It’s 1:00 in the afternoon and I’m walking home from the train. I was in the city for a job interview that went longer than expected, making me late for a second job interview by phone at 1:30. It takes 30 minutes to get home, and since the bus is too slow and a taxi is too expensive I’ll just have to walk super-fast like one of those goofy-looking speed-walkers. Missing this interview isn’t an option – it was month seven of a depressing job hunt. I was getting desperate. It was 2013 and while the job market wasn’t terrible, the fact that I was in my late 40’s re-entering tech sales after freelancing for a few years, made things harder.
Rounding the corner toward Lakeshore Avenue I hear a whimpering sound. Don’t you dare stop, Robin Fletcher – just keep walking. Not halfway down the block, I stop, turn around and go back.
There, behind a column on the porch of one of those run-down Edwardians near the lake is a shivering puppy peaking his head out from behind. There’s no collar and judging by its eyes, which are crusty and watery, it’s probably been abandoned. But there’s what looks like a water bowl with no water beside him.
Crap. Now what do I do? I can still make my interview if I leave right this minute. But then, what about the puppy? I could take him with me but if there’s an owner, he’ll wonder what happened to dog. I could knock on the door, but if the owner is stupid enough to leave his dog unattended by this busy street he might resent the fact that I’m telling him what to do with his dog. Damn.
Just then a stranger walks by and, noticing the pup asks, “What a cute puppy, is it ok?”
“I think it’s been abandoned, but I’m not sure. I was just walking by like you and had to stop. I’m not sure what to do,” I say.
“Well someone’s got to do something!” she blurts, shifting from concern to condemnation in an flash.
“I agree, but the problem is that I have a job interview that I have to go to.” Then it occurs to me we could team up, “this may seem weird because you don’t know me but maybe together we can figure out a way to help him.”
Visibly conflicted she snaps, “It’s not my fault – You’re the one who found it, not me.” And with that, she turns and continues on her way.
I look at the time. My interview starts in 5 minutes. I’ll never make it. And unfortunately I don’t even have their number to call and let them know. So, I guess I’m staying after all.
I wait for a few more minutes, hoping someone will approach who knows something, anything, about this puppy. But no one does. I gather my courage to knock on the front door – praying that by doing so I don’t unintentionally piss off the person living there.
An old woman still in her nightgown opens the door. “Hi, I’m Robin and I was just walking by when I noticed your puppy here alone on your porch.”
“It’s not mine,” she snaps.
“Um, uh, ok, well anyway, I was worried that he could go into the street, so I thought I’d let you know…” searching her face for some kind of sign that she cares.
But instead, she looks at me then down at the puppy then back at me and says, “I heard it crying this morning and so I put out some water and a bit of food. I thought it would just go away.” And with that she shrugs her shoulders and shuts the door.
I guess you’re coming with me, pup.
A few weeks later after having checked with the local animal shelters to see if anyone was looking for their lost puppy, I had no luck. I thought about adopting him myself but already had Moose, a large Coon Hound. And if you know hounds, they need plenty of exercise. My usual routine of running with him every day turned out to be quite the challenge. Squid, the name I ended up giving the pup because when he snuggled he looked like a little squid, was too small to keep up with Moose, and so I’d end up holding him in one arm, while running Moose with the other. And God help me if a squirrel crossed our path!
So, I decided to post on social media asking friends if anyone wanted to adopt Squid. A few days go by and there’s no interest. But he’s really grown on me by this time, so I decide to keep him. I’ll just have to find a way to make it work with Moose. That afternoon, I get a call from a friend of a friend interested in seeing Squid. She thinks he could be a potential therapy dog. She works with seniors in hospice and is taking care of an elderly gentleman who desperately wants a dog to keep him company. I look at Squid and realize this is where he is meant to be.
They come to meet Squid later that day and it’s love at first site. Squid nuzzles up against the old man’s arm, making him brighten with happiness.
Months later, the person who groomed Squid to be a therapy dog calls to let me know that the elderly gentleman passed away. He was holding squid lovingly in his arm when he died.