A Tale of Two Dickens
So a mystery fell in my lap the other day. Since I am home alone all day, I welcome this kind of stuff. It's like a real life soap opera: not as over the top but still interesting.
My next door neighbors have a handsome male standard poodle named Charles Dickens. Dickens is well mannered around people but is very aggressive to other dogs. He barks incessantly during the day and hurls his body at the front window when I walk by with my dog. (When it is just me, he just stares.) My puppy is easily frightened so when Dickens is out, I walk my dog in the opposite direction.
Friday, I was walking my dog to the post office and noticed Dickens tied outside. This is not a common occurrence but I figured that maybe the neighbors were doing some yard work or something that required him being out of the way. Barking as always, I walked out of the way to avoid him. An hour later, one of my neighbors knocked on the door and asked me if I knew whose dog it was. She was very certain it was not Dickens at all but another standard poodle, one with an eye infection. I went out to look and it was a much bigger, blacker male standard poodle. He had been tied to my neighbors' fence with a garden hose and had one of those fluffy steering wheel covers around his shoulders. I'm still not sure what that steering wheel cover was supposed to accomplish but it did not hinder his movement in any way. The person who had chained him up had also used an empty planter for a water bowl. He was incredibly friendly and allowed me and others to approach him. His unruly fur felt grimy and smelled like he had been living in garbage. He was wearing a chain choke collar and had a rescue tag. The tag only provided a number to call if he was lost. Rather than having a number corresponding to his chip number, the tag had what looked like "DICK" on it. The C could have been an O or a 0 or an 8. The K could have been an R or an A. We discussed calling animal control but they had closed for the day. The number on the chip provided no leads. I fed the dog and other concerned neighbors and I decided to wait until the neighbors returned.
Luckily, I was on my front porch when my neighbors returned. I flagged them down and told them it wasn't Dickens but he had been there since 4:30pm at least. They had no idea who the dog could possibly belong to or why he was there. Perhaps someone saw him, assumed he was Dickens and chained him up because my neighbors can often be seen walking Dickens through the neighborhood, mornings and evenings. Dickens himself had been in their large house all day and was not happy about the fake Dickens' baying outside all day (my puppy wasn't too glad about that either). A neighbor down the street has some animal control connections and informed us that they have scanners in their vehicles that could read microchips in animals. Our calls all ended with the same suggestion: to keep the dog overnight until the SPCA opened. Fortunately, the neighbor used her connections to get a car to come by when they were finished with their current call.
When they arrived, the officers matched the dog with his microchip. His name was not Dick but Dior and he lived five blocks away and had not yet been reported missing. He was registered to a Tyrone but the woman who answered didn't know who he was but confirmed that Dior was her dog and that she was on her way. Despite fake Dickens' healthy weight and relatively recent grooming, his eye was red and inflamed. It wasn't all horrorshow or anything. It could have been serious allergies or something worse. His ears were a different matter. He kept shaking his head which is a clear sign that an animal is having ear problems. When the officer attempted to touch fake Dickens' ear, the friendly dog resisted. The officer was able to pull his ear back by using a soothing voice and stroking Dior's back. The ear was simply disgusting, all crusty and black. My neighbors inquired if the officers would look into the matter further specifically in reference to the dog's health. The officers ensured that they would but emphasized that they were glad that this story would probably have a happy ending.
Dior's owner pulled up in a spiffy new Prius and rushed to her dog. She was slim, nicely dressed and probably in her mid to late forties. When my neighbors said that he had been tied to their fence since 4:30 that afternoon, she replied "Well, people see me in the neighborhood." The neighbors and I exchanged looks of confusion at her reply. She ensured the officers that his eye was a result of allergies and that she was medicating his ears. She said his ear problem was a form of yeast rampant in poodles and not a result of negligence. She curtly apologized for not being friendly because she was shaken by worrying about her dog all afternoon and left.
If she was that upset, wouldn't she have reported his chip as missing? Wouldn't she have walked or driven through the neighborhood looking for Dior? He was very clearly visible from the street. Who put him at my neighbors' house?
I guess I will probably not find the answers to these questions. She got a purebred standard poodle who gets groomed now and again but she can't be bothered to bathe him in the interim. She gives him plenty of food but when it comes to maintaining his health problems beneath a cursory glance (i.e. eye allergies and ear drops) she couldn't be bothered.
It makes me mad because I have seen versions of this so much: people who get dogs, claim to love them, give them fancy names but never actually go the whole nine yards to truly care for them.