Big Dog the 2nd is a dog named after a cat. He already had another name, but we didn’t know it yet.
It’s spring 2019 and I’m visiting my parents in Castlegar, B.C. There’s a 100lb dog running around the neighbourhood having an excellent time. He has short tan fur and is easily human-height when standing on two legs. He notices our husky Juno in the backyard and starts biting and pulling on the wire fence, trying to break in.
In a small town like this people know their neighbours, and their neighbours’ dogs, but no one recognizes this rambunctious mutt. Dad lures him closer with a treat and checks his collar: no name, no contact information.
The SPCA is closed for several days so we don’t know what to do with the runaway. Mom and I go to the pool, thinking he will eventually give up and go home. Instead he howls and paws at the front door until Dad comes outside so he won’t break anything. When Mom and I come back he uses the opportunity to sprint through the garage into the house. Feeding him had been our big mistake.
We start referring to him as Big Dog, which was coincidentally the name of my grandparents’ neighbours’ cat. Despite his size he acts like a puppy — he has boundless energy, ignores all commands and tries to eat all the soft furnishings. He’s stronger than any of us.
There are no posts online about a missing dog in the area so we submit Found posts to Facebook, Craigslist and the SPCA. Deb, our next door neighbour, posts his picture on the Kootenay Animal Assistance Lost & Found page. We put him in the backyard to keep him safe until his owners are found. Within minutes he escapes.
Big Dog can scale the fence from the inside, but not from the outside. After another romp around the neighbourhood he comes back and again tries to tear the fence down. We let him back in. I have to run out into the snow in sandals to wrestle him off a very patient Juno. This anything-but-gentle giant is sure he has a new best friend who loves to play rough. Juno disagrees.
We decide to separate the dogs so Juno won’t learn how to escape. Big Dog gets the first outdoor shift, with the fence gate open so he won’t do any more damage. Juno gets to go out second, but we forget to close the gate. Deb calls to say Juno is at her door begging for treats.
At dusk we have to accept the fact that Big Dog is staying overnight. We separate the two dogs into two basement rooms but they stare obsessively at each other through the glass door. We set up a baby gate to keep them on different floors so they’ll settle down and sleep.
Dad, my partner and I all fantasize about keeping him, but Mom is adamant that that will not happen. He’s too much to handle and is welcome for one night only. Juno agrees.
Dad sleeps on the couch downstairs with our new friend, making sure he doesn’t destroy anything. In the morning the playful pup wakes Dad up by sitting on his head, eats four bowls of food, then steals another bowl full from Juno.
Big Dog’s owners see Deb’s listing and pick him up later that day, calling him Snoopy, short for Snoop Dogg.
The next day Snoop Dogg’s owner’s brother lets go of his collar “for one second” and he comes running back across the highway to our house. At first my parents won’t let him in but he tears at the fence again and gets his wish. Snoopy jumps on Juno and eats all his food.
Over the next few weeks Snoopy’s owners come looking for him in our neighbourhood again several times. Other people find him, feed him and list him online. We’re neither the first nor the last family to think he’s lost and take pity. He has a loving family and knows exactly where his house is, he’s just a brilliant escape artist.
*Update Summer 2019: About once a month Snoop Dogg shows up at my parents’ door, begging for a bowl of food.
**Update Winter 2020: My parents move away from Castlegar and have to warn the new homeowners that Big Dog may visit. They provide his address and contact information, as it’s still not on his collar.