Shepherd My Shepherd

, , , , , | Hopeless | September 14, 2017

(I’m a bit of an insomniac, so I go for a walk at about half past midnight in my favorite lakefront park. I live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, and it’s not unusual for people to let their dogs off the leash if the park is empty and the dog is well-trained, so I’m not too concerned to see a German shepherd run by. What does concern me is that the dog is limping badly and whimpering. Worried, I walk over to the only other person in the park, a guy with a pair of year-old huskies, in the direction the dog had come from.)

Me: “Excuse me, but is that German shepherd yours? He’s limping pretty badly; I think he may have stepped on a piece of glass or something.”

(The guy looks up and notices the dog, and I see his eyes go wide.)

Guy: “Oh, s***. No, he’s not mine, but I know whose he is, and he’s definitely not supposed to be out here alone. He’s only seven months old.”

(Alarmed, we both head over to the German shepherd, and he lets me grab his collar after sniffing my hand. I find the broken-off clip from a leash.)

Me: “He must have snapped his leash or something. Do you have your phone, so we can call the family? I left mine on the charger.”

(The guy shakes his head, and with nothing else we can really do, we both wait with the dog. I have one hand on his collar, and the other petting him, trying to keep him calm. About five minutes later, a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, runs up, sobbing hysterically.)

Girl: “Oh, God, you found him! Is he okay? He broke his leash and r-ran out into the street, and he got hit by a car, and I didn’t know if he was d-dead, and I couldn’t find him! A-and my sister’s still at home, but I don’t have any way of getting him back there, and I can’t leave him here and-and oh, God, I don’t know what to d-do!”

Guy: “It’s okay. He’s hurt; he’s limping pretty badly, but he’s breathing okay.”

Me: “Run home and get your sister, and tell her to bring the car. We’ll stay here and make sure he’s okay.”

Girl: “Oh, God, are you sure? Th-thank you! Thank you so much!”

(She pets the shepherd and lets him sniff her, then goes tearing off down the street. The guy glances back at one of the apartment complexes bordering the park.)

Guy: “If I run and get my phone, can you keep an eye on the huskies for a minute?”

(I agree, so he carefully shuts both of his dogs in the park tennis court and sprints for the nearest building. He’s back less than three minutes later with his phone and his sister. She immediately takes charge of their huskies, and he starts Googling the nearest 24-hour animal ER. Throughout all of this, I’ve been petting and murmuring to the injured shepherd, trying to keep him calm, and he’s been so, so good. He’s clearly in pain and scared, but he doesn’t growl or snap once, just huddles as close to me as he can get. Finally, about ten minutes later, the young girl comes back.)

Girl: “My sister’s bringing the car, she’ll be here in a couple minutes. I can’t thank you guys enough for this.”

Guy: “Of course. I knew this guy wasn’t supposed to be out here alone; I wasn’t going to just leave him.”

Me: “God, of course. If my dog was hurt, I’d hope someone would help her until I could get there.”

(The girl hugs us both, and clears the garbage cans away from the park path so her sister can back straight into the park, traffic laws be d***ed. A minute later, her sister arrives, backing as close to us as she can get, before jumping out of the car to check on her dog.)

Sister: “How is he?”

Me: “His breathing’s okay, but his leg looks pretty bad, and he’s definitely in pain. The sooner you can get him to the vet, the better.”

Guy: “Here’s the address for the nearest emergency vet; it’s eleven minutes away. I already called, so they’ll be ready to x-ray him as soon as you arrive.”

Sister: “Oh, God, thank you. Thank you for staying with him.”

(We carefully lifted the dog into the backseat, and both sisters hugged us again before peeling out. I’d never met any of them before that night, and I haven’t seen them since, but I very much hope that they and their beautiful dog are okay! That night reminded me of something I heard a while back: in any crisis or disaster, look for the people helping.)

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