Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sometimes, the rescuers need rescuing, too

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People often tend to fall into two categories: Those who rescue, and those who need rescuing.

Then, there are pets, who fall into a third category. As I learned last weekend.

Mind you, it took a pair of chance meetings with rescue dogs -- one in the morning, the other at night -- to remind me of that.

The first encounter was over breakfast on the deck in front of the French Way, where my wife and I met Dexter, a gentle golden retriever-cross, and his owner, a genial man of about 60.

The man found his pal the pooch in a shelter some years ago after Dexter had been rescued from a place of abuse.

Dexter's owner showed us the deep, thin, cut in his dog's right ear that looked as if someone had taken a pair of scissors to him as a pup.

Yet Dexter was calm and open to affection from people he was meeting for the first time.

Our second encounter with a rescue dog was more, shall we say, frantic and dramatic.

-- -- --

It was 9:15 p.m. and we were driving north on Waverley Street to take our own dog Tate for a gelato on Corydon Avenue, when we saw a dog running like a coyote from an A&W parking lot straight across the road toward a corner Tim Hortons.

Mercifully, traffic was light and when we looked again it was obvious the pooch was being pursued by a young woman. The dog had no collar and she had no leash.

I turned right on Hurst Way, the road that leads directly to the Winnipeg Humane Society.

"Is that your dog?" I yelled from our SUV.

The young woman, still in full flight, smiled and shook her head no.

I pulled into the entrance that leads to Tim Hortons, parked, leashed up Tate, and pulled him out of the back seat.

Maybe another pooch could lure the Gingerbread Dog close enough to capture.

And that's exactly how it turned out.

But it wasn't until two people on bikes arrived moments later with his collar and leash that we managed to get him under control.

At which point the young woman ran off without identifying herself.

Turns out the man, Benoit Gauthier and his 16-year-old daughter, Anne-Marie, had been fostering the dog for the Winnipeg Humane Society for the last couple of weeks and on Saturday, while Benoit was walking him in their Linden Woods neighbourhood, the long-legged pooch wriggled out of his collar.

And the chase was on.

Turns out the dog's name is Pauly, he's three years old and, according to Anne-Marie, has spent nearly half his life in shelters.

Pauly has been at the humane society for almost a year now. Which, oddly enough, might explain where Pauly seemed to be headed when Tate intercepted him.

Straight back to the humane society.

Pauly was on the sidewalk that leads to the humane society, sniffing away at Tate, when Anne-Marie finally slipped the collar and leash on him as her friend, Sabrina Rossi, watched.

As Anne-Marie said: "It seems that Pauly was going back to the only real home he'd ever had."

Anne-Marie wrote that in a follow-up email of gratitude that included a description of how the favourite of the three foster dogs her family has fostered since she was 14 ended his night.

"Pauly is lounging comfortably and sleeping off his adventure on the living room couch."


-- -- --

As I was saying at the outset, there tends to be two kinds of people: Those who rescue and those who need rescuing.

But, as I suggested, our pets represent a third category.

I was reminded of that because of something Dexter's owner said earlier in the day about how much the companionship of the abused dog has meant to him.

"I thought I was rescuing him," the man said. "But he rescued me."

Unfortunately, on Monday, Anne-Marie had to return Pauly to the humane society he was so bent on running back to on Saturday.

Pauly, the favourite of all Anne-Marie's foster dogs, is back "home" where he doesn't belong.

Waiting for someone to rescue him.

So that he might happily return the favour.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2013 B1

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