“If you love something let it go free. If it doesn't come back, you never had it. If it comes back, love it forever.” Doug Horton
This is a story that has been written in my mind for some time. Today is as good a day as any to excise it. Perhaps it is the below zero weather..or guilt..or Jen telling me that our Grand-dog Elvis hates a leash..
December 2006...The phone rang, it was Megan, a dog trainer that we had used with Chance. She had a friend who was in a pickle, she was fostering a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) and needed someone to take over for her because she was pregnant. The dogs name was Ringo and he apparently was one of those Summer throw away dogs that the "summer people" get for their kids just for the summer and then leave behind. His Foster Mom said he was sweet and lovable, she had no problems with him, he got along with her other dogs quite well, she was sure that he would get along well with Chance. Two neutered males..no problem. I made arrangement to pick him up on January 02, 2007. Our initial meeting went well, he seemed to like me..so it was a go..I loaded him in the car and brought him home with me.
I brought him into the house, he and Chance hit it off quite well, tails wagging, and chase me games were played. Ringo ate some food and drank some water. I went to take them outdoors, I had the leash in my hand..I like a dummy just opened the door..and let them outside. As soon as Ringo hit the outside world..he ran..and ran..then he took off down the driveway.... Far Guy and I tried to catch him, and I got within three feet of him..but he was too quick. We enlisted neighborhood help in looking for him. Jen and Andy came and walked the woods at night, Jen even found another stray dog that eventually was reunited with his owner. Chance and I and Far Guy walked the woods for days, there wasn't much snow that year...we tried to track him...eventually we discovered where he was and contacted the land owner for permission to walk his property. We found where he had been sleeping in a hole made in the ground by an uprooted tree, we saw him on several occasions..we found dog poop and pee..so I knew he was eating something and obviously getting enough water out of the snow. He was living on one section of land and feeding there on old deer carcasses. I had his previous Foster Mom come out one afternoon with her dogs in hopes that he would respond to her voice or his old friends being in the vicinity. No luck.. I was so upset by this turn of events, I did not know what I was going to do, beside eventually burying a starved dog..that I was responsible for. I cried buckets of tears over this dog, just the mention of his name would make me bawl. How could I have been such an idiot..first to say that I would take the dog and second that I would open the door and let him out without a leash..stupid ..just plain stupid.
Ringo ran out of deer meat or perhaps it was the fresh blood of a newly butchered hog that drove him to visit Jo (West Side of Straight) and her husbands farm. Hooch lives there too, Ringo was sighted mornings and evenings coming and going. We tried unsuccessfully to capture him..he was just too fast and too wild to be caught. Jo called me one day and she said "That dog is going to die, we have to do something ELSE." Then she called later and said "I borrowed a live trap, lets see if we can trap him." The first few days we baited with dog food and caught Hooch a couple of times. Hooch kind of liked the live trap. We did not want to leave the live trap set over night..because it was so cold..way below zero. If we caught Ringo early in the night, he could be froze to death by morning. So we made arrangements to bait the trap at night, I finally used some venison sausage..we set it and would go back at 11o'clock to disarm it for the night. When we went back Far Guy said "Why, I'll be ..we got him." We loaded the live trap in the car and took him home trap and all..we carted the trap in the house and let him out. He was thin..I checked his paws and his ears..it was January 18, 2007. He had survived sixteen days out on his own. He had some sore paws..but they healed up nicely..he was hungry..very hungry. We only fed him a little at a time..but lots of feedings. He was only allowed outside on a leash, he and Chance became best friends.
This is the only photo that I can find..January 18, 2007 after we rescued him from the live trap.
Ringo settled in with us really nicely, he didn't like to ride in the car..so we worked on that. His kennel was under my desk..if the door was going to be opened he was put in the kennel. I hung a note on the door that said "DO NOT LET RINGO OUT"...everyone cooperated..Far Guy and I inadvertently let him out twice..both times my heart was in my throat..luckily I had taught him the sit command by then...he obeyed my command and he was scooped up with a huge sigh of relief. I was getting more attached to Ringo by the day, he cuddled with me on the couch..he was the lap dog that Chance was not. He laid at my feet when I was at the computer...he followed me everywhere. We tried to socialize him the best we could..he was skittish with other people..he was going to be a shy one person Sheltie. I talked with the Humane Society..he was after all technically still their dog..I was still just fostering. I thought maybe since I lost him once, they would want him back..but no they thought it was okay that I keep him until he was adopted. I thought that they might want to have him checked by a Vet after his 16 days in the wild..but they didn't.
Chance was like a big brother...they played tug games and ran around the house like chickens with their heads cut off..running circles..banking off of the couch. I did what some people would call a big no no. I felt so sorry for Ringo being on the leash all the time outdoors..I tethered him to Chance. Then I would take them both for a walk. Chance outweighed Ringo by about 45 pounds..if I wanted them to stop I just hollered sit. Trees were our biggest obstacle..one dog going one way around..and the other going a different way. Chance loved his new job..Ringo loved a little freedom. We also let him run around inside the Greenhouses..he was food driven..so a treat could be used to capture him. He was afraid of loud noises, and all vehicles. If a vehicle came down our driveway while I was walking him..he would refuse to go potty. If a vehicle came into our yard..he freaked out. He didn't like men.. but he learned to love Far Guy. Obviously this puppy had a bunch of issues. I think he was about one year old.
I really didn't know what to do. Could I possibly manage another dog? Two dogs and a business that needed me sixteen hours a day from March to July. Then we got a phone call..our daughter was moving from Nebraska to Minnesota and needed a place to live for awhile, along with her husband, three daughters, two dogs and a cat. What was a quiet existence was in our past, we now had girls to get off to school, huge dinners to cook, and a zoo full of animals to care for. The girls loved Ringo..they helped me to keep an eye on him, no one opened the outside door with out standing there first hollering "Who has Ringo?"
I finally took some darling photographs of him (they were lost in one of the computer crashes.) I took the photos into the Humane Society and I made up some posters. He was adopted by one of our long time customers. We visited him during the summer..he still remembered Chance and the girls. It was very hard for me to give him up, I felt better that he was happy and loved in his new home, he was getting the attention that he needed to be a really good dog. I kept track of him. Then the months wore on..then a year..he was fine. I felt like a bad person calling to check up on him all the time. So I let it go.
Sometimes you can let go..but you still wonder. I wondered half the summer and I left a couple of messages..but my phone calls were never returned. Then in September2009 I ran into Ringo's Grandma..she saw me and immediately looked down after she smiled and gave me a hug..I knew he was gone. Somethings can be conveyed without words...she did confirm my worst thoughts..Emmy moved into a new house, Ringo was confused and ran into the road one day and was hit by a car. I was so sad. I am still sad. I wish I could have made the life of this little dog better for longer..if wishes were ..:)
“If wishes were fishes we'd all be throwing nets. If wishes were horses we'd all ride.” Doug Horton
Thank you for sharing Ringo with us. Dogs sometimes have more "call of the wild" than nature meant. Our beloved yellow lab, GG, on the very day we had an appointment to put her to sleep.......gate was open and out she went for one last stroll. Three adults with tears streaming down our faces calling her...she came, we left and although a sad day for all of us ... the memory of GG on a stroll remains precious to this day. HH
What a tender story. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. As another dog lover, I feel your heartbreak. It is so sad that Ringo's life ended tragically, but his days with you were filled with love and compassion. He thrived thanks to you. You did what you had to do allowing him to be adopted. If not for you he may not have ever had a chance at all. You did a wonderful thing for him - it was not a failure -unfortunately sad things happen even when we do our best.
Connie, this was a long post, with one eye no less! Thank you for sharing the story of Ringo. I love that dog even though I never heard of him before today. What a wonderful story with a tragic ending. I agree with Rae, you gave him a chance, and he was happy for awhile. Such a moving story...
Yes - those were some anxious days trying to catch Ringo. I feel bad that he got hit by a car, poor baby. Amazing how fast we get attached to our 4 legged friends.
Thank you for this story, Connie. I'm another one who loves animals so deeply. I know how you feel but you did make him happy. Some dogs are just free spirits. Even though they love us, they love the freedom to be out in the open even more. He crossed over Rainbow Bridge doing what he liked best...running free. I've had a couple dogs like that myself.
Too bad his life ended like this but I know you made his life better just by being there for him. It sounds like both of you bonded.
Take care and have a good weekend Connie!!!
Thank you for sharing Ringo's story. I have tears in my eyes. You gave him so much. You saved him and taught him, and gave him the chance to have the time that he did have. I'm sorry it ended too soon and so traumatic. As a dog lover, I can feel your pain.
Sad story, but he also knew love, with you and with his family...something he would never have had if you had given up.
I still suffer over the loss of my small gray poodle who ran away from my parents home on the day of my first wife's funeral. I know that he was only seven years old and someone in Osceola raised that dog, at least I hope he was found and taken in, I will never know. I forget about it as it was 29 years ago, but every once in a while it hits me hard. My wife, Della, says that I have made up for the loss by taking such good care of our two dogs, one the little poodle and the other the rescued Barnie from off the streets in Missouri. You are a true blue animal lover and you gave Ringo his best for as long as you could and that was a very good quality of life.
I think we all have a dog in our history that we feel badly about. I have one that comes into my mind time and time again, when I was in my 20s, divorced with a small child... I feel the pain of not knowing what happened to my Bear. I know the pain you feel for poor Ringo, but you did so much for that lil guy. What a cutie he was. He lived a good life thanks to you! :)
Thanks for sharing....
Connie, this is a sad story, but there are really good parts in it. You loved and nurtured this dog, and made part of his life so much better.
At the very least, he had that time with you.
A sad story - but at least he was loved and missed. You made his life better , no matter how short and sweet it was
Just stumbled onto your blog, and I thank you for sharing Ringo's story. My Mom and Dad adopted an Aussie mix off death row last year. It has been a long hard haul for them. She will not be caught, but through a complicated system (in her mind) it's okay to go into her house and be caught, but not actually come to anyone. They do have a fenced yard, but I'm not sure at all what would happen if she got loose. I believe that she probably suffered some abuse, certainly neglect and most likely lived feral for awhile. She has come a long way,loves her walks but I doubt she will ever be a 'normal' dog. She is devoted to my dad but still considers Mom iffy. She will come up to me, but it's because I have the dogs with me. She won't let me catch her of course. You just have to feel so sad that little critters like Heidi and Ringo have to overcome so much just to function. Although his ending was not what you'd want, it sounds like he had love and understanding right up to the end. Thanks again.
My daughter's friend wanted her to babysit her cat while she was moving. Why they decided to pass the cat off at the front door is just one of those stupid questions that you wish you'd asked before you did it.
Cat just scratched and sprang and ran off thru the traffic and houses -- never to be seen again.
Ringo had some good times in spite of his self destructive behavior.
Thanks for sharing your story. Animals will break your heart that's for sure but they make you happy like no other.
That's a sad story. His life was a good one...thanks to you!
Ringo could never tell you why he was so scared but you made him feel safe. You made him trust people again. That was your job and you did it. He was wild at heart and made you love him in spite of it, some of them run no matter what you do and they break out hearts. I feel your pain we love out dogs so much even when we find someone to adopt them we still care.
I have lost dogs that I wish with all my heart I could have kept. I so understand your pain. They break our hearts and they hold us close. But sometimes they just aren't ment to live on earth anymore.
My heart goes out to you, Dear Friend.
You put a lump in my throat. I'm sad too that Ringo is gone--but your love helped him out of his shell and helped him find another home where he was loved. Our animals can become such a part of us, it's so sad to lose one. Thanks for telling the story.
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