My Curious New Guest

Española, NM – As I pulled into the driveway after work yesterday I noticed a dog across the road hobbling along. She had white fur, big expressive eyes and, if not for the fact she was terribly emaciated, you’d say she was a beautiful animal.  Before driving through the gate and over the little bridge toward my casita I came to brief stop and in one of those moments the animal and I locked eyes.

A short while later I went for a walk when I noticed the animal sitting against my van. Up close I could tell it wasn’t well. Its skin was pulled tight around the ribs and its gait was wobbly from malnourishment. Stray and wild dogs are a dime a dozen in these parts so I didn’t dare approach it. The last thing I was trying to do was get my hand torn off by a starving and wounded dog.

Upon returning from my walk, during which I photographed syringes discarded along the roads, I saw the animal had taken refuge beneath my van. I tried coaxing it out but it wouldn’t budge. She just lay there curled up with her tail between her legs and shaking. So I grabbed some cheese slices from the fridge and began feeding her little bits, which she greedily ate. Eventually I was able to lead her from beneath the vehicle with a trail of cheese pieces.

She approached us, somewhat apprehensively, and let us pet her without exhibiting a single sign of aggression. Her legs were weak and seemed as if they’d give out at any time. She laid down at our feet and we petted her gently as the sun dipped behind the Jemez Mountains. Again using a trail of cheese we coaxed her into the house where Sarah poured the animal a bowl full of water and I went to the store to get it some food.

She ate and ate and eventually we let her loose.

This morning, as I was backing out I saw the animal through my side mirror, sitting there staring at me with those big expressive eyes. I threw Thunder in park and exited the vehicle. She was less afraid than she was last night and allowed me to pet her without shying away. I prepared a bowl of food which another dog on the property bullied her out of. So I grabbed some more cheese and hand fed it to her.

The property I live on is a doggie paradise. Two-and-half acres with multiple ponds, patches of tall grass, and lots and lots of shade. It’s easy to see why a dog would try to move in. Rumpus, one of three other dogs on the property, was among those who just one day showed up. He was a puppy and therefore easier to love and has been here since. The new dog must’ve sensed what Rumpus sensed. Still, I expected it would have moved on to the next spot, but today I found it lying beneath my landlord’s van upon arriving home this evening.

As I walked over to her she began wagging her tail madly and crawled from beneath the vehicle to greet me. Again I led her into my house where I fed and watered her. She was noticeably more energetic today than yesterday but still walked with a wobble as if her paws were sore.

Tonight I asked my landlord if she’d noticed the curious visitor. She had and was torn over what to do. She already has three dogs and because she travels so much was reluctant to adopt another. She, too, has a soft spot for dogs and made a point to not interact with it for that reason. The other dogs, namely Rumpus and Bob, were unbothered by the visitor, which suggested to my landlord they already were familiar – and okay – with the guest.

We talked about what we’re going to do with it. She didn’t want it, and I don’t really want it, either, mostly because the animal is going to need to see a vet, which is ungodly expensive. And who knows what’s wrong with her. No collar. No tags. Her history is a total secret.

But calling animal control is a guaranteed death sentence.

I might as well shoot her myself.

She’s asleep at my feet right now, snoring little doggie snores. I can’t imagine what it is she’s dreaming of.

Certainly not of any hard decisions to be made.


  1. Bobbie says:

    Take care of her, Nathan. Take her into the vet and have her examined. Following their directions, carefully help her regain her strength. If you need help to pay for the vet expenses, let me know. Buy Canidae “All Life Stages” dry dog food. (to find out where you can buy it locally) and offer her plenty of fresh water. Right now you can feed her cooked hamburger and rice to bring her onto food again. You are a lucky man. You will not regret helping her. 🙂 Bobbie

  2. Lorelei Zantow says:

    Congrats on your new best friend.  You are both lucky to have each other.  :)She is beautiful!! 

  3. Rob Ainsworth says:

    I remember when Nate Chappelle came home one day with you! 🙂  Hope you’re well, ever coming back to Philly?

  4. maggie says:

    She’s stunning, Comp. And its so worth helping her gain strength and get fixed up. If you do decide you can’t take her, please reach out to a rescue organization prior to animal control…

  5. nathan says:

    Ha! Rob. I remember that, too. I was prolly mangy like a dog, too. I hope to visit Philly again someday. I’m keeping the dog. She’s made herself at home. And the no-kill shelters are full. 

  6. Margie says:

    Your story made me cry of course. Thank you and Sarah for giving this abused pup a good home and love – you both are such good people. 

  7. Donald Adey says:

    What decision did you finally come to?  Love the blog!

  8. nathan says:

    Thanks Donald! I decided to keep her. She’s been eating like crazy and now has a ton of energy. She’s house broken and knows basic commands so someone at some point took care of her. That she doesn’t chew on things or get into the trash certainly made the decision easier. I guess now we just have to wait to see how it goes. 

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