Ghosts of Puppies Past

I’m probably gonna draw a lot of flack for this post but we are supposed to be truthful and put ourselves out there, so… Just please don’t hate me, I hated myself enough for it at the time, so, I’m just gonna throw it out there.

My first job out of high school was with a small city in North Carolina.  I worked for the city as an animal control officer.  That’s a nice name for a dog catcher.  It was definitely an adventure.  I had to qualify on the firing range with the police officers because I was considered “an officer” and we sometimes had to use tranquilizer guns to subdue errant stray dogs.  It’s a little disconcerting when you can shoot better than half the police department.  My daddy taught all his girls to shoot at a very young age.  Too bad some of those officers didn’t have the same training.  I asked one of the supervisors what happened if the officers failed to qualify and he said they would take away their guns.  Let them keep the bullets but took away their guns.  HUH?  What were they gonna do if they had to chase a bad guy when they’d lost their guns?  Say “Stop!  Or I’ll throw my bullets at you!”?   Yeah, that would stop them in their tracks…

I have lots of stories about that job. One time I had someone flatten all 4 tires on my vehicle as it sat in front of my house and they left a note on my windshield that said “From Ghosts of Puppies Past!”  Never did find out who left me that present.

After I had worked there for about a year they hired this young man I’ll call “Joe”.  Joe could neither read nor write.  In fact, his friends weren’t much brighter.  When he applied for the job, he took the application home with him and whoever it was that filled it out signed their OWN name at the bottom of the application!  And the city still hired him so what does that say about them?  But, I digress.  While he was there, it was decided that he needed to have a driver’s license so he could drive the animal control truck.   My question was:  If he can’t read or write how is he gonna take a written driving test?  Answer:  They will administer an oral test.  WTF?? If he can’t read a test, how can he read traffic signs?  Answer:  Oh, he can learn them by the shape of the sign, he doesn’t have to actually read them.  HUH?  What about all those “caution” orange signs that have warnings and stuff…or the overhead digital signs (even though they didn’t have those THEN)… none of them are the same…. Answer:  I’m sure he’ll figure it out…. Oh, ok!  I feel SO much better now!  Sadly, they DID let him get his license although I heard that years later he wrapped his car around a tree.  DUH, ya think?

Anyway, this poor guy took just about every thing you said literally.  He once asked our supervisor if he could “run me home” and my supervisor said “Sure, I’ll run you home.  Let me go get a stick.”  He ran outside and got a stick and came back in and said “Why you need the stick, boss man?  What are you gonna do with it?”  Just joking buddy, just joking. 

He had been there almost a week when it came time to “put down” the dogs and cats that had been there too long.  We used an injection to put them down rather than gas. Our supervisor told him we were gonna put the dogs “to sleep”.   He saw us get out the medicine and needles and even helped as we administered the injections.   As they went down, they would lay them by the back door so they could take them out to bury them.  Our supervisor told him to go and get the shovel.

Joe:  Why we need a shovel, Boss man?

Super:  So we can bury them?

Joe:  Bury them?  Why we gonna BURY them?

Super:  Because they’re dead.

Joe:  DEAD??? What do you mean they are DEAD?

Super:  Well, we just you put them to sleep, that’s a nice way of saying that we killed them.  What did you THINK we did?

Joe:  I thought we was just gonna put them to sleep for a while so we could clean up all the cages and then we was gonna  put them back in their own cages and wake them back up again!

Poor guy!  He really had no clue.  He cried for hours after that.  I felt so bad.  

I know it was a horrible job to do and I hate that I had to do it too so please don’t judge me over it.  I used to try to take all the animals home and try to find them homes.  I tell my family that’s why I’m the crazy cat lady now.  I think it’s Karma.  I think I’m being paid back in spades for all those animals I had to help put down.  Now there’s just an invisible sign written in TUNA over our house that says “Welcome all cats. She won’t turn you away!”

But that’s a whole ‘nother blog!

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About pegbur7

South of the Mason/Dixon Line
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4 Responses to Ghosts of Puppies Past

  1. suzicate says:

    I remember Mama had to tell you to stop bringing the animals home to them. I also remember the tire story. Didn’t remember about Joe. When I worked for the dentist. We had people come in who could not speak, read, or write English so they were unable to fill out a health history form, and we were told to just get the basic info off of the drivers license…I also wondered how the heck they got it!

  2. LisaF says:

    It sounds like you agonized over this job while you had it as well as these many years after. It’s also sad when you sees someone that obviously struggles with life the way “Joe” did/does. You sound like a very caring, compassionate woman. I’m sure no one will hate you.

    • pegbur7 says:

      Thanks. I do hope life turned out okay for him. at least when he wrapped his car around the tree, he wasn’t hurt badly. I wonder it that stopped him from driving? Thanks for the support.

  3. pegbur7 says:

    I know. Makes you wonder what the state’s driver’s license division is thinking sometimes.

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