Small Things: Every Dog Ends

I HAD A GREAT DOG ONCE, until somebody stole him. His name was Jesse and mom and I found him at the pound. I guess they don’t call it the pound anymore it’s shelter or something humane sounding but really the dogs and cats are impounded there and only technically sheltered so let’s just call it the (im)pound and stop pretending it’s a retreat. He was a Basenji-Pit mix and pretty much my best friend at a time when we kept changing houses and schools. I don’t know maybe I was fourteen.

Jesse peed in the house a lot and we never really cured him of that which was a bummer in the places that had carpet. Later after many classes I became proficient with dog training but too late to save our security deposits. I remember Jesse mostly at one of our annual houseboat trips out at Lake Shasta because of the photos my sister Erin took with her little yellow rectangle of a camera. In pictures he wears a red bandana and has the bulk of a grown dog. I don’t know maybe he was three.

We moved from Redding to Woodland and if you know either town, you’ll know that they’re dusty valley towns with summers so hot you can never warm up anywhere else. I live in Sonoma County now where cold nights in July are good for the grapes, but they remind me that I’m not really home. When we moved, Jesse had to live with Erin for a bit in West Sacramento while we found a place with a yard. One day a few weeks in, someone opened the back gate, walked into the yard and took my friend away. He was suddenly just gone.

The bus ride to Sacramento was only about an hour, and I took it daily for several weeks, checking the pounds and putting up flyers. I learned from talking with people that there were dog fights going on around there and Jesse, being part pit bull, may have been taken for the ring. The thought of this completely crushed me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind as I walked and walked and walked talking to people, peering over fences, calling his name. School started and I couldn’t take the bus anymore, so I had to stop looking. Once, about ten years later I thought maybe I saw him, but I know that was just my mind digging into the past for hopes and wishes, like our minds tend to do.

I’ve had other dogs since. My last was Hazelbelle M’pashelele, a hopelessly clueless floppy-eared harlequin Great Dane. She left over ten years ago. I often think oh maybe it’s time to visit the pound and find a new friend. I go online and look at rescue dogs and of course they all seem perfect. Then I remember that every dog ends up a sad story in the end. It’s not a good way to look at things, I know, and the same fear and hesitation probably holds me back in other parts of my life. I get that.

Anyway, Jesse was a great dog and now and again I think back and remember him fondly. I hope he peed all over the carpet of the people who stole him.

[The “Small Things” series consists of half-hour morning exercises. I sit, let a memory hit and type it out …. with the clock set for one half hour. Doesn’t leave much time for worrying about grammar or editing. Just get the stuff out the door.]

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