My old dog Martha is the best dog I’ve ever had. We met as a result of a newspaper article I read back in 2001. The story was about the Curry County Humane Society needing homes for dogs. The article said an adult dog named Baby “hated cats, children, other dogs and especially men,” but was the perfect match for a woman living alone, which I was at the time. Baby’s profile piqued my interest, but not enough for me to pick up the phone and call.
A week later I read a similar story that included Baby’s picture. It showed a thin furry Chow-mix. She looked regal, aloof and perhaps even a little arrogant. I called the number and made arrangements to meet her at her foster home.
The foster parent, a member of the Humane Society’s board, knew Baby’s story. She had been found scrounging for food behind the Best Western at Sporthaven Beach in Brookings. She limped on a dislocated hip. After several attempts, Baby was caught and taken to a veterinarianwho said that surgery would be too expensive and she should be put down. This foster parent sought a second opinion and another vet popped the hip back into place for $25.
Despite what some might consider serious personality flaws, I adoptedher and renamed her Martha after Martha Stewart who also had a Chow.
Nearly 60 years later in dog years, Martha has matured into a beautiful, sweet, loyal companion. She now tolerates other dogs, chases but does not harm cats, ignores children and adores men, especially Rickand my sons. We’ve walked beaches and trails, sailed and taken road trips together. Martha’s spent hours in my office during budget time, curling up under my desk, and enjoys visiting the night crew at our Smith River printing plant.
Her exact age is unknown, but it’s obvious she’s aging rapidly. In the last year or so she’s become deaf, has lost a few teeth and barely lets her leg touch the ground—the leg that hurts from the arthritis thatresulted from her dislocated hip.
Martha can’t tell us the circumstances that put her on Sporthaven Beach with a dislocated hip, but the speculation is that Martha fell outof a truck. When she first came to live with me she barked ferociously at pickup trucks and men in baseball caps. Did she hurt herself when shejumped out of a truck to chase a cat or did she fall out when the truckwent over one of the speed bumps in the road?
A reader recently shared with me her personal campaign to encourage the enforcement of California Vehicle Code Section 23117, Carrying Animal in Motor Truck. The code reads: “No person driving a motor vehicle shall transport any animal in the back of the vehicle in a spaceintended for any load on the vehicle on a highway unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the vehicle has installed means of preventing the animal from being discharged, or the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or is protected by a secured container or cage,in a manner which will prevent the animal from being thrown, falling orjumping from the vehicle (enacted 1987). Violators can be fined $50 to $100.
The reader who stopped by showed me statistics she’d gathered—that only 12 citations were issued in this county since 2005. If her data aretrue, pet owners and law enforcement officials are not aware of or are ignoring the code.
I see unrestrained, unprotected dogs in the back of pickups every day, don’t you? Who’s the watchdog for the dogs?