Friday, October 26, 2007

Stray Dog, pt II

 The next day was Saturday. (His breakfast? My ham and eggs. I just wasn’t very hungry,and besides, it was so delightful to know he was enjoying such rich fare!) I had resolved to either ask around the neighborhood for the dog’s owners, or get him a name and a collar.

“Hey, are you missing a–” but she’d already jogged past me.

“Do you know anything about a l–” Well, maybe the next person. He didn’t look like a pet owner, anyway.

“Say, did you lose–” I began to a third person.

“Did you say something?”

I panicked. “Me? Uh, n-no.” She seems more like a cat person, though, so it’s alright.

I let the next guy pass by without saying anything, despite his “I -heart- Mutts” sweatshirt. Definitely a dog napper who sold his catch to out-of-the-way Asian restaurants.

By noon, I’d decided that maybe a poster would be more effective.

How to begin? “Found. One hideous cur”? No. “Have you lost an UGLEE DAWG?”?Cute, but no. “Mangy, repulsive mess looking for a good home”? Nope. ’Sounds too much like a personal ad gone horribly wrong.

By three o’clock, I was headed for the pet supply shop. The blue collar looked pretty good on Sin. (Yes, “Sin.” As in, “Ugly as,” which he certainly was.) However, the good washing(with plenty of shampoo!) only seemed to worsen his appearance. Now clean and no longer malnourished, the bald patches had a silvery, scaly look to them. Gotta take him to a vet for that.. . maybe some time next week. . . maybe. . .

Sin had half of a three-pound meatloaf for supper, having refused the dog chow I’d purchased. He’d growled and nipped me when I tried to offer it. Then again, there was the bliss of knowing he was enjoying my meatloaf. He’d probably get the other half in the morning, if my appetite didn’t come back. Hey, at least he’s good for my diet!

I was right. He got the rest of the meatloaf this morning. This evening, it was several pieces of fried chicken and a couple biscuits, another dinner I’d found no appetite for once I bought it. Sin looked a lot bigger this evening. And the scaly patches seemed to have grown along with him. Not only had they increased in size in proportion to the rest of his body, but they were becoming longer–twin silvery crescents that seemed to accent his hindmost ribs.

My original fears were confirmed. The skin condition was getting worse. I knelt down and scratched Sin behind his ears. “Well, ol’ boy, it looks like you’ll definitely have to see a vet about those spots on your sides.” I looked into his big, dark eyes, and he stared back with an intensity of feeling and intelligence that I didn’t think a dog possessed. I noticed then how well I could see my reflection in those dark wells of his eyes. My hand ceased scratching his ears, and froze there. My knees were beginning to ache on the cool concrete, but I didn’t move. It was as if–in that moment–I was fastened there by Sin’s rapt gaze.

“Oh, I can’t take you to the vet,” I said. “One look at you, and the doc would call in the animal abuse people, accusing me of neglect or some such thing. That’s the last thing I need!”My muscles regained their strength, and I stood up–a bit shakily. Maybe some special doggie shampoo for skin conditions would do the trick. Or some kind of ointment that I could get without a prescription. Talking to a vet would only lead to embarrassment anyway.

“You’re definitely growing, Sin. I’ll have to get you some more groceries in the morning.Goodnight.” I closed the front door behind me, and suddenly realized how fast my heart was beating. What had just happened out there?

Then it hit me. I hadn’t eaten much of anything for a couple days now–several of my would-be meals having been fed to Sin instead. That’s why I’d had trouble getting up off the porch. I just needed to eat something. Too bad I wasn’t hungry.

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