She came into this world with a bang and left it the same. Fisher was a beautiful black & white mixed border collie. She had a white chest, white "socks", and very distinctive ears that gave her the look of a flying nun. She was a stray dog that had suffered abuse when my neighbour found her ten years ago. We spent most of those years in Greensboro living near Irving Park and she amazed me at her ability to catch Frisbees, run down & harass squirrels, and accept my girlfriend, then wife, into our circle. She even allowed a "sister", Abby, to join us that we rescued from Guilford County Animal Shelter. We had begun backpacking, which Fisher loved, and always hoped to be able to move to the mountains. Our wish came true in late 2005 and we were happy that Fisher would have probably another 8-10 years of life to enjoy living in the mountains.
On Labor Day 2007, after returning home from vacation, Fisher jumped out of my parked car near busy Patton Avenue in Asheville. In an ironic twist of fate, squirrels had been dropping acorns on the roof of my car while I was briefly inside a residence. She was spotted in the neighbourhood and her last sighting was on Patton Avenue running in-and-out of traffic Labor Day afternoon.
My wife and I, as well as our friends, searched tirelessly for our girl. We posted flyers all over Asheville as well as filing reports with 7 county Animal Shelters, posting internet ads, and utilizing Animal Rescue networks. Or biggest worry was that her tag had fallen off during the struggle to get out of the car. We would visit local animal shelters every 2-3 days, chase leads phoned in, and walk the area she was lost on a daily, then weekly basis calling her name and speaking with residents.
One month to the day, I received a call from Asheville Animal Services. They had found Fisher, but she was not alive when they arrived at the scene. She had been hit on Patton Avenue in the same exact area where we lost her. She was hit one street over from where she had jumped out of my car and where I had driven and looked for her 2 hours earlier the same evening. I asked Animal Services if he had retrieved my number from one of the many posters hanging in the area. He stated that she was still wearing her tag. We drove there to retrieve her body and, as I approached her lifeless body, I was amazed at her clean and healthy appearance. As I picked up her blanket shrouded body, I glanced at her picture hanging on a telephone pole 20ft from where she had taken her last breath.
It's been over a year and I never fail to observe something to remind me of my friend on a daily basis. My wife and I have emerged from our fog and have added laughter in addition to tears when giving voice to our memories of Fisher. But there is still anger and this is why: it is our sincere belief that someone in West Asheville had rescued Fisher out of traffic on Labor Day (thank you), but decided not to call the number on her dog tag. I know my dog and she would have jumped into an open car door to get out of traffic on Patton Avenue. But she would have also returned to the area where my car was if left to her own power which she was doing the evening she was hit crossing the only major road between her "saviors" and a sweet homecoming with her family and best friend. I'm amazed at the selfishness and indifference to someone's pain. What would compel someone to withhold another person's pet, a member of our family, for their own amusement?
My plea is for people to take time to report stray animals to local animal control when spotted in their area. Save the local shelter's number in your cell phone and make the call when driving down the road and spotting someone's lost buddy. Also, even though you may need to remove an animal from immediate danger, please leave the animal in the general area where found. You are doing the animal no favor by removing her from the area where she was lost as the owners will come back to look for her. And, oh yeah, if you get close enough and the animal has a tag, how about calling the owners.
And to owners…microchip! Data compiled from our local shelter shows a 94% return rate for lost dogs in our area when the dog has a microchip. The odds drop to 26% when there is no microchip. Check with your local shelter as they will run discounted rates for this service. Our local shelter microchips pets for as little as $10.00. Also, immediately file reports with local and surrounding animal shelters and get posters up in the area where she was lost. Sadly, someone had driven through the neighbourhood asking residents about a stray dog found on Patton the night we had lost her, but we didn't have the pictures up yet and had not spoken with all residents. The person never returned.
Fisher was one-of-a-kind. I feel lost without her….no more hiking trips, no more creek swims, no more opening her presents on Christmas with her own paws…..she is gone. Her ashes are with us and we plan on spreading some at her favourite spots in mountains and Greensboro. But her death was unnecessary and hard to accept given the circumstances. I miss my friend…...