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How a Stop at a Liquor Store Saved the Life of a Stray Dog

Dog lover and outdoorsman, John Marshall is a veteran reporter who has worked for The Associated Press and other major news outlets.

A stray dog rests in his cage after being rescued from the streets of a San Francisco suburb. The dog was being fostered by one of its rescuers.

A stray dog rests in his cage after being rescued from the streets of a San Francisco suburb. The dog was being fostered by one of its rescuers.

Beer stop sparks stray dog rescue attempt

Thanks to the wonders of social media, a community posse of dog lovers and my desire to have a cold beer after a frustrating ten hours of work on a hot day, a formerly stray dog is safe, well fed and leading a happy life.

The course of a little Chihuahua's life started to change for the better -- unbeknownst to him or to me -- when I happened to pull into the parking lot of a liquor store in the San Francisco East Bay suburb of El Sobrante to buy a six-pack of beer on a warm August Saturday night.

The dog, obviously a stray, was sulking about the parking lot, then dashed away from me when I got out of my car and called out to it.

Stray dog apparently knew how to cross busy road safely

Not wanting to chase the scared little dog into the traffic of a busy nearby intersection, I watched from a distance, with a lump in my throat, as it anxiously stood on the edge of the sidewalk while cars sped by along the four-lane roadway.

Amazingly, it appeared the dog was streetwise enough to wait for traffic to pass before it entered the intersection.

Heartened by seeing it safely making it to the other side, I jumped in my car, drove around the adjacent neighborhood hoping to find someone looking for their dog, or just anybody who might know something about the dog. Except for an occasional car passing car, there was nobody in the neighborhood looking for a lost dog. Nobody I could ask if they knew anything about a missing Chihuahua.

Several respond to neighborhood electronic posting

When I posted a notice on the social media site Nextdoor later that night, several people responded the next day they too had also seen the scared little guy running about the area.

“Sad to say, but this dog has been seen at this location last week as well,” one neighbor posted. “I fear it’s only a matter until her luck runs out.”

Sadly, I felt the same way.

First rescue attempt comes up empty

Two nights later, a Monday night, I returned to the liquor store, and asked the clerk about the dog. He told he had seen the Chihuahua several times in the store's parking lot. I gave him my number and told him call me if he saw the dog again.

He called me within an hour.

I had told my longtime companion about the little dog, and as I dashed out of the house, telling her I was heading down to the intersection, she asked, “What are you going to do?”

I didn’t know. I had no training in rescuing dogs. I had no special equipment. All I was bringing with me was some cooked chicken, a leash and a flashlight.

And a desire to do try to something for that little dog, though I didn’t know what that would be.

I drove down to the area, eventually joined by a lady who saw my updated posting. In about an hour’s time, every time with my blood pressure rising, we saw the dog cross that busy intersection at least five times.

And each and every time, he waited for the speeding cars to go by. But he remained quite skittish and as he crossed the side of the street to where we were watching from distance. He would not let us get near him.

Dog rescue posse forms electronically

Meanwhile, gathering electronically later that night and the next morning, the neighborhood rescue posse was forming and putting together a plan to try to save the little guy.

A board member of a local group called Paw Fund, which helps “People help their pets,” Mary Barnsdale, and a local dog walker and animal lover, Maribel Izquierdo-Rodriguez, were formulating a plan to try trap the dog with humane traps.

Barnsdale and Izquierdo-Rodriguez, joined by at least a couple of other local dog lovers, put out their traps around 6 p.m. Tuesday, while I stopped by around 9:00. Though it wasn't looking very promising, by 10:00 the dog had literally taken the bait.

Barnsdale and Izquierdo-Rodriguez took the little guy off to a local animal hospital to have him checked out, with Izquierdo-Rodriguez, taking him home, where she already has several other dogs.

“Now that we know that he is a friendly, sweet little dog, we will certainly take him in again [to the local animal hospital] in a few days for a more throughout [chip] scan,” Izquierdo-Rodriguez, reported on an updated posting the morning after the dog’s rescue. “But for now I just want him to rest. God nows he has been running enough to deserve a little chill time. He had a good breakfast this morning that he inhaled. I can count every rib on him, he’s so bony. But he’ll be OK.”

Who says beer drinking leads to no good

She later reported, the dog she was calling “Boone,” was found in a subsequent microchip scan to have no chip. Izquierdo-Rodriguez filled out a missing dog report to have an official record of the dog, but doubted anybody was looking for him.

Meanwhile, she began fostering Boone, believed to be about one-year-old. Izquierdo-Rodriguez was taking the little guy to a dog park or hiking everyday with her other dogs. She described him as “social, loyal and cuddly,” and as a “totally different dog than what you observed on the streets.”

And who says drinking beer leads to no good.

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