For fellow animal lovers, I accept your understanding of the aforementioned statement. For those of you who read this blog but aren't gaga for critters, I understand that you probably think this is further evidence of my slow trend towards insanity and/or animal hoarding.
"Cat," you say. "Animals don't CHOOSE you. You're in the right place at the right time. Or you anthropomorphically assume that an animal is reaching out to you. Or you've suffered long term brain damage from all those head injuries you had as a kid."
Well, I'm not here to argue. I'm here to tell you that this dog was all like, "HUMAN, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE. ADOPT ME AS ONE OF YOUR OWN OR LIVE FOREVER IN GUILT AND SHAME."
|I HAVE BEEN CHOSEN|
Let me also say that I have a lot of animal family members. I've got four parrots, a bunny, a gerbil (because I'm still 10 years old inside), and a lot of fish, snails, shrimp (more on that in later post). So the last thing in the world I wanted was a) another pet and b) a pet that can eat all of my other pets.
Think about it. Up until three days ago, the only predators I had in the house that weren't Homo sapiens were the panfish I have in my Florida native tank. Otherwise, everybody else was of the OMG I'm Going To Get Eaten At Any Moment ilk.
|Two of my extremely intelligent, socially complex animals whose sole nature purpose in life is to be eaten by something with sharp teeth.|
So on Tuesday, my husband and I were on our way to a delicious taco place for, you know, Taco Tuesday.* Not two blocks from my house, I see a little dachshund lying on the street like it was the most comfortable place to hang out.
Instantly, my animal-loving mind snapped into Caution-Animal-In-Road mode. I slowed down, checked my rear view mirror to make sure no one was behind me should I need to suddenly brake. The little dog looked directly at my vehicle, and made a series of Very Poor Choices. First, he ran towards my moving car. I veered off to the other side of the road with this dog still in pursuit. By the time I came to a full stop, I couldn't see the pup anywhere.
His second bad decision involved running under my back wheels. I didn't have my foot off the brake yet, and my car rocks backwards when I park and lift my foot off the brake. I started to panic. A scene inspired from Speed transpired.
|There's a dog in the road running right at us. Keep this vehicle at exactly 0mph.|
"Dude," (this is of course referring to my spouse). "I'm going to squash this dog if he doesn't get out from under my car. I can't get out. I can't lift my foot off the brake. I have to keep this car in its exact geographical and spatial location. I need you to exit this vehicle expeditiously but with great caution so that we may save a life."
"Can you get out of the car and pick up the dog?"
So he did. I took a deep breath and parked the car in the middle of the road because, well, this was an emergency.
We tried to find this dog's home. We went door-to-door, asking if anyone knew where the dog lived. It was a little weird that no one in the neighborhood had ever seen the dog. Meanwhile, the little guy was just hanging out, wagging his tail and looking at each of our faces like, "Hey! Hey! Hey! This is neat! I'm having a great time!"
Finally, I see someone walk outside of a house whose door had been wide open.
Hang on, let me address that a second. This house was the first place we looked. But being the door was wide open, and the fact that I've to date watched every episode of 9 seasons of Law and Order SVU, I am convinced that I'm going to be murdered, kidnapped, or worse, embarrassed by a total stranger. It's terrifying to go up to a house whose door is wide open but no one's around, because obviously, a Class A felony is being/has been committed. So we stood on the edge of the door frame and knocked loudly, hoping if something went wrong, Elliot Stabler would save us (and ruin my marriage, but oh well).
|Christopher Meloni, if you're reading this, I'm available.|
I digress. We could not rouse the residents initially. But after a few minutes of asking neighbors about our little car-chasing friend, someone emerged from the Open Door House. I asked him if he had a dog. He said yes, thanked us for finding him, and took him into his arms. I asked him what the dog's name was, to which he replied, "I don't know. It's not my dog. He just lives in this house."
A woman walked out of the house, saw the dog, and thanked us. She proceeded to inform us that it wasn't really their dog; the previous tenant of the house left him there (?!?!). Then she told us that the dog's name was Dusty Bottoms, and he was 13 years old.
|Hey, any animal named after a Chevy Chase character has got to be awesome. Although our Dusty has way more than three amigos.|
"How could someone just abandon a dog like that?" I asked her.
"I don't know. We're not really animal people though, and I'm moving out today. We've been taking care of him but now I don't know what's going to happen to him."
Dusty Bottoms was set back down on the grass. He ran straight towards me. I looked in his little, cloudy eyes and felt sick to my stomach that his life was so meaningless to someone that they just left him in this pickle. This is when Dusty made his third Poor Choice. He started wagging his tail, which forced my neurological system to form a sudden, fierce attachment to the little guy.
|How can you say no to that face?|
I looked back at my husband, not for approval, but for a, "You'll do as I say" look. He loves all of our non-human children, but let's just say he isn't the first to high-five me when I bring home another animal in dire need. Then the words rolled out of my mouth like hot lava** (or, no, soft serve ice cream. No no wait, hot fudge. Oh god I'm hungry), "Well we can take him if that makes it easier on you guys."
The woman said she didn't mind that, but it wasn't technically her call, because Dusty's original owner said she might come back and get him. Might?
We gave the woman our number and hoped that we'd get a call.
For the next day, I felt sick with worry. When I drove past the empty house, I thought of Dusty inside with a little bowl of food and water, wondering where everyone who had ever loved him disappeared to.
Luckily, we got the call. The owner was happy to let us take Dusty Bottoms, and said she'd give him to us the following day. I was simultaneously ecstatic and terrified, because of the whole I Have Prey As Animal Children problem.
|What did I do the night I picked up Dusty? When to get a burrito of course. Here he is at the burrito place.|
But, I'm happy to say, Dusty Bottoms has made himself a home here. And it turns out he's 10, not 13. He is missing some fur on his butt, he's a little skinny, and I don't know when the last time he's been to the vet was, but he's a happy little wiener dog. He's great with people and loves other dogs. He is desperate to befriend my bunny, Balls (yes, seriously). Balls isn't so sure about the dog, but I think he'll warm up to him eventually. Stay tuned for a Balls and Bottoms BFF post in the near future.
|See? Balls already loves wieners!|
So could I have dropped Dusty Bottoms off at a shelter somewhere? Tried to find him a home? Yeah. I could've. And if I thought I really in no way could give all of the loves of my life at home the best possible life by adding a little red-haired senior, I would've fostered Dusty and found someone who wouldn't mind taking in an old dog. But the fact of the matter is there was a reason this dude ran into my life, and he needs consistency. He's got a big yard to play in, lots of good napping spots, and he can't ever be bored because he's got lots of stimuli in the form of parrots screaming, "HI!! HI? HELLO? COM'ERE! LOVE YOU!" all day long.
So thanks for choosing me, Dusty Bottoms. Welcome to the family!
* I love this place so much, I don't need a cute alliteration to give me an excuse to go eat there. I've been there three times this week. I LOVE BURRITOS
** Don't you find this term "flow like hot lava" really redundant? Have you ever seen cold lava flow? No. That's because IT'S JUST SOLID ROCK BY THEN.