Monday, October 29, 2007

The Love of a Dog

It's a neighborhood hangout: a great big sports bar complimenting its beer with baskets of fried starch and battered fish products, near downtown Long Beach. No names, because I don't want them to get any publicity or internet hits from my blog. Big, noisy, slow place that has botched very simple orders every time I have given the place another chance. THAT kind of place. Let's call it "El Dump."

One night, the fiance and I were at El Dump holding a long vigil at a table outside, waiting for my beer and her dinner. (At this point, I was already past the stage of ordering dinner there.) Neither of us knew why we were there - we were just there.

And so was a little dog. A mutt who looked to be part beagle, with some of all the other breeds mixed in. A very loyal little dog on a blue leash knotted around a barstool near the front entrance. As we waited for Sarah's baked gristle, the dog watched the glass door leading into the restaurant and waited. Waited. Waited. Waited for some sign, any sign, of his friend to appear. Tiny beating heart as wide open as his eyes, every part of him waiting.

Time dragged itself along on paralyzed legs. Sarah's food didn't appear. An investigation produced a strange alibi: it had been delivered to somebody else's table. Would she like it to go? Yes, please, we have somewhere to be. Cook the food and put it in a box.

The little dog's composure was melting away like Sarah's blood sugar level. The panting sped up to frenzied hyperventilation. Every muscle in the dog's body was rigid, as if it were physically WILLING his companion to appear. It had been more than half an hour since we had arrived, and the dog had already been waiting there.

We moved over to sit near the dog and keep him company. By then, he was barking and pawing at the glass door. Okay, fella, your buddy's in there watching the soccer game, lost track of time. He'll be out soon. But the dog would not be consoled.

A woman passing by had stopped to give the little guy a stroke on the ears and watch the situation, feeling angry and horrified that the little feller was being left out here for going on more than an hour, obviously frantic and probably needing to pee.

The wait staff, which had by this time told us that our takeout order had, accidentally, been cancelled and would not be coming out, had no idea who belonged with this dog. What to do?

The passer-by had an idea. She said, This is what we're going to do. You're going to untie this boy's leash, I'm going to open this door, and we're going to go in there with the dog and see who he runs to.

And that's just what we did. The blue leash was released from the barstool, passer-by opened the door, and in went the dog, questing for its human, sniffing around desperately and tracking. It's hard to imagine many things that would be considered disruptive in a crowded, noisy sports bar serving up cold brews and hot plates of microwaved cholesterol with parsley, but this was it.

The owner was found by his dog, and the happy reunion was only darkened by the arrival, within seconds, of the woman who had been passing by. She had words for him.

And as Sarah and I walked away from El Dump, without her dinner, I could still feel the verbal lashing he was getting back there.

May every dog in this world find a companion who truly loves them, for few human beings really deserve the love of a dog.

1 comment:

Little Mama said...

I remember that evening well. I love the words you use to portray it. I laughed so hard, particularly when you were describing the food.