I walk every day in my neighborhood and always take a plastic bag or two to pick up recyclables. I also find things, and one of these was a little dog still wearing his harness with leash attached. I tried my best to catch him, but he was quick as a rabbit. On Petfinder on the Internet, I discovered the missing Yorkie was Dennis, and he’d escaped from his owner several streets over from mine. An excellent name, as this little menace managed to elude me, his owner, the neighbors, and Surry Animal Rescue workers for months. I even borrowed a cage from the rescue folks and baited it with pizza. The next morning, I could see something in the cage, but my moment of triumph was short lived when I saw I had captured an extremely annoyed possum.
More weeks passed. The weather became colder. Dennis remained wild and free. Occasionally, I would see him basking on a front porch, or sprawled in the church parking lot, completely unconcerned that everyone in the neighborhood was trying to catch him, that it was freezing cold, and that he still wore a leash that could possibly hang him up in a tree.
Then one day, a neighbor greeted me with, “We got him!” Her daughter was playing with her dog in the backyard, and when Dennis came over to play, she managed to grab the leash. Dennis was returned to his owner. Happy ending.
But there’s more to this story. At the time, a young relative of mine was struggling with alcohol addiction, so much so, she had to go to a special institution. No visitors. No phone calls. But she could get letters, so I wrote as often as I could, sending silly pictures and jokes, and of course, reports and updates about Dennis, Yorkie of the Yukon.
Later she told me that the Saga of Dennis meant a lot to her. If a little Yorkie could survive three of the coldest months on record in a harness and leash and not get hung up in a tree, or snagged on a rock, not get run over, or attacked by a larger animal, not starve, or freeze to death—if Dennis could overcome all those obstacles and find his way home, maybe she could overcome her problems, too.
As of this September, she is three years sober.