At the beginning of February I saw a small beagle eating trash on the side of the highway, in a huge mound of snow.
I tried to capture her, and failed when I bent down and both my knees creaked loudly. She ran off into the dark woods. Two things I noticed about her: she was wearing a pink collar with a bone shaped dog tag and she was very thin.
For weeks I looked for her as I went to and came back from work. I brought bait, leashes and a plan.
I saw her tracks in the snow returning to the area where the trash was, but I never saw her. When the temperatures dipped below freezing and down to -5 degrees at night, I could not sleep. Her tracks no longer appeared near the highway. I assumed she froze to death or was eaten by coyotes.
Every time I drove by the last place I had seen her, my heart hurt.
Six weeks later as I drove home from work just before darkness, the many vehicles in front of me on the highway started zig zagging all over the road. At first I thought there may be a tire tred from an 18 wheeler on the road that everyone was trying to avoid. As I approached the area I suddenly saw the flash of white runing down the CENTER of the highway. It was the beagle. None of the cars were stopping and her death was going to happen in front of me.
I slammed my truck to the side of the highway and jumped out. Once I put my feet on the road, all traffic stopped. I used my special "kitty kitty kitty" voice to get her attention. She was ready to surrender. Her body skinny and frail. She took 4 steps towards me just as a vehicle swerved around the stopped traffic and came at us. She glanced at the car, and was about to leap into the woods. I jumped on top of her, rolled out of the way and came up holding her tight to my body. Her sharp backbone painfully jabbed into my chest.
I walked back up to my truck in the ditch and put her on the front seat.
She looked around a little and then immediately she started chewing on her feet and toes.
It was then that I noticed all her toes were swollen, her feet bloody and the tip of her tail was missing.
Frostbite? There was red sandy stuff all over her back. I took a swipe of it off with my finger and smelled and tasted it. It was road salt. She got it on her back from going back and forth under all the guardrails on the highway. I am sure the salt also contibuted to her painful feet as well.
She was making a whining noise while she chewed and would not let me touch her left paw at all.
I headed for home fast. Took some photos of her and called my village librarian to get me the phone number of the ACO in the town where I thought I might be.
After 15 minutes of frantic chewing the dog fell immediately to sleep in the front seat.
She slept while I drove over frost heaves, mountain tops and through traffic.
When I arrived to my village my wonderful librarian tracked down the ACO.
I phoned my vet, took the thin, exhausted dog to my home, fed and watered her and......
let her sleep some more.
I had hoped to keep her overnight and let her sleep, but the ACO insisted on coming to pick her up.
So, we rendezvoused in town and away my little guest went.
She had a 2011 license on her. Since the ACO had promised to phone me if the dog went unclaimed and I have not heard from her at all, I am assuming the dog has been claimed by its owner.
I haven't seen her back on the highway either. But my eyes are always looking for other little creatures who may need a little help.
Keep your eyes open too.