Natural Dog Training in New York City

Natural Dog Training in New York City
Featuring All 100+ Articles Lee Charles Kelley Wrote About Dogs for from 4/09 to 2/13, Plus New Articles Written in the Same Vein!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Canine-Human Bond: Angelique, The Magnet for Lost Dogs

Why do so many lost and scared dogs trust a total stranger?

I’d like to introduce you to Angelique Lee, a fairly ordinary person with an extraordinary gift for rescuing lost dogs from dangerous situations. She’s a 45 year-old, college-educated wife and mother of two, who works part-time as a graphic designer in rural Vermont.

About three years ago one of her three dogs, Finn, was struck by a car on the road near her home and fatally injured, a devastating event, especially since Angelique had worked so hard to prevent something like that from happening.

After she lost Finn Angelique became a kind of involuntary magnet for lost dogs, rescuing 12 in the four years since Finn’s passing (12 or 8, depending on whether you count the dogs she found wandering onto her property). She’s somehow developed an amazing ability not only to be in the right place at the right time when such dogs are in danger, but to get them to trust her and come running straight to her in the midst of all the fear and chaos. She doesn’t go out looking for these dogs either. She just happens across them when she’s running errands, carpooling, or picking up her kids after school.

“The irony is, new dogs don’t generally take to me,” Angelique says. “I’m a nervous-energy sort of person.” Nevertheless, the dogs she’s rescued seem to trust her implicitly.

The first dog she rescued was Frankie the beagle. Traffic was at a standstill on Route 100 because of the little guy was in the middle of the road. Angelique got out of her car, made a kissing sound, and Frankie ran straight to her. She grabbed him by the collar and waited for his owner—who was in one of the cars—to come retrieve him.

Next came Marty, a Saint Bernard, whom she found wandering down Route 54 on the north edge of Rutland. He was shy and cautious, weak and covered in mud and sores, so Angelique had to get out of her car and carefully help him climb inside. She found Marty’s tag, with his name engraved on it, and asked him, “How ya doin’ Marty?” The dog happily responded with a wag of the tail.

Next came a couple of Samoyeds who were milling about right in the middle of Route 5, where skidding cars and large trucks, going over 50 miles an hour, were swerving crazily to avoid hitting them. Angelique saw the dogs, pulled over, opened the hatchback, and said “Get in!” as if she meant it. The first one jumped in the car, taking shotgun, while the other waited half-a-second before following suit.

Then there was the lost Chihuahua in the middle of Route 14, scared silly, running against traffic and away from his owner who was waving his arms and screaming at the terrified little doggie. Angelique pulled over, got out of her car, squatted down and with open arms, shouted a happy “Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” The dog ran straight to her, jumped into her arms and was immediately carried back to a joyful reunion.

There have been a few others, an akita named Fritzy, a German shepherd named Baxter, both of whom showed up at Angelique’s house, unannounced, a nameless golden retriever she found wandering around a gas station in Pittsfield, and a pit bull at the same location.

The last dog was a boxer named Chloe, who was running at top speed right down the middle of Route 14. Angelique pulled over, as did two other cars coming from the opposite direction. But Chloe high-tailed it past everyone, around a bend in the road. The two others went down toward the river, taking their dog as a lure. Angelique turned around and drove back the way she’d come, looking for signs of the scared boxer.

She finally decided to turn around again, and as she did, Chloe emerged from the bushes running straight toward Angelique’s car at full tilt. Angelique slowed down, checked her mirrors for oncoming traffic, then opened the passenger door yelling “Get in! Get in! Get in!”

Without a moment’s hesitation Chloe jumped into Angelique’s slow-moving vehicle and sat politely behind her in the back seat. When she and the dog got back to where the others were located, two more cars and several more people had joined in. One of them, the woman with the lure dog, told Angelique that she’d been following Chloe carefully for at least three miles.

So how was it that this woman—who was doing everything right, who had been following Chloe for three miles—had no luck, yet Chloe came straight to Angelique’s car? Why do all these dogs seem to just trust her implicitly?

I think that Finn’s death changed Angelique in some indefinable way, so that now, whenever she sees dogs who are lost or in danger, she turns into a kind of mama bear for them and they respond as if they were her cubs.

There was a terrible snowstorm the night Finn was hit by a car. Angelique and her husband Sean got him into the back of their car as gently and quickly as they could, and while Angelique cradled Finn, Sean drove like a madman to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

The doctors stabilized Finn. His primary injury was a skull fracture. Once Angelique felt that Finn was in good hands, she and her husband left; they had two other dogs and two young daughters at home to take care of. But before they left Angelique made it clear to the staff that she was to be called immediately if Finn’s condition changed in any way.

The next morning a friend called and urged Angelique to go see him.

“They haven’t called. Nothing’s changed. The roads are in terrible shape.”

“I don’t care! Go anyway! Damn the snowstorm! Go see your dog!”

Angelique realized she was still in shock, took a long deep breath, grabbed her keys and drove through the snow to see Finn. When she got there, a vet tech took her into the back.

“He was there on a gurney, on the floor, and I knelt down beside him. I breathed on his nose and he tried to lift his head. I looked at his gums and they were white. I knew that wasn’t good. I put my hand on him and his breathing was rattling. I knew what that meant.

“We chatted quietly while I sat next to him and listened to him and felt him breathe, and his ears would twitch when I would whisper to him. And then I said, ‘He’s going now,’ and the vet tech freaked out, and the doctor ran in and he freaked out. I think he wanted to give Finn CPR

“I said, ‘No, no, let him go, let him go,’ amazed that they thought there was anything that could be done for him now.

“I knew he’d waited for me, I don’t know how he hung in there for so long but he did. And I’m so thankful that my friend urged me to go see him.”

If we allow them to, dogs have the capacity to change us for the better. We like to think that the human race domesticated dogs, but I think dogs may have domesticated us as much if not more than we domesticated them.

For Angelique, Finn’s passing was a watershed, perhaps even a transformative event. And thanks to the bond between them, and the love they had (and that I believe they still have) for one another, she wasn’t diminished by the loss. She was perhaps even given a gift of emotional attunement, an unconscious “Spidey sense” for dogs in trouble.

So perhaps it isn’t that Angelique became a magnet for dogs in danger; she may actually be magnetized to them in some inexplicable way. After all, from a statistical standpoint, it’s not very likely that she would a) somehow randomly come across so many lost dogs in such a short period of time, and b) also be the only person the dogs seem to trust.

As with the best dog stories, though, this isn’t about the owner; its about the dog.

“He was an amazing dog,” Angelique recalls. “I adopted him at 10 months from a kill shelter in Virginia. He was a stray. He instantly learned everything a dog needs to understand to live with humans, and he could connect with every creature he met. He melted against your hand, and was the most gentle beast. I had taught him to bring his bowl at dinnertime. He would sometimes gently rest his head on your lap and just hang with you.

“The morning he died my husband and I were sitting on the couch, still wiped out from the night before, and the emotional drain and shock. Stevie—still a frantic young dog, who couldn’t really tolerate human touch without overloading—came over and quietly put his head on my husband’s lap. Then my German shepherd picked up Finn’s dinner bowl.

“A few months later I mentioned this to my regular vet. He nodded and said, ‘Yup, I hear stuff like this all the time.’” 

“Life Is an Adventure—Where Will Your Dog Take You?”
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