Empty Bowls

Too old to climb stairs, mornings begin with a welcome sigh of relief from our dog, Chinook; she sleeps at the base of them on her bed, and although I pretend her eager tail wag is a euphoric response to my arrival downstairs, truth is, she is all about her empty bowls.

First order of business is to grab said bowls and replenish them; a little kibble and a lot of water equal one happy dog. After, with the sound of steady crunching as a backdrop, I always take a moment to watch dawn spread across the horizon.

Only this morning, although I did step outside to greet the day, her two bowls IMG_9554remained empty. And it hit me so hard in the gut, our sweet dog is old, old in a way that means she won’t be with us for many more years.

As it happens Chinook wandered off last night, she managed to slip past us while we were doing chores. She made her way 5 houses down the street and there, a neighbor spotted her. Only she wasn’t wearing her collar—I know, dumb—so the neighbor brought her to the animal shelter.

One of the things we have come to know about elderly dogs is they smell, or she does anyway, that simply is a way of explaining that she has been bathed about 5 times in the past three weeks by me. And when I towel her dry I always take her collar off. Sometimes I remember to put it back on, but, more times than not, I forget.IMG_9395

So the neighbor brought her to the pound…

Mind you we learned that after we drove all over creation in my car, windows down, Jimmy with a flashlight invasively searching the yards of our neighbors like a criminal, but no Chinook. Out of desperation, I posted a message about her on Facebook, still, no one had seen her. We drove some more.

Finally, we decided someone might have her, we went home.

Jimmy, still convinced she may be nearby, headed to the open space area next to the house, while I went inside to search the number for animal control on my phone, only they were closed.

Minutes later Jimmy came inside and reported that he spoke to one of our neighbors and she told him she had brought Chinook to the animal shelter.

“She did what?…”

Mind you we have sheltered countless dogs over the years — dogs like our dog — that had made their way into our yard. We have walked them around asking if anyone knows them, we have called numbers on ID tags, we have made sure that they made it home.

But never have we taken one to the pound.

As it happens the dog shelter is closed until Tuesday, I called their emergency line, but the operator there said even though people will be there to feed the animals, we can’t pick her up until then.

This morning, day one, two empty bowls rendered me gutted — I feel as if I failed her — I imagine her happily getting into the neighbor’s car, pleased to be going for a ride. And then I picture her ushered into a pen, confused and now sad.

Two empty bowls remind me our time together is short — and I am nowhere ready to say goodbye.


The very nice people, the volunteers, and Supervisor, Mitch, over at the North San Diego County, Animal Services allowed me to break Chinook out of doggie jail today even though they were closed!


She is now home and happy to be on the right side of the bars!




  1. says

    It is incredible that your neighbor would have gone to the trouble of actually taking an old dog to the pound, rather than take the easier route of knocking on doors. I’m horrified. And so sorry your dog has to be impounded so long. This is terrible.

  2. says

    I am crying reading this because I still have empty bowls sitting in my kitchen drawer that I can’t throw out. Dogs bring so much love into our lives – and heartbreak when they’re no longer there. I am shocked that your neighbor would decide to take her to the pound but so glad sweet Chinook is home where she belongs. I’m going to give her a big hug next time I see her. xo
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted…“joni mitchell: in her own words”My Profile

  3. says

    People can be so lazy and ill-informed about animals. I’ve come face-to-face with it a lot in my neighborhood. When people let their animals run free on our street I try to catch them, give them water, and knock on doors. I am afraid what animal control would do and our shelter is only open a few hours on Sunday.

    I saw your post on Facebook and came looking for this post to see what happened. I am so glad Chinook is home in a safe and loving environment. You need each other. I love you for the care and love you give to him, Elin. It touches my heart.
    Cathy Chester recently posted…The Difficult Lessons Of SilenceMy Profile

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