By Alyssa Schnugg/The Oxford Eagle
OXFORD— No one knows where he came from but the large brown dog, known to many as the “town dog,” with a white splotch on his chest has been roaming the streets of east Oxford for years.
Phyllis Smith, assistant manager at Chevron Food Mart, has been feeding the dog biscuits and chicken for years, occasionally letting him sleep in her car on a cold day.
“I wished I could take him home but I couldn’t,” she said. “He’s been stopping by here for years.”
About two weeks ago, on a snowy, icy morning, Michael Ikeda-Chandler stopped at the gas station to fill up his car before heading to school in Senatobia.
“I saw the dog standing outside the door waiting, like he was at attention, and I recognized him as the dog I’ve seen in the mornings for about a year,” Ikeda-Chandler said.
“I decided to go in and buy a biscuit for him. I asked the lady about him and she told me he’d been around town for years.”
Smith told Ikeda-Chandler that what “Old Timer” needed was a good home.
“I asked if she thought we could get him into my car,” Ikeda-Chandler said. “I opened the door and he jumped inside.”
Smith hugged Ikeda-Chandler, thanking him for giving her long-time friend a home.
“I cried when he left,” she said. “He was my baby. But he’s happy now.”
It’s not known exactly how long the dog has been on the streets, or how old he is, but Ikeda-Chandler estimates him to be about 8 years old. He’s taking the dog to his first veterinarian appointment soon.
“Other than 10 ticks I pulled off of him, he’s in better shape than most dogs his age, probably from eating people food and getting plenty of exercise,” Ikeda-Chandler said.
Ikeda-Chandler posted pictures of him and the dog on his Facebook page and was surprised to learn just how many people had interacted with his new pet.
“It seems he was very popular around town,” he said.
Ikeda-Chandler and the dog came into each other’s lives almost exactly two years from the day Ikeda-Chandler lost his 13year-old Labrador retriever, Mea.
“It’s been a real lonely two years, the first in 13 years I’ve not had a dog,” he said.
Since moving in with his new owner, Ichiro — his new name — has adapted pretty well to the housedog life.
“He has some symptoms of a dog that’s been on the street for years,” his owner said.
“He won’t touch dry food. He doesn’t like rawhide chews and he is very, very insistent on being petted and scratched. Once I’ve started petting him he won’t leave me alone until he gets affection for at least 30 minutes.
When he sleeps, he gets into the dog fetal position with his head lying on his foot paw, even tucking his tail under him. ”
I see that, and I feel so glad he doesn’t have to sleep out in the cold anymore.”
Ikeda-Chandler and Ichiro can often be seen walking around Pat Lamar Park and the Whirlpool Trails. After living on Oxford’s streets for years, the “town dog” finally has a forever home.
“A dog, to me, is family,” Ikeda-Chandler said. “I couldn’t just give him away now.
That would be like adopting a child, establishing trust and then giving him away. Dogs are pretty resilient though. It would probably hurt me more than him.”