Ah, a dogs life. It must be a great one. Or at least for dogs in my family anyway. Spoiled filthy rotten, treated like humans, loved unconditionally… all while getting to just hang out and do diddly all day long. Jealousy of my four-legged child runs deep some days. Particularly when I’m neck deep in deadline days during sports playoffs.
My dog came to me in an interesting way six and a half years ago. I had just lost my first dog, and really wasn’t looking to get another one quite yet. I’d learned the hard way that dogs in relationships can sometimes end up like children, although what my ex did to my dog, no human in their right mind should or would do to a child. Yes I am bitter about him letting her loose and essentially being the cause of her death because of it. I will always be bitter about it, but hey, it’s my prerogative, not yours.
Anyway, back to the little black and white, shaking ball of fur in the Rubbermaid tote atop the Humane Society t-shirts at the Summer Solstice Festival my city holds every June… He was truly adorable, he looked at me and my new beau with those sad and hopeful brown eyes. My friend who volunteered at the shelter at the time told me his story: He had come in five months before as a stray, wandering down the road, emaciated, dehydrated, with his rope run trailing behind him. His owners had been found and told them “Keep him, we don’t want him.” They had left him tied outside with no food or water. He was a little over a year old and weighed just 23 pounds. For a male pit bull, that’s small.
I scratched his ears, gave him a kiss on the head, and as much as I wanted him, I had a niggling voice in the back of my head. So, instead, I wished him luck in finding a loving forever home.
Next thing I know, my new, better-than-my-ex, beau starts talking about this dog, Flash as the shelter had named him. His lab/hound mix had been with a dog before in his previous relationship. Having two dogs was fun. He went on and on, trying to talk me into it. Despite me still being against it, we went to the shelter the next day and once Flash met Mikah and they two got along smashingly, we loaded Flash into the truck for our seven day slumber party.
I did my damndest to not get attached to Flash. I’m a compassionate soul, I love all animals to death, and soon after getting my first dog, I became a huge pit bull advocate. All marks were against me in this hold out. As the week wore on, it became harder and harder to resist this sweet little dog who instantly became a fixture of my left side. The very last day of that week, I handed the leash to my boyfriend and told him “This was your idea, you wanted to bring him home for a trial period, we just can’t do two dogs right now, so you get to be the one to bring him back.”
With hemming and hawing, the sad man and the sad dog left. It took all my might to not cry when the truck drove out of the driveway. As a distraction, I set to task of vacuuming the old, charming Victorian-style home, top to bottom. I was so into not thinking about Flash and the poor dog going back to the animal shelter that when I heard the first jingle, I thought I was losing my mind. Shutting of the vacuum cleaner, I looked to Mikah, confused. He didn’t wear a collar, so why was he jingling?
I go to the top of the stairs, peer down and there are those brown eyes staring back at me. Flash saw me and his tail went crazy, he darted up the stairs and started dancing happily, his butt doing that crazy fast side-to-side that pit bulls are known for. I looked to my boyfriend questioningly. His response: “They gave him to us. Waived the adoption fee.”
That, should have been the first sign that Flash wasn’t that cute, cuddly, adorable dog that he appeared to be during our “slumber party.” Just as the name Flash should have been a warning.
Now, let me step off track here for a second to say this: When I picture my dog talking, I swear he sounds just like Cheech Marin. When I look into his face and carry on a conversation with him (because I’m that crazy dog lady that talks to her dogs like they’re human), I kid you not, his responses would probably come back with a Mexican-tinged accent.
After days of back and forth over what his name should be, and I held strong to Roscoe P. Coltrain… we happened to be at Dunkin Donuts, getting my boyfriend his beloved coffee, when Flash started going insane. He wanted that coffee. He perched himself on the center console of the truck, stared hard at my boyfriend, pressed his nose to the styrofoam cup, and began to cry. Exchanging a look with my boyfriend, I knew what was coming next. I lost the name battle and Flash became Dunkin.
About two weeks into officially having Dunkin as ours, the first incident happened. The front door didn’t latch and when Mikah came in after relieving himself, it was left wide open. A perfect escape for Dunkin. The only problem with this was, I was in my bra and underwear, two seconds away from getting into the shower. Fearing that Dunkin would see the same fate as my first dog, I took off, half naked, down the busiest street in the town I lived in at the time.
I chased Dunkin — who was running down the center line, cars whizzing by, not looking back once — for three whole miles before finally, someone having a cookout and the scent of their burgers distracted him long enough for me to snatch his collar. I had never been so happy for my days as a track runner-turned-marathoner. During the long walk of shame back to the house, in between all the honks, hoots and hollers because of my “get up”, I told Dunkin that I understood why the shelter named him Flash. Briefly, I even considered renaming him his shelter name.
The chase along Route 73 was only the first in what was going to be many, many, many trying “events” with Dunkin. I was going to learn very quickly that life with this spunky little guy was going to test my patience, my devotion to animals in general, and eventually lead me to believe if I can weather this storm, I can surely handle having a child or 50.
This is just the start of the Dunkin Tales.