Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Bad Feeling

I was suspicious of the black dog from the start. Who gives away a dog whose tongue hangs out the side of his mouth like Astro from the Jetsons? Supposedly the guy, let’s call him Manny, had run into some financial difficulties and just had too many mouths to feed, what with the new baby and the other kids and dogs (not clear on the exact number) already eating him out of house and home. Something had to give. So he picked Sebastian to give away because he was the one who ate the most. I would think the difference between what a big black mutt eats and what a German shepherd eats (one of the other dogs—one of the keepers) would be negligible (if anything you would think the shepherd ate more), but this is what he said was the reason for giving him away.

There had to be more to it than that. Sebastian was just too cute. Manny claimed they were keeping him on the porch because he was big and he’d knock over the kids, inadvertently of course, and they had the new baby and all. He didn’t look that big to me. He was probably a biter. Maybe he bit someone and they wanted to unload him before the newspaper articles came out about the lawsuit. But if he took off a small child’s finger who was poking it through the fence, or disfigured the babysitter so badly she couldn’t go to prom, this guy wasn’t going to volunteer the information. He’d never find him a home if he told people he bit. So I acted like a biting dog was no big deal to me. I pretended I was stifling a yawn and asked, “Does he ever nip?” real casual.

He said, “Oh yeah.” My heart dropped. “He licks. He licks alright.”

Hmm. So he was a licker.

I asked if he was housebroken. He said when he used to let him in the house, before he was worried about his waggedy tail whacking the baby, he would put wee-wee pads down and point. Ew, that wasn’t good. A two-year-old unhousebroken dog. I have brand new carpet. But I know how to do crate training so unless he was some kind of a problem case, I was pretty confident that if he was crapping on the Orientals, I could fix it. I had a crate. I just had to get it out.

Supposedly he didn’t chew couches or bark when he wasn’t supposed to, though he would bark when a stranger knocked on the door. But he’d stop as soon as you told him it was okay. He was pretty good off the leash too—would come right back when called—and got along with cats and of course, kids, since Manny had a number of them and there was no mention of missing digits or ripped off lips.

Apparently there was nothing wrong with this dog other than he would eat me out of house and home. Which, of course, didn’t rattle me one bit being that I have horses who really know how to bankrupt a person with their demands for food and new saddles and the newest headstalls encrusted with Swarovski crystals on hand-painted leather.

We made plans to go see him on Sunday when Kurt was off. Someone else was interested but Manny promised he wouldn’t let them come until we saw him first. We had first dibs. (Yeah, right.) I asked for his address so I could MapQuest it ahead of time to see exactly where we were going but he said let’s wait until Sunday. No offense. It was Craigslist. Who knew who I was and what I could be up to? I could be a robber. Though robbing people who posted ads for dogs who needed homes would be stupid. Unless I wanted to rob the actual dog. Robbers usually post their own ads for expensive things they are selling and then whip out a pistol when some unsuspecting rich kid from the suburbs arrives, pockets full of cash after having made a stop at the bank, to buy a five thousand dollar four-wheeler that doesn’t exist in the middle of the ghetto. They don’t answer ads for dogs. Or maybe I was a rapist. I just read about an Angelina Jolie lookalike who raped a cabbie multiple times. He didn’t scream because he didn’t want anyone to think he was raping her. Jennifer Aniston was more his type. Okay, bad joke. No one said I was a comedienne. But it’s a true story.

Anyway, on Sunday, after he got back from church (yeah, right), Manny texted me the address. It was the address to a park. Supposedly we could see the dog in action running in the grass, playing with sticks and whatnot, when I knew the real reason was he didn’t want us to see where he lived. The dog was probably a biter after all. The kids would scream bloody murder when he looked in their direction. Or he destroyed the entire porch he was being kept on—the doorjamb was all chewed up, there were claw marks gouged in the woodwork and dark stains on the floor—and the couch on the curb with all the stuffing coming out of it would have caused us to pretend we were someone else and keep right on driving.

I had a bad feeling. I said to Kurt, “Let’s promise that if there are any red flags about this dog, we don’t take him.” Because if I wanted a dog who wasn’t quite right, I would have just kept the Doberman. That was a nice dog. And I was afraid I would weaken, even if the torn up couch was out there, seeing the tongue hanging out the side of his mouth looking so cute and dopey. I even got Kurt to stop at the local dog pound, since we were early and had some time to kill, just for one more look. But they were closed. So we found ourselves the only white people sitting in a gravel parking lot next to a basketball court where a couple of dozen folks of color were playing ball and glancing over at us suspiciously. Kurt promised he would be strong. He would not let me take any Dobie-wa-was or a snarling, growling dog, and we would definitely not take him if he lifted his leg and peed on my or Kurt’s new shoes. That would be a bad sign.

But Manny wasn’t showing. Maybe we were at the wrong park. I texted him. I didn’t want to text him. He wasn’t coming. We could go while the goings good. But it was the right thing to do. What if the guy was caught in traffic or something? It wouldn’t be right if we just left. No reply. We waited longer. Obviously he was up to something after all. This was our chance to hightail it out of there and forget the whole thing. Who needed a dog anyway? Life was pretty peaceful the last few months without a dog. I have to say, I was really enjoying not having all the work from a dog and the original idea was to wait until after the summer anyway, after we got back from vacation. Why take one now and have to deal with the whole dog sitter problem? I never know what’s worse—getting someone to come to the house and him being home alone all day till the sitter gets here or putting him in a private dog sitter’s home where he’ll get scared because her Great Dane looks like our pony but doesn’t smell like our pony? Or is bringing him to a professional kennel where they have outbreaks of kennel cough that they don’t tell you about worse? And what happens when they want me to give the dog more shots like what happened with Motley and then I’ll worry that his kidneys are going to fail like Motley’s because I wasn’t going to give him shots at that exact time and if I give the shots I’ll worry and if I don’t give the shots, I’ll worry. Whenever we go away, I spend most of my time worrying about the dog. I should just wait. I was about ready to say, “Com’on, let’s go,” relieved Manny was a no-show, when a guy came out of the woods with a big black bear on the end of a leash who was bounding around like a puppy. He was prancing, tail waving, and falling over his own feet, he was so joyous over being out in the park. From the distance I could see his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, blowing back behind him. And I knew that we were taking him.