My frustration mounted as a I sat in stand still traffic on Saturday morning. Why was the traffic at a complete stop on this secondary road leading into an industrial park? I heard a horn blow ahead of me, and then another. I could see nothing over the line of traffic, and quickly opened my door and stepped into a hot California morning.
I began walking, rising on my toes to try and peer over car roofs.
“There is a dog in the road.” said an older man, leaning from his car window as I passed.
“Is it dead?” I said.
“No, but it won’t move out of the road, and it won’t let anyone catch it. I ain’t about to get bit!” he said.
I walked on, and moved past cars with people all turning to watch as I passed. Scowls of disapproval and looks of curiosity followed me as I passed. I had now officially made myself the owner of this problem.
I reached the gap in the cars, and cringing there in the middle of the road, looking terrified, was a small, skinny, filthy…pit bull. I just stopped and stared. I had read about this breed of dog, heard all of the horror stories that surrounded these killers of the canine world. She must have seen the ambivalence or wariness in my stance, because as I stood there looking at her, with her shaking violently and staring back at me, she slowly rolled over with her tail tucked and urinated all over herself.
A truck suddenly pulled towards her with it’s horn blowing, and I angrily raised my hand. I could not allow this pathetic animal to be killed in the middle of this road in front of all of these indifferent people. I crouched down and held out my hand as she slowly rolled back over and began inching backwards with her belly on the ground.
“Come here little girl.” I said softly. I was as wary of her as she was of me.
“Here, take this…” a man said behind me. I turned to see him holding out half a sandwich.
“Thank you” I said as I turned back to her with it, still in my knee screaming crouch.
I could see her nose twitching, and also see she was starving. Fear was keeping her low to the ground, but hunger had stopped her backwards movement. I threw half the sandwich to her, and she leaned forward and gulped it down greedily, and with that the damn broke and hunger took over. She moved towards me with her whole body wiggling eagerly, trying with all her might to let me know she was grateful, friendly, submissive, starving…and willing to follow her first sign of some hope.
The man and I walked back to my car without speaking. I opened the rear door and showed her the other half of the sandwich as I tossed it into the floor board. She stood on her hind legs and leaned into the car. I just watched, wanting to help, but scared to to touch the filthy little dog with the big reputation.
“Do you think she will bite me if I lift her.” I said to the older man beside me.
“She is a pit.” was all he said.
Suddenly, she jumped in the back. I closed the door quickly.
“Thank you” I said.
“No problem. Good luck” he said as he turned to walk away.
By the time I reached the drivers seat, the dog had moved into the front passenger’s seat and was seated stoically in the middle, staring forward as if this was a normal every day event. I paused and looked at her, and she glanced back over at me before quickly turning to face forward again.
“Let’s go” said the look. “We have things to do.”
We spent the next four hours driving from “no kill shelter” to “no kill shelter.” They were all full and did not take pit bulls because they already had too many. The SPCA told me they would hold her for 72 hours before euthanizing her. I looked at her filthy white, flea infested body, and knew nobody would come looking for her. In exasperation, I pulled over to the side of the road to consider my options.
I had lost my last of a long line of Labradors just a month earlier. My heart was still reeling from missing my 16 year partner. I was also working in CA with a home in CT, living out of a hotel. I could not keep this dog. I laid my arm on the console to my right and put my head back. I would have to take her to the SPCA and hope for a miracle.
I felt a small weight rest on my arm and looked down to see two soft brown eyes gazing up at me. This small stoic little dog no longer look terrified. That look was one I had seen in Sid’s eyes so often…one of trust and commitment. How could a creature that had clearly been through what this animal had been through, maintain it’s composure so well, and trust so easily. I had no idea how I was going to work this out, but as I punched the closest Veterinarian into my gps, I had a feeling this dog was about to become a big part of my life.