The last thing I expected to see crossing our quiet street as I drove towards the gym at a quarter to six in the morning was a small dog. As it trotted across in front of my car it turned its head towards me, tongue out in a small smile, with its ears perked up like it was happy to see me.
And thus, began my early morning adventure with a small white spoodle.
The dog had probably gotten spooked by the previous night’s powerful and extraordinarily loud thunderstorm and gotten out of his yard. As I passed the dog and drove further down the street I looked back in my rear-view mirror, and he was chasing my car down the street. I felt that I couldn’t leave him wandering around just as the morning commute was going to start up, especially as he was so clearly oblivious to the dangers of traffic.
As soon as I stopped the car the dog ran up to me, clearly not concerned about strangers. I bent down to check his tags, thinking that I would call his owners, apologise for waking them so early, and tell them I had their pet. Unfortunately, there was no ID tag on his collar.
I still occasionally come across things that are different between America and Australia, even after 13 years. It’s jarring when you expect one thing and are presented with another, especially when the new way of doing things seems less logical. For example, dog tags: they are standard and required in the American suburbs where I grew up, but while microchipping your pet is required in South Australia, displaying their id or registration on their collar is not. Frankly, I can’t think of why anyone wouldn’t have the dog’s name and owner’s contact details on their beloved family members at all times.
Now that I had stopped, I was committed to helping but I wasn’t sure what to do with the small white dog sitting at my feet. I couldn’t return him since I didn’t know where he belonged.
I opened my car door to grab my phone and call the RSPCA and my new friend took it upon himself to hop right into the driver’s seat.
This was unexpected.
Now I had a small, somewhat damp, happy looking dog inside my car. When I asked him what he was doing, he jumped over to the passenger seat and smiled at me.
A quick check of my phone told me that the RSPCA nor local council were open yet and wouldn’t be for HOURS. I couldn’t take him home; I wasn’t about to let an unknown dog of unknown training into my house, and I couldn’t leave him in our backyard since we are in the middle of renovations and there are too many dangerous things about (especially for an unknown dog with unknown training).
I drove around to see if I could work out which driveway he had come out of without success, and the only neighbour up at the time didn’t remember seeing a spoodle in the area. I decided I might try to go to the gym anyway and see if I could leave the dog with them at the desk while I worked out, then take him to the council after.
The dog would not get out of the car.
Finally, I called the nearest emergency vet clinic. They said that while they wouldn’t normally take strays, they understood that no one else was open and were willing to help out. So, I drove 15 km from where I found the dog to drop him at the emergency vet clinic, who would work with the RSPCA to find his home.
I’m sure he was terrified by the time we got to the vet clinic and I am sure his owner was terrified when they realised he was gone. If my new little friend had an ID tag on his collar, then our hour-long adventure together could have been avoided and everyone would have been happier for it. This is why the lack of requirement for pet ID tags here is one of the surprising differences between America and Adelaide. It seems logical to me that you would want your dog tagged.
What differences have you come across as an expat?