Image illustrates a dog in space

The Dog Shelter Story (Can You Call My Phone Again)

“You two can have a seat. We take people in every half hour. So you have about 10 minutes.”

I was nervous. It had been almost 6 months since my ex-wife left and took my dog but it was time. Jessica (my roommate slash fuck buddy) came with me for moral support. Ugh. Animal shelters were so depressing. In every bark I could hear, “Help! If you don’t pick me, they’re gonna euthanize me in an hour! Help me!”

Another family arrived after us. They were a couple around the same age as we were with a five-year-old daughter named Tara.

Tara had no reservations about informing us of her name, age, her parent’s first names and ages, the name of her school, and that she wanted a big, big dog named Abraxas.

I looked at the parents and they nodded and smiled with a look that said, “Yup, our kid is fucking weird. We know.”

I knew I wanted something small. Something I could pick up but not so small I crush it to death if I accidentally sat on it in a drunken stupor.

“Okay, come on back folks”

I tried not to make eye contact with any of the big dogs we walked past. No point getting their hopes up. Or worse yet return to our cramped apartment with a horse. I fall in love easily.

I wanted a small dog but it seemed like anything below 15 lbs was geriatric. There’s nothing wrong with an old dog, but I wanted the bond that occurs when you raise them from a puppy.

I kept walking around the kennels while Jess had fallen in puppy love with a Boston Terrier or Bostie named Gunther. She begged me to get it and started spouting off the virtues of the breed as she had one growing up. It was very cute and it was a puppy. But it wasn’t what I wanted. I had my heart set on another little fuzzball that sat in my lap vs a Terrier that always needed to go-go-go. I kept looking while Jess stayed and played with the Bostie.

I was about to give up I saw exactly what I was looking for in what was supposed to be a cat cage. A long hair Chihuahua puppy shaking like a leaf. She was all brown with a white band on her neck and down her chest.

The attendant felt the love in the air and opened the cage. The poor little thing almost fell on her head from wanting to leap into my arms.

I looked at the card above the cage.

“So her name is baby girl?” The attendant nodded. “Baby girl. Baby girl? Baby girlllll…”

I could have called the dog Shit For Brains. It was love at first site.

“Sold. I’ll take her.”

“Not so fast, we have a very rigorous background check. We don’t just let anyone off the street have one of our dogs. That’s how they wind up here.” She said flatly.

“First question: Do you have an address?”

“Yes. Its-“

“Second: Do you have 95 bucks right now?”

“Yes.”

“Congratulations, you’re a dog owner. Want another one?”

I looked across the room at Jess who was cradling the all-white Boston Terrier in her arms like a baby. The Bostie had fallen asleep with its head back and its gums had folded over. She was singing a silly puppy song to it. They both looked so happy.

I had an idea.

“Yeah, but here’s what I’d like you to do…”

After I explained my plan, she shot me a concerned look and said, “I most certainly will not pretend to put the dog to sleep then put it in your car. Besides this is a no kill shelter.”

“How about if I give you five bucks?”

She looked at me like I had just taken a dump on the floor. Which I’m sure happened all the time, just not from a human.

“Ten bucks?”

“That’s 190 bucks for two dogs. But if you want to surprise your girlfriend here’s what I’ll do…”

She took Baby Girl to the back for her shots. She was already spayed so that was nice and saved me a couple of hundred. She came back and told Jess that someone had adopted the Bostie and was here to pick it up. Her face dropped and tears welled up in her big blue eyes as she gave the dog back. The attendant told us she would meet us back to the front desk with my dog. Then she winked at me. Perfect.

Jess was bummed about the Bostie but was happy for me. I gave her a hug and held her close.

“Don’t worry babe. I’m sure the dog is going to a good home. They have a rigorous background check. They don’t let just anyone off the street adopt these things. Besides, we’re still getting a dog.”

The attendant came back out with Baby Girl.

“Here’s a leash, a collar, some dog food samples, A coupon for Frontline, 20% off Petsmart, A calendar, A Garfield note pad, some dog bones, a fidget spinner, a glow stick, refrigerator magnets, a coupon for Arby’s, a squeak toy, An AOL installation CD with 1,000 hours free, and poop bags. Oh, and one more thing…”

She went to the back and came back with the Bostie.

“Here’s your dog.” As she passed it to Jessica who had a look on her face like she had just been called down to contestant row on Price is Right.

“Oh Gunner, thank you! I wasn’t planning on… Oh! I love you! I love you I love you I love you!”

Was she talking to the dog or me? The dog I hope. What is my name anyways? Or… Oh shit. At that moment I realized I was in love with her.

God dammit. I really need to stop doing that. There was nothing wrong with her, but when I asked her a few days ago if she was interested in the position of girlfriend the answer was firm no. Jessica still wanted to date. She didn’t want to be tied down. But she was enthusiastic about being tied up so I tried to be indifferent.

We took out dogs back to the car. The oxytocin and serotonin were practically pouring out of all four of our years. I started tearing up again. It doesn’t take much. Forget coffee commercials, I teared up during insurance commercials. At the drop of a hat, Niagra Falls.

Fortunately the sounds of a 120 pound Rottweiler now presumably named Abraxas dragging Tara across the parking lot with her parents running after both of them snapped me out of it.

When we got in the car she stopped making out with her dog and grabbed me by the ears to pull my face in front of hers kissed me passionately as we heard squealing tires of the cars slamming on their brakes swerving to avoid Abraxas and Tara. As I looked at Baby Girl she went back to making out with her dog.

“So, we have Gunther and what do we call mine?” I asked. “If I can’t find her I’m not running around yelling Baby Girl.”

We heard a horn and both looked up just in time to see Abraxas be decimated by an 18 wheeler. Fortunately Tara had let go of the leash.

“…And I’m scared for life. Again. Gross. How about Abraxas the second?” Suggested Jess.

“Nah, that’s a stupid dog name… I’ll name her Sassy. Sassy?” My new dog looked up and wagged it’s tail lovingly.

“Sassy it is!”

“Can You Call My Phone Again?” — By Hogan Torah

Available on Amazon.. Eventually


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