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An odyssey into the world of dog rescues

September 10, 2008 |  3:53 pm


Today, Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch starts his chronicle of Sasha, a Husky he encountered on a street in downtown Los Angeles. Look for periodic updates on Sasha in the weeks to come on L.A. Unleashed.

Call me the reluctant rescuer.

A filthy and thirsty dog was wandering around Spring Street in Downtown L.A. about a week ago. It had no tag or collar, and it obviously needed help. It looked up at me with piercing blue eyes, so I did the emotional -- I put the animal in my back seat and brought it home. I didn’t even check to see if it was a boy or a girl.

So began an odyssey into the world of dog rescues that has left me questioning my judgment. I have spent more time and money on this animal than I would ever have on the human strays I pass daily along the same stretch of Spring Street near my office. Maybe I should have put the people first.

Here’s the story. My wife, Jennifer, was waiting for me with a leash and a collar by the time I got home to Rossmoor in Orange County. We put the animal -- now named Sasha -- in our locked, double-gated side yard to isolate her from our yellow Labrador Retriever Roni (as in macaroni). We figured we would get her checked out at the vet the next day and start looking for a home.

When we got up the next morning, Sasha was gone. She had pried her way through wooden fence planks on the gate and took off. Jennifer was crushed. Our Lab can open a gate latch with her paw, but never pulled things apart. Welcome to the world of Huskies!

That evening I looked up the breed in "Dogs From A to Z, Compass Guides," which said huskies have "a strong drive for hunting and adventure. The yard has to be breakout proof." Indeed.

Our yard has an 8-foot concrete block wall on three sides, a set of 6-foot chain-link fences separating the backyard from the side yards, and the basic 6- to 7-foot redwood gates at the front of the house that have always worked before as a barrier of last resort for the Labrador.

Jennifer put out an all-points bulletin for Sasha. She drove the neighborhood, called the local vets. Late in the afternoon she got a tip that Orange County Animal Control had picked up a snow white husky with striking blue eyes about seven miles away near the south fork of the aptly named Los Coyotes Creek. It was Sasha. She even still had the pink collar we put on her. Jennifer bailed out Sasha for $259, including shots, license, identification chip and impound fee.

This was just the beginning of our adventures.

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