Just a couple of months ago, Dexter was one of the “Pets of the Week” in the pages of the Hudson Reporter looking for a place to live. The terrier mix was recently adopted by a couple in Weehawken – and then found himself a pet bird in his own backyard: an eagle.
At his waterfront abode with John and Julia McIntyre, Dexter is known for being a special sort of watchdog. “He’s very nosy, very observant” said John McIntyre. “He’ll sit on the bench and look through the window at Manhattan all day.”
Earlier this month, the couple was watching a movie on television in their King Avenue home when Dexter began barking. When they went to the window to see what all the fuss was about, they were amazed at the bird they saw.
“It was a huge thing,” said McIntyre. “It flew up in the tree and frightened him.”
“We’ve lived here 24 years and have never seen an eagle, but Dexter saw it.” – John McIntyre
“I thought it was a big chicken,” said McIntyre. “But my wife said, ‘No; that’s an eagle.’ ”
Surprised at such a sight in an urban area, the McIntyre’s proceeded outside to take pictures. “We’ve lived here 24 years and have never seen an eagle,” said McIntyre. “But Dexter saw it.”
Last week, Jim Wright of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission confirmed that it was indeed an eagle that Dexter scouted out.
“They are becoming more common in New Jersey, and it’s terrific,” said Wright. “We’re seeing them more and more across northern New Jersey.”
Wright said the gradual return of the American Bald Eagle to the area is attributed to the ban on DDT, a synthetic pesticide that endangered the species near extinction years ago.
The last bird count located the birds on the Hudson River, Hackensack River, reservoirs in Passaic County, and throughout the Meadowlands.
For most, the sighting of an American Bald Eagle is still something rare to behold. “A lot of people live here with their eyes closed,” said McIntyre. “Joggers were going by that day. Nobody saw the bird. It created a kind of gust as it flew over me. Its wingspan was amazing. You wouldn’t miss something like that.”
The eagle-scouting Dexter grew up in the school of hard knocks for pups. A native of Georgia, he spent most of his early life moving from rescue shelters to foster homes and back again. His temporary caretakers surmised that something must have frightened young Dexter early on in life, as he constantly appeared growling and skittish upon meeting new people.
Dexter was uncomfortable in his cage and barked often, a turnoff for many would be adopters. When he was moved to C.A.R.E. (Compassionate Animal Rescue & Education, Inc.) in Hudson County, he was featured in their Critter Corner advertisements in newspapers.
The McIntyres, who were mourning the loss of their previous dog, had been seeing Dexter’s ad in the Weehawken Reporter for several weeks. “When the pictures started appearing in the newspaper it was a sign,” said McIntyre. “Something was saying ‘adopt me.’ It was cute picture, too.”
They had never adopted a dog before, but decided to place a phone call to C.A.R.E. last December. Within 24 hours, Dexter was being welcomed into their home.
“He’s a highly intelligent little dog,” said McIntyre. “He’s a good dog, very alert. People should be more open to adopting these animals, rather than going to a breeder or a pet shop. C.A.R.E. has some great animals.”
The McIntyre’s have noticed that within the few weeks they’ve had Dexter, all of his anxious behavior has gone away.
“This is the first real home he’s had,” said McIntyre. “He realizes he’s safe now; he’s home.”
Dexter celebrated his second birthday last week, surrounded by love and happiness.
“I think he just likes to be with us. He’s a real little character,” said McIntyre. “He came fully trained. I can’t believe nobody wanted him.”
For more information on C.A.R.E., please call (201) 436-6595 or visit www.carenj.com.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.