stray stayed in, waiting for us to release him. After that, he was allowed inside for the night. He’s underfed, starved for affection. He knows the command to “Sit.” He doesn’t pee in the house. He eats his own food without attacking others’.
We’ve been telling ourselves we can’t keep him. Three dogs are a handful, four are just too many. We’re hoping our dogsitters will like him enough to take him. We hate the idea of dumping such a good dog at a shelter, although chances are he would be adopted, since he’s young and housebroken and has a pleasant demeanor. We will if we have to, I guess.
Three dogs are plenty.