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Fools in Love

I recently had the chance to view an animal welfare worker from the outside. A woman kneeling on the sidewalk, hand outstretched, making kissy faces that I assume were accompanied by baby talk at a small terrier. The terrier appeared to regard her in a friendly manner, sitting up, facing her attentively, and wagging its tail. Someone who hasn’t spent their career chasing animals might wonder why the woman just didn’t walk up to the dog and scoop it up. Why on earth was she wasting time creeping ever so slowly in its direction?

I have been bested by many a “friendly” dog, cat, pigeon, sheep, and chicken.  And I have learned a few things.

One. If a person says the animal can’t run, that animal is guaranteed to bolt over the fence as soon as I approach. Broken leg, two broken legs, broken pelvis…it doesn’t matter. Adrenaline is the friend of mobility and even with a broken leg, a cat still has more working legs than I do. Until I get bitten by the magic spider that got Peter Parker and gave him super powers, I will not catch these guys.

Two. An animal can evade a person for over an hour within the relatively small space of a backyard. Take away the fencing and put that animal on the open sidewalk and you’ve got a marathon ahead of you. (I have chased a pigeon that couldn’t fly for twenty minutes. From above, it looked like a game of Frogger as I waddled behind him.)

Three. A cat can evade a person indefinitely by simply sitting under a car. Especially a car with low ground clearance. The ultimate chess move on her part, she only has to take a few calm steps in any direction to remain permanently out of reach.

Four. The reflexes of a cat are also shared by birds, rodents, and small dogs. Just when you think you’ve got them cornered, they pull a ninja move, pull your shirt over your head as they fly over and make their way back down the sidewalk. (See point Two.)

Five. We may never know why the chicken crossed the road, but I wish the dog would follow. Dogs that trot through busy traffic will not, for all the biscuits in the land, get out of traffic. Nor will they ever be caught. I can stop traffic, recruit helpers, and narrowly miss being hit by cars myself, and that happy dog will still trot down between the lanes, weaving in and out and never making it safely into a quiet neighborhood where I know he’ll be safer.

Six. Small dogs love to tease you. They’ll approach you, sniff you, accept treats from you. But as soon as you lift a finger to put a leash on them, they skitter off and you’re back to square one.

So as I passed the woman sucking up to the terrier, I smiled. Every day our jobs are different. Every day we save the lives of the animals we love so much. And every day we look like fools at least once while we’re doing it.

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