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Ollie is hounding us


"He’s street smart.”

Carol tried to imagine what that really meant. “Street smart,” could mean that he is crafty. It might mean that he is independent, which could be a good thing, as he could be left alone without any worry. Or maybe independent would be bad, if he just decided to go off on his own.

“Street smart” could also mean that we would have to keep a constant eye on things. The trash would have to be locked away and leaving food out, no matter how high it might be, would be a mistake.

Tammy Flanagan of the East Greenwich Animal Rescue League gave us a little more background on Oliver. He was a southern dog – a hound – that had been picked up off the streets, hence street smart and perhaps smart enough to get caught and sent to Rhode Island for a better life. She guessed Ollie [they changed the name since a resident cat at the league goes by the name Oliver] was 2 to 4 years old.

She gave us a few more details. Oliver had arrived in the last two days. He was skinny and would need to be in quarantine, which would take about a week, before he could be shown for adoption.

“You’re sure you want a hound?” Tammy asked.

It was a legitimate question.

Soon after arriving at the league, Karen Kalunian, who volunteers on Sundays, had us go into a room while she went back to the kennels and retrieved a medium-sized mutt that probably had some terrier in her. The dog had a sweet face but was petrified by us. Karen sat on a chair in front of me. The dog cowered behind her. Karen tugged a bit on the leash and the dog came to her side. I offered my hand wondering if she would sniff it. She wanted no part of me.

“She seems to be afraid of men. She might have been hit,” Karen offered.

Carol foresaw issues, even if the dog became accustomed to us. Might it be fearful of any stranger, and how would it react to other family members?

Karen, who was reading us, figured it wouldn’t be a good fit. She left the room, saying she would return with a black lab that was also in need of a home.

We heard the dog from behind the closed door. There was a good deal of scrabbling going on along with warnings not to let him anywhere near a cat in a cage in the entryway. Seems this dog had it in for cats.

The door burst open with Karen, both hands on the leash, being dragged in. This guy was anxious to take everything in. He spotted a framed picture of a cat, jumped up, checked it out and actually looked disappointed it wasn’t alive. Next, it was the window with a visa of Post Road. He watched the passing cars for all of five seconds before starting a systematic sniffing of the room. I expected him to start marking his turf at any moment. Karen held the leash tightly.

I reached out and petted his back. He looked at me for all of about two seconds and went back to the window, his tongue hung from his mouth. He hadn’t stopped panting since entering the room.

“We really don’t have a lot of dogs at the moment,” Karen said, almost apologetically. Actually, that is a good thing.

It was after the hyper-lab was back in his cage and we were on our way out that Tammy mentioned the hound.

Binky, the dog that was a part of our lives for a dozen years, could have been part hound, although we came to the conclusion he was probably more Doberman than anything. Carol found him at the Warwick Animal Shelter and, despite warnings that he was too high strung, knew instantly he was the one.

She said she could see it in his eyes. I questioned her judgment, but she insisted and I’m glad she did. He was a handful from the beginning. We loaded him into the back of the car only to have him squeeze out the partially open window and take off before we left the parking lot. When we got him home, I placed him on a run I put up between two trees. We stayed with him for an hour, letting him grow accustomed to his range and to us. Then, we figured, it was time to go inside and see how he adjusted.

No sooner did we get inside before we heard a noise at the back door. We looked at one another. We weren’t expecting anyone. Then, before we could reach the kitchen, Binky bolted into the room. He slipped his collar and learned, by jumping on the door handle, he could get in. We should have named him Houdini. His escape trick was learned in less than a minute. That was it for the dog run and we never again had to open the door for Binky.

“Street smart,” was starting to sound good.

Tammy said we could get a glimpse of Oliver, but we wouldn’t be able to meet him until after his quarantine. He would spend the week with a foster family that had a dog of their own.

We were led to a kennel area where we could see Tammy through a glass door in another room. There was a lot of commotion. Tammy and an assistant were wrestling with a white and brown dog, although it was tough to tell which end was which and what was happening. Finally, a cage was closed and we could see this white whiskered snout pressed against the bars. Behind that, a pair of beseeching yellow-brown eyes looked at us.

I felt my heart melt.

I looked at Carol. Ollie had been watching her, too.

We returned this past Sunday, but Ollie was still on his foster sojourn. Tammy showed us a picture from his caretakers. Ollie was sprawled out on a couch, eying the camera with a contented look.

He’s taken street smart to a new level.

We want to meet this guy.


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