This isn't the post I've been working on for the past couple days, but I've had to momentarily set that one aside on account of the following unexpected turn of events. But before you all breathe a sigh of relief have a collective panic attack, don't worry. I will still be publishing the other one as well. You will not miss out on one single word of the poetic greatness that is "Um...What??" GAG.
Anyway, on my way home from work Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting this guy:
I don't know his name because he wouldn't tell me what it was which was mostly because he was too damn busy constantly sticking his gigantic tongue inside of my ears to be able formulate any coherent sentences. Of course this is the normal effect I tend to have on men so I am totally used to this behavior. Chris. But everyone needs a name so I think I'm going to start calling him Buster. I figure this is probably better than calling him This Guy or Hey Dog, Plus, my backup name is Marshmallow Mush (BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE IS) and I'm guessing no self-respecting dude wants to be known as Marshmallow Mush. Also? I stole the name Buster from Dad or Bust, one of my favorite blogs EVER and the best daddy blog on the web. And I can totally be the judge of this since I don't know sh*t about being a dad and know even less about blogging. Don't forget me, Dad or Bust, when you're bigger than DOOCE. And yes, Chris, YOU should be my favorite daddy blogger but this would require you actually write in your blog. Because seriously? I'm gonna take back your Lazy-Ass Blogger award and replace it with one for a DEAD-ASS BLOGGER. The good news is I won't have to really change the artwork all that much:
The only conceivable difference is your breath on the mirror I shove under your nose to make sure I don't have to pay for your funeral. And I am poor so I hope you enjoy making your trip to the afterlife in a cardboard box Hefty Cinch Sak.
Back to Buster: (You: I fell asleep five minutes ago BORING.) When I met Buster he was running around on a very busy road I take back and forth to work. It connects the San Fernando Valley to the area farther north where I live, and while it's busy as hell, it's also akin to the middle of nowhere. There are no houses, no businesses, no ANYTHING in that area. You just use it to get from Point A to Point B. Unless you're Buster. He was using it as some daredevil, stunt-dog training ground as he ran back and forth from one side of the road to another, dodging in and out of cars and causing various drivers to have strokes and heart attacks and near-miss fender benders.
It was clear he was in over his head, but even so, no one was stopping to help him, which I'm sure had everything to do with how freaked out everyone was from having to brake and swerve and nothing at all to do with the fact that a lot of people SEEMINGLY HAVE NO SOULS. So I stopped. And did my own quick version of traffic dodging. Speaking of possible Dead-Ass Bloggers. Unless you're my mom reading this, in which case I am totally just joking about running around in traffic HAHA SO FUNNY! Once I got Buster's attention, it didn't take much to also get him into my car. One "Here boy!" (lucky guess) and two open arms and Buster and Lesley were suddenly just like Fozzie Bear and Kermit The Frog – movin' right along in search of good times and good news! Except that Buster didn't have a banjo. Silly. Of course he didn't. Because he had a harpsichord. Not really!! Everyone knows dogs prefer kazoos:
I am seriously too dumb to figure out how to center this video. Awesome.
After Buster spent about five minutes thanking me profusely for picking him up by licking every square inch of my face and spitting in my ears and slurping on my neck – and sadly this is as much action as I've seen in as long as I can remember MORE AWESOME – I decided to take him to my vet for some kind of guidance because, frankly, once he was in the car I wasn't exactly sure what to do. He was filthy and had no collar, but he was certainly healthy enough. I knew I couldn't take him home myself, because besides having a diabetic cat, I also have a small, one bedroom apartment and no yard. That's right: There is NO END to my awesomeness.
"THAT is a Pit Bull." This is the first thing one of the vet techs said to me when Buster padded happily into the waiting room with me. This is an animal professional and she looked, well, somewhat alarmed. She retrieved a leash from somewhere in the back and told me I had to get it on him right away because "there are people's pets here." Um...what? Isn't that what Buster is? Someone's pet? He was clearly well trained, lying down in the back seat while we drove – except for when he'd get up to put his big head on my shoulder and lick my ear – and try as I might to coax him into the front seat, it was obvious he'd been trained that wasn't allowed. He followed me when I walked and heeled when I stopped. This was a good dog and as sweet as any I'd ever met and it was 8:00 at night and there was NO ONE else there so all the other animals were in the back and this dog was busy licking and licking and licking my right elbow in a really loud and sloppy fashion. Good holy crap: EVERYBODY RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.
Unfortunately, Buster – who they told me was about a year old – didn't have a microchip and that left the two of us without a lot of options. My parents live in the area, but their condo also doesn't have a closed-in yard and they have two cats of their own. Chris lives about ten minutes away, but he's violently allergic to animals. "Hey Buster! We saved your life, but we accidentally killed Chris. Woops!" Maureen lives about five minutes the other direction, but her female dog is in heat (and Buster is unfixed) and that is called Compounding The Problem or Animal Porn. So after a few calls I had no choice but to make arrangements through Animal Control to take him to the Castaic Animal Shelter.
Animal Control? Who wants to call THOSE monsters? Don't they drive around in big, menacing trucks with bars on the windows? Don't they carry huge nets they just smack down over an animal before scooping him or her away to some kind of dirty, depressing Animal Attica? Yeah. That's what I thought too. I was amazed at just how wrong I was. I dealt on the phone with a lovely woman named Alissa who coordinated with the shelter for our arrival (it was many hours after hours at that point) and then stayed on the phone with me while Buster and I drove around in the pitch black, middle-of-nowhere trying to find the place.
Once we eventually stumbled onto it, I thanked Alissa profusely and clicked off. She had assured me this shelter was a loving, compassionate facility where Buster would be well taken care of. And I was sure I believed her, despite the fact that in the dark it looked more like a place where people go to get violently ax-murdered during the dead of night. Which, to be honest with you, wasn't really something I was all that interested in. Unfortunately, this outcome started to seem more and more likely as Buster and I wandered around outside in the increasingly creepy night for almost ten minutes looking for this dude who was supposed to meet us. Tons of barking dogs...not one other human soul. Oh - and the wind! Spooky, swirling, howling wind. Howling. Which, of course, is why I almost had a heart attack when my phone suddenly rang loudly in my hand. I dropped it to the ground in a startled fit and Buster immediately begin licking it. Because, for those of you who haven't caught on to this yet, licking is what Buster does. It was Alissa again, letting me know that the gentleman I was meeting had to go on some animal emergency-related house call. He would be back in an hour at most.
In the dark?
WAIT! I have a Pit Bull!
"You have a WHAT??" My dad. On the phone. "You let a Pit Bull into your car?" Okay, really? Again with this? Buster and I were sitting in the back seat together, and he was snoring away with his big head in my lap. There was a growing drool spot on my knee. SCARY. "People get killed alone at night in the middle of nowhere, dear." Well, I can't argue with that.
"But I have a Pit Bull with me, Dad!"
"People get killed alone at night by Pit Bulls."
What? "Okay. Now you're just making crap up."
"I'm coming to meet you. You shouldn't be alone in a strange place at night." Not alone! Doggy! "With a strange dog." Not strange! Mushy! "You could get yourself killed." Seriously: My dad spends a LOT of time offering me tips on how to avoid getting myself killed.
And he did show up. Because he's my dad, and that's what he does. He takes care of his little girl. But you know who else showed up at almost the exact same time? The shelter guy. Who, it turns out, was also an Animal Control employee. (I had no clue how these things work. Who did I expect? The janitor?) He was wearing a verrrry nicely-fitting uniform. With a shiny, authoritative badge. He had a killer smile. He offered me a sweet, southern-twanged apology for being late because he had to go "wrangle a snake."
Wrangle? A snake?
Oh. Mah. Gah.
Buster was licking him.
I was getting kind of jealous.
I was also not at all happy about the gale force winds that allowed my hair to look like this upon the first moment mine and my new Snake Wrangler boyfriend's eyes met:
Although maybe this is okay, since in a way it looked very similar to this:
But what made Snake Wrangler Boyfriend even hotter was the sweet way he talked to Buster. He scratched his ears, he told him he was a good boy, he laughed when Buster jumped up and licked his chin. And he wrote down my phone number because that's official shelter procedure he was obviously totally in love with me. Droooools.
And with that, Buster was leaving me. And while I was relieved to know he would have food and water and a safe place to sleep, I still puzzled on the drive home over whatever chain of events I'd managed to set into motion that night. I have since gone to visit him twice (they're closed to the public on Sundays), and in the light of day the Castaic Shelter is actually quite a wonderful place. It's on a beautiful piece of land. The enclosures for the animals are clean and larger than you'd expect with both indoor and outdoor portions. The place is swarming with volunteers who walk and play with and love the animals. But the bottom line is it's still no place for any of them to be stuck. At the end of the day it's still concrete and cages and lost souls that have somehow ended up in circumstances that are less than ideal.
And now that I've grabbed Buster off the side of a desolate stretch of road, I feel responsible for him. Now that I've gotten him locked away in what feels like – despite the grass and despite the lovely volunteers – nothing less than a prison, I need to find a way to break him out. The shelter will hold him for five days in the hopes his people will claim him. (Five days? That's it?) After that, they will do their best to find a family to adopt him, but let's be honest: At that point his future becomes uncertain. It is for every dog in that situation, but even more so for Buster because of his breed. Pit Bulls have gotten a bad rap (PUTTING IT MILDLY) due to a$$holes like Michael Vick, but inherently they're born as wonderful, loving animals. When well trained – as Buster clearly is – they're ideal family dogs. They're intelligent, they're enthusiastic and they're loyal. They live to please their people and they LOVE children. This is exactly the dog I saw in Buster. I fell in love with his dirty, spitty mug, and now I want so badly to save him from his current predicament. Because Buster is a soul in desperate need of some rescuing, and I know a little something about how that feels. The lost look he had in his eyes when I found him? The wandering? The fear of being left behind? Yep. I get it. We're kindred spirits, Buster and I, and I'd like to think we ran into each other for a reason.
Which I'm assuming is something related to the greater good and not just so I could meet a hot Snake Wrangler Bloggy Boyfriend. Although, you know...that certainly doesn't hurt.
Hang in there, Buster. I'm working on it.
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High Horse Epilogue: If your pet isn't microchipped, what are you waiting for??
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UPDATE: The following comment was left on this post by Issa, one of this blog's favorite readers (because you're allll my favorites!), and I thought it bore repeating:
Holy moly man. I freaking love pits. My dad has the sweetest one in the world. She would literally let my kids take anything from her, even out of her mouth and she just lays there all patiently. My aunt has an awesome one too. People are what make pits bad...
Thank you, Issa!