A Lesson From Bandit


Jim Miller

, Entertainment

How a dog on the run taught me the importance of pet adoption


The bark seemed to come out of nowhere.

It was the end of the work week. As I left the Out & About office and walked to my car in the parking lot, a dog’s yelp echoed in the windy chill, sounding strange, as if coming from above.

I could hear the animal, but I couldn’t see it anywhere.

Then I remembered that a day earlier our Riverfront neighbors, Delaware Humane Association, had called with a rare alert: unfortunately, one of their dogs had managed to get away from a staff member, and bolted through a temporary construction gate. In a panic, the young beagle with an outlaw’s name, Bandit, proceeded to flee DHA and his “pursuers.”

I followed the sound of his bark, and after few minutes of detective work I found the dog in the office’s recycling dumpster next to our parking lot. He had climbed onto a pile of cardboard boxes, then jumped into the dumpster.

As I peered down on him, he stopped barking and sat there looking cold, wet, dejected and helpless. I knew the folks from DHA had been searching for him day and night. But after a day on the lam, Bandit had managed to apprehend himself.

DHA arrived soon after our find to return Bandit to their watchful care. Little did the lost and confused beagle realize that the facility from which he had bolted housed the best hopes for his future.

Each year, DHA looks after more than 1,000 homeless dogs and cats—animals the agency says are “in search of a warm bed, good meal, and most importantly, a new home.” The association became better suited to meet those needs in December 2014, when it moved into a new facility, offering more than 13,000 square feet of space and resources like an updated medical facility.

By the time Monday rolled around, my fellow Out & About staff members had already come to the conclusion that I should adopt Bandit. The dog needed a home, and I was the one who found him shivering in a dumpster. It was meant to be.

“No thanks,” I replied. I already had a two-year-old rescue mutt—a cross of small country hound and ball of lightning. No need for more.

But then the holidays arrived, and the thought of a lonely Bandit worked on my conscience. Maybe it was meant to be.

After New Year’s Day, I called DHA. Turned out that in the previous week Bandit had been adopted…and then returned. So I went over there to tour the new facilities and reunite with Bandit in much better surroundings than the dumpster where we first met. The reception was frigid.

Bandit, it turned out, did not like to be around men.

It wasn’t meant to be after all.

However, the premise had acquired real estate in my mind: I was ready to adopt a second dog. My two-year-old canine companion could use a playmate, and I had the space in my house—and, frankly, my heart—for another furry friend.

So I adopted a puppy instead, the last of his litter. He’s as adorable as a living teddy bear, yet seeing his big paws, I wonder how large he’s going to be. I also wonder how, by an odd twist of fate, I owe thanks to a runaway rascal named Bandit for helping bring this wonderful canine bundle of joy into my life.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there, since the job of DHA is never fully done. With a goal to find “forever homes” for all the animals that come through its doors, DHA is doing work that in a sense requires lifetimes.

Fortunately for Bandit, DHA was able to also find a home that met his needs. But there are plenty of other potential pets looking for parents in this area—and they could be fitting companions considering the circumstances.

For updated information about how to adopt these dogs and cats via appointment during the pandemic, visit dehumane.org or call (302) 571-0111.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.