Roadside Encounter: Shivering Chihuahua

Name: Unknown

Breed: Chihuahua mix

Age: Unknown

Encountered: Atop a scattered pile of discarded clothing in Slab City, outside of Niland, California.

Backstory: During my visit to Slab City, I stopped to take a photograph of a pile of clothing spread across, what else, a concrete slab. It serves as a drop off point, where denizens of and visitors to the makeshift community can discard unwanted clothing that others might be able to use.

I saw something move in the pile; then saw that it was a dog.

He lay there trembling, and wouldn’t come when I called. Nor did he get up when I tossed a dog treat, even though it landed just inches away.

There were two bowls, one that held water, one that had held food, but both were empty.

I looked around for some humans, but no one was in sight. I approached a couple of trailers to see if they might be the owners of the dog, but nobody was home. When a woman with a Chihuahua of her own walked by, she said she, being new there,┬ádidn’t know anything about the dog and left.

I tossed some more treats, refilled his water bowl, and anguished over what to do. Report him to animal control as a stray? But what if he wasn’t? What if he’d just wandered over there from his owner’s trailer or RV to take a nap in the sun? What if animal control picked him up and did what they often do before any owners had time to claim him?

He had a slight bump on his lower jaw, and he seemed well fed, but the bowls led me to think he’d been abandoned, and he just kept trembling.

Mind your own business, the voice on my left shoulder said. Take him with you, said the voice on my right.

Unable to just drive away, I called him again. He didn’t budge. But when I went to pick him up he did, jumping off the slab and heading toward a trailer. He seemed to have a destination in mind, and, though he stopped a couple of times to look back at me, he kept walking away.

And, after watching him disappear around a corner,┬áso did I, wondering if I had been on the verge of being a do-gooder doing wrong, or if I hadn’t done good enough.

If you know anything about him, let me know.

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