“If you want a friend in politics, get yourself a dog.”
This is an old saying, one that’s appeared in print since around 1911, and which has apparently been wrongly attributed to Harry S Truman, among others. No matter who did or didn’t say it, it’s sound advice, and I’ve got myself four of the best friends a guy in politics could ever hope to have.
We met Wally in east Los Angeles in the spring of 2010. I had just loaded a bunch of stuff into a storage locker at one of those public storage facilities that now dot the American landscape to accommodate all the excess junk we all own and can’t force ourselves to part with, and as I was doing the key code on the keypad thing to get the gate to open so I could drive my car out, I felt a sniff-sniff-sniffing on my leg and looked down to find this little dude, all disheveled and obviously out of sorts, kind of looking up and at me as if to say, “Hey, Mister, how about a little help?” I reflexively looked around for the person who might have belonged to him, and then in the general direction from which he might have come, but this part of town was pretty barren and it wasn’t obvious at all how he had managed to appear there at my ankle.
So I opened my car door and said, “Hey, little guy. Why don’t you hop in and we can figure out what to do with you?” To my surprise, he not only jumped on in, but immediately sprawled out on his little back on the passenger seat, as if to say, “I’m good. Count me in.”
We’ve been counting on Wally ever since. Absolutely the best thing I’ve ever found, as well as the best friend I’ve ever had.
Hugo came to us by way of a friend of my wife’s, whose colleagues found him one afternoon hiding in a bush outside the receptionist’s office.
“We just found a little Chihuahua and you have to take him, otherwise he’s going to wind up in the pound.”
“Why do we have to take him? We already have two Chihuahuas. Why can’t you take him?”
“That’s exactly why you have to take him, because you already have two Chihuahuas. Otherwise, he’s going to wind up in the pound.”
Reluctantly, we agreed that we’d act as a foster until a suitable home could be found for the little guy. Our reservations about the whole arrangement were reinforced when, on his first night at our house, Hugo, clearly still experiencing the effects of having been near starvation while lost on the streets, wolfed down the leftover rice he was given and then lunged so aggressively at the other dogs’ dishes that poor little Wally choked on his own rice and managed to aspirate a big chunk of it right up into his sinus cavity. 12 hours and $500 later, we were back from the vet, who cheerfully volunteered that there was nothing that he could do for Wally, but would be glad to keep him under observation over night for roughly another thousand bucks.
Within a week after that, little Hugo had not only eased up, he’d so thoroughly charmed us that when the kind woman from the dog rescue group for whom we were fostering Hugo called to say that she was going to be pick Hugo up in the morning to take him to an adoption event, we told her, “Oh, no you’re not. We love this little guy. Can we keep him?” As if that wasn’t their plan all along…
Simon & Homer
These two little guys are Simon and Homer. They might not look like it, but they’re brothers. Or so we were told. As fate would have it, one of the nice folks who work for the service that give walks to our little guys when we’re out had a girlfriend who had gotten into the dog rescuing business, and he said that she’d found a Chihuahua in Riverside county that had been living in an old guy’s yard and needed a good home.
We’d lost Bobo the past fall, and after a suitable period of missing and mourning the old lady, we had talked it over and agreed that maybe the time was right to take in a new pup. As fate would have it, by the time we got back to him to say yes, it turned out that this dog had a brother, and that his brother had been taken off the property and to the pound by local Animal Control, and was apparently mere hours from euthanization when he was found and reunited with his littermate. They were incredibly bonded, we were told. Would we take them as a package? After seeing the video of their joyful reunion after the pound, it was impossible to refuse.
Bonded yes, as well as cute as all get out, but not especially housebroken, as it turned out. Yep, we’re still working on that.
Ah, Bobo. The original family Chihuahua. First of her kind, and forever first in our hearts. We happened upon Bobo on July 4th weekend in 2008. At the time, we were living in downtown LA, in the Arts District, which at the time was being promoted as “up and coming”, but which had not yet done a whole lot of coming up. Darcy and I had been out walking Sadie, her big old Husky-German-Shepherd-Some-Other-Stuff mix, and as we made our way home, we noticed a little crowd had gathered at the mini-mart near our place. I ventured inside to see what all the fuss was about. Mike, the nice Syrian guy who ran the store, pointed to the back told me this little dog had wandered in and even though it wouldn’t let anyone near it, it also clearly didn’t want to leave, either. I looked over in the corner and there was this little female Chihuahua, gaunt and mangy, clearly not too far removed from a recent litter of puppies, prowling back and forth, anticipating the next attempt to corral her.
After Mike and I unsuccessfully tried to grab her up with an old cardboard box, he found some twine from which we fashioned a makeshift leash and snared her in a loop of it. The little Chihuahua had to be dragged out, her little paws skidding on the pavement, like the Grinch’s dog on Halloween. The assembled crowd outside the market looked on at the wild-eyed little dog we’d just wrangled. I saw a couple of neighbors we knew. “Can anyone here,” I asked, “take this little dog in over the weekend?” It was a four-day holiday weekend, I explained, and if the dog wound up in the chronically crowded LA pound, there was a pretty good chance she’d be euthanized in that span. After a moment of total silence, one neighbor said, “I would, but I have a cat.” Another offered she would if she didn’t have terrible allergies. The others kind of looked at their nails. “I guess it’s us,” I said to Darcy.
Four years later, when we moved from downtown to Orange County, Bobo was still with us. Many were the moments when, on a typically sunny OC day, I’d look over at Bobo, sunning herself by the pool, and I could just see her thinking, “Wow. This all worked out pretty darned well for me in the end.” And pity the delivery person or visiting friend of ours who dared disturb her little slice of paradise. Bobo would wait, however long it would take, at some point in the visit, to get that one good shot at their Achilles tendon. Fortunately for them (and probably for our insurance, as well), Bobo’s time on the mean streets of downtown LA had done a number on her teeth. But to maybe five people on this planet that Bobo knew and really trusted, she was an absolute love. Bobo left us this past October, after a very full and inspiring life. We miss her.
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