This year has been probably the most important year of my life to date. I have learned so much about myself and the world I live in. I have had a great year full of things for which I am grateful, but some things have also happened this year that I haven't been too keen to blog about. So I just haven't written, or I've posted political commentary published elsewhere. I figure I have a lot of catching up to do, so I'd like to start with a story I've been meaning to tell for a while.
You might remember a while ago, I posted about the the newest addition to our family. About a month or so after that post, I was walking Noodle and Boy Dog, aka, Uncle Traveling Matt, and a small upper-middle aged woman stopped when she noticed the dogs. Uncle Traveling Matt was particularly interested in this woman, which is weird because he's really not interested in anybody. He jumped up on her and wagged his tail. I pulled him away, apologizing.
"Can you keep a secret?" she asked me.
"Can I tell you a secret?"
"Um, sure." Crazy lady alert!
"This used to be my dog," she said, smiling and pointing at Uncle Matt. (Turns out, I can't keep a secret.)
"Really," I said, not as a question, but more as a statement of annoyed disbelief.
"Yes, I had him for four and a half years, and I almost got divorced over this dog because my husband hated him. He peed all over everything and kept running away. So the last time he ran away, I just didn't look for him." I couldn't think of anything to say, so she kept talking. "I don't want him back," she went on (AS IF I WOULD GIVE HIM BACK), "you girls are doing such a good job with him and he's so happy, I can tell. And I know you think I'm a horrible person" (YOU THINK?!) "but I love my dogs more than my own kids. I wanted a dog like that one," she continued, pointing at Noodle, "so I got him, but I couldn't house train him and he kept trying to bite my husband. My husband hated him. I have this white carpet in my house, and he just destroyed it."
I stared at her. "Yeah, we have white carpet too, and he's still not housebroken. Where did he come from?"
"The pound. And I didn't want to take him back to the pound because I thought they'd just put him to sleep, and I just couldn't live with myself if that happened."
Now, here's where I realized only later what I should have said, which was this: SO YOU THOUGHT IT WAS BETTER TO LEAVE HIM ON THE STREETS IN A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT IS LOUSY WITH COYOTES?!?!? Instead, all I could say was, "He was infested with fleas when we found him."
"Yeah, he had fleas when I had him."
I couldn't believe this bitch. "You have to TREAT them for fleas. You have to give them MEDICINE for it."
"Oh, I gave him flea baths and stuff," she said, at a loss as to why those baths didn't work.
"No. You need to give him Frontline or Advantage."
"I've never heard of those." Then, "I thought maybe he needed a friend, so I went and got a labradoodle, Butch. But this little one kept running away."
"What is your name?"
"Well, we called who he is registered to and no one ever returned our calls."
"Yeah, I've changed my number since we licensed him."
"What is HIS name?"
"Aldo. I named him Aldo because it's a combination of my name and my husband's name, Sal."
I stared at her. "I thought you said your name was Maria."
She smiled warmly. "Maria Dolores."
I wanted to wipe that warm smile right off of her stupid face. I could not believe what I was hearing. But sure enough, when I brought him back upstairs and we began calling him Aldo, he lit up like a Christmas tree. Since then, he's been so incredibly happy - no longer withdrawn and shy, no longer afraid, just at peace with us. We really think that he tried to go home to her but she didn't let him back in, because I found him two doors down from where she lives, and she told me he'd been on the street for four months, which by the way were the wettest, coldest four months of the year. Now when I see this woman, I don't even acknowledge her, and if she talks to me, I don't stop and talk to her, I just nod and continue walking. She doesn't deserve to be a part of Aldo's life anymore. She had her chance and she blew it, and we picked up the pieces.
I do feel bad for the other dog, Butch. Every time he sees Aldo, he just sits and stares at him longingly, like, "Hey! We used to be friends! Where did you go? What happened to us?"
Meanwhile, we've added another great dog, albeit perpetually stinky, to our family, and we couldn't be more grateful. I know now that we are his guardian angels.