DEAR JOAN: I had just dropped my son off early at school for band practice and was trying to get back home by turning onto Livorna Road from Alamo School. As I was waiting for traffic to clear, I saw a small white dog darting in and out of traffic.
He was clearly distressed and didn't know what to do. I couldn't stand watching all of his near misses so I parked my car to grab him. Yes, I had changed out of my jammies, but I did still have on my slippers.
He was very skittish and kept running away from me. He finally made it across the busy road where another nice person had stopped to help. Unfortunately, he was very scared and bit the woman who was trying to help me.
He then ran back into traffic and planted himself under an SUV. Once again, two good Samaritans came along. One had a leash in her car and one was willing to climb under the car and retrieve him.
I managed to get him in my car without further incident. He was very scared, had matted fur, fleas and a way-too-tight collar. The county came out and picked him up, informing me that he would be in quarantine for 11 days if anyone had questions.
I called several times to check on his status and it became clear that they felt he was not qualified for adoption due to his past biting history. They were open to him being adopted by a rescue group or the finder (me) under certain circumstances.
I was feeling very sad because I did not feel that my household (four boys and two rescue dogs) was the appropriate place to try to save and rehabilitate a scared, biting dog.
Fortunately, my neighbor volunteers at the shelter and checked on him. He seemed to her to be very friendly, loving and not a scared, biting dog at all.
I went out to the shelter the next day (his do-or-die day), met him and we both fell in love. I took him straight to the vet and then to the groomers. When I picked him up, I was amazed by his transformation.
I neglected to inform my husband in advance that I planned to do this -- I knew he wouldn't approve -- but informed him after the fact with an email stating that I promised to find a new home for the dog. However, once I really met the little guy and got him home, I knew he wasn't going anywhere else.
We have all been adjusting to the new family member, but so far he has fit right in and has become an important and loved member of the family.
I know Baxter has an unusual story, but I hope it can inspire others to fall in love with a crazy, dirty, scared dog and provide the animal with a new, happy home and life.
DEAR BETH: What you did was amazing, and the message you share is a good one.
But I'd also like to warn folks about the dangers of rescuing dogs and other animals. You may get bitten, scratched, or injured in traffic. I'm not saying not to help. Just be sure to use precaution; leave it to the experts, if possible. We want everyone to have a happy ending.
A volunteer with HALO -- Homeless Animals' Lifeline Organization -- is looking for a good home for an older dog.
Precious is a small lab, 10 years old, housebroken and as playful as a pup. She was set to be adopted, but a problem arose with other dogs in the household. She needs to be an only dog but is good with cats.
If you have a place in your heart and home, call 925-473-4642 or go to www.eccchalo.org.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.