As with many experiences around our house, this one started with a phone call. My mother-in-law called to let my wife know that there was a pit bull just up the street from our house. She knew this because she had just pulled out of our driveway just moments before and, through the magic of cellular telecommunication, she was able to alert us to this canine crisis. To be fair, she was calling to let us know that one of our neighbors was walking their little white dog down the street and she feared for their safety.
Dutiful daughter and animal lover, my wife struck out immediately for the corner in question with her leash and best intent. The big, red-nosed pit turned out to be quite friendly to both my wife and the little white neighbor dog, but since he had not collar or tag, once he was at the end of a leash, she needed somewhere to take him.
First stop: Our house. This was the third stray my wife had brought home, not counting me. Meeting our guest for the first time, I asked the question I have asked each of those previous three: Now what? The subtext of the conversations are always pretty much the same: "I wish we could keep him." In this particular case, she was careful not to go there too quickly, since pit bulls in Oakland are a dicey proposition at best. This is not the dog that either of us would have picked as a replacement for our departed doggie pal, Maddie, and yet here we were.
This is when we began to do the dance of distance that turned out to be more difficult than we had expected. This dog was a sweetheart, and thrust his great, bony head into our laps to encourage scritching and scratching. He wasn't a slobberhound, and he kept his tongue in his mouth. A little on the thin side, he appeared as though he might have been tied up prior to his escape. My wife and I agreed that it might not be the worst thing if we didn't find the people who had been taking care of him right away. Our son, who is planning on going away to college next year, has already established that we are more than welcome to adopt any number of dogs, cats, parakeets, and so on after he leaves. He has decided that he just doesn't want to bond with a new pet before he takes his leave. Fair enough. What then to do with our orphan?
As a plan was formulated, the afternoon slipped away and it became apparent that we were going to have a doggie guest for dinner, and probably for the night. It was around this time that my wife's resolve not to fall for that big broad head and happy tail began to falter. We had been comfortable up until that point calling him "boy," or "good boy," because he was. We borrowed some kibble from a neighbor and settled in for the evening. I started calling him "Buddy," in the style of Pauly Shore. By the time we were all ready for bed, we had decided that we would take him to the animal shelter in the morning and hope they were able to find a home for Buddy. Whether it was the one he came from, or the one he was going to, we hoped that his sunny disposition would be enjoyed by someone deserving. After the third charged time outside while it was still dark outside, some of Buddy's charm was wearing thin. He had a predilection to announcing to the world that he was on our front porch by barking a few dozen times before he ever went out into the yard to do his business. This took another few petals from his courtesy daisy, and by the time the sun came up, my wife and I were both ready for Buddy to move on.
Still, we worried a little around the edges because even though we knew he possessed a winning personality, Buddy was a pit bull in Oakland. The folks at the animal shelter gave us a number with which we could keep track of him, and we will hope that he finds a nice family who can keep his head scratched and doesn't mind a few extra trips to the front door in the wee hours. If you'll pardon the expression.