This a re-post of a piece I wrote many years ago about a special dog I rescued from the street on a cold November day. Slick passed away on August 9, 2016 after fighting a mast cell tumor for about two years. He was close to 15 years old. He had a long period of remission, but finally age and a possible return of the cancer forced me to say goodbye. I think about him every day, along with my two other dogs, Toro and Tico. Toro passed at 13 from a mast cell tumor on August 8, 2012 and Tico died of old age on December 23, 2017 at 16.
Posted on November 4, 2008 by insightanalytical
Let me take you back EXACTLY 6 years ago to November 4, 2002. It was the day before Election Day that year, an off-year, of course, from Presidential politics. The weather here in Southern New Mexico had been getting very cold at night for a few weeks. It was the time for everyone to start getting cozy as the sun set. It became a very special day….
Toro and Tico, both chihuahuas, were happily ruling the roost here. We had adopted Tico in February of 2002 as a companion for Toro, who had come with us from New Jersey to New Mexico a couple of years before. Everything was proceeding nicely, except for one thing.
I had had back surgery two years before in 2000 and had spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. It went smoothly, but recovery was slow. Two years later in October 2002, I was still in severe pain, drugged to the gills, hardly moving and depressed.
Over the summer my mother, who was doing the dog walking, started talking about a little black dog that was roaming the neighborhood. As I tried to walk down the block, I would run into neighbors who also reported on the little dog. One woman told me she thought he slept on a house porch on another street…that turned out to be untrue. Another woman told me he would drink from her bird bath. Yet another neighbor told me he was in his garage sitting on a stool cleaning his car wheels when the dog came into the garage. The man reached for him and fell off the stool…and the little dog ran off.
The reports kept coming. Finally, I called Animal Control, only to be told that they had been trying to catch the little guy for 8 months. Cages, traps…they couldn’t get him. Doing the math that October, I figured he had been “on the road” since February. That means he had been without a home through the cold spring, the extremely hot summer, and now was heading into another season of cold nights.
He was seen in the arroyo, near the highway and under cars. In fact, a man a block away told me he was sleeping some nights under his mothballed Corvette. New construction was starting next door to our house and I began seeing him resting underneath the construction trailer. Occasionally, I saw him with other strays, but he was usually alone.
One day as we were driving out of the development I saw a man sitting on an electrical box with a big dog biscuit in his hand. I stopped the car and asked him what was going on. He told me that he was trying to feed the little dog. Just then, at the corner, we saw him. He was licking the sidewalk. He ran off when I approached the spot…and I saw that he had been licking a smashed egg that had dried. Then, a few days later, my mother saw him in the middle of the main street out of the development in the morning during the rush hour…he appeared confused and cars had stopped but he managed to escape unharmed.
Something snapped right then. I knew I couldn’t let this little guy continue like this. It was getting bitterly cold at night as we headed into the last couple of weeks of October. My mother said he was limping. I was afraid a coyote would catch him if he were down in the arroyo. Something had to be done. He actually began trailing after my mother and our two clannish chis, who took an immediate dislike to him!
I noticed that he seemed to come down our street in the morning and the late afternoon. I got some food and water and put it down near our front wall that was next to the lot next to us where the new house was going up. That was in the morning. It was gone almost immediately.
I then moved the food and water bowls to the end of our driveway. And then a short way up the side of the driveway. He’d come again by around 4 P.M. every day. I got into the routine of getting up early and putting out the food in the morning at around 6 A.M. Sometimes he’d come down the street from the direction of the arroyo around that time and would eat. Other times he would come from the opposite direction, from the main road.
This went on for about a week. Then, I started opening the garage door and placing the food just outside the lip of the garage. Sometimes I’d leave a treat. One day I left tuna fish in the morning. He ate it, but when I left it in the afternoon, he skipped it. Not a tuna fan, apparently!
After a few days, I set up a folding chair. I put the food down outside the garage, but sat in the chair. He was tentative, but he was hungry, so he ate but he left immediately. Then, he got to the point where he ate but would take a treat and bury it across the street. Then he started sitting in the driveway in the sun for awhile. All this time I sat quietly and talked to him.
When he wanted more, he would stand by the dish. I calmly got up and went inside and brought out more food. He would dart away, but return and eat.
One morning I didn’t see him around. Worried, I got myself down to the corner and called, “Sweet-ie”! Down the hill he came and he followed me home. This became a ritual over the next few days. One day, he didn’t return at 4 P.M. and I was worried that something had happened to him. Not only was he limping, but I could see that he had patches on his coat. He seemed tired and run down. I thought he was ready to get picked up.
By this time I had moved the food bowls into the garage a few feet away from where I sat. On Saturday, November 2, I moved the bowl right next to me. He ate without a problem. But the next day, he didn’t show up in the morning and I was panicked. Had I waited too long? Had he wanted me to pick him up but had given up on me because I hadn’t moved then? Was he hurt? Or worse?
On Monday, November 4, I set up the chair and the food and went down to the corner. I called “Sweet-tie” but he didn’t come! Upset, I turned to go home…and there he was , coming toward me down the sidewalk from the other direction!
I sat in the chair, and he came up right next to me. Before he took a bite, I quickly scooped him up and ran into the house! I had set up a baby gate so that he would stay in the kitchen. Toro and Tico, the clannish chihuahuas, were going nuts. The little black dog jumped over the gate and promptly deposited a gift under the piano bench. I put a halter on him and put him outside and he immediately went over the wall! I fished him up and knew I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second!
Things settled down as I took him for a walk. He did fine. And then we came home and he went to sleep on the couch. That night and for several nights after, he howled at the back door. But during the day he slept like he hadn’t slept in a long while. He was under the covers, warm, well-fed and safe.
I scheduled a vet appointment to have his limp and skin checked out. In the meantime, I called the no-kill shelter, Safe Haven, but they had no room for him. A man in the neighborhood who had tried to catch him once and failed said he wanted him…but he went out to work every day. I couldn’t see the little guy thrown into a yard…he’d get away somehow. And I refused to bring him to the shelter because I figured he’d be adopted…but would wind up roaming again! He could jump any wall and walk it with ease!
I wasn’t really sure what he was, but the vet confirmed he was a fairly big miniature pinscher! His limp was going to be fine and we got started on clearing up his skin. The vet thought he was about a year old. Still not sure what to do with him at the “logical” level of thinking, I scheduled an appointment to get him fixed. Of course, by the time he went in for that a week or so later, my heart had made the decision. We were going to keep him! Toro and Tico weren’t too happy about it, either!
What to name him? We went through a couple of names until I looked at him and commented that since he had roamed everywhere around the development, he was really a “city slicker.” The name stuck–from then on he was SLICKER (Slick for short)!
Then came the problem of walking him! My mother couldn’t handle all three, so I took charge of Slicker. I started to walk, painfully, down the block with him. At the corner we started getting into some hilliness. Slick wanted to go there, so we’d go a short distance. Everyday I’d huff and puff a short way up that low grade hill. Gradually, the huffing and puffing disappeared and my weak leg and back started to get stronger. Soon, I could walk up that hill!!
As I started walking with Slick, my energy came back and I started doing more. Instead of sitting around in pain and depression, I as now getting out and about. My little MIRACLE DOG had restored my interest in life and had started healing me, physically and mentally!
Six years later, Slick and I are celebrating our anniversary together tomorrow, November 4th. No matter what happens on Election Day, we’ll be happy about being together! Toro and Tico have made an uneasy peace with “the intruder” and Slick has matured into the most loving, appreciative dog one could hope for!
Now, you won’t believe this, but a week or so ago I saw a little black and white dog with something draped around him/her in the street. I stopped the car, but he ran way down the road. A couple of days ago, a neighbor about a block away told me he had seen the little dog and what he was dragging along was a plastic bag with ties that had been caught on his neck! The little dog probably got tangled up while searching for food in the bag that was set out on garbage day. I’m keeping an eye out to see if he comes this way again…
So what have I done? Yesterday I put out a bowl of water and a bowl of food near the wall at the side of the driveway near the sidewalk. Maybe it’s time for another November miracle…in more ways than one!