Stray dog found in Sandia foothills gets a home, but not as planned

This dog was found Aug. 1 wandering near the Copper Trailhead in the Sandia foothills. (Courtesy of Emma Smith)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was a happy tale for a happy tail, and vice versa, a coming together of a community to find a forsaken, fluffy pup a forever home.

And it almost worked.

Or perhaps it did.

It begins as many of these stories do – in the bloodless heart of someone who never deserved the companionship of a canine.

These are the folks who acquire a pet, then decide it’s simply too much trouble to care for anything beyond their own dark-souled selves. The unfortunate animal is then discarded like so much rubble.

A favored dumping ground is the Sandia foothills, where these confused creatures become carrion for coyotes and crows.

Or, if they are lucky, they are found by softhearted neighbors such as Emma Smith. Over the years, Smith and her family have rescued several dogs and found them forever homes.

“All kinds of dogs,” she said. “People just throw them out.”

She remembers one skittish dog that took months to catch. The dog had a microchip and an owner. But when they called the owner, they were shocked at her response.

“Yeah, we dumped her. You can do what you want with her,” the woman said.

What Smith wanted, what she did, was find the dog a loving home.

Last week, Smith saw another dog, this one a small, scraggly mess of white, scared and scurrying in traffic near the trailhead off Copper NE. Two neighbor boys, one with a leash, helped Smith lasso the pup.

Once again, the search was on to find a home.

That seemed an easy task. The pup was cute, cuddly and fairly well-behaved. One of Smith’s friends instantly fell in love with the pup and offered to take him home until the reality of dog ownership overcame the love.

So Smith turned to Facebook.

The pup didn’t have a name, a tag or a chip, and no one was quite certain what mix of breeds he was – a Malshi, perhaps? A schnoodle? Maltipoo? Labradoodle? Goldendoodle?

The post received oodles of interest. In two days, it was shared 129 times from here to New York and Montana and points in between.

Not every response was an offer of a home. Most gushed over how cute he was. Others admonished Smith to take the dog to a rescue group. “Free dogs on Facebook can end up in really nasty places,” one said.

But what was true was that so many people, friends and strangers alike, were rooting for the little guy, urging others to open their hearts to this waif of white fluff, invested in the future of a pup they would likely never know and for the countless other dogs, abandoned, abused and in search of homes, too.

Smith sorted through the posts, looking for just the right, responsible family. She found that in Marian Davis of Albuquerque.

“My sister alerted me to your post, and when I saw him, I just felt that he belonged in our family,” Davis wrote.

The pup, she said, looked like her little Mona Lisa, a poodle cross. Already, Davis had some names for the pup in mind. Murphy and Sherlock were among the contenders.

Facebook folks cheered the news. In such a fractious world, the pup had become a symbol of something they all could rally behind.

Davis could not take the dog until Aug. 13 because of a previously planned trip. That was OK, Smith said. A friend had connected her with a “foster mom” who was willing to keep the pup until the Davises returned.

And then the foster mom changed her mind.

Smith said that when she called this week to see how the pup was doing, the foster mom told her that she had decided on her own to give away the pup. The woman’s dogs and the pup hadn’t gotten along, she told Smith.

“I was devastated,” she said.

She wasn’t the only one.

“What is so concerning and heartbreaking for me is not knowing if he is in a safe environment with people that will take good care of him, including taking care of his medical needs,” Davis said. “I was going to surprise our granddaughters who live with us about our new family member, but it is probably fortunate that I didn’t say anything, because they would be devastated and worried about him, too. I’m just so angry that this person took it upon herself to give him away. Even more than anger is the concern I am feeling for the little guy.”

As I write this, it’s unclear where the pup is, though Smith vows to find out.

So maybe you have seen this pup, and maybe he has landed in a good home after all. It would be nice to know, and maybe it would be nice for his new owners, whoever they are, to know that a lot of people from New York to Montana are still rooting for him, still hoping for that happy tale.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, jkrueger@abqjournal.com or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg.

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