This past week found me riding my Terry bike over 325 hilly miles of Appalachian Ohio on the GOBA ride! It is a beautiful place, nestled about 60-90 miles southeast of the capital of Ohio, Columbus. We rode the backroads to McConnellsville, Marietta, Athens, McArthur and back to our starting point in Logan. The townspeople that welcomed us were stupendous in their spirit and generosity! The heat and humidity (85 – 91 degrees), however was a different story! Sticky sweat poured out of 2500 riders that camped when we were done riding. It was tough to ride in those conditions and even tougher to spend the rest of the day and night in them. While I handled the weather with plenty of water and a few trips to air conditioned businesses/libraries, nothing prepared me for seeing a large number of dogs that were tied out to dog houses or kept in small, kennel pens all day. Some had shade, some didn’t.
My last morning found me stopping quickly to photograph the sunrise. My little Canon G10 caught the scene above. It’s not the best photo but you might note the dog house on the left side of the image. Also note that there’s no shade tree nearby, even out of the photo. What was out of the scene of the photo was a very small puppy, about 8-10 weeks old, sitting there like a cat. His front legs straight and his little buff-colored tail wrapped along his side. I spoke to him when I pulled the camera away from my face and he tilted his head to the side. I should have taken a photo but instead, I went forth to hold him and smell his puppy breath.
It was then that I noticed he was tied to a 25 foot rope that was secured to the unshaded dog house. It was 6:30 a.m. Did someone put him out there while they jumped in the shower or was he destined to live his life at the end of this dog house rope? After holding and petting him, I rode away distraught.
When I returned to our starting point, I was lucky to meet a Board member with The Pet Orphanage in Logan. She told me that the dogs I had seen at the Dog Shelter, located next to the Fairgrounds where we camped our first night, have a 3 day hold. Most of these dogs are picked up out on the roads – i.e. they’re dumped – for various reasons. If no one claims them, the dog warden can keep them as long as he has room in the shelter, otherwise they’re euthanized. The Pet Orphanage’s mission is to fund low-cost spay and neuter clinics for cats and dogs, to reduce the numbers of unwanted dogs/cats in the area. The also offer financial assistance for medical care and adoption assistance. They do all of this WITHOUT a shelter! Most of their volunteers are foster parents, caring for these animals until a home can be found for them. (If you’re so moved, a donation sent their way would go a long way in a very poor part of the country.)
After seeing and hearing about how some dogs are treated in this area, how people are more than struggling financially in Appalachian Ohio and seeing, that despite it all, these people have a sense of pride about who they are and how they live, I was moved to action. On the spot, I gave the Board member some money and today wrote a much larger check to The Pet Orphanage. And remember the Dog Shelter I talked about? On our first night there, I spotted a good-looking, female, Treeing Walker Coonhound in one of the short pens. She had a calm, alert, demeanor and a slow, steady swish to her tail when I saw her. Not overly excitable but confident. She was there when I returned a week later so that meant I needed to work fast. Her clock was ticking.
I spoke with my friend Jack, who recently lost a male, Treeing Walker Coonhound to old age and cancer. His coonhound, Forester, and mine would bay to one another when they saw each other out walking. Jack told me he’s been looking around for another coonhound and now he’s got the info he needs to look into adopting one out of Ohio. It’s a longshot that it’ll all work out – a guy gets a nice coonhound and saves a life that surely would have been lost if a chance hadn’t been taken.
I just found out that the dog warden’s kept the dog since June 4th and he wants to find a home for it. We’re waiting to hear from a local volunteer that’s going to check out her temperament and behavior and get back to Jack. One bike ride just might lead to a dog adoption! It’s out of my hands now.