SAYING GOODBYE TO A DOG I NEVER MET
It had been raining and windy for a few days but there was finally a break in the weather. I pulled McCovey’s harness over his head, grabbed his leash and drove over to Starkweather Shoreline Park, a winding trail just passed the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Black clouds tumbled overhead and it began to drizzle.
McC and I had been walking for about 30 minutes when the shower turned into a torrent and then stopped. We were heading back to the car. I paused in front of a small beach, a half-moon shape of sand stretching into the choppy brown water. Around the far point of land came a long legged, black dog soaking wet. He looked like a black lab mix. He had white hair around his chin and muzzle, a white chest and white paws.. He was very skinny and wore a patch of mange over his tail. No tags clinked together around his neck. His focus was food. He sniffed and nibbled at every spot.
I stretched to see around the point, waiting for his owner. But none came. This senior pup was by himself…soaked, hungry and alone. McCovey and I walked within 10 feet of him and he never looked up. He kept foraging in the leaves and grass for something to eat.
I was heartsick for this dog, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t have any dog food with me. I didn’t know how he would respond if I approached him, especially with another dog. Instead, I drove home and called the Marin Humane Society. They called me back within ten minutes and said a good Samaritan had the dog, had called them and they were on their way to pick the pooch up.
A wave of relief washed over me. I felt better instantly. Twenty minutes later, I received another call from the animal service officer saying that she had the dog and was driving him back to the Humane Society to Emergency Services.
“He’s kind of out of it,” she said. “He might have been hit by a car.”
When I called later that day, I learned that dog #236512 was in the back kennel out of view from the public. I mentioned the dog to a few friends, their first comment was, “You’re going to adopt him, aren’t you?” I can’t say the idea hadn’t crossed my mind, but it was then I really started to think about bringing him home. I figured if he was an old dog, he might only have a few more years to live and maybe a warm house, plenty of food and love and a little playmate might help him recover.
Before I made a decision, I would have to introduce him to McCovey. He is my 18-pound, 5-year-old, Shih Tzu/Terrier/Chihuahua mutt, named after the San Francisco Giants legendary first baseman. If they didn’t get along…well, that would be that.
I waited a day or two and called back. The dog was still in the back kennel and the only thing they would tell me was that he was a senior. She took my name and number and asked if I was interested in adopting him. My response? “I am considering it.”
The next day there was a message on my phone saying to call back the Marin Humane Society as soon as possible. This was it. The dog was ready to be adopted. He would be put on view for the public. I’d have to take McCovey to visit and see if they were compatible. Now. Right now.
But that’s not what happened. Dog #236512 had so many internal injuries and health problems and was in so much pain that he had to be put down. That's what they were calling to tell me.
“He was a sweet dog,” said the woman on the phone.
It took a minute to register. The neglected skinny dog was not going to join the family. A dark cloud settled over me. This wasn’t ending the way I wanted. When I hung up, I just sat there and looked out the window. I was sad and disappointed. How could I be so attached to a dog I never met? I didn't understand where the emotions were coming from...except in my mind, that dog belonged to me.
I even had a name for him. I was going to call him ‘Gramps.’