The Wrong Dog Day
He was the product of some back alley bad gene pool with a DNA strand longer than the Riemann hypothesis.
Out driving today I met the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen and a dog whisperer who made me cry. This dog, he was the product of some back alley bad gene pool with a DNA strand longer than the Riemann hypothesis. He was a mashed-face, half-tailed bundle of too-many-daddy parts about five inches high and twelve inches long with ears the size and shape of two hand-held fishing nets. Seriously, if you lost cable in my neighborhood this afternoon, this dog probably walked by your house and interfered with your signal.
It was raining, and there was a Jeep Cherokee stopped where a car would not be stopped unless something was wrong, and in this case a small animal beneath it was that wrong thing. The animal was sort of hop-dragging itself from one side of the undercarriage to the other. My heart wrenched. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it crossed my mind at first that it might be a possum, a house cat, or an extra-large ferret. There was a miserable looking girl standing on the curb opposite the Jeep. I pull over and got out of the car.
“It came out of the bushes to my car! It won’t leave!” The Jeep owner, a young girl who looked to have been standing in the rain awhile, was shaken. I hunkered down in the middle of the street and still couldn’t arrange the parts of the animal into anything recognizable.
“What is it?”
“It’s a dog.”
No way. I crawled up closer for a better look. If there had been a helium tank nearby I’d have sworn this dog had just sucked up a lungful before barking at me. It was a confusing sound, all echoing back and forth between its ears the way it was. You can’t get near this dog, but you can’t leave it. What to do?
So cars are backed up because our two lanes are now one lane and I’ll only let them through one by one, so this wrong dog doesn’t get himself completely dead. It’s kind of miserable and wet, but you know, it might be wrong, but it’s still a dog. One of the cars stop, and this guy gets out, pops his trunk and pulls out a blanket.
“He’s not going to let you near him,” I say. “He’s hurt and scared.”
But this guy, he walks up to the Jeep, bends down, lays the blanket out, puts out his hand and starts murmuring words we can’t hear, and the dog sticks his ears out. Jeep Owner and I have the best view. Passers-by are gawking as the dog's face leans towards the offered hand. No barking.
And then, the money shot: Wrong Dog, all shivering and helpless, gives the man's hand a lick. Hearts melt, lumps in throats, tears in eyes all over the street. And then the dog crawls out onto the blanket, lets the man wrap him up and suddenly he’s no longer wrong. He’s just a terrified bundle of hideous cute with ears you want to scratch.
Wrong Dog and the man drive away in the rain, and suddenly the rest of us are swiping at our faces and teary eyes. We smile self-consciously at one another and drive away thinking somehow we’ve been involved in something special.