April 25, 2010:
On our way to dinner tonight we passed by a cute little beagle running down the road. We didn't think anything of it, since we regularly see dogs from the neighborhood running free (the culture of freedom in Vermont extends to dogs apparently). When we returned from dinner, we found him sitting on our porch steps. Meghan saw him first, and I hadn't even seen him yet, so I just heard her say "hey little, guy, what you doing here?" and I thought she was talking about our cat. I quickly realized she wasn't when the dog started barking and growling.
I figured I would start by calling our landlord, John, to see if he knew whose dog it was. It seemed like a good bet since he knows everyone in the neighborhood, all 10 houses on the 2 mile road. I gave him a description and he thought it belonged to his other tenant. He came up to check it out and found that it wasn't his dog.
John came into the house to discuss the situation and asked if we had a local phone book to look up the number for animal control. Here's where it gets very "Vermonty."
My wife and I looked at each other and said "phone book?" then remembered that we did indeed receive a few copies of the slim tome a few months ago. Since it was so thin, it was useless as a door stop – the only use for it we ever had back in Massachusetts – so we threw them out. I quickly looked up the town's web site (yep, Moretown has a web site, found right here) and found the number for animal control.
I was impressed that there was a web presence at all, but it is also kept pretty much up to date. Apparently the guy who used to be the animal control officer is now the town constable, so John's connections went out the window. He mumbled something about someone else he knew that he would have called but "they moved off to Rivers Four Corners" or somewhere else folksy-sounding like that.
On the Moretown web site there were two people listed under animal control. TWO. That means that a full 0.12% of the Moretown population is involved with animal control. That may not sound like much, but way of comparison, there would have to be nearly 10,000 people involved with animal control in NYC to have the save ratio. I'm guessing it is because of the potential for massive cow rampages.
Anyway, John knew one of them, and said to "call Paula and tell her that you live in the house above Dickie's old place, and she'll know where you're talking about." He basically decided that his involvement with the situation was done and excused himself. Vermonters are a no-nonsense type of people.
After multiple phone calls to both of the animal control people (come to think of it, one of them never called me back), since one went right to voice mail and the other was busy, I finally got a call back and I relayed the information about where we lived. It worked.
I swear, I can not make this shit up. I don't think I even gave a house number – just "we're in the log cabin up above Dickie's old place" and she said "OK, I'll be right there after I borrow a dog carrier from the neighbor." I'm thinking that the town couldn't afford their own carrier since they spent all that money on the web site.
Paula did arrive a short while later and we were able to get the dog to come to us with the benefit of some dog treats and saw that the dog had a tussle with a local porcupine. The poor thing had quills in its snout and in its paws. I actually don't know what happened to the dog, but at least the shelter has a "no-kill" policy for stray animals, so it couldn't have ended too gruesomely.