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A rescue dog proves to be an escape artist

September 18, 2008 |  1:16 pm

Today, Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch continues his chronicle of Sasha, a Husky he encountered on a street in downtown Los Angeles. Hirsch brought Sasha home, only to discover she liked to wander... and that healthcare for animals who like to roam is expensive. Look for periodic updates on Sasha in the weeks to come on L.A. Unleashed. Click here to read the first chapter of the Sasha saga.

Sasha_the_huskyWe returned Sasha to our side yard. But beforehand I reinforced the wooden gate with paving stones and bricks. Nothing was going in or out.

Sasha didn’t seem to appreciate that. She went right back for that wooden gate, pulling a heavy paving stone onto to her back foot. After midnight a visit to the vet ER ($399 including stitches, meds, de-fleaing) she slept or howled for most of the night and early morning in the side yard.

Her next stop was finally to our regular vet ($91.25). Sasha was pronounced healthy with the warning that blood work would be back in a day. It turned out she had whipworms ($61.75 more for meds) but the rest of the blood work was fine. We also learned she was about 18 months old and in heat. Might she be pregnant? After her run along the local creek, could she be carrying coyote pups?

So it’s clear this dog has a drive to run, and that the wooden gate in the side yard just isn’t up to the maximum security prison grade we need. We set up the a large metal crate we once used for Roni in the middle of the garage. In went Sasha for the night. We shut the latches, locked the garage and went to bed, trying to ignore her wolflike keening. What could go wrong? She was in a locked crate in a locked garage.

About five in the morning we heard an amazing ruckus. It could only be one thing. Sasha got out of the crate and spent much of the rest of the night knocking things over trying to get out of the garage. After the same basic drill the next night, we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t keep her safe for the moment. Off she went to a local kennel ($139 for the weekend), into the portion of the facility that I call Doggy Guantanamo Bay.

We still don’t know who this dog is. She was scanned three times with all of the chip systems, but nothing came up besides the chip we put in. Advertisements on Petfinder.com and Craigslist prove a bust.

The next weekend a friend helped me reinforce the back fence to hopefully be Sasha-proof. We are going to try a different crate that canine cognoscenti say is more secure. Still, I am not sure where this adventure goes from here.

We don’t want a second dog. However, once I put Sasha in my car, she became my responsibility. And, except for her ability to channel Houdini, Sasha is a sweetie. She is 49 pounds, very friendly with people, walks decently and forever on a leash, sits on command, will let Jennifer shove pills and meds directly down her throat with no objection.

Cleaned up, she is beautiful. She loves to be brushed and petted. We have not social-tested her with other dogs, but so far Sasha ignores dogs either in yards and walking by on leashes, and unlike our hyperactive Labrador, she ignores cats and birds.

We have no home for her, and we have spent $1,000 on this project. I can’t help but wonder if society would have been better off with me leaving Sasha on her own, or for someone else to rescue. Heck, I could have used that money to put a deposit down for a homeless person on an apartment or give it to the people rescuers at the Union Rescue Mission. Certainly, I would have gotten more sleep.

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