I am a professional time waster, and so I have a few internet stops that I dally at. One is the homesite of PAWS where I love to enjoy the raw joy in the faces of the adopting families. I try to stay away from the “dogs available” page, as I have two dogs already, and I do not wish to fall in love. So I tip toe to “dog adoptions” and smile back at the happy people and pets. In these grim times, people have to give up beloved pets as they relocate to non-pet housing. It gives me great pleasure to see some of them complete a new family. I am not discriminating against cats- their adopters are just as joyous. The cats telegraph from the get-go that they will own their new masters, and not the reverse. The dogs are more demonstrative of the rainbow of emotion: suspicion, joy, fear, pain if they have been spayed. Cats seem to be saying, “I’ll take salmon.” I am allergic to cats, though I wheezed my way through ownership of several. Their purring and curling can lower blood pressure- but my eyes were often swollen shut. Still, most days, I thought it was worth it.
It was at Paws that Matt lost his heart to a canine man about town, named Buddy. Matt moved out to a small one bedroom very close to the lake. He had great landlords- us. Rent was adaptive to his finances, and we had one rule only: no pets. He was on the 11th floor, the elevators were small, and the nearest grass required an effort to find. He missed his dogs Mabel and Milly, and his pet free status meant that I could lure him out to visit with them. I knew he was lonely, though, and when I started hearing background noises I suspected he had a companion. It turns out that he stopped by PAWS, and a dog spoke to him. “Take me home, you fool!”, the mutt cried out. Matt obeyed. He changed Buddy’s name to Walter in honor of Sweetness and Walter Sobchek from The Big Lebowski. He lived the lie for a time, but I was not to be fooled. I arranged a meet and greet with Milly, Mabel and Steve and me.
Walter is “everydog” Each part of his anatomy is from a different breed. He is skinny, with a long tail, stilt legs, an undersized head and erect ears. He is nervous-he rarely has all four legs on the ground at the same time. On Matt’s inaugural lakefront romp with Walter, he was chomped upon by a pit bull, perhaps because he makes other pets wary with his twitching. The offending dog’s owner paid for the vet bill, and the police officer who noticed Matt’s fast driving was moved by the bloody mess to escort him. Walter was still wearing his cone when we first met him.
I must say, Mabel was pretty skittish about Walter’s headgear, and she applied fresh tooth marks upon his snout. I nursed him, and no further needlework was required. Walter remembers. We bonded. Steve hated, but now tolerates Walter. The dogs have come to a truce. They are almost a pack.
Matt has found a girlfriend for himself and Walter. Justine is a nurse who works the night shift, and so she is Walter’s daytime playmate. They sleep like spoons. Matt suspects that Walter prefers Justine to him, and that hurts. However, Matt is also aware that Walter functions as the glue in the relationship. His hang-dog face distracts her from any moodiness or bad behavior from his master. Dogs provide a panorama of services for their masters.
On one of Walter’s first trips to the burbs, it was Halloween. Taking a page from my “costume-the-dogs” book, he dressed Wally Boy as Darth Vader. I feared letting him loose near kids, with his crazy twitching and furtive glances. We put a kiddie gate across the front door, and Walter draped himself across it. He watched the little princesses and skeletons traipse by,never barking. He was loved and petted and he actually seemed to smile. This Saturday, as is our custom, Matt will come out to help distribute candy. I hope he brings Walter. We miss him. He does not need to wear a disguise.
Visit PAWS virtually, and you may escape without a new mouth to feed. You can donate to help them defray their mounting costs. They try desperately to place their charges, and they can use the help. So can the animals. The smiles that are there are free.
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