Yesterday, as I was driving into town using the shortcut that takes me past the park where I occassionally catch a rare glimpse of Swinging Girl, I noticed a dog.
Normally I don't notice dogs.
I'm more of a cat person.
The first reason I notice this dog is because he was all alone. There were no people in the park and there were no cars in the lot.
The second reason was that it is 105degrees (not exaggerating) and he is sitting out in the sun next to a water spigot that had collected enough runoff to manage a decent-sized puddle. It is probably the only standing water in a tri-state area, given the temperature around here recently.
Fill in your favorite curse word here! I think to myself. Someone has tied their dog up in a public park while they go for a run. God, people SUCK.
I make up my mind that if the dog is still there after I run my errand, I'm dognapping him and taking him to the local shelter. Sorry people, but you can't leave you pets like that and not expect me to take action.
I fervently hope that he isn't going to be there when I come back by.
I pull over and open my door to get a better look. He stands up slowly, half-covered in dried mud, and gives me a suspicious once-over. He's not tied up like I initially thought. He doesn't have a collar either. He's a good-sized dog, with a big wedge head and a thick chest narrowing to thin hips and a whip tail. There's none of the standard waggy-waggy happy doggy behavior from this bloke.
We eyeball each other from a distance.
Not hostile, but not exactly friendly either.
I decide not to get out of the vehicle.
"Hi there nice doggy-dog. Are you all alone in the park today?" I say in a sing-song tone.
That sounds creepy even to me, like weirdo flasher guy with candy for the kiddies. But the dog doesn't seem to find it strange. He takes a couple of steps in my direction and stops. I drop the sing-song voice. No need to be insulting.
"Where's your owner? Do your people live around here somewhere?"
A few more steps toward me. Stops.
"So, uh, what have you been up to today? Looks like you've had a roll in the mud. Good times, yeah?"
Couple more steps. Oo. *Nervous chuckle* He's actually bigger than I thought.
"Man, I hope you aren't mean. You look like you could take an arm off. You don't have rabies or anything do you? "
Now he's actually a few feet away from the open door of my vehicle, and I'm replaying Cujo in my head.
"I sincerely hope we can be friends and reach a mutual understanding that there is no need to tear anyone's throat out. What do you think? You down with that?"
He stretches his giant, fang-filled head towards me and cautiously sniffs the tip of my tennis shoe. I must have passed his test or something because when I sloooooooowly reach down to pet him he doesn't eat me. A few minutes later, we're sitting in the shade at one of the picnic tables. He's drinking clean water out of an empty ice-cream cup as I give him an inspection.
Face and head show signs of being bitten and deeply scratched. A few of the wounds have started to scab over and others are still open. It was probably a fight where you should see the other guy, because only the winners manage to keep all of their ears. His ears are still intact, though mite-infested. Check.
Ribs standing out and visible through his short coat? Check.
Hip bones sharp and protruding? Check.
All his boy bits still in place? Check
Ear mites? Check.
Eyes? Clear, intelligent, but wary. Check.
Teeth? Uuuuuhhh... Yup. Very big, very sharp, very gleaming white. Probably the healthiest thing about him. Checkity-check-check.
Well, now what?