An Empty House?

We had a fascinating walk with Ray yesterday. It was one of our regular routes through a rather affluent residential area which, while not Ray’s first choice of routes (no stores to give him treats), offered views of interesting houses; deep front gardens, and a relatively quiet walk due to minimal traffic.

At one point, we noticed a quite large black “dog” ahead of us which seemed to be slinking around a particular house. As we do have coyotes living around here, that was our first thought (although neither of us had seen a black coyote before). While we were not anticipating any issues with it, we decided to cross over the road in order to put as much distance between it and Ray (and us!) as possible.

As we got closer to the house in question, the “dog” suddenly noticed Ray and came trotting over to within about 20 ft of us. It was clearly not a coyote and, equally clearly, it was quite excited at seeing Ray. Just at that moment, a man came around the corner with two dogs leashed, and a third (Golden Retriever) unleashed and apparently with him!

When he saw us, he explained that the “Golden” with him lived in a nearby house (pointing to the house mentioned earlier) and was often out on its own. By this time, the black dog (young GSD) was now very close to us and just seemed to want to play. Carol, with the aid of treats, managed to get him close enough that she could read his tag, and it appeared that he and the “Golden” came from the same house.

We looked at the house and the front door was wide open; a light was on inside one room, and two cars were in the driveway. I walked up to the front door and pressed a bell… no response. I stepped just inside the front door and called out “Hello! Is anybody home?” No response.

By now, all three of us plus all five dogs were just outside the open front door so I once again stepped inside the home and threw a handful of treats across the floor. Both the “Golden” and the black GSD went in after them, at which time I stepped outside and closed the door behind me!

The man thanked us for our assistance and went on his way, with us just behind him however, Ray was not happy and wanted to turn back. Perhaps he wanted some of those treats that I threw across the floor? Perhaps he knew that something was wrong there? We turned around and Ray pulled us back to the house! Now what?

It was tempting to enter the house and look around just in case somebody was sick (heart attack?), but that would be trespassing and could give the residents an unpleasant surprise. If they believed that I was an intruder (a logical conclusion), then I could be attacked! We contemplated calling the police but then wondered whether they could legally access the house given that there was no evidence of an issue. We had just decided that we should call the police and let them decide what to do, when I thought that perhaps a neighbor may be able to assist.

We managed to talk with a next door neighbor, and she advised us that she knew the people in question very well since they had lived there for over 20 years. I explained what we had observed and she was not surprised at all. Apparently the two dogs often let themselves out of the front door and wander around the  premises, but they never stray too far away from home!

Given the light on inside the house, and the two cars in the driveway, she confirmed that somebody would have been home but were most likely asleep! She seemed very much at ease with the whole situation so I asked one final question. “Given everything that I have told you, do you have any concerns that something might not be right next door?” Her response was “Not at all. It is a very common set of circumstances!”

We turned around and headed for home and Ray very happily trotted alongside us. Perhaps he knew that we had done all we could? Perhaps he simply realized that he was not going to get any of those treats that I threw across the floor?  Perhaps he knew that we would give him treats anyway as he was so good during the whole sequence of events? He was right! We did!