(fiction repost from June 2009)
Part 1 here.
Walter may be pooping gold but he's still pissing pee and for the first week, Joey just mopped up after the dog because he didn't want to take Walter outside in case someone saw what came out of his dog's ass. But then when the people downstairs came up and knocked on Joey's door complaining about their dripping ceiling, Joey realized he couldn't keep Walter inside forever.
Joey's three times a day routine now is to take Walter to the little parkette just around the corner from the apartment. On the short walk over, every time Walter tries to stop and sniff a spot, Joey yanks on the leash to keep him moving. He doesn't want to risk letting Walter poop right out on the open sidewalk with so many people walking by.
At the park, there are some dogs, now familiar to Joey, roaming about off leash while their stuck up owners talk. One of the owners, a sorta cute twenty something blondie sees him and smiles and nods but Joey just heads for the far corner where the weeds are taller and a bit more inhospitable, where those weeds can quickly hide the precious golden eggs Walter deposits.
Walter looks over at the dogs playing and wags his tail but Joey jerks the leash and points to the weeds. He shoves Walter with knee and stands in front of him blocking his view of the other dogs. Walter looks up at Joey and then slowly and obediently gets into position. He grunts and he farts and he grunts and then he's done.
Joey looks down into the weeds. Walter's only left behind one egg this time and it's smallish, quail's egg sized. Joey looks around to make sure no one's watching too closely and then he pulls out a plastic bag and scoops up the egg. Again, first glancing around to make sure no one's watching, he puts the plastic bag and egg into his jacket pocket.
He's about to leave with Walter, when one of the other dogs comes running over. Joey's got no idea what he should do. The other dog is wagging its tail but Joey's not taking any chances. He pulls Walter's leash back to keep him well away from the other dog but the other dog keeps advancing.
"Hey, Rufus, come here" says the sorta cute twentysomething as she runs over. Then to Joey, "Don't worry. He's friendly. Eh, Rufus? You just saying hello?"
Joey hates it when people talk to their animals like they were people. He can't think of anything stupider. But then on the other hand the girl is kinda cute.
"Oh yeah. Sure. That's cool," Joey says, not relaxing the leash on Walter at all. Walter, for his part, is standing relaxed, a calm expression across his mouth and eyes. Rufus, not sensing a playmate in Walter, turns around and runs back to his more energetic dog pals.
"What's your dog's name?" the girl asks.
"Walter," Joey answers and he gives Walter an uncertain pat on his head.
"Nice dog," she says. "Is he old?"
"Yeah, I just, uh, got him from the pound," Joey answers.
"Umm, oh," she says. "Is that why he looks so skinny?" The girl reaches out with her hand towards Walter but Joey yanks Walter away from her.
"He bites," Joey says. "You shouldn't get too close."
The girl hesitates.
"He doesn't seem like a biter," she says and withdraws her hand. "You must've really bonded with him to take him from the pound. Most people wouldn't put the effort into working with a biting dog."
"Oh yeah, I know," Joey says. "But I'm not most people," he adds.
"Well good on ya," the girl says and she walks away.
Joey adds a tablespoon of salmon oil to Walter's dog food. He also throws in a couple tablets of vitamin D, a tablet of zinc, three tablespoons of glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM liqid, a tablespoon of ground kelp, and finally, a tablespoon of safflower oil. All this into a bowl of sixty dollar a bag kibble mixed with ground beef and chicken and mashed vegetables. This is Walter's meal, twice a day, every day, and it has been for over a month now.
After those comments by the girl in the park, Joey realized other people as well were whispering behind his back about the poor state of his dog. He didn't want any more attention on Walter than absolutely necessary so the first thing Joey did after that walk was give Walter a bath and then he began to figure out how to get Walter healthier looking. Between talking to the stuck ups at the pet food store, researching on-line and even a trip to the vet, Joey came up with "the Walter concoction" as he liked to call it. The Walter concoction costs a helluva lot more than Joey ever thought he would pay for dog food but he figures it's well worth it if it means no more sideways glances from people.
And it is indeed worth it. Joey's apartment, over the last several weeks since he'd brought Walter home, has become like a Fort Knox. Every jar, box, suitcase, plastic bag, empty kleenex box, cupboard, drawer, filing cabinet is stuffed with golden eggs. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of the beautiful globules just spilling out over each other. It's beyond calculation just how much gold Joey now possesses and how much all that gold is worth.
Joey figures he's well on his way to becoming the richest man in the world.
He still hasn't quite figured out how to convert all that gold into cash but that part doesn't bother him much. It's obvious now that all the gold is his, not some ornaments snatched off some rich hag's dresser drawer by her dog. He figures that when the day comes, he'll just walk into one of those flashy banks downtown and, acting like it's no big deal, open up a bank account and when the stuck up banker asks him how much he'd like to deposit, he'd just casually reach into his back pack, pull out an egg and say, "Oh, I don't know. How about I start with a thousand of these?"
Joey thinks about that day a lot but like a kid just before opening up the first Christmas present, he's enjoying the anticipation. The day will come. The day will come soon.
"Your dog's really looking good these days," the girl says to Joey in the park. "His coat's all shiny and he's put on weight."
"Yeah, but he's not fat," says Joey afraid of where this conversation might lead.
"No, he's not fat at all. He's just right," the girl says.
Walter is looking down at Rufus who is on his back squirming in the grass, trying to itch an itch. Rufus suddenly stops and, while still on his back, raises a paw up towards Walter, and Walter, in turn reaches out with his own paw and touches Rufus.
"Is he still biting?" the girl asks.
"You can't predict that with dogs," Joey says and jerks Walter back away from Rufus.
"Well, it looks like you're doing a great job," the girl says and smiles.
She walks back to her friend who just started bringing his 3 month old puppy to the park.
"Yeah, he's the guy that picks up his dog's poo and then puts it in his pocket," she whispers.
"Gross," her friend says.
Joey's sitting at the coffee table slowly sipping the bitter verging on sour coffee this place specializes in. It's awful and it's always been awful but he's savouring it because he knows this'll be the last time he buys coffee from here. In a few hours, he's going to walk into a bank and start cashing in the golden eggs.
He realizes people are getting suspicious. He knows if he doesn't deposit the gold soon, someone will surely discover his secret and then who knows what would happen. He wouldn't be safe on the street. He wouldn't even be safe inside his own apartment.
And someone would try to steal Walter for sure. Even now, Walter goes everywhere Joey goes. Joey never lets him out of his sight. Can't risk it. And at night, Walter sleeps in bed with Joey, with Joey's arm around him.
Joey hates it but what can he do? He has to keep Walter secure. But Walter's not going to be a pain in the ass for much longer. Once Joey gets things sorted out in his new place with his new people, he'll get someone else to look after Walter. Of course it would have to be someone he could trust but he's sick of having Walter around him all the time. If he never sees him again, he'd be fine with that as long as the eggs kept coming. And why wouldn't they?
The last time Joey took Walter in to see the vet, the vet told him that Walter checked out pretty well but he was concerned about his arthritic hips. He sold Joey some expensive medicine to help with that and Joey bought it and Walter did seem to improve quite a bit but really, other than not having to help Walter up all the time, Joey didn't much care. Joey figured Walter didn't exactly need to walk to shit gold eggs. Joey figured that as long as he could keep Walter alive, even if meant hooking Walter up full time to some big machine, he'd be okay with that. He wasn't going to let Walter die on him. Ever.
Joey sees his wonderful life splayed out before him. He can feel it. First of all, it's going to be the world's biggest reveal ever. He imagines his first interviews, being on TV with dozens of microphones in front of him, reporters and paparazzi pushing each other around just to get close to him, fighting for his attention. The anticipation of his new life is killing him but he's loving it as well. He takes another sip of coffee.
Jenny finally shows up. She sees him and he waves at her. She walks over to his table and sits down opposite him in the cigarette burned plastic chair.
"You Joey?" she asks.
"Yep," he says.
"Okay, so you know how this works?"
"Yep," he says. Then, "Okay, should we go?"
"Oh, hold up there, honey, before we go anywhere can you show me ..."
"Oh, yeah, yeah, sure," and Joey pulls out the ten twenties from his pocket and flashes the cash for her. "And there's a lot more where that came from," he can't help himself from saying but then immediately regrets it.
"Well who's the big hero then," Jenny says with a wide, toothy smile and she gets up and takes Joey's arm in hers as they start to walk towards the door.
"Oh wait," Joey says and he steps back to the table and grabs Walter's leash and gives him a yank. "Come on, let's go," he says.
Joey's walking on air all the way back to his apartment. People are definitely noticing. Joey's definitely feeling noticed. Jenny's on his arm, walking that walk she walks and touching him. People are definitely noticing. Joey straightens out a bit more. He could get used to this attention. Jenny fawning all over him in public. What a perfect picture this would make. It's just too bad about the dog.
The entrance to the apartment building is unlocked as usual and there are some kids in the main foyer. One of them, one of the older ones Joey doesn't like much yells out, "Shit, mama's boy. How much you payin for that?" but Joey just ignores him and walks to the stairs pulling Jenny and Walter along. He'll have people to take care of people like that soon enough.
As they're walking up, Jenny says, "So look, just to be straight, we do the business before we go in, okay? It's just like this this first time, okay? Once we get to know each other better, once we have a relationship, you know, you can pay up afterwards. Okay?"
They reach the third floor and Joey leads Jenny down the hallway to his door. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the wad of bills. He hands over the cash to Jenny. Jenny gives Joey a kiss and takes the cash but then looks down at it. It's covered in streaks of brown.
"What the fuck?" Jenny asks and then Joey opens the door to his apartment.
"Oh ... my ... God," Jenny says as she drops the money on the floor and then gags as the smell hits her.
The girl from the park, the one who owns Rufus, and Walter as well now, watches as Rufus runs circles around Walter. Walter enjoys the attention and happily barks at Rufus. Walter tries to do a play pose but it's a bit much for him.
"Poor Walter," the girl's friend, the guy with the pup, says.
"Ah, he's okay," the girl says. "He's creaky, but he's okay. Better than where he was anyway."
Rufus is now rolling around on the grass on his back in front of Walter and the two of them are slapping paws. The puppy bounces around them, trying to get some attention for himself.
"So that guy's apartment was completely filled with feces?"
"Yeah, that's what they said. It was like he'd been collecting it. He was storing it everywhere. In flower pots. In egg cartons. In the fridge. In the oven. He'd like run out of room and was starting to just pile it up all around his apartment."
"It's amazing the other tenants didn't complain about the smell."
"No, they did. The owners of the place just never did anything about it."
"God that's so fucked up."
"Yeah, it's too bad. I mean the guy was weird but he was taking care of Walter okay. The people at the pound couldn't believe he was the same dog from just a few months ago."
"And how'd you end up with Walter?"
"Well, I heard about how the police had to drag that guy out of his apartment - and you know he was like stuffing all these ossified pieces of turd into his pockets the whole time - and of course first thing I think about is what's happened to the dog so I figured he would've been taken to the pound. Where else, right?"
"Huh. Well, it's good of you to give him a home. Not many people would bring home an old dog like that."
"Yeah, well, Walter's pretty special."
The girl looks over at the dogs and sees that Walter's just finished taking a dump. She's about to get up to go pick it up when the puppy runs over to it and starts to sniff it.
"Oh crap," the guy says. "I think my dog's get a fecal fetish or something." Then, "Hey, Lucas, get away from that. Hey!" but Lucas doesn't listen and he picks up the turd and happily runs around with it trying to get the older dogs interested in a game of chase.
"Hey, drop that," the guy says but Lucas doesn't listen. Instead, the pup runs over to the girl and dances around her feet.
"Hey, look what I got," the girl says as she pulls out a dried liver snack. "Wanna trade?"
"You're too much," the guy says to the girl and laughs.
"Well, how else you going to get that out of his mouth?" the girl says. "Lucas, look what I got ..."
Lucas stops. He sniffs the treat. He lowers his head and drops the turd into the grass and the girl says, "Good boy," and gives Lucas the treat. She looks down into the grass at her feet, at the thing Lucas dropped, and she sees something glittering. It's brightly faceted and egg sized.
It looks like a diamond.
(fiction repost from June 2009)
The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.
Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.
So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.
2012 Pound Dog Calendars
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- "Optimism is better than despair"
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- Walter and Joey - Part 1
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