year of the dogs (and a cat)
It was 12 March 2008 when, as I was driving to work, I saw the power-walker being chased by the grey fluff. Stray dogs are a common-enough sight in the neighborhood where I work, but this over-excited tumblefluff was maybe the size of my fist—definitely not a dog. By the time I u-turned and found the guy again, he’d lost his ankle-biter, so I pulled onto the shoulder and got out to look around. Before I’d even crossed the street, I spotted the kitten hiding under a parked car. Now, my plan was to cross the street carefully and try to coax the little thing out from under the car; instead, it ran across the street to me, and happily allowed me to pick him up.
I knocked on all the nearby doors, but nobody was familiar with him. Plan B: take him to work. I can’t take him inside since it’s a public building, but it was a pretty cool day, and I was only working 9–12, so I left him in the car. I checked in on him at least a half-dozen times, and he weathered his temporary Toyota prison very well. My vet checked him out, and while he didn’t have a chip, he was in tip-top shape for a stray. I made and posted some signs, and we stuck the little guy in my ready room until we thought it wise to introduce him to Ender, Olive, and Miss Chief.
One day, a library regular was talking about her cat who’d died a half-year prior, and I brought up the stray I was fostering. I showed her some photos, and she fell immediately in love with him. A week or so later, she met us at the house, and we handed him off to his new home. Now she shows me photos and tells me stories of Oliver every time she’s at the library.
When we moved to Memphis, it was 100% for Angelbiscuit’s job. Coincidentally however, I have three aunts, three uncles, and three cousins all living here, too. One of these cousins is a shite human being. She and her two teenaged children lived in a two-bedroom apartment (the daughter lived in the dining room) on a shoestring budget. So when the daughter expressed a desire for a dog, what is the rational, adult, responsible, mature decision my cousin made? She adopted a pit bull puppy to keep in their tiny apartment where dogs are forbidden.
I foresaw this disaster well in advance, and last January told my cousin’s daughter that, when that situation went to hell, “we want to be there to help out however we can.” This did, of course, happen, and I retrieved Stella on 5 April. At a year old, Stella was kept in her cage whenever nobody was in the apartment, she was scarcely exercised in the complex’s minuscule greenspace, and she had no training whatsoever—in fact, having been taught explicitly bad habits.
It turned out that Stella was so unruly: only I could handle her, when I was home, and only marginally-well at that. Angelbiscuit was afraid of her, and Azrkpntr simply couldn’t physically control her. Fortunately I’m blessed with the friendship of Isasauce, and he has more experience with dogs than I, and was willing to take up the challenge of training and finding Stella a home. We met him in Birmingham on 22 April.
On 17 April, soon after we opened the library, a patron came in a told us there was a dog on our front stoop. My manager and I went out and found the saddest, most down-trodden dog I’ve ever seen. She had a purple collar on, but there was nobody around, and in her given-up state, she certainly hadn’t walked to the library. My manager retrieved a leash from home, and I was allowed to spend the day outside with the dog, greeting patrons as they arrived. The dog would walk on a leash if you lead her, and she would eat and drink a little, but otherwise she just laid and stared at nothing.
I took her to our veterinarian that evening, and we all decided that she’d been bred out and then dumped at the library after her most-recent litter, possibly because she was heartworm-positive. She was four-to-six years old, and likely a Basset Hound – pit bull mix. Our wonderful veterinarian offered to treat her heartworms at cost, and so we spent the next seven-plus months improving her physical and mental health.
At Thanksgiving last year, Isasauce visited once again, and we conned him into temporarily trading Eva for his Canis perfectis, Babe (who needed a vacation from Stella, for whom Isasauce still hadn’t found a home). He found Eva a home with a co-worker within a week, and now she enjoys a wonderful home with a doggy-sibling and children to play with. Babe hung out with us until 12 May, this year, and we all kinda miss her.