A car backfired …

and I learned something about my sweet Brownie’s life on the streets

Susan Robertson
Jul 1 · 3 min read

I was walking my two youngest dogs, Brownie and Rolo, on day a week or two ago. We were taking a long lazy summer walk up to the Canada Post complex because there are groundhogs there — and the dogs love groundhogs.

Brownie at home where she is safe. Photo by the author.

We walked up to a roundabout and as we crossed the street a car came by and backfired a couple of times. I didn’t think much of it. Brownie jumped a bit but that’s not unusual for her. Then the car passed right beside us and backfired four or five times in rapid succession as it did, Brownie went berserk trying to get away.

Brownie can be leash reactive but these days it’s because she wants desperately to meet ALL the doggies we see and it just isn’t possible. She is the sweetest thing in the world. She is incredibly careful to be polite and respectful with me and with the other dogs.

As it happened, my heard broke because I was learning something about her life before she came to me.

Brownie is a rescue from the UAE. She was living in Abu Dhabi on a construction site and being fed regularly by a rescue group called Animal Action UAE. It took them two years to catch her so they could bring her in to someone’s home. Mine was the first human home she’d ever lived in. She was not interested in sticking around at the beginning but she used to do a ridiculous happy dance with lots of spinning when the food was coming. She eventually settled in and now she looks like being a house dog is all she has ever known.

However …

In the UAE, the yahoos drive around construction sites and use their guns to shoot at stray dogs. The rescue organizations pull in dogs with various levels of gunshot wounds that run up ridiculous hospital bills for dogs that may never be healthy again on an almost weekly basis. It’s hard enough to get all the stray puppies adopted even when they’re healthy. When they come in with injuries it does not help, and when mama is hurt too, she is not likely to find a home quickly.

The one thing the UAE has tons of is construction sites. This one burned down halfway to being built. Photo by the author.

It’s been a few weeks now and every time we go to that intersection now, Brownie starts to get nervous. She backs away from every car that passes us on the street, especially if they have a slightly noisy engine.

Brownie clearly knows what it is to be shot at by a passing car. She is not going to let it happen again.

She has been safe living with me for about half her life now. She will never forget that specific danger. I wish I could take that knowledge away from her but that is just not possible. I’ll start counter-conditioning the next time we head that way. See a car, get a treat.

Good girl. She’s such a good girl.

She’s safe now. I wish she understood it.

Susan Robertson

Written by

Susan is an economist who worked in international development. Interested in food, board games, dogs, and development. Writing about whatever I feel like.

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