Without a plan or a particular goal, I stopped by the shelter one afternoon and asked to meet the big Rottweiler I knew they had there. He had been there for months, and I was curious, not really interested – it was too soon after my dog Iggy had died, and Rottweilers, while certainly wonderful, were not high on my list of likely candidates for new dogs. They are usually of medium to high energy, and considered to be of very, very high intelligence. The truth is, I like all dogs – big and small, old and young, perfect and not-so-perfect. Liking all dogs is not the same as wanting to live with all dogs, and I have a preference for medium-intelligence (not too difficult to keep busy), medium energy (not too difficult to tire out) types of dogs.
The first thing I noticed about Rudy when I met him was that he was afraid. Afraid of me, afraid of the outdoors, and afraid of life. The first place he had ever known comfort or peace was the shelter, and the first people who had ever been kind to him were the shelter staff. His life experience had taught him that the world was a dangerous and frightening place, and people were not to be trusted. I tried to walk him, and after a block of luring him with food, coaxing with him a squeaky toy, and encouraging him by voice, he turned his body and just froze, pointing at the shelter. When I walked him back to the building’s rear entrance, he lunged at the door, and scratched at it with both paws. To this unfortunate dog, the concrete and chain-link dog run of the shelter was the most comforting, and safest, place he had ever been – the only place he wanted to be.
Rudy was kind of pushy, had no obedience skills, and was alternately over-stimulated, very fearful; but he was pretty good with other dogs, and generally nice to people he knew. He liked affection, and once he warmed up was fairly friendly. Plenty of positive things to work with and build on!
After my first meeting with Rudy, I went home to talk it over with the wife. Three days later, we signed the adoption papers and took him home. On the first day, we changed his name to Rudy Barnes. Rudy, after my wife’s father (we made the adoption official on my father-in-law’s birthday), and because Rudy doesn’t seem like a scary name. Who doesn’t like a Rudy? Also, well, he was very rude. Barnes comes from Katy Barnes, the WHS Animal Control and Rescue Officer who rescued Rudy on July 5th.
This is a brief interview with Katy, about what happened on the day of his rescue, and his life beforehand.
Where and when did you find Rudy?
ACO KB: I responded to the call on July 5th at 8am. This was up north of Birch Bay-Lynden Road. The homeowner called the sheriff, and the sheriff called us. The homeowner had been doing some work on their septic system, so the intake pipe was left uncovered a couple days. Our best guess was that Rudy had been running in a panic through the countryside and fell in – it must have been pitch dark out there.
The picture shows a heavy chain. Did he pull out his stake or?
ACO KB: No, he was dragging 4-5 feet of chain, but there was no stake or anything. Apparently, it just snapped as he panicked from fireworks.
What was his demeanor in the hole? Could you tell he was kind of a puppy?
ACO KB: Initially he was just sitting there — nonresponsive. He was exhausted, and it was not even clear what kind of dog he was. He was so covered in muck, his markings were not visible. I lowered some water down to him, and one his face was wet I could see a little bit more of who he was. I could tell he was young by his face and his mannerisms. After some water and a little coaxing, I started talking to him and cooing at him and he began jumping up and trying to reach the edge. Then I could tell he was younger – not fully an adult. His facial expression was pleading and young and sort of “I don’t know what to do.” Not the way an adult would look at you. He was big though – clearly not a puppy, but a young adult or adolescent.
How big was he?
ACO KB: Once we got back to the shelter and weighed him, we found he was 85 pounds.
How old did you think he was? ACO KB: About 10 months.
Were you scared of him?
ACO KB: No… No. I was cautious because he was large and trapped in a small space, and it was a dangerous situation but… He reached up, though – he wanted help. He did. I tried to get the Snappy Snare (a loop or plastic or metal on a pole) snare around him, but it broke.
Did you boost him out of the hole, or how exactly did you get him out?
ACO KB: The sides were too slick. He was 6 feet down, and I didn’t know him. He was fearful and confined. Even if I jumped in I had no way to get him out. I called the Fire Department. Initially I kneeled at the edge, and the Firefighters held my feet while I tried to get the straps around his body. It wasn’t working though, and so they lowered me down head first, so I could get the rescue straps around him. He didn’t growl or resist in any way – just let me do what I wanted. Rudy was so exhausted, and I think relieved. Then we were able to haul him out. It was more the firefighters that lifted. I tried to hold his chain out of the way and comforted him as he came out. I still couldn’t tell what kind of dog he was. He was totally covered in black tar. It was only after I wiped him down and put some water on his face that I could tell he was a Rottweiler.
Did the WHS find out where he came from?
ACO KB: Yes, actually, he was wearing a Rabies tag, but the tag was for a different dog. We called that number, and it was for the backyard breeder who had produced him. They put us in touch with his owners, and they eventually came down. At first they wanted to take him home, but they didn’t want to pay the stray dog or licensing fee. At this point, we were washing him every day, but he still had a definite odor of human feces. This was the other issue – his people relinquished him because they didn’t want to pay, and because he smelled.
Were you able to find out anything about his life?
ACO KB: Yes, before they relinquished him his former owners told us about his life. The people didn’t see anything wrong with any of this. He was chained outside from 8 weeks old, and had never been in the house. They had several kids – basically he just got food and water and the chain. The hole where we found him was 4 miles from where he lived. He had been running across the countryside for miles, dragging that broken chain, apparently terrified by fireworks.
Thank you for talking to me about this, and thank you for saving him – he wasn’t my dog yet, but I will always be grateful that you saved my dog.