On August 16, 2017

The one that got away

By Brady Crain
This was supposed to be a reunion story.

Ten days ago as I was packing my car to leave Jersey City, I met someone very special.  I was carrying my first load of bags to the garage where my car was parked, and one of the neighbors in the yard said , “We made a new friend” as I walked by, instantly feeling something cold and wet on my shin.

I looked down to see the cutest little dog, who, seeing me notice him, ran away and started to dash around.  It looked sort of like a combination between a Corgi and a long haired black lab, short legs, longish hair, and tall pointed ears.

Good natured and playful, the dog had no collar, insect eggs in his unmatted fur, clean white teeth, and a huge grin.  He had just run up to the neighbors and started dashing around playing, and tried to follow me everywhere I went.

The neighbors had called the local Humane Society, and we kept the little guy occupied with food and water until they got there.  With no collar and clean teeth, with fur not badly matted, the consensus was this was clearly a pet that someone had abandoned, which was infuriating- who abandons a dog outside instead of giving it to the Humane Society?

All of the neighbors stated that they lived in “cat only” apartments (cats don’t bark), or they would have just taken it in.  On my way home, I figured I would let the Humane Society clean him up and give him some shots, and see if any behavioral problems arise.

The dog (about 14 inches long), wolfed down a full can of food, a lot of water, and he would let us touch him, but it always became a game.  He never barked, not once.  He followed me so much that I couldn’t leave until the Humane Society arrived.

When the Humane Society person got there with a leash, we surrounded him and approached slowly, so that he would have no easy way to turn it into a game of chase.  He understood immediately (he recognized the leash for what it was, and saw us all approaching), and he sort of hunkered down a little, looking apprehensive, but allowing her to put the leash over his head. He didn’t freak out about the leash or try to bite it.  He just sort of looked around hopefully.

I told the woman from the Humane Society that I wanted to adopt this dog, and asked for information on how to do that.  I took the phone number, and called immediately during my drive north, further calling my landlord, and calling my mother to see if I could use her excess dog supplies.  Come hell or high water, I was going to have this little dog be a part of my adventure from here on out.

I called the Humane Society daily about this dog, who told me his name is “Dodger,” but it was a while before I got a returned call, and was told to fill out an application.  I went to the website, filled out the application, and called them to let them know.

There was a seven day “Stray Hold” period where they give owners a chance to collect any dog that might have run away, and after that, they do a behavioral assessment, and then offer the dog for adoption.

After chasing the Humane Society forever, I found out that my application had not been seen, because I had apparently mistakenly filled out an application on a thing called Pet Finder, and had to do one specifically for the Humane Society, which I immediately did, and called back, telling them that I would be back in Jersey City the day he became available for adoption, specifically so that I could grab him.

I figured that living in Vermont, being one of the people who had originally found him, and having a Humane Society employee corroborate this, I would be a shoo in for the adopter.

After making a stop in central Connecticut, I made my way to Jersey City, and got the call from the Humane Society about a half hour out from pickup that I had not been chosen as host for this animal.  Apparently, during the time I was messing about with the ridiculous, obtuse, and semi-hidden application process, this little dog (who turned out to be a young Scottish Terrier) had become a competitive adoption.

I was really sad about this.  Then, in a fit of cosmic pique, my GPS, having never done anything this stupid ever, took me through downtown Manhattan during rush hour.  This was especially frustrating, because if I had overridden the GPS and headed west to I87, I would have been in Jersey City before the rush started, but apparently the gods needed to punish me for my hubris, so I sat in Manhattan traffic for two hours, having fits of apoplexy, alternately cursing my GPS and the douches at the Liberty Humane Society.

I know, it’s a human organization, I know, there are lots of dogs to adopt, but this dog was special. We connected. We connected in the same way that my old Guinea pig, the late great Stinky Pete, had connected at the pet store. The bond was instant and final.

And they gave him to someone else.  So I went out on the town with a bunch of drunk friends, ate three giant meals before coming home (sober) at 4a.m., and then sleeping a pitiable four hours.

I had delayed the writing of this article until well past deadline so I could tell the story of my meeting this dog, and send pictures of us, the happy couple, traveling back to Vermont.  The story has a kind of a happy ending, because this delightful animal is in a good home, partially because of the neighbors and myself.  But it is someone else’s happy ending.

I tell myself that this was for the best, that now I can be more intentional about getting a more athletic dog, etc., etc., blah blah blah.  The thing is, I never really wanted a dog.  I wanted this dog. I wanted Dodger.

This was supposed to be a reunion story.

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