Chapter 39

“You can’t do that, guy,” I said. “He’s only a month-or-so, too young to leave in the backyard.”

“I can do whatever I want,” he said.

He was an adorable puppy. Brian and I brought him treats and smooched him over the fence.

“No, you really can’t,” I said.

“You need to mind your own business,” he said. He was standoffish from the get-go, not wanting to talk to us.

We had started to notice the puppy crying in the middle of the night, out all night.

“Dog rescue is my business,” I said. “This is my business right here.”

Needless to say, Brian and I and our neighbor, who was Puerto Rican, got off to a bad start. It didn’t help that there was a language barrier. Our immediate neighbors, also Puerto Rican, who we love, were helping by sort of translating a lot of what we were saying. I often didn’t have anything nice to say, so I asked them to not translate that.

He was young, in his 20s, married, with five kids. He had always wanted a blue nose pit bull, so he went and got himself one. He named him Jack. But there was no shelter for the puppy, no water bowl outside.

“Did you get your dog vaccinated?”

“I don’t need to talk to you guys about what I do with my dog.”

“You kind of do. We have eight dogs. Your dog needs to be vaccinated.”

“If my dog ever goes missing, you’re the first people I’m going to send the police to,” he said.

“That would probably be a good place to start,” I said.

It got to the point where he and I wouldn’t talk. Brian and I would still stop at his fence, bring Jack doggie cookies, watch the dog jump, and watch him grow throughout the summer.

Oh, my God, I was in love with a pit bull!

I had always sworn I would never own one. Pit bulls are a breed you can definitely train for fighting. Once they lock their jaws on you, you can’t get it off. They clamp down. It makes them dangerous. Someone once told me to unlock a pit bull’s jaw you have to poke a finger up its butt.

Too many idiots breed them. It’s time to stop blaming the wrong end of the leash. That’s why we say not to shop and adopt. Too many idiots are breeding their own home brew of dog.

You never know what you’re getting.

He came to our front door one evening in early August. Jack was shaking, shivering, and soaking wet.

“Why is this dog soaking wet?” I asked.

“I was born in a crossfire hurricane, and I howled at my ma in the driving rain,” is what the Rolling Stones say.

“Please help me,” he said.

I wanted to say, what about the police, what about that situation, but I was more concerned about the dog.

“He hasn’t eaten in three days, and he’s throwing up and has diarrhea.”

“Did you ever finally vaccinate your dog?”

“I don’t know what you mean by vaccinations.”

“I mean, did you get your dog its first set of shots?”

“No,” he said.

“You big stupid asshole,” I said, and asked our neighbors to translate that.

“Your dog probably has parvo.”

Canine parvovirus is viral contagious deadly. The most common kind is intestinal, meaning a lack of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s very serious, more often fatal than not. It all depends on how fast it’s diagnosed and treated.

“You waited three days?” That’s why I sometimes hate people.

“Well, here you go sport,” I said. “You didn’t get your dog his shots, which would have cost you a hundred bucks. Now it’s going to cost you fifteen hundred, and there’s guarantee the dog will survive even taking him to the animal hospital.”

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” he said.

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” I said. “But the deal is, if I take the dog, and I pay for it, he’s my dog.”

We took him to the hospital the next morning. Jack had parvo. When the hospital people wanted to start yelling at us about animal cruelty, I told them it was a neighbor’s dog, a neighbor who had not gotten the dog his shots.

“Oh,” they said.

“What I’m worried about is, I’m going to get him through the parvo treatment, and they’re going to want him back.”

“Oh, no,” they said. “We’re going to put everything in your name, so if it does ever go to court, it will show you paid all the medical bills.”

He was there a week, recovering.  He won my heart. After that I was his mommy.

I felt bad when we took him. I believe the Puerto Rican man loved the dog. He never told his kids Jackie wasn’t coming back. They would ask, “Can Jackie come over?”

“No, he can’t, because I don’t know what was in your yard that made him sick in the first place.”

Jack loved to play with the kids, at least until they moved away. When we walked him, he always wanted to go back to their house. But the Puerto Rican had no business having the dog. He didn’t take care of Jack, and he didn’t train him, either. That was the shame of it. Pit bulls are a powerful breed. Jack is a powerful dog. You have to train them.

He was a cute puppy and he’s growing up to be a handsome boy. He loves all the kids in the neighborhood, all the other dogs, and he never complains when I dress him in pj’s at night.

Jack was a jumping flash of a dog once he came to live with us.

He is always excited to see people. He likes to jump up and smooch. But you can’t have a pit bull jumping up at your face. You just can’t.

“It’s fine,” everyone says.

“No, it’s really not fine.”

Everybody loves Jackie, but he’s not allowed to jump.

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