I'm in a deserted park with a large, fangy, starving, jacked-up stray dog of questionable character trying to decide my next move. I can't leave him. That's not an option. I've tried to coax him into jumping into the Jeep, and he's having none of that. I have no food to give him, though I did have a 27oz. Klean Kanteen full of clean water, which he's already slurped up out of an empty ice-cream cup.
He's panting at a rate where I begin to wonder if dogs can hyperventilate, but then again so am I. It's a blistering 105 degrees. The weather is fit for neither man nor beast.
And here the two of us are.
He won't sit or lie down, but paces back and forth continuously. He does pause occasionally to let me rub my hand over his scab-covered scalp. Dog is obviously stressed. Even a cat-person such as myself can see that much.
"Listen. You're going to have to get in the car so I can take you to the shelter," I say to him. "There will be food and water and toys and all sorts of wonderful dogs to play with. It's a doggy dream come true." As long as you don't take into account the whole euthanasia thing.
If he'd have had eyebrows one of them would have been raised skeptically.
"OK, OK. You're not into that. I get it. But if you want to come to my house you have to get in the vehicle. It's too far to walk. In this weather we'll be reduced to skeletal remains picked over by buzzards in a matter of an hour."
He continues to pace.
Pace, pace, pause. Pace, pace, pause.
"There's a chicken in it for you. What do you say?"
A young couple dressed in shorts and running shoes come strolling up the path toward the park. The dog visibly tenses. Uh-oh.
I get up from the picnic table and walk towards them. The Dog stays behind, controlling his flight or fight instinct. "Do you guys live around here? I found a stray dog and thought it might belong to someone nearby."
They've walked over from an apartment complex down the street and neither recognize the Dog. Not that I expect them to. He's been dumped. I'm sure of it. After they get a look at him, they're sure of it, too.
We come to a consensus that people suck.
The girl leans down to pet him, which he allows with minimal flinching. Her male companion, noting the Dog's starved and scarred state, says, "Wow. He's seen better days, hasn't he?"
We chat for a while about what I should do. Girlfriend, a soft-hearted sort, tries to convince Boyfriend to take the Dog. I dare to hope for a moment, but he thinks it a bad idea. He lives in an apartment. He's also more of a cat person.
I call the shelter. They're closed.
We debate the wisdom of trying to man-handle the Dog into my vehicle. We get him to the open door, but when Boyfriend begins to act like he's going to lift him, the mood turns ominous. There is no growling, nothing overtly threatening, but a few dark clouds roll in front of the sun, so to speak. Boyfriend decides not to follow through with Plan A.
I don't blame him. I would want to keep my face intact, too.
Plan B: Somehow I convince the kind souls to stay with the Dog while I go to the grocery to find some a treat tempting enough to coerce an unwilling dog into a waiting vehicle. Might as well get something to eat myself since I'm going to be spending the night in the park, at this rate.
"I swear that I'll be back," I tell them. "I promise I won't drive off yelling SUCKAHS!!"
They laugh. However, I can sense their doubt. Why is everyone so mistrusting of me all of a sudden?
At the store I race down the pet aisle grabbing a small bag of kibble, a can of gravy-smothered meat product, and a bag of wavy bakey treats. Just to make sure I have all my bases covered, I pick up a half of a lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken.
I don't know how dogs feel about lemon-pepper, but it was either that or chipolte.
The couple is relieved to see me. At least Boyfriend is. It seems in the short time I was gone, Girlfriend has both leveled both barrels of her feminine wiles on Boyfriend and nearly has him convinced that he's taking the Dog home. He shoots me the desperate look of a drowning man.
Dog is impassive. Until he smells lemon-pepper chicken. Then he becomes a little more excited about my reappearance on the scene.
I take pity on Boyfriend. I tell the couple to go ahead and finish their walk. It's not a big deal. Really. I'm sure to get the Dog in the vehicle with the promise of food. No dog on earth can resist rotisserie chicken. Everything will be fine. I assure them repeatedly that I won't leave the Dog. I swear to it on several holy books. I thank them both.
Boyfriend drags reluctant Girlfriend away.
To be continued...