It was November 11 when I first wrote about her. Many kind people have asked about her since that story and I really don’t have much of an update to share.
She’s still out there living on her own. She still doesn’t trust. She still needs to come home with me.
I dubbed her Merry. I was so sure I’d have her sitting on the couch cuddled up beside me by now, but Merry is very streetwise. She knows how to play the game. Seek the humans out, accept food from the humans, but dance just out of their reach.
I generally see Merry once or twice a week. Sometimes I don’t see her for a couple of weeks. I watch for her every day. She’s always in the same area…within a quarter of a mile or so of our first meeting spot. She recognizes my Jeep now and will actually follow me as I pull to the side of the road to offer some food, trying to entice the dog to come to me. But she always moves away, the initial interest shining in her gaze quickly clouded over by mistrust.
At first, I was just sure she must live in one of the sheds behind an abandoned house not far from her normal route. But Jim checked the sheds out and saw no sign that the young dog had been bedding down there. Now, with a light crust of sleet and snow on the ground, I revisited the ramshackle structures to search for paw prints and there were none. Her hiding place is still a complete mystery.
Yesterday, as I was turning on the road that leads to my farm, I saw Merry again. Actually, she saw me first and popped out of the weeds along the roadside, deliberately following my Jeep. Spotting her in my rear view mirror, I quickly pulled over, grabbed the dog treats that are always at the ready, and got out to offer Merry a snack.
I talked to her, I coaxed her, but she remained about eight feet from me, staring hopefully at the biscuits in my outstretched hand. Well aware of our routine, I gently tossed a few biscuits about halfway between us. She darted forward, grabbing two biscuits, and hopped back to what must have seemed a safe distance to her before crunching her treat.
A couple of other cars stopped – kind people wanting to help – but their good intentions always have the opposite effect. For each step forward I gain, the added people, each believing they will be the one to catch the stray dog, actually set me about 10 steps back. Last night I retreated to my car to take pressure off the dog and to allow another man to try to reach her. He got so close.
Eventually though, growing increasingly wary in the spotlight of our attention, Merry retreated completely, trotting quickly across the road and into the field. There her tan coat melted into the backdrop of tall, dry grass and she easy disappeared.
I leave food out for her, I know others are doing the same. While I am glad she is not going hungry, I’m also frustrated because she doesn’t have to learn to depend on just one person. With so many of us trying to help her, we’re also making it too easy for her to remain feral.
I’m not giving up, though. One of my dearest friends worked for four months to catch a chow mix dog that was living near a truck stop. She never quit believing she would eventually catch that dog. I will never quit believing that Merry is destined to come to me, that she should be relaxing on a soft bed in our home.
It’s very cold outside tonight. At least Merry has the comfort of a full tummy. I hope she has a warm, safe place to sleep.
Tomorrow we will start the dance again.