This little Benji-looking dog wandered into the neighborhood yesterday. It had a pretty strange haircutfluffy around its face and paws, clean shaven everywhere else, but with a big ruff of fur around its neck, like a lions mane. It sniffed around the empty lot across the road for a while then wandered on. We didnt think much of it at first because there seems to be a plethora of neighborhood dogs and cats running loose; we figured it would eventually make its way back home. It showed up in the neighbors yard, circled their garage and driveway for about 20 minutes, almost like it was searching for something (home, maybe?). We called to it, but it didnt respond. It circled the drive a little longer; at that point we decided it was probably lost and needed help finding its family. We walked over, called to it, but the little dog continued circling. Finally, we were able to catch it. Ive never seen anything so sad. What I had thought was a bad haircut was really a little blue winter jacket covering a starved, hairless, mange- and flea-infested dog. The dog was so thin, every bone was visible. Its hips, ribs, and vertebra where protruding through its scaly, crusted skin. Its nails had grown so long they were curled back against the pads of its feetthe dog was in obvious pain when it walked. There was a huge boil on his neck, another on his belly, and several bloody scabs. His face was full of cockleburrs and both eyes were cloudy. He didnt respond to voices, or noise. We were pretty sure he couldnt hear. Its been in the upper 90s here for some time. I cannot imagine that this little guy has wandered around in the sweltering heat wearing a jacket. This was obviously someones pet that had gotten lost some months ago, when it was still cool outside. Someone cared enough to put a jacket on this little fellow to keep him warm. What they didnt do was put tags or a collar on him. With no way to contact the owner, we hoped the dog might have an ID microchip. It was afterhours on a Sunday, and a holiday weekend. Neither Animal Control nor the Humane Society was open. We took the dog to an emergency vet clinic. In the waiting room, the dog was too shaky to stand, so he sat on my lap. He never barked. He never whined. He didnt try to escape. Even when other dogs in the room barked, this little guy never made a sound. He just sat and shivered in the air conditioning. We took him into the exam room and had him weighed. 10lbs. Thats itjust 10lbs. I have a rabbit that weighs more. This little guy should have easily been double that. The vet checked for an ID microchip. There was none. She examined him, checked his teeth, his eyes. Then she gave us her honest answer: given his poor condition and numerous health issues, and with no way to contact the dogs owner, humane euthanasia would be the best thing we could do for this animal. We dont know how long this dog had been lost, or how far he wandered looking for his family. We dont know if the owner was still out there looking for him. We can only assume that someone loved him enough to buy him a little blue jacketa nice gesture but dogs have fur, and can keep themselves plenty warm with what nature gave them. Unfortunately, dogs cant talk, and they cant tell us where they live. They dont remember phone numbers or addresses. Without identification, a lost animal is truly lost and at the mercy of whatever life throws at it. Please be sure your dog can be identified. Even dogs kept indoors or those kept in fenced enclosures get loose from time to time. Get your dog a collar and tags. Have him ID microchipped. Write your phone number in permanent market on any jacket your dog wears. These are inexpensive things that can save your dog from months of starvation, suffering and misery. This little guy wandered into the neighborhood with no identification. We would have loved to reunite him with his owner but couldnt. Neither could we financially bear the cost of bringing this dog back to health--something that couldn't be guaranteed considering his present condition. We gave the dog a few last pets and paid to have him euthanized. It was the kindest thing we could do to end his long journey.