Stefanie Hartman In The Press

Police and 3am Dog Rescue!

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Stefanie

Had an interesting night last night, thought I would share it with you.  You know it was really a lesson about people waiting for someone else to help someone in need.  I even saw a show about this on “What would you do?”, where people witnessed someone needing help and 99% of people did nothing to help.  Well that happened last night.

I am getting over a bad head cold, plus sore throat and lying in bed trying to get some much needed shut eye last night as I have some very full days ahead due to vacation coming up.  Basically I’m working double time to try to fit as many meetings as I can and finish up work so it’s seamless when I’m away and family moves in to basically vacation swap at my place.

All night my husband and I hear a loud dog barking and crying.  We were hoping that the dog would just settle down. 

It goes on until about 2:30am, when we can’t take it anymore and go out to do something about it. 

My own dog started to pant and pace, as it was picking up anxious energy from the barking dog.  Dogs seem to know when a dog is just barking or is really stressed.  It got me thinking:  What if the dog is hurt?  What if the owners are hurt in their home and the dog is alerting us?  What if an angry tired neighbor gets frustrated and hurts the dog?

That’s when my husband knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep because if he didn’t go I would have.  And he doesn’t want me wandering around in a park at night trying to find a stray dog.

So in the dark and the rain, out goes my husband to first establish if the dog is hurt or not.  He comes home to report that it seems fine, is not tied down or anything, is in fact in someone’s back yard and has a name tag and is actually a sweet black lab trying to get into its house. 

The dog was barking but my husband and I take a lot of dog training so we know how to gently dominate and relax even a large animal.   The dog is soon licking my husband and trusts him.  My husband returns to the house to give it one of our dog’s own bones and some food and water thinking that might help. It is now 3am.

Well the lab ate like it was starving and was quiet while it chewed the bone – for about ½ hour.

Then it started up again.  So we phoned animal control to see if they could house it for the night and try to locate the owner.  Last thing I want is for an animal to be put down, so we stressed it is obviously owned and lives in that house.  They tell us they cannot do anything until the morning.

I remembered years ago when the SPCA wouldn’t come out at 6pm to help rescue tiny kittens that had fallen in a grate in front of my apartment.  My girlfriend and I spent an hour rescuing these little things ourselves. And my friend even drove 45 minutes to get to me.

No wonder citizens have created their own rescue programs as these big institutions seem to not be of much use.

So it’s now 4am and with my husband due to work in just 3.5 hours and no sleep at all, goes out again because we see 2 cop cars with lights flashing and now the dog is screaming bloody murder and we hear the animal hitting the house and all kinds of noises that really creeps you out – you know the kind that makes your little hairs stand up?  So my husband again runs outside, down the block to see if he can help.

Well the 2 police officers were called by separate neighbors (not us) trying to help somehow I guess.  The officers did not know how to handle animals and were scaring it and this could possibly have turned ugly and ending in a dog bite.  Plus they told my husband they had no options.  They didn’t want to leave the dog but they could not take her either.  

So in minutes my husband calms the dog again, and suggests to the officers that we take it in for the night as they were baffled as what to do with it and we put a note on the front door of the owners’ house that we had their dog and to call us.

The officers’ looked into the house and saw that it looked abandoned.  So we didn’t know if this dog was just left when the owners moved and they deliberately left their dog (this happens) or if they were renovating it and staying at a hotel nearby.  We had no clue.

So in our house walks this big black lab so happy to be inside, his tail thudding loudly on our floor as it wags.  It was raining outside while this was happening so both my husband and the dog needed to be toweled off.

Our own dog who is a small 16 pound schnoodle (half poodle and schnauzer) welcomed the 80 lb dog, let it eat her food and even slept beside it all night and contributed to calming the lab during the night.  Which is amazing as our dog typically fears big dogs as she was attacked when she was tiny and generally prefers humans to any dog, any day.  She doesn’t even want to greet or smell other dogs.

The lab was so exhausted and its 80 lb body was still stressed as it was in tension for over 4 hours, it slept very loudly with loud snores and small whines that were clearly unintentional but essential ways for its poor body to attempt to recover and re-gain balance.

So really we saved the neighbors sleep but now not our own.  Although we felt very good about helping this sweet animal.  We took comfort in the fact that the dog relaxed instantly when it was inside our house.  It felt safe and no longer alone. Listened to our commands and slept next to us all night.  It was not a bad dog, it was a good dog in a bad situation – a situation created by people.

Early this morning we found out that the owners moved out due to renovations, and this dog was supposed to be with a house sitter a block and half away.  At some point the sitters say they lost the dog and tried to look for it (ya right you could hear this dog for blocks as we live in a really quite neighborhood).  And why wouldn’t they think to go to the dog’s house to see if it found its way home?  Plus the dog was in a closed gated backyard. 

What we think really happened is that they deliberately left the dog in the owner’s back yard, and sent their son out in the morning to feed it and the kid panicked when it wasn’t in the yard and ran home to the house sitter (his dad).  Then they found our note and collected her from us and gave us a made up story.  It is likely they planned on leaving the dog in that backyard out in the elements for many days or weeks, and just drop off food and the owners would be none the wiser.  I may be wrong but their story just doesn’t add up.

These are not dog sitters I would hire, and to me is a form of abuse – it’s neglect.  And they are LUCKY that no harm came to this dog, that it was us who came, instead of a bad or stressed out person who could have shut the dog up in a harmful way.

So today I am very proud of my little family, my husband and my dog, each of us played a role.  And it just goes to show, convenient or not, don’t assume someone else is helping that animal or person in need, or that they can. 

I’m tired, but my conscious is clear and that’s a great feeling.  And I think I love my family just a little bit more today, and what a great thing that is.

Please add in your comments, I’d love to know your thoughts on this and any story you have. 

Police and 3am Dog Rescue!

Jarrod And Mischa

The picture is of my two heroes.

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Police and 3am Dog Rescue!

20 Comments For This Post

  1. Judith Says:

    Hurray for you! I would have done the same thing. I think I might go a step farther and report the neglect of the so called “dog sitters” to the animal control folks and to the owners of the dog. This was neglect. This dog is obviously a sweet soul who is missing family and home and is not used to be left out all night with no food and water…and a well behaved dog who responds to commands and affection. There is no excuse for treating him/her this way. Thank you for taking care of this sweet dog and doing the right thing. <3

    Jarrod Reply:

    Don’t worry Judith, I have plans on chatting with the dogs owners as soon as I see they have returned from their trip. Someone has to stand up for this poor pup !

  2. Mary K Weinhagen Says:

    What a night… and such sound advice… don’t expect someone else to step up. It it’s now you… who?

    Wonderful story, Stefanie – thanks for sharing about your event-filled night. Now… get some sleep! :)

  3. Sue Krebs Says:


    Thanks for taking the time to act – and ultimately help this stranded dog. Isn’t it true that so often we hope that “someone else” will help out the distressed persons or parties? But truly, sometimes, WE’re the someone’s who are best able to help. Thank you to both you and your husband for being willing to ACT!

    I’m sure that dog thanks you too!

  4. farhana Says:

    It was far too busy a day for me to read a blog post but am I ever happy I did. I loved the warmth and humanity showed by you two and your puppy…I guess in his case it would be called canineity ;-)

  5. Charlie Seymour Jr Says:

    Long night indeed! It will take several days for the three of you (yep: Mischa included!) to recover. Best to all of your from your friends on the right coast here in the States.


    Charlie Seymour Jr

  6. Kucki Low Says:

    Lovely story,what a lucky dog to have you as neighbors. Thanks for sharing.
    With much joy and appreciation,

  7. Jeanne Webster CPC Says:

    Just a wonderful story and more proof that animals know, feel and communicate with us and one another. Being the author of a book about a dog, I have many such stories, a collie that rescued baby rabbits from a field about to be bush-hogged, dogs befriending sick or hurt animals and bringing them home for help,a dog that lay down on a copperhead in his master’s path and the list goes on.

    My own dogs teach me something new everday. We have a small peek-a-poo and an 79 pound malamute/german sheppard mix that wandered up one day skinny and scared. The small one is 16 years old, half blind and stone deaf. Whenever she has to go out at night, the malamust goes with her, stays by her side till her business is done and then brings her back.

    The night of those terrible storms in Alabama, the malamute, Jake, who just hates storms, warnned us it was coming our way(we live in N.C. just beside the Ga border. We heard the first warning to take cover about 10:45 and went to the basement, taking shelter beneath the steps in the stair well. When they sounded the all clear, we came up. We’d only been up stairs for about 5 minues when Jake began to “herd” my husband and paw his leg. He’s normally scared, but he was just frantic. It wasn’t two minutes later we heard the beeping of the weather radio calling for our little town to take cover. The tornado hit not 4 miles from us, doing just terrible damage. We knew before the weather service, animals have a sense we humans have forgotten…a keener attachement to the natural world. If we had the sense enough to listen more and heed their actions, wonder what we’d all re-learn. I know I’d trust Jake anyday!

  8. Nat Couropmitree Says:

    Stefanie, I always enjoy reading your blog stories. :-)

    You say that this was a lesson about people waiting for someone else to help someone in need. I see this. But I also see the flip side which is the value you brought that dog, the dog’s owners, your neighbors and your family by stepping up.

    I guess I see it this way because that has been the theme for today. On today’s MIT Mastermind call, we talked about recognizing our own value and putting ourselves ‘out there’ now instead of waiting for that perfect moment (which never comes.) The situation may not be perfect. We may not get everything we hope. We may even need to give something up. But we always gain *something*.

    So you didn’t wait. You all stepped up. And even though you lost hours of sleep, you feel great and love your family more.

    How great is that? :-)

  9. Mark Michael Lewis Says:

    Thank you Jarrod! (BTW, smart move in the choice to take care of the dog! Not that Stef would have been relentless or anything if you hadn’t… :-)

    Jarrod Reply:

    Thanks but lets face it there was really only one way I was ever going to get any sleep … I am happy to help the dog but really … happy wife, happy life ! :-)

  10. Sharon Says:

    What a heart-warming story. Despite all the drama I’ll bet you felt really good about helping out and that’s a great immune booster! Hope you recovered from your cold as a result.

    Love from,

    Sharon & my dog Roxy:)

  11. Greg Martin Says:


    Glad to hear that All’s well that ends well!! If people could learn to understand and communicate with animals such as dogs who have the ability to reason in the abstract, then they would increase their own compassion and ability to help in stressful situations such as you and your husband did.

    Proverbs 12:10
    The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

    Congratulations for meeting the need of the moment.

  12. Dwight Norris Says:

    Yes, dogs are to be loved and taken care of. My adult daughter, Liz, is the original animal lover in our family. She brought her rescue dog, Tula, to her mother’s house while they went shopping. Tula is a 70 lb cross between a lab and a sharpei, a beautiful dog. Somehow, Tula got spooked while they were gone and escaped over the fence. Liz was heartbroken. She searched diligently for six weeks and then decided to rescue another dog, a beautiful 80 lb. male pitbull named Rocky.

    Shortly after bonding to Rocky, Liz got a call. Tula had been found about 35 miles from her mom’s house. The problem is now that Rocky and Tula don’t get along. Rocky is the aggressor and has already sent Tula into surgery with many stitches to the loose skin around her neck. She also sported one of those cones around her neck.

    Liz was heartbroken again, knowing she loved both dogs, but also knowing she couldn’t keep both. So she called me and with a strained and broken voice asked me if I would take Tula. What’s a dad to do? So she drops Tula off, and within 30 minutes of leaving, Tula escapes through a small opening in the fence, cone and all. OMG! How can I tell my daughter that her beloved Tula that she trusted me with is now missing? I go driving around the neighborhood. It is now almost totally dark and I am in the high desert, habitat to coyotes. After 15 minutes of hunting for a needle in a hay stack, I return home, unsure of what to do next. But wait! There’s Tula in the front yard! Doesn’t mean I have her yet, but there she is! After about an hour of coaxing, she cautiously creeps through the door. Whew! That was more than two years ago, and now no one can tell who Tula likes best, me or my daughter.

    Thanks for doing the right thing about that lab! You and Jarrod and Mischa have good hearts. Dogs are good people!

    Dwight Norris
    Apple Valley, CA

  13. Diane O'Shaughnessy Says:

    Stefanie, quite a story! It held my attention wondering what was going to happen next! What great neighbors you are. Grateful for the help you gave!!

  14. Gillian Says:

    Thank you for being a human being! I believe these situations come to test us and teach us how important it is to have compassion for all of God’s creatures, not just humans! The feeling you had after you helped this dog is priceless, and you will always remember!Thank you for sharing! I volunteer for the SPCA, just because I care!

  15. Lane Lasater Says:

    Dear Stefanie,

    Thanks to each of you for acts of kindness that make the world a better place for us humans and our animal friends. Sorry about the lost sleep but thanks for taking the time to let us all know. When your vacation time arrives you will be ready!

  16. Ursula Says:

    This is horrible that a dog had to go through this. I am glad you were there to help that poor thing. I have a dog and a cat and my dog just had 6 puppies I need to get good home for and I will make sure that it is good homes cause I wouldn’t want anything to happen to the children of my sweet dog.
    I have helped many stray animals over the past 34+ years and I can’t comprehend that anyone would do things like this to an animal. They depend on us and our love and they give so much in return and unconditional too.

    You all just went up 100 points in my heart.

  17. Eric Says:

    Kudos to you both! Well done. There is no better feeling than helping others, whether they have two feet or four. I know that good Karma will come back to you. Now get some sleep ! :)

  18. Lauri Dowling Says:

    Thank you for helping the dog – but I probably would not have trusted those dogsitters and would have taken the dog to my house! Then the original dog sitters would have gotten a shock they sorely deserved for leaving the dog to cry like that! I HOPE you let the owners knowabout their irresponsible dog sitters. Because that dog could have been really hurt by those with less concern, compassion and integrity! How many other times have they done!

  19. Anne Says:

    Well, Stef – what a great ‘crowd’ you have put around you – people (yes, dogs are people too!!) who refect your values and inntermost goodness. I am just so thankful that there are people like you in the world who are willing to help so many – be they neighbours, friends, clients, or total strangers – even animal stangers!
    Thanks for being you Jarrod and Stefanie,

  20. Marcia B, Tucson Says:

    Hi Stefanie,
    Just read your email and the story. I am so proud of you all! We are truly in a changing world from “Me to We” and you so beautifully illustrate that principle. We are all being called to step up and listen to the call of Spirit, whether it’s a barking dog or some other obvious need we can help with. Reminds me of the popular tv program, “What Would You Do?”

    Thank you for modeling for us a brilliant example of creating more love, respect and harmony in the world.

    And you know that I adore animals as well and believe we need to speak out more when we see one of these beautiful souls in situations like that.


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